by Kristian Garic, firstname.lastname@example.org,posted May 25 2012 8:30AM
The Saints pulled off a pretty big upset stealing linebacker Curtis Lofton from the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. Lofton admitted that he didn't think too highly of the Saints prior to joining the Black and Gold.
"When I was going through the process and they said the Saints were interested in me, I only took one visit and that was here. Up in Atlanta, I hated these guys. That is the rivalry, you hate each other," Lofton said.
Soon after that visit he came to terms with what the Saints had to offer. "Once I got here, hanging around Coach (Sean) Payton, Mickey (Loomis), Coach (Joe) Vitt, and Coach Spags, it felt right. It was family. Before I made my decision, I called Harp (Roman Harper), I called Will (Smith), and they were very receptive. They talked to me and said 'Hey, we need you. Come be a part of something great," Lofton recalled.
Lofton came over from the Falcons as a man that has been extremely productive, tallying over 100 tackles in three of his four seasons with the Dirty Birds. With Jonathan Vilma out for the season serving a season long suspension (pending appeal) Lofton is ready to step up as one of the leaders on defense.
"I am excited. They expect a lot of me, and I expect a lot of myself too. The reason why I came here is to win a championship and that is what everyone's expectations are. You just have to keep taking it day by day and getting better. That is the number one goal right now."
Before landing in New Orleans as a free agent, the knock on Lofton was that he couldn't play all three downs in the middle because he wasn't a very good pass defender. Lofton was quick to shoot that down.
"When you are a free agent, every weakness you have, they are going to look at. If you look at my time in Atlanta, my first year I was a first and second down linebacker. My second year, I played more than 95% of the snaps. The past two years, I played 99% of the snaps. I guess, if you play 99% of the snaps, you couldn't say that I was a first and second down linebacker."
The Saints placed heavy emphases on upgrading the line backing corps this offseason. New Orleans signed three free agents this spring including Lofton, David Hawthorne, and Chris Chamberlain. Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt had high praise for the trio during the first week of organized team activities.
"These guys are special. They are all business. You guys saw practice today. When you look at their athleticism and range, (you are impressed). They are in great shape. We have been pleasantly surprised with their mental capacity to absorb the new system that is going in. Curtis has done a lot of what we are doing in Atlanta already. Those two guys have been everything we thought they would be and more. They have some natural leadership qualities and they want to win. It has been great," Vitt explained.
In a few short hours of watching the Saints on the field and in the locker room, you can clearly see Lofton assimilating himself as one of the leaders on the defense. Lofton is well liked by his teammates, and that's a big first step in earning the respect in the locker room. Give General Manager Mickey Loomis and his scouts plenty of credit, they seem to have an uncanny ability to target a player that fits exactly into their plans. The transition from Vilma to Lofton appears smooth at this point.
Great addition... welcome CL to the Who Dat Nation!
Welcome to the Who Dat Nation, Curtis
Wait til you play your first game in the dome as a homeboy and see what it feels like to have the greatest fans in the world on your side. We welcome you here, we need you and I can't wait to see what you can do with a black and gold uniform instead of a red and black one.
Saints Pep Rally
As a fan base, and for those fans that are local, we need to act soon. A statement has to be made directly to Mr. Benson. New Orleans and its fans put on the biggest post Super Bowl celebration that the NFL has ever seen. The Super Bowl party continued during the entire off season. It is time to show Mr. Benson that same kind of spirit, once again. At this point, talk is cheap. Action is now required. I am asking on many forums, for the local Saints fans to prepare for a Saints Pep Rally. About 50,000 fans should send the message. On a given Friday, at 6 pm central time, right as the NFL network is about to air NFL’s Total Access, and before the July 16 deadline to sign Drew to a long term contract has come and gone, the 50,000 strong Saints Pep Rally should take place at the Saints training facility. The theme will be simple. PAY DREW BREES! SIGN DREW NOW! Saints fans, we can not put Drew in a position to accept a one year contract, because of the love he has for our city and fan base. We need to back him, now. I want him happy and focused on the upcoming season. I want him to know, that we appreciate what he has done for the region, and simply put, we have his back. To all Saints fans, feel free to post this idea in any forum you desire and begin organizing with your friends to pick a Friday date, soon.
Rod in Sacramento
Glad we are strengthening our linebackers. Good thing you are with the Saints, because the FAILCONS(That's right FAILCONS, spelled intentionally)will finish in last place in the NFC South.