The newest addition to the New Orleans Saints is linebacker Victor Butler. Butler agreed to a two year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday and visited with me and Bobby Hebert on SportsTalk.
"I met with the organization, with the staff...and Sean Payton is a stand-up guy, and they offered me an opportunity to compete, and that's what I'm all about. I loved everything, I love every aspect of the city. I fell in love with the city, so I'm happy and excited to be a part of this,” said Butler.
Butler was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2009 NFL Draft, and says he is excited about reuniting with Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.
""I mean he really emphasizes...turnovers and scoring on defense. But the one thing he harps, he harps, he harps, is shutting an offense down completely, and making them one-dimensional. And the way you do that is, you stop the run. I mean, he's a big advocate of, 'nobody runs on our defense. You got to love it, he's a fun-loving guy, passionate about the game, but when it comes to people running on the defense, he can be a mean guy. He likes to keep that defense sound, we're going to make teams one-dimension, we're going to stop the run, and at the same time, we're going to get after the quarterback."
Butler played in 63 games in Dallas under Ryan with 64 total tackles and 11 sacks.
Butler went on to talk about him also being reunited with former college teammate Kennan Lewis. Lewis and Butler both starred at Oregon State for the Beavers Defense.
"In free agency, that's what you do. You go an dyou talk to organizations that you are interested in and that are interested in you...and you weigh all the pros and cons. Is the team right for me, is the city right for me, is the organization be a great fit for me, stuff like that...and at the end of the day, the best fit and the greatest feell I got was the New Orleans Saints...For me, I'm a team player, man. So whatever they need me to do, I'll do. If they need me to kick the extra point, I'll do it. Like I said, being in a place where I can compete, and be a productive member of the team, I'm all for it."
They are 23-2, they have not trailed in any of their past five games, and they are they #2 ranked team in the country. Right now the LSU Tigers Baseball Team is red hot.
“I feel like we are playing well right now," LSU Coach Paul Mainieri told me and Bobby on SportsTalk. "We are getting some solid pitching and timely hitting. We are playing well but there is an awful long way to go."
The Tigers can match the second-best start in school history with a win against Missouri Friday night.
LSU is fresh off a dominating performance against rival Tulane, beating the Green Wave 14-1 to earn their fifth straight win over Tulane and their ninth in last eleven.
The Tigers will head to Missouri this weekend for a three game series against the Tigers. Coach Mainieri will see a familiar face across the diamond the weekend on Missouri Coach Tim Jamison.
"Coach Jamison and I were teammates at UNO. Through the years they’ve had a great program at Missouri."
LSU begins their series vs. Missouri Friday night right here on WWL Radio with the first pitch starting at 6PM.
Former LSU All-American Tyrann Mathieu joined me and Bobby Hebert for a chat on SportsTalk following his participation in LSU Pro Day.
I asked Tyrann what it was like to go through a process of combines and such, everything where they look at more what WRONG you do than what you do right.
"For me, you just have to embrace the moment and embrace the opportunity to get in front of those guys and be honest with them, and hopefully that kind of develops our relationship moving forward into the Draft...but it's a long process, man, and it's extremely tough, man, and extremely slow at first right now...but I think right now, everything heading into April, everything is kind of cooling down, now it's just about getting back out there and hopefully making somebody's team."
Bobby asked Tyrann how important it was to have left Louisiana for Florida to train under Patrick Peterson Sr.
"You know, Louisiana's always home to me, it will always be home. But with my situation, I just had to get away, just to get a fresh start and a peaceful mind moving forward. I've been real blessed, and I'm extremely grateful for opportunities that are in front of me, from the Peterson family, my parents, my whole family...LSU, and even NFL people. I've just been embracing the opportunity, and it's been fun."
I got to know Tyrann's family when he played at St. Aug, and I know they are a great supporting family. I asked Mathieu, when he sits back and looks at things he's been through, what has he learned?
