New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
"I think one (of) the things that was exciting for us today at practice was Curtis Johnson brought his staff over from Tulane and it's really the first time I've had the chance to visit with Curtis since he took the job. It was great seeing him and fun to hear some of his critiques of the practice. The legendary executive of the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt was here looking at practice so I received some feedback from him. We're going to receive some good input from some knowledgeable people about critiquing our practices here. It was kind of exciting."
Elbert Mack was someone the team visited with early on in the offseason. What do you like about him after having him at practice for a day?
"He passed the eyeball test out here. We're going to go look at film at 12:50 and get a further evaluation. I think I'll be to talk a little bit better maybe after two or three practices on him. (He has) good movement skills and a pretty good feel for the system."
How is Ben Grubbs working out?
"(He is a) very, very smart, very detailed player. I think that he is probably a little better communicator on the line of scrimmage than Carl Nicks. I think that he is going to be a positive influence on Jermon Bushrod. He knows the game and has real good balance. He's strong at the point. So far so good. He hasn't missed a workout in the offseason conditioning program. He's close to home. I think that it has been positive for him and us."
Does it add energy for you and the players with the fans cheering?
"I stand on the other side so I really don't hear it that much. I'm kind of focused on practice but I think our fans enjoy it and that's what is important to us."
Is Luke McCown still going to be in the running for possibly receiving a contract with the team even following a re-signing of Drew Brees?
"We're going to take a look and evaluate this now. He beat us at Tampa Bay. He's has a little bit of mileage in this system because he was under (Jon) Gruden at Tampa Bay, so he kind of knows the same things that Sean (Payton) wants. He's athletic. He has a good, live arm. He did a good job today getting guys in and out of the huddle, getting guys lined up so he is under the evaluation process right now."
What about the opportunity for Chase Daniel?
"You guys have all been here for a bunch of practices. I've seen a lot of you guys out here for six years. You could probably evaluate the practice. The ball is not on the ground. The quarterback under exchange has been phenomenal. He's operating within the system and parameters. I think his ball location is getting better and better every practice. He opened up our team period today with a 40-yard strike. I think that Chase is progressing and making the most out of this opportunity."
Do you worry that Drew Brees is missing mandatory work?
"I'm not. Nobody is going to come in better shape than Drew. Drew is working hard right now. Drew is working extremely hard right now. He's mastered the system. This will get done. It will get done with both parties getting together and getting this thing done. They are both working hard at it."
Are you still just as confident about that as you were in the previous weeks?
"Absolutely, I am."
Does having Greg Romeus healthy and in the mix compensate for the lack of draft picks this year?
"When we had the draft this year we put him into the mix. We're thinking that he is a draft pick. We knew when we drafted him that he was going to be a year away. He's had a tremendous offseason. He's done a good job at practice. He hasn't missed a rep. His stamina is back. Now he is working on his pad level, his angles, his timing, but it is like having a draft pick this year."
Did you happen to learn much about him when he was rehabbing last year?
"What you noticed first about him was his dedication to getting better. He's here everyday, spent a lot of time in the training room with the trainers. (He) spent a lot of time in the classroom with Bill Johnson and our existing veterans. You saw that he wanted to be a good player."
How are Akiem Hicks and Corey White doing on the defensive side of the ball?
"I have a little bit better feeling for White only because of the structure of the practice and what offensive and defensive linemen can't do, but with Hicks you can see that he's big and mobile. He can run, change gears and he has good body control and balance. Listen, when we put the pads on, that's what going to define him."
How would you evaluate Martez Wilson based on some of the work he is receiving at defensive end?
"Again, it's tough. He doesn't have the pads on. Now listen, he's very comfortable in a three-point stance. He's playing with better pad level. You can see he can naturally sink his hips, engage and get off a block. With all the zone pressures when you're dropping a man into coverage, he may be the most advanced because he was a linebacker, so up to this point, great. Really good."
Is this a permanent move?
"I don't want to say anything's permanent. We're taking a hard look at this now. We won't make a decision until we gets into pads and we see how he fits."
Do you think with the new CBA, these practices are a lot less physical?
"It (CBA) doesn't specifically define that you can't, but we've made a conscious effort not to do it. We don't want to get anybody hurt here or banged up. We're making a conscious effort."
How is Jonathan Vilma progressing healthwise?
"Everything from the training room and the doctors are great. He's progressing well. I think he's made probably his most significant leap over the last two weeks. It's great."