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Joe Vitt Says the New Orleans Saints Are in "Regular Season Mode"

Posted Aug 20, 2012

The Saints Assistant Head Coach/ Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt spoke with reporters after Monday's practice

Joe Vitt

Watch Vitt's Interview

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Post-Practice Media Availability
Monday, August 20, 2012

Opening Statement:

“Yesterday we signed wide receiver Greg Camarillo to our roster, we waived/injured Fenuki Tupou and we put Chris Chamberlain on injured reserve. We’re back to our regular season schedule now for a couple of reasons. Number one, we have new coaches on our staff. We’re showing them what the protocol is and what we’re going to do in the regular season. With a new defensive staff, we’re running new computer reports. We want to make sure we have the kinks out of that before we start the regular season. For our new players that have never done this before, it gives us a chance to get them into a schedule, get the traffic pattern down, (figure out) what time they have to get to work and what time they get out of here. So, right now as we talk, our players are lifting, they have lunch, media responsibilities and are back in the meeting rooms at 2:45 for special teams and at 3:00 for offense and defense. We had good work today, one of our better practices. Of course our guys looked refreshed coming off a day off, but the focus was there. We got a lot done today.”

Is this the normal time of the preseason when you would start to prepare for a regular season opponent?

“We’ve already started to sprinkle some in, but we dedicated a period today to some Redskin looks. It was a bonus day for us, so tomorrow as we go into practice on Tuesday, it will be like a Wednesday during the regular season. Wednesday will be a Thursday. Thursday will be a Friday, and then Friday we’ll go to the hotel. We’ll check into the Hyatt. It’s a new hotel and procedure for us. We’ll have our night meetings and get ready to play on Saturday night.”

Is this normally the time of the preseason when you start to move into a regular season mode?

“Yes.”

Have you been pleased with Drew Brees’ performance so far?
“Yes.”

Are you pleased with the performance of the offense overall?

“Yes. I think the starting offense has done a good job. We had a missed block the other night that got him (Brees) hit. I think it’s in the eyes of the beholder whether it was a fumble or not, but up to that point, I think they’ve really done a good job. It’s a veteran group that’s been together, takes pride in their work, have a good work ethic, they’re accountable to one another. They continue to get better every single day. We’re going to see a little bit more of Lance (Moore), Marques (Colston) and Devery (Henderson) now as we get into the third preseason game, so yes.”

Can you talk about the absence of David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton?

“Curtis has a high ankle sprain. He will not play this week. David Hawthorne has a meniscus. He will have surgery today, so he’ll miss a couple of weeks and so this is going to be a great opportunity for Ramon Humber to step up. He’s been in the program and played the position. We have a next man up theory around here. He has a great chance to show his skill level and what he can do. We’re excited for the opportunities to watch him play.”

Is it a consideration to move Martez Wilson back to linebacker?

“No.  We haven’t discussed that”

How concerned are you knowing that Hawthorne and Lofton could be out for a period and if there’s a possibility that they’re not available for the first game?

“We certainly think Curtis is going to be ready for the first game. The diagnosis on David is encouraging. He hurt it earlier in the game and played on it, so he’s got a chance to be back for that game. Our pro personnel people do an outstanding job in acquiring talent for us, so we’ll see what talent is available to us on other rosters in potential trades or picking someone up when they’re waived, but we’re happy with what we have now and we’re excited. Again, we’ve had to win football games without Jonathan Vilma. He missed five games last year. Will (Smith) missed the first two games last year. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the process. One thing I do know is it’s a tough, hard veteran team that’s just going to go on to the next play and the next game.”

In the evaluation process, how do you balance what Andy Tanner’s done already and the possibility that he might not play again in the preseason?

“I think Andy Tanner has some great things on film, from the OTAs, training camp and practice and then what he’s done in games. We know what Andy can do. We have great respect for his skill level. We have great respect for his intelligence as it pertains to the game. Our quarterbacks really trust him, so I think he’s stockpiled some good creds on his behalf. He may not play the remainder of the preseason, but we know what he can do.”

Could the possibility of him not playing the last two weeks hurt his chance of making the final 53-man roster?

“It certainly could. When you get down to the final 53, we’ve had to make tough decisions around here, that stuff has always worked itself out and there’s options that you can go to and are available to players, whether it’s the practice squad or the 53. Those things have always worked themselves out. We’re going to go through this process for another week and a half. We have the Texans Saturday night, then the Titans Thursday. We’re going to go through this process and see who can most help us.”

In the context of “Do Your Job”, what does a guy like Jed Collins symbolize?