"It's just about being humble, and take everything one day at a time, and just being forward to embracing the process. That's been the biggest thing for me, just about me being honest, and me addressing my issues. But, also about me wanting to move forward in my professional career and just play football. I think everything is kind of coming together now, it kind of started off as a big old puzzle, didn't know what was going to happen, but now I think everything is coming back to light."
Bobby followed up by asking Tyrann if getting drafted by New Orleans could be tough, given the temptation of hanging with old friends who may lead him astray.
"That's a good point. Just moving forward is about who I surround myself with, positive people, people who actually play football in the NFL...Wherever I get drafted at, I've got to have a structure. You know, whether it's in New Orleans, New England, Pittsburg, anywhere, I've got to have structure. That's something I've been talking to teams about...so that if I do get drafted there, then everything is there in place for me to succeed. The counseling, the rehab, just all those things that are necessary to keep those things that have harmed me off the field...anywhere I go moving forward, I have to have a structure in place."
And, Tyran agreed with Bobby that just staying away from trouble is the key.
"Definitely, definitely. And I want to. I think back to my career at LSU, I didn't want to stay out of trouble. You know what I mean? I didn't want to do the right things, I wanted to get high. So now, it's a different approach, I'm looking at it a different way...it's not a mind game, it's really about what I want to do...and how I want my life to be going forward. So, it's been a roller coaster, a whole lot of ups and downs, but the biggest thing is, you gotta stay strong, and you've got to have faith and keep God first, and keep those good people around you."
I asked him what was the #1 question he got from GM's and scouts about his off-field issues:
"It's the marijuana. You know, they bring it up constantly...it's really about, they asked me why couldn't you stop, or why didn't you want to stop? You know, that's the questions they posed. Those were the toughest ones...because those were the ones you have to be the most honest about. For me...I didn't want to stop, just didn't want to reach out for help. I thought what I was doing was OK, but it's not going into this profession. Everything has kind of been an eye-opener this last year, and just reflecting on it, I'm able to move forward because I've made those mistakes, and have got through it."
Mathieu says he's focused on moving forward and playing in the National Football League, and is looking forward to playing ANY position a team wants him to play.
“Different teams have different things in mind...There's been a lot of teams that have said, 'we want you to come in and be our third cornerback, play a certain percentage of plays, and return kicks for us.' But it's other teams that actually want me to come in there, and actually fight for a starting cornerback position. So, I have that in mind. I want to go out there and be the best cornerback I can be, be the best teammate I can be, and be the best player I can be. And wherever the coach needs to put me after that, I'm fine with that...I just want to put a helmet on again! I just want to go out there and tackle somebody again.”
And, I asked him what he thought his greatest strength as a player is.
“It's my awareness, and just my instincts. I study the game a whole lot, and anybody who knows me knows I know a whole lot about football. I try to harp on that, I try to make sure that I'm ahead of everybody when it comes of knowledge of the game, just being instinctive.”
He just welcomed in the newest addition to his family and he has a new employer. Things are fast-paced right now for new Saints tight end Benjamin Watson, who joined me and Bobby for a chat.
“In free agency, you don’t know what to expect. But to have a team like the Saints, an organization that is so well run to call on me was exciting. And it is definitely exciting to come down to New Orleans. I can tell you me and my family are excited to be here,” Watson said on SportsTalk.
The Saints inked Watson last week to a three year deal. Watson played in 45 games with the Cleveland Browns with 41 starts. Watson had a nice season in 2012 with 49 catches for 501 yards with three touchdowns.
We asked Watson about teaming up with his new fellow tight end Jimmy Graham. “I haven’t met Jimmy yet but just watching him the past few years he really is an amazing talent and hopefully we can complement each other in a lot of ways.”
