Wednesday, 24 August 2011 17:09

New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders: Payton, Roman Harper, Vilma, Evans

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Former New Orleans Saints fullback Heath Evans announced on Twitter he will move to Los Angeles to join NFL Network's ever growing list of analysts. He retired from the NFL after 10 seasons and a lot of victories. He spent four years with the Patriots before spending two with the Saints, picking up a Super Bowl ring along the way...


What do Sean Payton, Roman Harper, Jonathan Vilma think as they prepare for the Oakland Raiders in California?

Below are Q and A with the media in the Saints practice reports:

 Sean Payton's Tuesday practice report:


Opening Statement:

Just some practice notes: Chris Ivory and Greg Romeus are the two players still on the failed physical list. These guys did not practice: Ezra Butler (Hamstring), Tom Johnson (Calf), Johnny Patrick (Right Knee), Jeff Charleston (Ankle), Fabian Washington (Hamstring), Will Herring (Calf), Chris Taylor (Ankle), Aubrayo Franklin (Left Knee), Clint Ingram (Right Hamstring), Roger Allen (Right Knee), Jarred Fayson (Right Knee). With Carl Nicks, the x-rays came back negative on his left knee. I think we are looking at a week with him, which is good news. We limited Joique Bell. We did not practice Mark Ingram, he had some swelling in his left knee. It’s nothing serious. We held him out and we will see where he’s at tomorrow. Junior Galette went through half of practice. We are going to look at his left knee.

With their ability to make big plays in the preseason, is Joe Morgan comparable to Rod Harper?

I think it is very comparable. One player was a rookie free agent, in Joe. Rod was really a free agent into the league. Both made some pretty strong impressions early in training camp. Both, in the kicking game (there are similarities) and both played receiver. I think there are a lot of similarities.

As far as Joe Morgan’s play, he keeps continuing to produce?

He is young. There is a lot he is working on. He’s explosive and you can see that. He runs well. Those are things that showed up right away in our first week. There are still a lot of little things that he is working on to refine his game. We have been pleased with his quick development and the explosiveness he gives us in the return game as well as a threat outside.

Can you talk about the battle at the strongside linebacker position?

It is going well. We are getting a chance to see both of those guys. We still have two more preseason games to go and a lot more before we make a decision. I see both of those players contributing, obviously. Both of those players are athletic. They both have experience. Certainly, Scott (Shanle) has more experience. Jon (Casillas) has done a great job. He is healthy now. Both of them are having solid camps.

How do you handle Mark Ingram, a guy who has not missed practice at all?

He is a quick study. He missed today and we might sit him tomorrow as well just to calm the knee down. He is going to be fine. He has had one of the better camps of this young class. We want to be smart. He has picked things up very quickly and we will just see where he goes.

Are you relieved to hear about Carl Nicks?

Absolutely. The concern yesterday, leaving the practice, was that it might be a longer period of time. About an hour after practice, we got the MRI results and those ended up being negative. That was good.

How much did the workouts at Tulane help?

I feel like, more than anything, it gave us a better chance to come into training camp in-shape. I think the experience we have with a lot of the same things in place, with regards to our personnel and our scheme both defensively and offensively, help when you have that off-season that you miss. I think, more than anything else, it’s the strength and conditioning aspect that was most important.

What are you doing differently to prepare for Oakland?

There is nothing new right now. We are still in training camp mode. Our preparation won’t really begin until later this week. What we are doing now, is working on our base, red-zone, nickel, run and pass offense and defense, kicking game, and then as the week goes on we begin to spend more time on the Oakland game-plan. I think that is pretty common in the preseason.

Is one running back in particular going to get most of the carries?

That’s a fantasy football question, isn’t it? At that position, you have to have more than one talented player. We view all of those guys with significant roles in our offense. By week, a lot of it would depend on our opponent. Chris Ivory and Joique Bell are some other guys that are also going to factor in. It is a depth chart that we feel good about. We will have to see each week. A lot of that can unfold as the season goes on. Each one of those guys is uniquely different. I didn’t help you, did I?

Can you talk about Drew Brees’ assets?

He is a good leader. He is someone who is, aside from football, very actively involved in the community. He is very visible. It’s the key elements to leadership. He is someone that has great respect, not only in the locker-room but with our fan base. It starts with a great work ethic. His success on the field is one thing, but the type of guy he is is very much the same. I think our fans look for someone who gives them a good day’s work. Someone who, coming after Katrina, really brought hope and brought a sense of pride to our city. Certainly, he has done that. I think there is a way to really compare the two in the adversity that he has overcome in recovering from the shoulder surgery that he had in 2006. It’s a good story.

Question-and answers with Saints strong safety  Roman Harper after Tuesday's workout:


Did you guys have a pretty good workout defensively in the red zone and in the two minute drill?

“We needed it.  We haven’t been as effective stopping teams from scoring like we want to in the red zone so today was a good emphasis on that.  We definitely competed and did pretty well.”


As far as being out here, what do you personally take from this experience?

“I think it’s a good time for us to get away, come into a different atmosphere, a different place, get some different fans around us, and come together as a team.  It couldn’t have come at a better time after a tough loss against Houston, get out here and get away from your families and everything and just really focus on football and getting better as a team, as a defense, as an offense, and as a special teams (unit).”


What have been your impressions of Mark Ingram with his maturity?

“That has nothing to do with maturity.  He’s a good running back.  He makes a good run, he gets up under his pads and I’m not going to cut the guy.  It’s the same thing you saw him do in college, he’s just doing it at another level.  He’s going to continue to learn, continue to read blocks well and that’s some of his best parts.  One thing I have learned that most people don’t know is when he gets to his second level he definitely has another burst and another gear.  He continues to put good stuff out on tape, but you can’t crown the guy yet.  He still hasn’t gained a yard in the NFL technically.  He’s young.  He has to still continue to get better and he’s humbly trying to be the best he can.”


Will that be an eye-opener, that next step?

“I think when he gets to his second level, just him getting the ball and continuing to be the best running back he can, I think that’s going to be the next step and I just look forward to continuing to watch him grow.” 

Question and answers with Saints middle linebacker Jonathan  Vilma following Tuesday's practice:


What were your thoughts on doing a lot of up-downs in Monday’s practice?

“That was expected. We knew that was coming. It wasn’t a big surprise to us, especially when you play the way that we played (against Houston). It’s not really about Gregg (Williams and the coaches yelling, it’s really about us wanting to perform well. We are more disappointed in ourselves and not really worrying about what the coaches were thinking or saying. It’s about us wanting to get better.”


What do you look to improve on after watching the film from the Texans game?

“After a game like that you try to watch the film, dissect it all and really look at it objectively. You have to understand where the breakdowns were and try to improve from there. You can’t fix everything all in one day. You have to take the things you can improve on from yesterday’s practice and take care of that to try and get better today. I think we did a good job of addressing some of the issues yesterday and today we tried to get better again. We just continue to move forward getting ready for Oakland.”


What are your thoughts on the competition at the outside linebacker positions?

“I think it has been very healthy and very competitive. I think on both sides you have tremendous athletes that are playing well. That is all part of competition. That is probably a good thing right now. We have good athletes that can go out there and make plays. We are fortunate to have a good competition going.”


How much did the time that the players spent training at Tulane in the offseason help you overall?

“It’s tough to say. Fortunately, we did have that and we had rookies out there, getting after it and learning the plays. In my opinion, they are a step ahead of most rookies in the NFL. That is why they are able to come out right now and have a chance to compete and a chance to get some playing time.”  

by Ed Staton



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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. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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