In attendance at LSU's 2011, Pro Day, where 12 NFL hopefuls performed in front of NFL scouts and coaches, was a large Saints contingent, consisting of Executive VP/General Manager Mickey Loomis and several members of his personnel staff, Head Coach Sean Payton and his entire coaching staff. Loomis met with the media at the workout and discussed several topics:
Team Business Moving Forward As Usual:Despite the NFL work stoppage as the league and the NFL Players Association work to reach a CBA, Loomis insists that the football operations staff and coaches have not significantly altered their mode of operations from previous years. While coaches are engaged in preparations for the upcoming season, as well as evaluating potential draft picks, the scouting staff is arduously preparing for the 2011 selection meeting. In addition to Pro Days like today that are a part of the process over the next six weeks, the club also has the option of inviting a number of draft eligible players to their facility, while other players will hold private workouts.
"For a football operation, it's pretty much business as usual right now," said Loomis "We're heavy in to our draft preparation. Our coaches have been doing their work on the things that they did and we did a year ago. They have college evaluations to do. For us it's pretty much business as usual."
Pro Day Chatter:In addition to his everyday duties as the club's chief football executive, Loomis makes a point of it to go out on the road to a handful of Pro Days every year prior to the draft, concentrating his efforts on workouts with a large number of players to look at. Due to both the proximity and wealth of talent, the LSU pro day is always on his list.
"We have a lot of respect for LSU. We have a great relationship not just with the coaching staff, but the entire administration here. We appreciate the relationship we have. Obviously they have a lot of great players here that have gone on to success in the NFL and we have a few of them in Randall Gay and Devery Henderson and we've had others. Anytime we can come and look at good prospects, I'm more than happy to do that."
Roster Moves:Loomis discussed with the media the trio of roster moves that the club made last week. Two of the moves were re-upping with K Garrett Hartley and RB Pierre Thomas to five- and four-year deals respectively. While Hartley solidifies the specialist area along with P Thomas Morstead, he was especially excited to have Thomas return to the fold. The club's leading rusher in the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Thomas was plagued by an ankle injury in 2010 that limited him to six games, however, that has been corrected by January surgery and Loomis said that he expects to have him back for training camp.
"He's been an important piece of our team for a number of years," said Loomis "I have a lot of respect for the way he came into our program as an undrafted free agent and the hard work he's put in. I'm glad he's going to be with us."
Loomis also discussed the acquisition of free agent DT Shaun Rogers, who was signed by the club last week as well. The 6-4, 350-pound player has been selected to three Pro Bowls and has been recognized for both his run-stopping and pass-rushing ability from the middle. However, Rogers has never been on a playoff team in his three seasons and voiced his excitement to the football and coaching staff at being able to join a club that has experienced these highs the past two seasons.
"He's a talented player and it's an opportunity to improve our roster, give him an opportunity to play for us and be in a different environment than he's been in," said Loomis.
Quotes from LSU Players:
DB Patrick PetersonOn choosing not to run the 40-yard dash at the LSU Pro Day:
"I was definitely comfortable with my time (at NFL Combine). I didn't want to come out here and pull anything and try to stress myself on running a 4.2. I really wanted to run a 4.2, but I was satisfied with the 4.34 I ran in Indianapolis."
On talk that some teams might want to use him as a safety:
"I see it as a positive because I can play every position in the secondary. I can play corner, nickel or if they need me to play safety I can play safety. Right now, I primarily focused on playing corner."
DL Drake Nevis:On what he looked to improve on from the NFL Combine:
"My goal was to improve my 40-yard dash time. I also did the 'L' drill and some position drills. I ran a 5.0 at the combine and got a 4.9 so that went well."
WR Terrence ToliverOn working with Saints WR Coach Curtis Johnson:
"It was fun. I was talking a lot with him saying how we do this and that and he told me 'You always want to coach' (laughter). It is just the pedigree I come with the coaches I have worked with taught me a lot."
On what he has been looking to improve:
"I've been working on route running and coming out of breaks. I've been trying to be more focused throughout the process. I'm just trying to do what I have to do. I need to come out during my workouts and catch every ball. I want to have great interviews also."
LB Kelvin Sheppard:
On working with Saints Assistant Head Coach/LB Coach Joe Vitt:
"He is a great coach. He gave me some tips actually during my workout. You normally don't see that. They normally just want to see what you can do but he stepped in and gave me some great advice."
S Jai Eugene:
On what he has focused on while training for today:
"I have mainly focused on my technique. I focused on my technique while I trained in New Orleans, and I have just done things to try to make me a better football player. I am willing to do whatever I need to do to get better."