Watson has played nine seasons in the NFL with his start being with the New England Patriots. He was drafted with the final pick of the 2004 NFL draft by New England, going on to have a productive career in nine NFL seasons. Benjamin has started 88 starts with 321 receptions for 3,776 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Bobby went on to ask Benjamin if he is a complete tight end in the NFL. “It’s taken some time,” he replied. “Early in my career I’d say I was not a complete Tight End. But over the past seasons in Cleveland I’ve really developed both sides of my game.”
Click HERE to listen to our entire interview with new Saints Tight End Benjamin Watson. And for the latest on the Black and Gold stay tuned in to WWL Radio and keep logging on to WWL.com.
Since Tuesday's show began at 4:00 p.m., just an hour after the start of NFL free agency, the majority of calls, e-mails and texts Bobby and I have received have been or worrying, complaining from upset fans that are not happy with the current moves or lack thereof from the New Orleans Saints.
Should we be upset, worried or keep complaining? What have the Saints done or not done that is the cause of some worrying? I'll try and sort things out to make some sense if that's possible.
Our starting left tackle on offense is now with the Bears, our back-up QB is off to KC and a good role-player is in our division with a different address with the Bucs of Tampa Bay.
Now the truth. Our starting left tackle did blossom into a pro-bowl player and was a good fit. Our back-up QB was seemingly ready but fortunately we did not need him, and the role-playing linebacker was good for our defense.
But our former starting left tackle did benefit greatly from our offensive scheme and the play of our QB Drew Brees. And Bushrod was coming off a not-so-good season.
Our back-up QB is just that, a back-up...and now he will probably continue to be a back-up in a different city with a different team with a different salary. And our former role playing LB was a part of one of the greatest plays in black and Gold history, but he never was healthy enough to develop into the player we thought he could be.
Don't you think the Saints have a plan? Use caution and think back and recall some of the things you've heard Sean and Mickey say over the last seven years.
A caller named DJ made very good points and a lot of sense when he calmly pointed out a couple of things. DJ told me and Bobby and our wonderful listeners that the Saints have been a planning and preparing organization for nearly ten years now. Look at the last few drafts and throw in free agent pick ups and you will find that the Saints have been planning an preparing for days like this. Those "what if this guy leaves" or "what if we need to do this" kind of days that are currently happening right now.
Criticism is fair and just, but only when it is warranted. We are barely three days into the 2013 free agent period, so there is plenty of time and a lot of days left for the Saints to make moves.
Coach Sean Payton has long been a system/process type of coach, meaning that his philosophy is that he and his staff have players on hand to step up and become starters. That system that is very much still in place is and has worked well.
So my people, let's take a deep breath and realize that it's a long season, and that includes a long free agent period. The draft is still over a month away and this club's ability to lure and land some of the best unknowns (Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Marques Colston, etc.) is proof enough for us to understand and realize that the Saints do have a plan and they are working their plan as we speak.
If and when that plan does not work, then it will be time to criticize. But right now, let's sit back and see what happens. Thanks DJ, you were calmness than was needed on Tuesday's show that made a lot of sense by just having a clear understanding of what has been done here since 2006.
He was the Saints’ prize catch during the off season a year ago, and now he's gearing up for off season workouts. Saints Linebacker Curtis Lofton is all business all the time, but the Black and Gold tackling machine took time to chat with Bobby and Deke on Sports Talk earlier this week.
Lofton is coming off a season in which he had 123 tackles, which is what the star linebacker has averaged each season he has played in the National Football League. Through five NFL seasons Curtis Lofton has racked up 615 total tackles. Lofton forced two fumbles, recovered both and also had one sack in his first season in a Black and Gold Uniform.
Curtis played his first four seasons in the league with the Falcons and New Orleans was able to sign Lofton during last off-season.
"Individually, I think I had a pretty good season. But, not about me,” Lofton told us. “It's about the team and we did not finish the season the way we wanted to last year. "
Curtis went on to talk about what he's currently doing to get ready for the season and his new defensive boss.
