Metairie, La. - After a quick turnaround for a Thursday night game in Atlanta, the Saints had an extra three days to rest up before traveling to the Meadowlands to take on the Giants. Interim coach Joe Vitt's team has maximized on the time by returning to near full health as a squad. The following is Vitt's media session, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "Charles Brown did not practice for us today and neither did Corey White. Everybody else was full-go today. We had a good practice. Today the emphasis was third down. Offensively, on third down, the New York Giants are converting at 40% which is a heck of a number. It puts them in the upper echelon of the National Football League. They're doing a great job of protecting the passer. They've given up the least amount of sacks in the league on third down. Defensively, they're continuing to take the ball away and they're doing a good job of pressuring the quarterback. That's an area that we worked hard on today to give us a chance to compete on Sunday if we have any hopes of winning this game."
What exactly are they doing on third down?
"Number one, I think it starts with the protection. Eli (Manning) does a good job of identifying the front and they get a hat on a hat. The ball comes out quickly, it comes out on time. He's in rhythm with his wide receivers. That's not only on third down but that also carries out through first and second down also. They do an excellent job with that. I think it also helps that, and it's something that we hit on yesterday, he does such a good job of throwing off his back foot. He can continue to gain depth and spit the ball and do it accurately. When I'm talking about accurately, I'm talking about from the far hash to the outside edge, the far numbers. It's impressive to watch."
Was it good to have Junior Galette back at practice?
"It was. He has a lot of energy. He was happy to be out there. I think this is the first time Junior has had a setback medically. Now, he's going to have to count himself down and understand academically what he's got to do on the field and start to listen to and relay the calls. The want-to is there. He'll work hard to prepare himself but now he's got to make sure he knows what he's doing out there."
Do you think you are catching a break with the weather schedule in New York for the game? Do you think that the weather is something that people make too big a deal out of?
"I do. Back in 1993, when I was with the Rams, we traveled to Green Bay one time and it (was) five degrees with a 35 mile/hour wind so it was like -30 with the wind chill factor. That made a difference in the game. Anytime you have the temperature hovering around 50 degrees, it's going to be a little bit breezy, all the information that we're receiving about that stadium, the swirling wind is not what it was at the Meadowlands. I think it's perfect football weather."
Roman Harper missed 10-12 snaps last game. Was it because of his injury or was he substituted out?
"No, it was because of the injury. He was fine today. He worked real well today."
Did he leave the game with an injury or was he just in and out?
"In and out."
What do you like about what you're seeing from Cam Jordan in his second season?
"I think the maturity. He's a first-round draft pick for us so the athleticism and production was there in college. He showed a lot of great things his rookie year. He had a great offseason and came to training camp in great shape. He had his weight down. Now you see the preparation habits that he has now, watching extra film every day, talking to the younger guys on the team, I think with the maturity from year one to year two he's really been on mark. That's what all real good players do when they come in the National Football League. The rookie year is a learning experience and then that second year is when you see the biggest jump and that's been the case with Cam. The game is not too big for him. The game has kind of slowed down on Sundays for him. He's made none of the rookie mistakes that he made a year ago. He's become really detail-oriented in his play. He now understands formation recognition and he's more situationally aware with down-and-distance. He's learned how to play the game within the game. He's come a long way."
With his personality, does he keep a good balance of keeping it light and keeping it serious?
"I think he does. I think he is one of those guys that we talked about earlier in the year, a little bit like Mark Ingram, that he's (been) kind of raised in these locker rooms his whole life. I think he approaches the game with a great attitude. He doesn't have a bad day. He's always upbeat. He's a good kid to be around."
Do you like him as a building block for whatever the defense is going to be?
"Listen, you try to get as many good players as you can and get them on the field at the same time and he's one of our better players."
Do you find that a player's improvement varies by position from their rookie to second year?
"It does. I would say this, I don't think it varies. I think the production and the numbers vary from position to position. Cam (Jordan) has seven sacks this year. He's got a legitimate chance to get in some double-digit numbers. That's huge for him. I think a corner in year two, and all of a sudden he's got four or five picks and maybe had two the year before. I think also running backs. Everybody can see the yards, but the running backs' growth would be in protection. Does he know who to block in protection? Do you trust him in blitz situations. Can he be your nickel back? I think that you look for that growth spurt in the second year but I think the production and the numbers change from position to position."
Is it enough to disrupt with your pass rush this week or does the defense have to actually get their hands on Eli Manning?
"We need to do two things. We need to get off on the snap, have lane integrity and if we can't there, get our hands up and try to disrupt his throws. Not very many people are getting there so if you can get your hands up or you can get your tipped balls and get three of those in one game, especially on third down, it's as good as a sack."
Drew Brees said yesterday that he has to be just as aggressive as he has the past two weeks…
"Absolutely. Drew is not going to change. Drew hasn't changed in his preparation. Drew is not going to change in his anticipation of where the throw should go. Drew is not going to change his ability to challenge a tight throw. Listen, again, Drew is not going to change anything over a tough game based on his body of work and what his production has been since 2006."
The Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said that it will be easier to face the Saints offense instead of the Redskins offense because of Robert Griffin III's ability to run the ball. Do you see where he is coming from?
"I do. We prepare for Cam Newton twice a year. I wasn't here, I was suspended when we got ready for RGIII but I've gone through this explanation before. It's like you're preparing for six eligible receivers. You're preparing for three running backs on the field at the same time when you're playing an offense like that. Those quarterbacks can extend the down and extend the field. You just don't make one-on-one tackles against athletes like that, you've got to get population to the ball. I can understand what he's saying with that. Now he's playing a real (conventional) NFL offense as opposed to these new type of offenses that are coming in now that have really given people some challenges."
He said he was happy to not be facing the option again but Drew Brees did well scrambling in that game last year…