Wednesday, 29 February 2012 16:46

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."

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The Tiger Athletic

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by Ed Staton

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

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