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Coaches Recap Rookie Mini-Camp

Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt, Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon spoke with the media on Monday.


New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael and Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon

Post-Rookie Minicamp Media Availability

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vitt Opening Statement:"Thursday night we brought 64 players in here for our rookie minicamp. One of the things we try to do around here is not assume anything. Really this is an indoctrination for all our rookies, to the football operations aspect of the program. They talk to the trainers. The trainers give an orientation and (discuss) the proper protocol in the training room. The equipment department talks to them and fits them for their uniforms. Our PR people meet with them and make them understand what their media obligations are and then Thursday night we get into install. We install Thursday night and Friday morning and then had two practices Friday. We tell the players when they come here, they undergo no only a physical evaluation but a mental evaluation. Can the player learn? Does he know what to do and will he do it? Does he do it on a consistent basis? I would say overall the whole weekend was great. Our players came in here and they really worked hard. They tried to do what was being asked of them. The tempo was good. The attention to detail was outstanding by these young guys. At the conclusion of minicamp on Sunday, they went into the weight room. Dan Dalrymple gave them an orientation of the weight room and discussed what was expected of them. Overall it was an exciting weekend. We haven't been on the field since the San Francisco game. It was great to get back on the field and be around these players. It was a real good weekend."

Vitt Q: Did anyone in particular stand out?

Vitt A:"I thought (Nick) Toon had a good weekend. I thought he caught the ball well. He ran routes very well and ran with the ball well afterwards. I thought (Akiem) Hicks did well. He ran after the ball well, especially on a couple screens. For a big man, you saw his speed and range. And again, these minicamps are a little different with the new CBA. We're really trying to teach our offense and defense. We're having them take two steps and pull up. So, I think the line evaluation is going to be a little tougher with this new agreement, but our guys responded to it."

Vitt, Spagnuolo Q: How has Greg Romeus' progress been coming off the knee injury that sidelined him last season?

Vitt A:"I thought he did well."

Spagnuolo:"He didn't look out of place and it's been a while. He lost a lot at that last season at Pitt. He looks the part. He looks the way they're supposed to look as defensive ends. But, he's obviously very rusty."

Vitt:"What I thought was encouraging was his conditioning was very good. He didn't hold back on anything. He went full speed on his pursuit."

Spagnuolo Q: Can you expand on the progress of Hicks and does he show some rawness having been in Canada the last two years?

Spagnuolo A:"A lot of energy. He was very in tune. I do not think he got overwhelmed with the volume. I preface that with that we did not feed the guys a lot of volume. But I would echo what Coach Vitt said where it's very difficult to get good feel for a lineman when you don't have any pads on. Their game is physical and banging heads on every play. With this particular camp you can't do that. In all the things we could assess, in terms of athletic ability and how he moved around, I thought it was very good."

Vitt Q: If Drew Brees is not here next week, do you plan on bringing in another quarterback?

Vitt A:"Yes, we looked at a couple more. Potentially we could."

Carmichael Q: Is it a world of difference for you not having Drew in here to talk to him?

Carmichael A:"Obviously at this point, we haven't missed anything with him. The guys are in the weight room. Obviously we're going to miss the leadership he brings, but this is going to be an opportunity for Chase (Daniel) and Sean (Canfield) to get more reps and (for us to) get a good look at those guys."

Carmichael Q: Does it affect your preparations with Chase Daniel there instead of Drew Brees to start the OTA's?

Carmichael A:"No, we've been meeting all offseason offensively. Really, this week we're going to use what we're doing next week to get ready. We're going to throw the volume of offense at them that we would in a normal week. It won't be any different in that aspect."

Carmichael Q: How has Chase responded to this? Is he eager to step up?

Carmichael A:"I think he is. Obviously we haven't had any time with him in the classroom. Really he's just focusing on the weight room. This will be an opportunity for him and he knows it. He'll have an opportunity to work with the ones if Drew's not here."

Carmichael Q: Do you take it as a compliment if it seems internally as well as externally, people seem to think the offense is still in good hands even in the absence of Sean Payton?

Carmichael A: "I think the experience is something that helps from last year. I hate the way that it happened last year, but from a confidence standpoint it helps. To be honest we're going to miss Sean. I think everyone knows that and we're just going to have to do our job."

Carmichael Q: Do you feel that this year your job is similar to how it's always been or is it different now?

