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Joe Vitt & Greg McMahon At Saints Minicamp Q&A (June 7, 2012)

New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt

Media Availability

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Opening Statement

“In an overview of this week at practice, I thought we got a lot done. Again (today), it was a review of first and second down. We then went into the red zone today and had extensive work. We had our nickel work yesterday. We’ll continue when we come back again on Monday to build our package. The guys are moving great, they’re moving quick. They’re intense but outstanding. I think that everyone understands here with the CBA, some of the things that we do are slower now. I think that we need to understand the rules. We couldn’t be more happy with where we are right now.”

What are your thoughts on Cameron Jordan?

“He came in last year with a tremendous amount of athleticism and want to and sometimes you can get a little bit of a sophomore jinx. He hasn’t shown any of that. He’s wide-eyed, this is a new system for him so he has to pay attention. I think the new system fits him perfectly. I think we’ll see a little more of his pass rush skills this year. We’ve been happy with him, really happy.”

Is it harder with the new contact-related rules this year to evaluate where you are based on years past?

“I think it is harder like I’ve said earlier with the offensive and defensive linemen. Everyone in the league is going through that right now. I like where we are right now. We like where we are right now and we’re just going to have to wait and see.”

Does this give a younger player less of an opportunity?

“I don’t think so because we are still going to judge them right now on what they can do. And that would be athleticism, footwork, balance, knee bend, that’s what they are being evaluated on.”

Could you pick out three guys that you are excited to see put pads on?

“I think Akiem Hicks is one of them. He is a big. We can all see his athleticism, change of direction and movement skills. I think that Corey White has been great. Again, he’s got balance, twitch, fluid hips and second gear but for a corner he’s got power too. I think what we all know what we have in Nick Toon, but this kid, Chris Givens, makes plays in the red zone everyday. Those guys I’m excited to see put the pads on.

Everyone knows that giveaway and takeaway ratio are the number one statistics in football, how much stress in the offseason have you put into those?

“Not anymore pressure or stress than we have before. It’s the number one stat that we show our football team every single week. I’ll give you a stat, did you know that we’re undefeated if we don’t turn the ball over, since we’ve been together in 2006. If we forced at least one turnover on defense, I think we are 60 and 27 or something like that. We stress it but as we are stressing it we still have to play the game quick and confident and if something bad happens you have to go on to the next play. I think that we are only one of two teams in 2006 that went to the NFC Championship, that were in the minus that year. But when we won a World Championship we were plus. It is very important to us. We talk about it all the time.”

Do you plan on bringing Luke McCown to training camp?

“I think so. Number one, I think that he is a heck of an athlete. He’s got a live arm. I thought he really did a good job getting the offense in and out of the huddle. The ball was on the ground one time in the three days he’s been here. I think he is someone that we need to take a look at. He’s done a good job here.”

Have you guys put anymore thought into bringing training camp on the road?

“Yes, we have. I think that we will be ready to announce that sometime next week.”

Was shifting Brian Young to assist you with the linebackers to help you out with your wider responsibilities?

“That transition took place before any of this stuff happened. Brian is a defensive lineman, played in the league nine years and was working with the defensive line when we lost Blake Williams. Brian wanted to come to linebacker to learn more back coverage and he’s done a fantastic job. He’s a smart guy. He is learning the back coverage (concepts) right now but he understands run fits and the alignment of linebackers based on backfield sets.”

How close were you in your communication with David Thomas when we was dealing with his concussions last season? Can you comment on his experience?

“I don’t think that anybody can comment on something that anybody else went through. I was there with him when he went through it last year and it very concerning. You are talking about life after football. He’s got a wife and two boys. He loves the game, but he loves his family more. He went and received all of the proper medical opinions that he had to receive, they wrote off on it and we feel good about it right now. It is something that we are conscious of and it’s something that he is conscious of. It’s serious.

The team values his presence because he is a versatile player?

“Probably the most versatile offensive player that we have. He can play three positions, the wide, the F and the H. He understands pass protections. When Heath Evans went down in the Super Bowl year. He came right in to handle all of the protections. I’m not so sure that he is on the verge of brilliant when it comes to being a football player. He loves the game. It was a huge setback for us as a team last year when down but I will say that his health comes first. Right now everything is going great. He is making plays, running around, he feels great, he’s got no headaches and he’s not dizzy. Everything is going great right now.”

Do the young kids pay attention to him?

“We’ll if they’re not then they are stupid. They shouldn’t be here. He is the epitome of a professional.”

If Drew Brees is signed before training camp, does Luke McCown still have a chance going to training camp.?

“Once nine comes in here, we evaluate our roster and see where we are numberswise. We are always going to bring the best players to camp.”

There has been reports that he is close to signing a long term deal, can you share anything?

“I haven’t read that either, but I’ve said all along that he’s going to be here so I’m not surprised.”