"Coach Ryan has had a lot of success in this league. He's an aggressive coach and I am looking forward to working with him this season." Coach Ryan will switch the Saints defense to a 3-4 scheme, which is just fine with Lofton.
As our conversation continued, I asked Curtis what he thought the strength of his game is. "I'm a sideline to sideline type player. I try and make plays all over the field,” he said. “I'd have to say sideline to sideline."
Lofton went on to talk about his role as being a leader on the field for the Saints, what he wants to improve on this season and how much improvement the Saints defense can make this season.
"I think we can improve a lot. We have good players and we are all looking forward to getting back on the field next month."
Just prior to the start of LSU Spring practice, I sat down with Head Coach Les Miles to talk about his Fighting Tigers.
The Bayou Bengals crank things up on Thursday with the first of 15 practices, which will culminate with the Spring Game Saturday April 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Death Valley.
In his evaluation from last season to now, Coach Miles talked about some of the things he wants to accomplish in the next 15 days of practice.
"Developing the team, the depth, the mindset of a very, very strong football team....Look for some young guys to improve, find out who the elite players are, and find ways to get them to make plays for us.
I asked Coach if it would it be fair to say that this is the time of year, maybe you see some guys who, for whatever reason, didn't get a lot of playing time last year, if this is now the time for those players to step up.
"I think we're fortunate. I think that young guys who come to school here really do that with the anticipation that they'll get an opportunity to play," Miles told me. "I think there's some young guys in the perimeter right now that are looking forward to playing a lot of spring football to identify, maybe for the first time, that they can be a starter and a dominant player in our conference."
Click HERE to listen to my entire interview with Coach Les Miles...
I asked Coach Miles just how physical it actually gets in Spring Practice.
"The reality is, they never really kill a guy like they could in the fall...Sometimes in the fall of the year, the contacts are much more significant. But, we do hit, and we want to develop a physical component of our team. I think if somebody says we're the most physical team they've played, I think that's a compliment to us...and I think that will continue."
Coach Miles also agreed that the Spring Practice time is when leaders emerge on a team.
"Absolutely. In fact, we've invited, by vote, by position, guys who must step up and lead...Our team has always been led by quality, quality men that have decided to pay a tremendous price to play LSU football. Really, just yesterday, we assembled that room for the first time in the seating chart, in the right order, where the leaders sit. And it looked like a pretty strong room."
As for the adjustment to newly-hired Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, a guy who's well-known and respected, Coach Miles says it's gone great.
"He's been a lot of fun. I think our staff and players really enjoy that he's a part of us. He's transition's been very smooth, and I just know there's going to be a great effect on our offense."
When I asked if there was one position where LSU needs to build some depth, Miles responded by saying there are actually two areas that he's focusing on.
"We're going to need a quality group in the secondary. There will be some quality safeties there that can step forward and play...but they need to have that style of spring. And, our offensive line...we're moving guys around. Those two spots really need to mature...and I think they will. They're good young players."
On the first day of the 2013 NFL free agency period, the questions about the futures of both Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were answered. Both players agreed to restructure their current deals in order to help the team and remain with the Saints.
Will Smith was due to make more than $14 million this season and Vilma was scheduled to make $8.6 million. .
My cohort, former Saint QB and current SportsTalk host Bobby Hebert, gives his take on today's moves.
"Some fans could be discouraged with Will Smith because we need him to play great and he has not. The Saints take the approach that Will Smith is our best defensive lineman and until someone beats Will out or the Saints bring in a better play we need Smith."
Bobby also gave his take on the Saints keeping Jonathan Vilma in a Black and Gold Uniform.
"I was a little surprised with Vilma staying with the Saints. Vilma has had more success in a 4-3 scheme rather than playing in a 3-4 scheme which the Saints are going to this season."
Hebert went on to say that Vilma’s value reaches more than just what he does on the field of play.
