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Roman Harper on Monday's training camp practice

Posted Aug 15, 2016

Safety Roman Harper met with media following Monday's practice

New Orleans Saints Safety Roman Harper
2016 Training Camp Presented By Verizon Media Availability Transcript
Monday, August 15, 2016

You’ve played in different types of defenses both in New Orleans and Carolina over the years and are now back here. New Orleans gave up nearly five yards per carry rushing last year and you look what you were able to do at Carolina in terms of defensive results, is it players, scheme or a little bit of both?

“I think it’s going to be a combination of both, but I think it all boils down to attitude as well. Looking at what we have to do to stop the run is establishing an upfront game and gameplanning whether it’s seven people or a seven-and-a-half man front, eight people in the box, whatever you have to do to get it done, you have to do that. Also, limiting explosive runs. You look at our last game against New England we played the run very well besides two or three or four plays, but you let one out of the gate for 40something yards and you look up and you’re giving up five yards a carry. Those are the things you have to limit. You have to limit the big plays and the big runs and keep them in front of you. As long as you can keep them in front of you and pound in front of you, you give yourself a chance to limit those numbers. Because numbers sometimes can be a little off.”

Can you talk about what Cortland Finnegan adds to the defense for the younger guys having played with him last year in Carolina?

“A sense of leadership, attitude, a great veteran presence. He understands this defense. He’s played in something very similar to it and he can adjust. When emotions and different things happen he’s not going to panic. He’s been in a lot of ballgames, so just that calm and sense of ease when he’s out there and that playmaking ability. He knows who he is as a person and as a player. He’s been one of the best in the league for a long time so I love Cortland personally. We have very similar family situations and everything like that. On and off the field he’s a great guy, a great person to have in the room and I really enjoy being around him again.”

You talked about stopping the run against New England. Did you talk to Vonn Bell at all about where he was clearly trying to make a play and?

“Are you saying he missed a tackle? Yes, so the thing is with Vonn and I think that’s a great learning experience. You don’t know how to coach that or what to do sometimes until you’re put in the situation, so I’m glad it happened to him early. So as he’s closing down to a man, you need to go to the man. The angle, the banana route you’re coming in from you need the opposite angle and when he gets that down, boom he’s making the tackle or if he misses him you’re missing him to the other side where your teammate can clean it up for you and those are the little things that can take away from a 45-yard run, similar to a seven-yard run and we’re just lining up and playing again and it’s not a discussion. So, you can miss the tackle, but you have to miss it the other way. Those are the little things and little details that players learn as they learn this game and that’s what I’m here for as well, to try to help. I’m not going to coach-talk to you, but I’m going to teach you the game. When you do this, this is what you should be thinking, this is how you should be making these plays and this is how you miss these plays and these opportunities to make it better. I think he understands that. He did a great job of that the other day in practice yesterday, so you see the corrections everyday being corrected. You see the guys taking in what we’re teaching them. We’re making progress everyday. It’s very positive looking at the changes we’re making on a daily basis.”

What do you think of Vonn and his adjustment?

“I like Vonn. He’s very smart. He wants to be great. Anytime you have a player whose expectations are higher than the coaches has for him, you have a chance. You never want it the opposite. I love his game. I love his attitude, his personality. He wants to be great. He thinks he’s better than he is and that’s a great thing too. I’m not going to talk him down or talk him back. At the end of the day, you want a positive, a guy that’s almost borderline cocky. He likes what he does as a person and I like his game as well. We’ll coach up the rest of the little details and continue to let him go, but naturally he has a lot of gifts and you don’t want to slow those guys down when they have a lot of talent. He’s smart. He understands. He has a lot of great ball skills, great breaks on the middle side of the field, so he’s great to rediagnose and go. Other than that we’re going to be able to line him up and get him to play after that”

How would you sum up this first phase of training camp at The Greenbrier, where this team is and where you are headed?

“It’s all good so far. I have zero complaints. The weather’s been nice. It’s hard to complain when you get in the mountains and get a good view even when it’s hot outside or anything like that. I like where our team is at. I like the direction. I understand we still have a long way to go. We’re not even close to where we need to be, but we’re giving ourselves a chance by what we’re doing right now. We need to act with the same kind of mindset when we break from The Greenbrier, the type of intensity, type of mindset of how we’re trying to get better. We’re nowhere near where we want to be but we’re starting to work towards where we want to go. If we keep that mindset and that mentality, I think we’ll be good to go.”

How do the preseason games and the joint practices help younger players?

“It’s good. Just the fact that you’re able to see different routes, understanding how different teams are going to attack you. If you’re this type of team, a cover team, a quarters team, a man team, how these teams are going to attack you week in and week out no matter what the uniform color is, this is what teams do. All offensive schemes are similar and they just build it different ways. You have to understand that as a whole and understand what we’re willing to give up on each play and what we’re trying to defend and I think it will help us become smarter, I think that is the big thing for us right now, especially the defensive backfield. We have to be smarter situationally from down to down understanding what teams are trying to do to attack us and understanding what we’re trying to take away and limit. When we get that part of it we’ll be really good. Because we’re very athletic, very fast, very physical and talented. We have all the tools we need. It’s just situational thinking, making this game way more cerebral and now we’re thinking it out. We’re not just playing the game. We’re really playing the game and don’t just be a part of it.”