Wednesday, 29 February 2012 10:46
New Orleans Saints Vilma Looks Forward To Spagnuoloa
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vilmaJon Vilma said he's looking forward to playing healthy again and playing under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

"I've heard only good things about him," said Vilma about Spagnuoloa. "I met him once when I was in town and we had a good conversation. He seems like a really good guy. We are going to have plenty of time in the near future for me to get into and better understand the playbook.

"The best news I got about him is all the things his former players have said about him. These guys go to bat for him and say that he's really good at what he does. They say that he's thorough, aggressive and brings the whole package to the table. That's good to hear knowing that we are going to have an aggressive defense. It should be fun."

Vilma missed five games after undergoing another knee surgery, an old wound vintage for 30-year-old pro players. He couldn't play his best after returning and league observers thought he was no longer the linebacker he once was. With a high salary, they thought his career with the Saints may be nearing an end.

Vilma is doing his offseason training in Miami, where he played college football (at the U.).

He played in seven games for the Jets in 2007 because of a balky knee and surgery. The Jets thought he no longer could excel in their defense and traded him to the Saints.

Vilma said this offseason is much more relaxed and organized than last season when he split his time between Miami and in New Orleans for the player-run workouts at Tulane and not knowing the status of the 2011 season because of the work stoppage.

"It's much better this offseason now that we have a plan," said the linebacker. "That was the hardest part last season because we couldn't plan anything. It was tough because you want to plan your summer out of when and where you are going to train."

Prior to the 2011 season, Vilma had only missed  one game during his Saints tenure -- the 2009 season regular season finales, as a number lof starters sat out with the team already clinching the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Last season the defensive team captain and play-caller missed the five games because of surgery.

Despite being slowed down, he led the squad with three fumble recoveries, one for a touchdown, while adding 67 tackles (38 solo), one forced fumble and four passes defenses.

"I was though because I have always been a leader by example," said Vilma. "I wasn't able to lead by example while I was hurt. That part was hard and it was an adjustment. I wanted to make sure that if I couldn't be out there, then my guys were going to be in the best possible position to make plays.

"I thought they did a job of stepping in for me. I'm eager to get back out there with a new intensity when I'm at full strength."
Politics

The Giants will host the season opener on Wednesday, Sept.5. The game was moved a day earlier than usual in deference to President Obama's Thursday speech at the Democrats' National Convention. I'm not sure who the Giants will play, but the Saints, Packers and Steelers are all strong candidates..."Undefeated," the documentary which won an Oscar on Sunday night, is an incredible movie. It's "Hope Dreams" for football. It's "Friday Night Lights," the TV show, but real. It's in a few theaters and will be available on DVDs and Netflix soon...I'm in a movie "Bending the Rules," that will be released on March 9 in select theaters...

Brockers

There are a lot of personnel people happy LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers didn't have a great workout at the Combine (5.36 in the 40). Why? They might have a better chance of getting him in the Draft. Forget that workout. The kid can play....During the Ole Miss/Auburn basketball game on Tuesday, some of the Rebels players sat on the bench in an order that spelled "Short  White  Sox." Maybe the Ole Miss coaches will make some seating changes so this doesn't happen again...

The Tiger Athletic Foundation board gave unanimous approval to proceed with a Tiger Stadium expansion to enclose the South end zone upper deck. The increased seating would include a 1,500-seat upper  deck on top of a club level of 4,000 seats, and two levels totaling  60 suites with room for 24 seats in each suite. The addition of 6,940 seats would increase Tiger Stadium's capacity to nearly 99,500, making it the third largest stadium in the SEC behind Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (102,455), Alabama's Bryant Denny Stadium (101,821)...LSU hopes the spring game will draw 90,000 fans with special promotions this season. Alabama draws that many...

The Tiger Athletic

There wasn't any trash-talking between ex- LSU and Alabama players at the Combine. Said for former Tigers cornerback Ron Brooks: "That was in college. They got us, they beat us fair and square and there's no hating going on here. We're all here for the same reason." Added former LSU safety Brandon Taylor: "This is like old times. We've got a good chemistry together, us and the Alabama guys. We know we gave it our all this year and we gave the fans a good show."...Jose Canseco is busy playing baseball for the Tigers of the Mexico League, but he has an idea in mind when the season is over. He wants to fight Shaq O'Neal in a MMA match. Answered the 7-foot-1 O'Neal, "I wanna fight Canseco. Hook it up." It won't be the first time in the ring for Shaq. He squared off against Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley on his show "Shaq Vs..."...

by Ed Staton

(Visit Louisiana Sports Talk.com and check out the spring clearance sale on LSU, Saints jerseys).



 

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  

 

Website: www.louisianasportstalk.com
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