Kristian's 1st look at Saints OTA's: A team with a chip on their shoulder
by Kristian Garic,posted May 23 2013 3:39PM
The Payton factor: The media got their first look at the Saints during their third Organized Team Activity session this morning at the team’s training facility on Airline Drive. Very few people have as strong a presence at their workplace as the one felt from Sean Payton. He was back with his team as they worked through the 90-degree heat at practice. You can tell Payton is running the show again, just in the energy level alone that you see from the players on the practice field. You can feel and see it in everone, from the coaches down to the water boys.
Ryan’s D: Most of the attention was squarely on the new defensive scheme of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. While Ryan admitted they’re throwing a lot at the players right now, he said, "They are picking it up on the board as fast as any defense I’ve been in charge of."
Besides the obvious change in alignment, the defense already has a different look to it, and a different attitude.
"We all have a chip on our shoulder after last season. I don’t like getting fired. I know I had a job in five minutes," he said somewhat sarcastically. "I know I got my feelings hurt and so did our players, and we’re looking to something about it.”
Coming off the Bounty Scandal from a year ago, the Saints defensive coaches before now were a little resistant to say things aloud, but that’s clearly changed in the practice I watched today. You could hear the coaches barking orders and coaching tips regularly to the players.
It was also nice to see Joe Vitt back with the linebacker group. Vitt was suspended for six games last season, and upon his return he was handling the interim head coaching duties. Rob Ryan was obviously glad to have Ryan back in the fold as well.
"I have the best assistant coach in football already here this side of (Steelers Defensive Coordinator) Dick Lebeau in Joe Vitt. He didn’t coach a snap of defense last year, that’s like getting a first round pick," Ryan said.
Early observations: It’s only May, so we can’t crown anyone yet, but a few players stood out today. Defensive back Kennan Lewis was active around the football in team drills and picked off one pass from Luke McCown on a deflected ball. Lewis just missed another interception, stepping in front of a Drew Brees pass intended for Lance Moore. Linebacker Martez Wilson was impressive, flashing solid speed coming off the edge. Victor Butler also flashed some of his pass rushing skills. Though, keep in mind: It’s hard to tell who wins the trench fights without pads.
Did not practice: Sean Payton wasn’t willing to disclose to much about injuries but the following players did not practice today. Jonathan Vilma (LB), David Hawthorne (LB), Malcolm Jenkins (S), Kenyon Coleman (DE), Ben Watson (TE), and Charles Brown (OL). Payton said Browns injury is from weightlifting. "Nothing significant, we’ll just keep monitoring it. He got some work in the walkthrough," Payton told us. Jenkins missed practice battling a sore hamstring.