New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, July 27, 2012
Opening Statement:"Just a couple of things before we get started, a couple of announcements. Number one: I've been blessed to be around a bunch of great players in my life. One of the great players that I've been with on two different teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the St. Louis Rams, we drafted him when I was in Los Angeles, Isaac Bruce has been with us the last few days. He played with Henry Ellard and Henry coached him in St. Louis. Isaac is a special guy to me in my life. He played for 16 years in the National Football League. He's got over 1000 receptions, 91 touchdowns, and 14.3 yards per catch. This guy is an amazing player and I'm thankful to have him here. We had an amazing day today with Steve Gleason. It was an emotional day with Steve Gleason. I feel bad that it was inside and had to go outside, but I thought our organization and our players did a great job and I hope we did a good job for Steve Gleason. Our football team now: David Thomas did not practice today. He's got a little bit of a lower back strain. He should be back tomorrow or the next day. We came back inside today because of the weather. I feel terrible for our fans, but that's just the way it is. The field is soggy; there's no footing out there. We fully expect to go out tomorrow afternoon in full pads."
Can you talk about the play of Patrick Robinson two days in a row?
"Outstanding. Locating the ball in the air, going with the proper arm, defending speed. Outstanding. Outstanding. He got better last year and he had a good day today. As did Adrian Arrington; he had a great day today."
Coach I saw Mark Ingram over there riding the stationary bike and missing out on some reps. Did he do something today?
"No. This is strictly protocol for bringing him back from the toe and the knee and, listen, we are going to take him into it slowly. We've got to remember that we've got five preseason games. We've got the extra game and we're going to bring him along at the proper pace."
Your reaction to Thomas Morstead getting a long-term deal done? He's obviously one of the better punters in the league.
"For my money I think he's one of the top punters. I think people forget at times that he is also our kickoff guy. He does such a great job on the kickoffs, placing the ball and giving our coverage unit a chance to make tackles. We're talking about a guy that's got great passion for the game, works out year-round, he's active in our community. He's the exact kind of player that we're looking for and we're excited for him. We are lucky to have him."
What brought about bringing Isaac Bruce in?
"We got the opportunity to bring in some of my former players. I've got the opportunity to bring in some guys that have meant a lot to me during the course of my life. Isaac did the prayer before my daughter was married. I've had the opportunity to bring some special guys around and I like being around them. I hope some of him rubs off on me."
Coach can you talk about your defensive install so far?
"I think our defensive install has been right on course. This is the third install we've had. We had one install in the OTAs, we've installed in the mini-camps, and we are coming back to install this the same way. Now we are installing a little different in the progression, but it's the same defenses. I thought we were better today than we were yesterday. This a new defense so a lot of communication has got to take place, and I think we got better today."
Are you anxious to see how this kicker battle will play out?
"Absolutely. We've got the old vet (John Kasay) and we've got the young kid (Garrett Hartley). The young kid, we wouldn't have a ring without. The old guy is stable and dependable. The competition is on and it's exciting."
What have you seen out of safety Jose Gumbs?
"You know what, it's amazing. You see some intelligence, he makes some good checks. He does a good job anticipating what the checks are. He's got range, and really even as a safety you've got to put the pads on and really locate the ball in the air and go up and get it. So far he's been pretty good."
Do you think there's opportunity for a guy like that (Gumbs) to make this roster?
"It doesn't matter where you come from. It doesn't matter what your draft status is. If you can help us win, you're going to be here. That's always been our motto, so we've got a long way to go in this process."
What do you think about the new artwork in the facility?
"You know what? That's Dallas Clark's third quarter catch in the Super Bowl, and he's looking at me. If you ask every player on our roster, they will tell you that he's looking at him. Everybody here has gotten that look."
Who's idea was it (the picture)?
"That was Mr. Benson's idea. Do your job. Sean and Mickey built this program and we're doing everything Sean would do and we are trying to do it without him right now. We are trying to make him proud of us, and that's just a reminder."
Can you comment a little bit on Devery Henderson's role in the offense and how it may change this year?
"His role is not going to change. Devery has been a big player in our scheme. He's the incumbent, and it's not going to change."
Can you talk about the linebacker play thus far?
"It's tough without the pads on yet. But I think it shows that we are better today than we were yesterday. Curtis Lofton, I think, verbalized the defenses more today. He got us out of some bad defenses and got us into some other ones. David Hawthorne continues to grow. (Scott) Shanle's been playing well. Will Herring just came in on the fly last year. He's learning the system now the way that you're supposed to learn the system. Chris Chamberlain already knows the system. I think we've got a good group. Jonathan Casillas, although he didn't participate as much in the OTAs because of the back, is showing improvement and you can see it in the way he's playing right now."
Are there some similarities between Jonathan Vilma and Lofton in terms of their leadership styles?
"Let's let that play out. JV is a special guy. Let's not put all of this on Curtis right now. He's learning the system and will let his leadership come out through example."
Can you describe the battle for the third, if not fourth, tight end position?
"Michael Higgins has had a great offseason. Higgins had a great day today. Higgins caught the ball well today. But the biggest thing you see in him is the ability to block from the perimeter right now. I've said this before and I think that any player who's second year in the league benefits because they've had that rookie year to learn the game and learn the system. So Higgins played well today."
What type of progression do you need to see with Chris Ivory? He's been troubled with injuries, but we have seen what he has done in the past.
"I think Chris Ivory has really matured. I think Chris Ivory is healthy now, and in our conversations with Chris, we have discussed his maintenance program. We have to make sure he's lifting properly, we have to make sure he's stretching properly. We have to make sure he's doing all the things he needs to do in order to stay on the field. I think he's really matured, just like a lot of guys when they first come in this league. He's growing as a person and as a player. He understands pass protections much better than he ever did before. I think that's exciting."
Can you discuss the difference between a college workout regiment and the NFL training regiment?
"I've never coached at the college level, but I think this is the men's league. We play on Sundays. We ain't playing on Saturday for a keg of beer, and this is not underhand softball. This is a different speed. This is a marathon season. The competition is against world-class athletes every day in practice and the games on Sundays. Chris (Ivory) has really been somewhat of an impact player since he's been here. He's grown as a person, he's becoming more mature, and I think he's someone that we are really going to depend on now."
Can you talk about your expectations for a guy like Cam Jordan?
"Like I said, I think that is where you see the biggest growth spurt. Cam was a starter for us last year. He came into camp in outstanding shape. His weight is down ten pounds. You understand the daily grind, you understand the daily lifting, you understand the daily preparation. It takes most people a year to get adjusted, and that's where you see the biggest growth spurt of a player that's really going to be something in the NFL is year two. Same thing with Patrick Robinson."
Can you talk about the way Steve Spagnuolo looks at a player and maybe envisions new roles and new assignments for that player?
"One of Steve's biggest assets is his ability to put players in what they do best and in the right positions. He is constantly watching film. He's a very creative coach. He's got a great mind and he doesn't ask players to do what they can't do. The players come first with him, not the scheme. I think that's exciting."