Carmichael A: "I think what I've been doing since I've been here every year more and more I think has been more responsibility. I feel comfortable going into next year. I don't think the job's going to change too much."

Vitt Q: Can you discuss the team's confidence in Pete?

Vitt A: "We kind of hit on this last year. Nobody knows Drew Brees as well as Pete. Nobody knows Pete as well as Drew Brees. They were tied at the hip in San Diego, so they speak a common language and common verbiage. After Sean (Payton) got hurt, Pete called 95 percent of the offense a year ago and had to install a lot of the offense during the week. This is not uncharted waters for him and it's not uncharted waters for our offense. Again, are we going to miss Sean? Absolutely. He's unique in what he does. I think Pete has proven and our offense has proven what they can do when Sean's on the shelf."

Vitt Q: With all that's gone on around here how has it been to get back to football?

Vitt A: "I think the question is twofold. Number one we couldn't wait to get back on, because that's what we do. We couldn't wait to get back on the field because of the offseason we had here and really to coach the group of guys in here that were eager to learn, eager to compete, eager to do what was being asked of them, was even that much more fun. It was a good weekend. It really was."

Vitt Q: What will you miss the most about Sean Payton, in terms of you terming him unique in his approach?

Vitt A: "It's a good question. I said it to Spags a couple times. As soon as we got off the practice field, ever since I've been here in '06, Sean and I would go right into meeting and we'd start to critique the practice and (discuss) what we may want to do differently in the afternoon. We may want to go indoors in the afternoon. That critique after practice, I didn't have it this year. That's the first thing that hit me right away. The next thing that hit me right away was not having him on the practice field. We would do a lot of communication on the practice field. Look at this player. Look at that player. What do you think of this? I didn't have that. There was a huge void right from the get go. It's something we have to get used to."

Vitt Q: Have you found yourself thinking what would his thought be in this situation?

Vitt A: "Every day. I think the biggest one was off the field going into his office thinking about getting ready for the afternoon practice, the last practice. That wasn't there."

McMahon Q: Was John Kasay brought back for the purpose of competition with Garrett Hartley in camps?

McMahon A: "Yes, we're going to make it competitive absolutely. All phases of our team are. We re-signed John for a reason. Garrett knows that and it will certainly be good competition. It's healthy. It's good for us."

McMahon Q: Often the late round picks are brought in for the purpose of initially contributing on special teams. Did any stand out for that purpose?

McMahon A: "I think the guys we signed to the roster that came in (produced). Certainly Corey White is a draft pick we're excited about. He did a good job. What we try to do special teams wise in rookie minicamp are a lot of evaluation type of drills. Certainly our fundamental techniques, but we're going to do some cover drill, to see if they can transition and things like that. We got good work with them. We're excited about this class. We think it's a good class and with the undrafted free agents and draft picks that we received some good evaluations on."

Vitt:"I think a good example of that is (Lawrence) Wilson who we signed at the conclusion of the camp from UConn. He did a good job on special teams this weekend. We obviously saw his athleticism in individual drills and that's how he really made the roster."

Vitt Q: A lot of fans are worked up about a report that the Saints and Drew Brees haven't talked in over a month. Do you have any thought on that?

Vitt A: "No, I don't."

Vitt Q: How do you go forward with the potential ramifications facing Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith?

Vitt A: "Both of those players were in the building today and we're moving forward. We had a great film session with these guys. I think I have to go back to what we said a couple weeks ago. We're trying to win today. Today, we got a little bit better than yesterday. This weekend we got a little bit better than the previous weekend. We're going to adjust those challenges when we have to face them."

Vitt Q: Do you need to have conversations with Mickey Loomis or do you want to have conversations with Mickey Loomis in regards to Drew Brees' contract?

Vitt A: "I've never been a math major and I'm not an accounting major so there's nothing I could advise Mickey to do that what he already knows how to do. Those guys are both on the same page and have the same aspirations and same goals. This is going to get done. I don't anybody ever thought it was going to be easy. I think they're both working to the same goal."

Spagnuolo Q:Do you have the fire getting onto the practice field for the first time here and coming from different programs, what is your approach to OTA's?