"Jonathan Vilma is the quarterback of our defense. He has the trust of the coaches and the players and he is like a player/coach on and off the field."
The Saints will have to find a back-up quarterback, as Chase Daniel has agreed to become a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s a better opportunity for Chase in KC," Bobby said. "He will probably be able to compete for the starting job along with Alex Smith. And he will make more money with the Chiefs."
New Orleans also released linebacker Will Herring. Herring was signed by the Saints in 2011 and he spent two seasons with the team. In other news Saints starting Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod is currently being pursued by the Chicago Bears.
The free agency season is about to begin, and the Saints will look to add some help to their roster. The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert gives his take on what he thinks the Saints need to add this off season.
1. Pass rusher – We are chomping at the bit for a player that can get after the quarterback. I don’t care if it’s a defensive end or an outside linebacker. We need someone that can put some pressure on the other team’s QB!
2. Nose tackle – In a 3-4 scheme we need a good nose tackle. We need a guy that can make a pile and not get knocked back into the linebackers…A big guy that can be a difference maker in the middle!
3. Tight end – We need someone who is versatile. Someone who can run-block and stretch the field. Getting a good player at this position will only help the Saints offense put more pressure on the other team’s defense.
4. Defensive back – We need a play maker. A guy like Darren Sharper is needed in our defensive secondary. Sharper caught the ball when it hit his hands and he was a ball hawking defender. Our defense needs a play maker on the back end.
5. Left tackle – Assuming that we don’t sign Jermon Bushrod back, we would without question need a left tackle. Bushrod has developed into a good starting left tackle in the NFL, and is a top-ten guy at his position. If we lose him we can’t stay in house…we would need to go get another left tackle.
Saints QB Drew Brees stopped by to talk with us Wednesday afternoon, discussing the upcoming season, Rob Ryan, the salary cap, and a fantastic exhibition in New Orleans right now.
Drew joined us as Bobby and I took SportsTalk on the road to the 'Gridiron Glory' exhibit at the National WWII Museum, an exhibit and facility of which Drew is a huge fan.
"The fact that we have the National WWII Museum in New Orleans is extremely significant, and was able to be showcased during Super Bowl Week," Drew said. “We were running quite a few PSA's and advertisements to try to get people to come and visit, and turnout was great. It's one of those places that, for those of us who had members of our family who either fought in WWII or served in the military had special meaning...Especially for the guys who played in the NFL, it's one of those unique opportunities to see the guys who put away their helmets and shoulder pads for a while, and went and fought to defend our country in WWII. The exhibit that is there right now is highlighting those men and talking about their accomplishments, it's great."
Drew's #9 jersey that he wore when he broke Dan Marino's record is in the exhibit, and it will then be heading back to Canton to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a few more weeks in New Orleans.
"You know, I think it's important to preserve those things, and give other people the opportunity to kind of share in that moment, even if it's just a piece of what you were wearing that day...whether it was your helmet, or your jersey," Drew said. "I think it's important when we went and played in the Hall of Fame Game this year, we had a chance to walk through the museum in Canton and to see some of the items from over the years...The Saints now have a presence in the Hall of Fame. Tom Dempsey's shoe, and other things that are part of that, it's really neat to see. I get excited about that, obviously, being a Saint, and it makes me feel proud to have representation in that way."
We talked to Drew about the salary cap and restructuring, and he agreed: That's just the way the NFL is run today.
"Everybody is up against the cap, and everybody wants to be as competitive as possible. And in order to do that, you're going to have to pay to keep certain players," he said. "You're going to want to build your team as best you can with the amount of money you have, but obviously there's a cap on that, though. You're trying to fit as many talented players and as many players as you want to keep on your team as you can. And inevitably, on every team, you can't spend as much as you want, this isn't the New York Yankees. Everybody has that challenge."
Drew is no longer the top-paid player in NFL history, but he seemed fine with that.