“In my humble opinion, I think he’s the best fullback we’ve had here since ’06 when we first came together. I think he’s a tenacious blocker. He sticks with his blocks. He works hard to finish every day. I think he’s one of those guys that has never forgotten where he’s come from. His work ethic is the same every single day. When you get into a nine on seven period, it’s going to be a collision period, because he’s in the middle of the action. I think he’s grown with his confidence and I think he’s grown a little bit better with his pass receiving ability. He knows exactly what he is, what he has to do, how he has to prepare himself to compete and that’s a credit to him.”

What can Drew Brees do to improve on last year?

“Last year’s last year. There’s no sense of entitlement around here, so all we’re grinding right now. We’re going to prepare to start playing the Texans, then we’ll get Tennessee and we’ve already started preparation on Washington. I don’t have a crystal ball. If Drew is just Drew and does what Drew does, he’s going to give us a great chance to win this division and give us a great chance to compete after that.”

When did you guys start looking at film on Robert Griffin III?

“The week after the draft. That’s what we do in the offseason. You need to prepare for your upcoming opponents. We did the same thing last year with Cam Newton. He’s a quarterback and Cam’s a quarterback that brings a whole different skill level to their offenses and really at the end of the day, when you have those guys at the shotgun and you’re defending six eligible receivers, not five, it brings a whole new aspect to the game, so as soon as we found out that we were playing Washington, even though the schedule hadn't come out yet, we were studying film on him. You have to.”

What gave you confidence to bring Ramon Humber in after the first preseason game and that he could pick up the defense?

“He’s a smart kid. He played for us. We’ve done this a lot. We know that we had Ramon Humber out there. We wanted to bring some other people out there in and look at them, and see what their skill level was and at the end of the day, Ryan Pace and Mickey (Loomis) kept going back to Humber, (saying) “let’s give this guy a look and a chance.” So far he’s fared well for us. We trust him on special teams. He’s an outstanding special teams player. He then started playing some positive snaps for us on defense a year ago. He’s quick. He’s got range. He’s smart. His teammates respect him, so he fits right into the program.”

Is there a possibility Nick Toon returns this week?

“He’s probably doubtful for this week. He’s out of the boot now. He’s getting better every day. We feel fairly confident that he’s going to be ready to go against Tennessee.”

Would Ramon Humber make the defensive calls in the next game?

“No, Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) calls the defense. He (Humber) relays it in the huddle. He’ll have the earpiece on.”

You mentioned twice that he’s smart, is that helpful?

“You hear something in your ear; it comes out of your mouth to relay to the defense. It’s not nuclear science. We haven’t asked him to find a cure for cancer while he’s been here.”

When you look back at the missed tackles on Saturday, do you think the fact that you were on the road for a week up north, had some tough practices back here outside early in the week that you maybe wouldn’t do during the regular season have something to do with it?

“Every year, we put a new surface down in the dome (Mercedes-Benz Superdome). We had done this in the past. I would have probably served our football team a little better if I had taken them for a practice on the new turf. In pregame warm-up, (Mike) Mularkey was complaining to me about all their players falling down. Mike, I really don’t care about your players falling down. It’s not really my responsibility. But, I do think we got our cleats stuck a couple times and probably should have had a practice there first. That being said, the tackling’s been addressed. The tackling has to get better. We’re going to have tough practices here. We’re going to be on the road and come back and play games here. We have a Monday night game here and then have to turn around and play Atlanta on a Sunday, so all those things have nothing to do with it. We have to tackle better.”

Is there a reason Mark Ingram was not fully practicing?

“It was his regular rotation (rest). He’ll be out there tomorrow.”

Is there any reason to bring Curtis Lofton back before the start of the regular season?

“We’ll evaluate it. If he feels good to get some snaps in at the Tennessee game, we’ll evaluate it. Right now, he’s extremely doubtful for this game, you’ll probably say he’ll be evaluated after that.

Will Darren Sproles get any work this week?

“No.”

Can you give us an update on the statuses of Turk McBride and Tom Johnson?

“Turk’s running out there right now. He’s awful close. Tom Johnson’s probably going to be out another two weeks.”

In addition to relaying the calls, doesn’t Ramon Humber have to check the opposing offense’s calls and make adjustments?

“Yes, he does. That’s the nature of the job. He’s been in the system about three weeks. We’ll do all we can to help simplify it for him, try to help him with the things he does best and not burden him with too many calls. I don’t think they want to cancel the game. I think the game’s going to be played. They’re going to expect us to be there at 7:00 on time, so we’ll go with what we have.”

With David Hawthorne having a meniscus tear, is that similar to the time frame for the recovery for Adrian Arrington?

“I’m not a doctor. I don’t know.”

Is his injury on the left or right knee?

“That’s a good question. If it’s a left or a right, we treat it the same. We’re an equal opportunity employer, so we treat them both the same. I don’t think our trainers are going to treat it with their eyes folded, but we’re going to treat them the same.”

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