Spagnuolo A:"It won't be any different than any other place I've been. But I know one thing about here and I felt it as soon as I got here. I think these players understand that this league is all about competition. During the season you're competing against other teams. Now they're competing against each other. When you have that, the team gets better as a team. That's why they've been so good here. I think with Mickey, Sean (Payton) and Joe, they have always continued to bring more people in to compete. It was great to get back on the practice field. I enjoy the teaching part. It was nice to get on the field. It was disappointing Joe had us inside when it really didn't rain.

Vitt:"I hate lighting."

Spagnuolo:"I have to razz you a little bit for that Joe. No it was good to get out there and do some coaching. I really look forward to next week when we can get the full allotment of guys out there to do some things."

Spagnuolo Q: Will you guys be looking at some depth issues at cornerback?

Spagnuolo A:"There are a lot of concerns. There's competition there, but we do know who the two guys are that were there from last year (Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson). Corey White will certainly be in there, Johnny Patrick, Marquis Johnson who we just added to the fold here. There will be a bunch of these young guys. I will be saying it through the whole offseason here is there will be a lot of competing. One of the things we have to find here is a third corner, nickel back. We'll be looking for that."

Carmichael Q: What impresses you about Nick Toon so far?

Carmichael A:"Obviously he knows the business a little from his dad. The maturity and going out on the field we were able to put him in a couple of different positions and the volume was not a challenge to him, even though there wasn't a whole lot of volume. He could get lined up at a couple of different spots and ran his routes real well. I thought he showed great hands. He was a guy we felt real good about after the rookie camp."

Spagnuolo Q: What do you guys make of Marquis Johnson?

Spagnuolo A:"I familiar obviously because I had him in St. Louis. He's been banged up a little bit, but we've said it and Joe and I have talked about it a lot that these players that come out of this Alabama program, especially on defense for whatever reason (have been impressive). I think we know the reason. They have good coaching down there. Marquis has shown that. Marquis is new here and has some things to work through. He knows that. It's a second chance. We'll give him a good look."

Vitt Q: Have there been any decisions made about training camp and how much time will be spent here yet? Is there any consideration to going anywhere else?

Vitt A:"I think there is consideration and we'll be ready to announce that in about a week. I think that we're going to open up our training camp here. We'll open up a little early because we have the Hall of Fame game and then we'll probably go and practice against one of our upcoming opponents in training camp. I think Mickey's ready to talk about it in a week when it gets settled, but we'll go away, kind of like we did in California for a week. We did it two years before that in Houston. We'll go away and practice with an opponent that we have in our preseason schedule."

Vitt Q: Is that the only time you're practicing away from here?

Vitt A:"Yes, it would be that somewhere close to that Hall of Fame game."

Vitt Q: It wouldn't be two separate things would it? It would be like New England two years ago and Houston that year?

Vitt A:"Exactly."

Vitt Q: It wouldn't be like in Oxnard?

Vitt A:"No, it would be practicing with an opponent we're going to play. We've been working on it during the offseason and we're working on getting that cinched."

Carmichael Q: At what point on the calendar, do you get worried about the offense and not having Drew Brees in here?

Carmichael A:"Obviously we want him in the building. We just have to go forward with what's here right now. Obviously as Joe Vitt said, Drew and Mickey are going to get this worked out. We can't spend time worrying about it. We have to move forward. We're going to keep the same volume of what we're going to install and just go from there."

Vitt:"The only thing that Drew has missed to this point right now is the conditioning program. When Drew reports, he's going to be the best conditioned athlete on our football team, so there has been no time lost."

Carmichael Q: Has Drew missed a lot not being with the team?

Carmichael A:"We have a lot of leaders on this team and so, when the time is right, we'll be excited when he gets here."

Carmichael Q: At what point in a normal offseason would you know what plays you want to install for offseason programs?

Carmichael A: "We kind of go as the offseason goes.  We put together our rookie camp a couple of weeks ago.  Right now this week, we're concentrating on what we're going to do for the OTAs and for minicamp.  We'll have all that done this week.  A lot of what we put into the minicamp carries into training camp."

Carmichael Q: Would most of the play installments have been done by now if Sean Payton was here anyway?

Carmichael A: "I would say 95 percent of it is carried over from years before, and then five percent or maybe ten percent is maybe something new that you put in the year before that you liked.  This is really going on year seven for us with Sean's (Payton) offense.  The progression is pretty smooth."

