New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
"We had good work this morning. I thought we worked through the heat and humidity well. We are going to take our guys indoors this afternoon. We think there is some weather on the way. We are in a walk-through mode anyway like we were yesterday afternoon. We got the majority of our work done this morning."
Is it nice to see a little fire out there from the guys?
"I think we will back off. We will probably take them to a petting zoo tomorrow. Maybe do something nice for them like that. Yeah, it was great."
What was that all about?
"I didn't ask. We don't fill out questionnaires before something like that happens. It happened, everything is fine."
Why were Zach Strief and Chris Ivory held out?
"Zach has an ankle. He is going to be ok. We are just keeping him off it. We have him in a boot just to take precautions with it. Chris Ivory has a high-hamstring. It is not a sprain, it is just a little strain. We are just getting him ready for training camp."
How do you evaluate the defense's ability to make interceptions in practice?
"We like it. The defensive staff loves it and the offensive staff hates it but it is competitive. I thought Chase (Daniel) really had a good practice. Chase threw two bad balls and both got picked. I thought he did a good job setting protections. I thought he did an outstanding job in the first period. He did a good converting on third down. He threw two balls that he wanted back in the third period. He had a good day."
Do you like to see a little activity like that? A skirmish?
"This is not new. This is not something that has never happened before. It is hot, they are working hard, tempers flare. We have a little scrum than we break it up and go back to work."
Do you plan to hold out Zach Strief and Chris Ivory until training camp?
"We are going to re-evaluate them on Monday. They are going to miss this afternoon and tomorrow. We will get them treatment over the weekend and evaluate on Monday."
Will you talk about the third quarterback position?
"Quarterbacks are important more than ever. We have a quarterback here now (Luke McCown) that is participating in our OTAs that kind of knows this system. He was with (Jon) Gruden. He understands the terminology and where to go with the ball right now. He is learning how to set protections. It is critical. You need to have somebody pulling the trigger. The quarterback and the center are the only guys touching the ball on every snap. It is critical and we need to have a confident player there."
How has Jahri Evans been performing?
"Good. The strength is there, the balance is there. He is still somewhat in a rehab mode, but he is taking more snaps every day and each week and is right on schedule. For Jahri, since I have known him since 2006 and this next portion of his conditioning from June to training camp has always been the most critical for him. The middle part of June to the middle part of July. He is going to be in pretty good shape going in so we are excited for him."
Is Marcel Jones picking things up quickly?
"I think so. We have a big-bodied guy who doesn't panic out there. He has a learning curve right now but he has some innate athletic ability that will allow him to play the position. We are going to have to see where he is mentally and how far he can progress."
Is Marques Colston looking better than ever?
"I thought he had his best day today. I don't think your eyes were lying to you. I think he had his best day today. You saw the fluidness, you saw him plucking the ball like only he can, catching the ball off his hip, and then he really shines when you get to the endzone. He had a great day."
Who is going to be in the third cornerback spot? Will it be Johnny Patrick?
"Johnny Patrick has played well all offseason. I think this, and this is my personal opinion, for somebody in the secondary, I think you make your biggest leap from year one to year two if you are going to be a player in this league. We saw with (Patrick) Robinson from a rookie year to his sophomore year, the jump that he made. I think Johnny Patrick is showing us that he is capable of making that jump. This game has become like basketball on grass where you have to sub personnel on first and second down. If you don't have that third corner than you are in real trouble. We have drafted corners high around here. We have always had good corners around here which has allowed us to play fairly good defense and win some games. It is a critical position."
What is the most interesting thing you have learned about Coach Spagnuolo?
"I have known him for a long time. There are no surprises. He is exactly what I thought he was and more and what Sean (Payton) thought he was and more. He loves football, is a great teacher and is an outstanding motivator. The way that he talks to our players and teaches them, he is not condescending. He lets the players make a lot of decisions out there. He makes the players a part of the decision-making. We have a lot of the defense in right now and our guys are doing a good job of executing."
Does it get overlooked when you bring in a new coach like Spags?
"It is not overlooked by us. That was the first key acquisition that we made in this off-season. Spags has a great reputation in this league and justly so. Then, all of sudden, he has all of these offers and a chance to go someplace and he came here. He was able to bring some key members of his staff here who had jobs in other places also. That was our first key acquisition of the offseason. That kind of got the ball rolling for us."
Can you talk about the new linebackers?
"Curtis Lofton, again, I think what I said about him last week. He continues to get better and is mastering the system. He has great communication skills. As you watch him practice, he is calling audibles and getting (the team) in better defenses every day as he is getting used to the defense. I think David Hawthorne is a pleasant surprise to me. We knew his athleticism. We knew he was a thumper. His ability to think and make adjustments and know the game of football has really been a pleasant surprise. He works hard every day. Chris Chamberlain was in the system. He knows this system, is a system-oriented linebacker and has mastered this system. He has been a good voice in the room to really help those other guys out. Those guys have been great acquisitions. Now, (Scott) Shanle is having a heck of a camp. Will Herring, this is his second year. He didn't go through OTA's last year, he just went to training camp. He is much more rehearsed in the defense this year than he was last year. There is some good competition. There are some good linebackers there."
How good is it to see a guy like Marques Colston performing well after getting a new contract?
"These guys earn these contracts. They don't earn those contracts unless you know that you can depend upon them in the future. I don't think that since we have been here in 2006 in any contract that Mickey has restructured or any people we have signed have let us down. We have good people who are accountable to one another. We take the game seriously. It is not a surprise. That is just who he is. That is the same Marques Colston we got from Hofstra in 2006. He is competitive, dependable, durable, and loves to play."
How are you transitioning to your new role?
"I have a long way to go. I guess right now I am undefeated. This will be the last time I am undefeated. I still have to do a better job of coaching the linebackers. I want to do a better job with the tempo of practice. I want to do a better job of the efficiency of our practice, with what we are doing in individual period and what we are doing in the fundamental period is something that I am going to continue to critique every day. Let my coaches critique me and what I can do better. Unless you are Tom Landry, Don Shula, or Bill Walsh, you haven't arrived. This is an ongoing process and we will work every day to get better at it."
Does Joe Morgan have the ability to participate in coverage units on special teams?
"We are going to find out. We know he has that capability in the return game, we saw him do it last year. We really like his long speed. If we are comparing him right now to a young Robert Meachem his first year, that is what we think we have with this guy right now. We have a deep threat on the offense. We have a legitimate returner in the return game, now we have to find out about his coverage ability. If he is going to get 20-30 snaps on offense every game, maybe his coverage ability is not that important then. We are going to find out and I don't think we will be able to find out until the preseason starts."