"It doesn't surprise me that Joe Flacco jumped me. And I'm sure it's maybe Aaron Rodgers, or someone else, is going to leapfrog Joe Flacco. The trend is going to continue in that direction as our game continues to grow, and the popularity continues to grow...that doesn't surprise me."
And, when I asked Drew how he responds to people who say football players make too much money, he laughed, and then had this to say:
"Yeah, we probably do. Unless you're finding the cure for cancer, or creating world peace, I don't know if anybody deserves to get that much money. But, that's the industry that we're in. You can probably say the same for actors, actresses, and entertainers. We're in the entertainment industry, and business is business. There's a market, and the market establishes what you get paid.
Drew said he and the entire Saints square are more than ready to get conditioning and training underway in mid-April.
"Absolutely. We're all chomping at the bit. Obviously excited to have Coach Payton back, and excited to get back to work. I always look forward to that down time with the family, and I've taken full advantage of it, this last month or so. But I cannot wait to get back to work when the time comes.
And, his thoughts on going up against newly-hired Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan at practice?
"I really look forward to it. I've got a lot of respect for him and his schemes. I've faced him a number of times...so, he's one of those guys, I like his swagger. It seems like his defenses play extremely hard, and they do a lot of things. They're very multiple in the things they can do defensively. He seems to be very creative, and he's done a great job kind of incorporating the skills and talents of his defensive players into the scheme, wherever he's been. I think that's where you really kind of develop an attitude and a swagger is throughout OTA's, and in the training camp competing against your own defense. We provide ourselves as being one of the best offenses in the league, and hey, we're going to throw a lot at you as well. So, let's make this as competitive as we can. We're trying to beat them every day just like they're trying to beat us. So when you step on the field on game day, you say, there's nothing we can see and face that we haven't seen before in practice."
Saints Coach Sean Payton joined Bobby and me for SportsTalk on Tuesday. Coach talked with us about a variety of things, but when we asked what was the Saints' top priority, coach Payton quickly pointed to the defense.
"We need to play better defense and we have to run the ball better. I think those things go hand in hand," said Payton.
Coach Payton also talked about the hiring of new Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan.
“Rob’s a guy that’s got a great pedigree. He’s a guy that’s confident, he’s a guy that brings a certain amount of enthusiasm to his units. He’s a guy we’ve faced and I’ve known a long time. “
Payton also said the players will hit the weight room in mid-April and will be looking forward, not back.
"Last season was disappointing and we don't make any excuses. We have a lot of improving to do,” Payton said.
People, I am new to the "social media" game. But I have to tell you, the way that the unfounded rumor about Les Miles spread this weekend, it makes me sad to have to be a part of the Twitter-verse.
Apparently, it all goes back to a couple of Tweets from one Sam McGaw, a student reporter for Western Kentucky University. On Friday McGraw reportedly tweeted, "There are rumors that LSU head football coach Les Miles will step down on Monday afterallegedly having an affair with a student." It took off after that, landing on online "fan" boards in Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa.
A student reporter? From Western Kentucky? Folks, he MUST have an incredible source in BTR to get this "scoop!" All I know is, what does a reporter from the Hill Toppers know about the SEC? This exploded as chat room message garbage. And, yes, the Les Miles haters in Louisiana helped the rumor along.
As for any official comment, LSU has not (and likely will not) responded to the rumors. And, rightly so. Come on, people...this man has a family.
Look: when REAL news and sports events start working, there are leaks and leads and such. You start hearing from sources about whether a story is true or not, and you get a hint of whether there may be a kernal of truth.
In this case...Nothing. Nada. Not one single credible news/sports outlet is treating this as anyting but a rumor that got whipped up on the internet.
So, let's take this as a learing lesson, people. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. It was true ten years ago, and it is even truer today. This is a below-the-belt weekend of slander that no one deserves. It's a stupid rumor that quickly spread out of control. It should also make you think twice before passing these types of things along.