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Spagnuolo Looks to Improve Defensive Front

Saints Defensive Coordinator talks about what he is looking to get out of the team's mini-camp


New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Media Availability
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are you pleased with the progress made by Greg Romeus?
"Yes. Greg has been out there. It is nice to see him healthy. I remember him coming out of college, having that great junior year and then (suffering) all of those injuries. I have heard Joe (Coach Vitt) say that last year was a little like a redshirt year for him. This is when I am sure he would like to shine and so far, so good."

Did you overlap with Brodrick Bunkley in Philadelphia?
"Yes. He was there as a rookie. He got off to a slow start but then, being in the division (with the New York Giants), I watched him as I left there and I thought he really bloomed into a good football player. He had a good year in Denver and now we are glad he is here. I think he is glad too. I know the rest of the players feel his presence there, so that's a good thing. In any team sport, you have to be strong down the middle. Certainly in this sport and with our defense, it begins with the two tackles and the Mike linebacker."

Do you think the change from going from Philadelphia to Denver was good for him?
"I guess the expectations are whatever you put on yourself. I am not into stats and all of that. I am just glad he is here. I am not really interested in going back on what he did or didn't do. I am glad he is with the New Orleans Saints."

What is it that stands out about him?
"He is a detailed guy. He has a high motor for a big guy. He is strong as an ox. Even Dan (Dalrymple) recognized that right away in the weight room. He is a worker. He stepped right in here and didn't skip a beat. I've learned real quick that what Sean (Payton) has built with Joe (Vitt), Mickey (Loomis), and the rest of the coaches here is a group that works hard no matter what they are doing. Bunk just kind of fell in place."

How much did you need to look at the defensive tackle position when joining the team?
"I would go back to what I said (earlier), down the middle is where you are going to be strongest. We are always going to look at that first. You can see the moves we made with the tackles and the Mike linebacker. It has worked out. I said this a couple weeks ago but it is hard to fully get the feel without the pads because especially on defense, this game is a physical one. Hopefully it all pieces together when we do that."

What did you like about Elbert Mack?
"He is a feisty corner. Every time we turned the tape on, he was making a play. He is flexible in that he has played the outside and he has played the nickel spot. That was an interest of ours. I am sure if you ask Mickey (Loomis) he would say the same thing, all we are trying to do is bring good football players in here to compete, get the level of everybody going up, and I think Elbert is a guy who can do that."

Can you talk about Jerico Nelson?
"Yeah, I can. Very impressive. I say that because I just patted him on the shoulder today. Without giving you the full example, he said something in the huddle that a five-year veteran says. It was an alert in a third-and-one situation. I was very impressed by that. He is vocal and confident. When you are a safety in this system, you have to be that way because other people are listening to you. I am really impressed with what he has done to this point with the mental (aspect) and we will find out more about the physical and the athletic talent when we get pads on. I am very impressed."

Are you envisioning Marquis Johnson and Elbert Mack at the nickel?
"Right now, you have Elbert, Marquis, Johnny Patrick and Corey White working there. We really have four. With what the league did (expansion of roster sizes), it really helped us all out. They have us at 90 now so you have a couple extra guys you can work with. At some point we will have to cut that down to two or three and work with a limited number. Right now, we are going to open it up and let all of the guys go. Johnny has been doing a good job. Marquis knows the system. Corey White, for a young guy, is picking it up. Elbert Mack has to play catch-up."

Was this afternoon's tempo slower than usual?
"The tempo has to be a walk-through tempo. There is no full-speed in the second practice. In training camp, it is the same thing with the one walk-through practice and a normal practice that is padded for up to three hours. You would have seen it out here last year, one was a walk-through. This practice is what you would normally have in training camp. You have one aggressive one, full-speed, and one that is a teaching one. That is the tempo that you saw. The morning practice tomorrow will be full-speed."

Is your coaching style more about teaching than yelling and screaming?
"I don't know. I am not passing judgment on anybody's style. There are a lot of different ways to get it done. I am who I am. Our coaches are who they are.  When you are putting in something new, you have to go at a teaching tempo. You have to keep feeding it to them and repeating it. I hope that they pick it up. It doesn't do us (coaches) any good to know. It is the players that have to know and they are the ones working."

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