New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Thursday, July 26, 2012
"Akiem Hicks was the only player that did not participate in the workout today because of the hand and we are hoping to get him back on the field by Sunday or Monday. No injuries in practice today. It was a crisp practice; it was good to get everybody back into the flow of things."
How was your first practice with Drew Brees kind of leading the troops again?
"Outstanding. I don't think anybody's eyes lied to him. You guys were here and saw the practice. Excellent tempo, excellent ball location, in and out of the huddle, up and down, on and off, outstanding"
What about your young receivers out there? What did you see from them today?
"You could see from the springtime how they have gained confidence in the route-running, knowing the area of the field they have to get to, catching the ball outside the framework of their body. I thought Joe Morgan had a great catch today. Our receivers really battled for some long balls and won. I think that's an element that number nine brings to the huddle. He's going to put the ball on location and give you a chance to catch it."
I know you've seen some of those running backs, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory coming back from lower body injuries in the offseason, during the week. To see them go at this speed, they looked ready to go?
"Mark looked good at the conditioning test and so did Chris. I think they had a good first day. This is a process, and this is the first day, but for the first day they preformed very well. "
Do you have a timeframe on when Akiem Hicks will be ready to go?
"Well, due to the collective bargaining agreement, he's going to have to be non-padded for his first three days. So if he comes back Sunday, we are thinking potentially Wednesday. We just have to wait and see. This is a long training camp. He's going to get to play in some preseason (games). Let's not rush him back to the table, let's make sure he's healed, and let's see what goes on. We are expecting to get him back sometime with some non-contact on the field by the weekend."
How much interaction were you able to have with the linebackers today and how has that been?
"So far, the last couple of days, outstanding. A lot better than it was during the OTAs. It's a process that I have to keep building on."
Obviously this is the hand you've been dealt: only having one padded practice per day. What do you think about not having the two-a-days anymore?
"Well I'll tell you, the rest of the league has been dealt this hand too. I think whoever handles it the best is going to have the best chance of winning. Our walkthrough has been very productive. You saw today, our practice was very productive. This is one of 17 practices that we're going to have. So far, so good."
From an NFL standpoint, you guys have had a lot to deal with this offseason. Today, you guys had to go to court and guys are showing up 45 minutes late to practice. It's got to be a little different.
"Well this was planned. The players that went down there to testify missed none of what we call "testing sessions." They missed some of the early walkthroughs, some of what we call the "raw progression walkthroughs." Practice really started with the nine-on-seven, seven-on-seven, dropback screen and draw, perimeter play action pass; they were there for all of that. This was planned, and they really didn't miss any of the stuff that we were filming."
How was the overall tempo and energy level today? Did you like what you saw?
"Absolutely. That's one of the earmarks of this football team is tempo: getting in and out of the huddle, getting lined up, and trying to keep our opponent off-balance a little bit. This is something that needs to be practiced everyday. It's an earmark of what we do and I think it was a great start."
Is Tyrunn Walker worth taking a look at?
"You know what, we are looking at him right now. He's new to our program, he just got here so he's in the evaluation process right now."
Some of your players have been in and out of court today. Has that been a distraction to you?
"No. We knew this was coming. Our players really looked forward to being with their teammates. They missed a little bit in the beginning of practice, but they were here for all of the testing sessions. They were late some, but we anticipated that and they really got 99% of the work that they had to get in today. "
What did you think about the defensive backs and how they performed?
"That's a good question. Now, the receivers caught some long balls on us today. The secondary guys were right there. We're asking, because they're not in pads, to kind of make it kind of non-contested. So the secondary guys were there, the receivers made some outstanding catches, but now as we get into our padded practices, the DBs have to make the plays on those balls. And like I said before, Drew (Brees) is going to put those balls in places where he is going to give the receivers a chance to catch the ball, which is great work for our corners."
Is it weird not having Sean Payton here with you on the opening day of training camp?
"Yeah. It was weird not having Sean here for the OTAs, it was weird not having Sean here for the mini-camps, it was weird not having Sean there for the draft, all those things. That's not going to change. "
Did you get a chance to see all of the fans lined up for practice before the rain came?
"I sure did. When we got back today, we saw that lightning in the distance so we tried to make the decision as early as possible when we were going indoors so that they could take cover. It's a scary situation out there. We've got all the fans out there in a line, we've got lightning strikes in the area, so we tried to make that decision as early as we could for the safety of our fans."
Are you going to be excited to practice in front of them tomorrow?
"Absolutely, I mean we were looking forward to getting out there in front of them today. Listen, these are our fans, man. These are the people who take us through tough times. We enjoy going to play in front of them just as much as they enjoy coming out to see us. But for their safety, we just wanted to make that decision as early as we could."
Today at practice we saw Cam Jordan dropping back from defensive end and getting his hands on the ball. Will we see more opportunities like that in this zone defense?
"Based on the deployment of linebackers and secondary we have in a blitz, we could potentially drop a defensive end into coverage and based on the route he's going to get, he's going to get a flat, he may cover a seam route or a hook-in. That's what we are going to do as part of what the scheme is this year. Absolutely."
It didn't seem like Drew Brees missed anything with minicamp and OTAs. He looked extremely sharp today.
"Yes. And I think that's what we have told you all, (due to) his work habits during the off-season. Did he want to be here? Absolutely. He's made the best of a tough situation by not being with his teammates and by coming here in great shape. He came in today and showed his great leadership qualities that he has, great accuracy on the ball, good zip. He's got a lot of pent up frustration; he hasn't played since San Francisco. He was happy to be out there."