New Orleans Saints Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon

Media Availability

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How’s your personal evaluation of the younger guys under the new CBA?

“Very good. We like these young linebackers. We like the three young safeties and there are a couple young corners we like. Certainly the draft pick Corey White’s done a good job. We haven’t had the chance to do any hitting at all, any contact work, but it’s a good group, one of the best groups we’ve had.”

Is it harder to evaluate them while trying to avoid any form of contact?

“It’s different/ I wouldn’t say it’s harder. It’s definitely a little different in the fact that again you can’t have contact. But these guys have had great work and they’re teaching a lot of schemes, still getting a lot of fundamental technique work. So it’s been good, it’s just different.”

How challenging is it going to be to judge between John Kasay and Garrett Hartley? Both have done good work here. It’s obviously a competitive situation. How difficult is that competition and final decision going to be?

“Well look, any time you have competition it’s a really. really good thing so we’re going to put both of those guys out there, let them compete, and we’ll be in practice and certainly in the preseason games and then we’ll come to a consensus. But we really believe this is a really good problem to have because you’ve got two quality kickers and I think both guys would tell you about the competition they have, so we’re just going to have to do our due diligence and stay to the plan. Either pick I think is going to be good.”

There’s a history of defensive backs making the roster, especially on special teams. Can you talk about the undrafted safeties on the roster such as Jerico Nelson and Johnny Thomas?

“And Jose Gumbs. Those three undrafted rookies they definitely fit in. You can tell after a couple weeks of work, those guys fit in. So we tell our guys hey here’s (Isa) Abdul-Quddus. You just look at those guys and you know with every team in the National Football League you’re going to have an undrafted player. Pierre Thomas, his first touchdown was a blocked punt. So it’s the culture that we have, they understand that and they know that we’re only going to keep four maybe five safeties so they’ve got to find a way to make the roster.”

Is there one guy you want to see in training camp with pads on, everything, just to see him out there on special teams?

“I don’t think that’s fair though. I want to see all of them. It’s like whether I want to see my older son or my younger son. I want to see both of them and I want to see how they do under preseason conditions, and when the bullets are alive. And we just want to see who can run, who can play with leverage, and at the end of the day, who can make tackles. That’s key.”

What are you having Nick Toon do on special teams?

“You know, that’s a good question. And that happens a lot when you get to the National Football League. If you’re not the first, second or third receiver, and if you’re the fourth, you’ve got to have a role on special teams, so we’ve got to make sure that he’s (Toon) trained like a gunner, training him as a jammer, seeing if he can cover a kickoff like Courtney Roby. Those guys are trained and they understand that at this level, you’ve got to have value. And so your value needs to be, if you’re the fourth or fifth receiver, you play on special teams. So we’re training Nick.”

Would that be the same for like Joe Morgan? Because we know his speed as a returner. It seems like it’s that way with Roby too as he is always near the top of the team’s list for special teams tackles, but can return as well.

“We tell our guys hey it’s rare to have a guy who can be a punt returner, kick returner, and cover kicks so those guys are rare and Courtney’s a great example and so no different than Joe Morgan. Joe knows that he has to be versatile. Certainly he’s got values as a returner but he’s also got to be able to cover kicks and so our job as coaches is to put those guys in positions where we can teach them, train them, and then see if they can do it or not. That’s a key deal, because at the end of the day, we’ve got 53 guys on the roster, and 46 of them will be active on game day.”

Now we mentioned all of those receivers. One that has never had the opportunity for a significant role is Adrian Arrington. He’s been a practice squad player, been active on the back end, but does he realize too that it might take a contribution on special teams to solidify a roster spot?

“In fairness, a lot of times he’s gotten nicked up or if you look at the track record the past two or three years, he’s misses two or three preseason games with a hamstring or another injury. He’s just got to be healthy and to be available as do all of these players but he’s certainly (in the mix with) Joe Morgan, Adrian Arrington, Courtney Roby, (Nick) Toon, all those guys. You look at the numbers and keep five maybe six, so who’s the guy with the coverage (Abilities). Because those guys have value. It’s all over the league. So we just have to figure out who those guys are going to be, and to be fair to them we’ve got to rep them.”

Do you think Morgan could win the job as a returner or is Darren Sproles still the guy. Could he be a backup to Darren Sproles?

“I don’t know. Certainly we know what we have in Sproles, and Darren’s special so the guy’s got to be pretty darn good to return for us because we’ve got Sproles so they’re probably going to have to do a little more than just be a returner to be fair to the process.”

What makes Thomas Morstead invaluable or important to this team?

“Because he can kick touchbacks which is good. He’s kicked 68 (in 2011) which is an NFL record and he’s an elite punter. His strength is his ability certainly but his work ethic and his come early, stay late, get better (mentality) and he just feels like he’ll be better this year than last year. So he is a tremendous talent for us, and he’s a good warrior.”


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