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Vitt Says Leadership Stood Up at Wednesday's Practice

Assistant HC/LB Coach updates the injury report and the the team's plan for preparing for the Colts

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Media Availability
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Opening Statement/Injury Report:
"How we start this is by telling you who didn't work today. Sedrick Ellis did not practice. Turk McBride did not practice. David Thomas was limited. Jonathan Vilma did not practice. John Gilmore did not practice. Will Herring did not practice. Zach Strief did not practice. We signed Andy Tanner back to the practice squad and released Swanson Miller. Those are the updates."

Was Sean Payton at practice?
"No, I think he got out of the hospital sometime this afternoon. I think they were going to take him to his house, get him squared away. We expect him back here tonight and see how he's doing. I haven't talked to him today. We hit the ground running at about 6:30. Most of our work is downstairs in installation meetings, so I haven't had a chance to talk to him today."

Has he participated in game planning at all?
"He texted and he gave Pete Carmichael his thoughts yesterday for first and second down. It was integrated into the game plan. He had a computer up there where he was able to view some film. His thoughts were on the first and second down game plan. That's all we have done so far."

Did he have a computer in the hospital?
"Yes, an IPad."

When will you guys make a decision on Chris Ivory?
"We've made a decision that we're not making a decision right now. We're holding on that and seeing where he is physically. We'll evaluate it as the week goes on."

Is the protocol on that that you have two weeks to make a decision
"I'm not sure where he is right now with that. That right now and excuse me that's not a pressing concern right now to us. Chris has been here every day, he's been working well in his rehab and that's for Mickey (Loomis) and Sean to decide"

What has Indianapolis shown to you offensively in that they're obviously drastically different from the team you played in the Super Bowl?
"They're not drastically different. It's a good question. They're a very prideful team. They have 28 players that participated in the World Championship game. As an organization, you can say organizationally they're one of the teams of the decade. They've gone through some tough times but we have great respect for their body of work so far. They're getting better offensively. Their receivers are playing extremely well, so we know about (Reggie) Wayne, we know about (Pierre) Garcon, we know about Dallas Clark. We know about those guys. They're banged up in the backfield a little bit. These guys are really playing hard with great body language. I think they're losing by an average of six points. They've lost some tough games down the stretch, but they have our attention and respect. If they don't, we'll be in for a long day."

What do you think about the tackling after looking at the Tampa Bay film?
"What I'd like to be able to do…Tampa Bay seems like two months ago to me. I'm onto Indianapolis. I'll talk about the Colts, but that game's over with."

Did you see anything specifically?
"I didn't say that. I saw a lot of things specifically, but we're on to the next game. We're talking about Indianapolis."

What did you see specifically?
"I'm talking about the Colts. Tackling, angles to the ball, pad placement, footwork needs to get better. Our gap integrity, which we're working on has to get better."

Should we assume Sean Payton is going to work from the press box on Sunday?
"I don't think we can assume anything. I think that's what we're leaning towards. I think that's what he's leaning towards. I think with the cast and procedure he had, that's a safe bet. That's probably what we're thinking about."

How do you think you can exploit Curtis Painter?
"I think his protection has done well. I think he's done a great job so far with some pocket presence. To get pressure would be to serve us well and don't get him to step up late. This is a strong-armed quarterback who knows where to go with the ball and he's really in tune with his wide receivers. A couple weeks ago his wide receivers really lobbied hard for him to play, so people in the passing game are working hard to get open. These guys have all been in the system for a long time. It's a system-oriented personnel. Obviously we have to disrupt the timing of the quarterback and take him out of his routes. That's going to be a priority like it is every week."

How tough is it facing a team that hasn't had a lot of success yet but is on the cusp of it?
"This team is a very functional organization. They have a very functional management team. They have won a lot of games together. Right now they have a first ballot hall of fame quarterback who is not playing, so they have a difficult transition and they're getting better. They're playing hard, with great enthusiasm and body language. They're working hard to get better. This is a big game for us and we prepared well today, but the preparations have to continue for us to win this game."

Would Sean Payton still making the head coaching decisions from the press box?
"That's what we're absolutely anticipating."

Would you handle the challenge system with the red flags?
"That's a good question. What we've done thus far is we're prepared as a coaching staff and introduced the first and second down game plan to our players and then as soon as Sean wants to sit down, we'll sit down and he'll tell us where he wants to be, how he's feeling, what he wants to do. We haven't really talked about that stuff yet. Tonight we're going to be working on third down. When he feels up to it and we anticipate he has a chance to come to the office tonight, when he feels like talking about it, we'll talk schematically about what we'll do this weekend, where he's going to be and we're currently introducing the game plan and we'll work those things out at the week goes on based on what Sean wants to do."

Does your experience in preparing through hurricanes, in London and for a Super Bowl play into this?
"It is unique. When you have the type of team we have and the core players on our team that we have played in one of the highest levels, it's very comforting. Our leadership has stood up at practice with preparation and meetings for the game. We reminded the team today and Sean has reminded them that his absence in the earlier part of the week and not knowing how much he'll partake in the latter part of the week is not an excuse for us to lose. It's not an excuse to not prepare. Because the excuses are out there if you want to take them. Our core players firmly understand that. We just try to make sure with the newer players on the team that it's fully ingrained and that it's not okay to not give your best effort. It's not okay to come close but lose a game because the head coach has a broken leg. There's a personal accountability that comes with every coach and player rand we're here to win. You receive no medals for trying hard. To have the core players we have, that echo that is great to have."

Is Drew Brees more involved in things with Sean not being here?
"I think it's about the same interaction. There's a huge void. He's a great head coach. Our players and our coaches have been together for a long time and we all have to pick up, next day, next play, and next practice. We've done that so far."

Can you put your finger on why turnovers haven't' come that often this year?
"Yes, I can. We can as a defense. The opportunities are there. We've studied it hard. When the ball is on the ground, we're not getting to it. The ball is coming out and our players have done a great job of taking this task to heart. We practice today getting the ball out in drills. All we can do is keep working on it and keep preaching. In my experience when you keep doing these things and doing them in a positive manner that you get good results."

It seems like the law of averages should have turned your way right now?
"I don't know about the law of averages in the National Football League. We need to make those things happen. We can't a poor me complex or coulda, shoulda, woulda. We need to create field position for our offense. It's an important stat and one we really take to heart."

For clarification purposes do you guys have three weeks to decide when to start practicing Chris Ivory?
"I think that's true."

Is he healthy and has he suffered any setbacks?
"Not to my knowledge. I talked to Chris briefly today and he's feeling good.

How big of a comfort is it to be returning to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?
"Our crowd's huge. Our players love playing in front of our crowd. I'll say this and I mean this, I don't think there's a coach or player on our team right now that considers us to be in turmoil. I think that we have a job to do, we take a lot of pride in what we do. This is what we do for a living. We've gone on just as Sean wants us to do and prepared to win this game. The installation meetings have been outstanding. Our players had a good practice today. We'll have post-meeting practices where we'll install third down plays. This is very, very unfortunate what's happened to Sean. I know a lot of people have said "The poor Saints". Believe me, there are 31 other teams out there that are glad he got hurt, is in the hospital, missing practice. They don't want us to be successful. That's the truth. We need to move on, keep our eye on the target, keep our preparation meticulous and win a football game."

Could you elaborate on the status of David Thomas and why it's taken so long for him to improve?
"No, I can't elaborate because I really don't know. I see David every day. He looks good to me. He's in good spirits. He's following protocol  right now. I really can't, because I don't know and I'd be lying to you. I know he's important to our football team. He's a heck of a player."

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