Vitt Q: With the way the season ended in San Francisco, can you see it in the players that they're ready to get back to work?

Vitt A: "There's no doubt.  I don't know that we've got that taste out of our mouths yet from that San Francisco loss.  That was heartbreaking.  It's carried over a little bit to the offseason.  We've talked about it a lot.  Our players in the offseason conditioning program up to this point have been phenomenal.  The weight work has been good.  Our players' weights are good.  Our film sessions have been outstanding.  To this point right now in this offseason, it really couldn't have been better.  Our guys are working hard.  Our leadership has really done a good job within the locker room.  I think with the new acquisitions of our players, they are everything that we thought they would be up to this point.  They've meshed very well with the existing players that we have on our team.  It's been a great offseason, it really has."

Vitt Q: Are you at all concerned with the health of Mark Ingram?

Vitt A: "I think anytime you see a player limping around with a late-season offseason surgery like he had, you're concerned.  What I'm not concerned about is his dedication to getting better and his accountability to his teammates.  He's shows up to treatment on time every day.  He's not late.  He's taken a good business approach to this thing.  The surgery is probably something that he didn't have to get done, but as an organization we all agreed that he should get it done to make him a stronger player.  Mark (Ingram) is a dependable guy now.  He's not going to miss his treatment.  He gets his work done.  You're concerned obviously with this, but not much with him."

Vitt Q: Do you think he's a green light for the beginning of the season?

Vitt A: "I think he's a green light.  We'll probably have to back off a little bit at the beginning of training camp, but I think he's a green light by when the season starts.  Absolutely."

Vitt Q: Are there any guys that might not be ready for next week?

Vitt A: "There are a couple of guys.  We'll go over that with you guys when the time comes.  There are going to be a couple of guys we'll back off of.  Obviously (Jonathan) Vilma, we're going to back off on.  Jahri Evans, we've got to back off on a little bit.  That's been an ongoing process with the rehab this offseason.  There are no surprises."

Vitt Q: Did Jahri Evans have offseason surgery?

Vitt A: "No, not that I'm aware of.  He's a little sore right now."

Spagnuolo Q: How would you rate the acquisition of free agent Jerico Nelson?

Spagnuolo A: "That's a good group.  There are three guys that the pro personnel department signed after the draft, three young guys.  I just said this to Mickey (Loomis) this morning that that's as good a group of three post-draft that you could get.  Now where we'll go or what will happen, who knows.  We've still got to get in there and compete, but I thought all those guys – Jose Gumbs, Jerico Nelson, Johnny Thomas – all did enough things to say, 'These guys have a chance.' So we'll see."

Vitt: "I think it's interesting.  You talk about the safety position, that's been one of the positions over the past six or seven years that's the most difficult to fill on your roster.  I think the position has changed in the National Football League where you'd like to have a safety that can also cover man-to-man on a wide receiver, good blitz ability and then range on the back end.  They're hard to find.  Spags and I were talking about this after Sunday's practice, this is as good of a young group as we've ever had here."

Spagnuolo Q: One of your safeties led the defense in tackles and sacks last season.  Is that something you want out of you safety?

Spagnuolo A: "You just want the tackles to be really close to the line of scrimmage.  It doesn't matter who gets them, you just don't want them to be downfield.  It's a great skill.  You've got to be talking about Roman Harper.  When you have a guy that's that effective, you want to use him and obviously they did last year.  It's a good thing to have."

Vitt Q: Last season when Sean Payton went down, the coaches kind of divvied up some of the duties.  Are you all planning on doing that again this season?

Vitt A: "Yes, there's no doubt.  We've started to do that already.  We'll get more comprehensive with that as the offseason goes."

Carmichael Q: Normally, would all the coaches at this time be working corroboratively anyway and what do you miss most about not having Sean Payton here?

Carmichael A: "Yes.  We miss everything we know about him.  He's special.  He has some magic to him, but during the offseason he usually lets the coaches coach and he kind of oversees and pays attention to what the whole team is doing.  For us up to this point, other than him maybe not being able to come in and giving the OK to what we're doing, not much has changed from that perspective."

Vitt Q: You joked at the draft about being able to draft more defensive players.  Is there anything else you're enjoying while you're running the show?

Vitt A: "I just know that I blow the horn to go to the next period when Spags is doing his install on defense.  The offense is waiting on the defense now."

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