Metairie, La. - The Saints are battered, bruised, and all but eliminated from the playoffs and yet, interim head coach Joe Vitt foresees his group giving a spirited effort against the Cowboys Sunday. Vitt met with the media Thursday and the following are his quotes, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints.
"Jed Collins did not practice today. Zach Strief was on a limited base today. Chris Ivory was limited. Patrick Robinson was limited. Jimmy Graham practiced today, and he was full. Pierre Thomas was limited today. We expect that we will make really good progress with our injured players and they will have a pretty good chance of playing on Sunday, those that were limited today. Today was third down. You really have to be impressed with Dallas' offense right now. They are converting (third downs) at forty-four percent. They are doing a good job of protecting the quarterback. They have skilled wide receivers that are catching the ball and making plays if the quarterback has nowhere to go with the ball. Forty-four percent is a huge number, third in the league right now. Defensively the worst stat they have is yards per play, thirty-first in the National Football League. But what they are doing a great job of is getting people in third down and long. I think they are giving up 7.1 yards per play but the biggest and longest (off of) tape that we have is the third and seven to ten category where it is third and nine and third and ten and they are stopping people for a six, seven yard game and making them punt. This is a situation that we have to be good at on Sunday to have a chance to compete against this football team."
How do you juggle this time of year with wins and losses, with Injured Reserve? Malcolm Jenkins was one of those that maybe could have come back for Week 17 but it was pushing it.
"Listen, we are saying with Malcolm, it would have been a push for him to play. If it's a push for him to play, then all of a sudden that's three games that potentially you're a man short. So listen, the next man up is our philosophy. We aren't doing anything that we wouldn't do out of the ordinary realm. We're in the business of winning football games. We aren't taking look to younger people by design. The next man who has practiced well and has shown us that he knows our system is going to have a chance to play."
You talked already how you haven't been in this position in years about not having great playoff potential. Do you have to guard against the thought of spoilers and just focus on getting better?
"We are focused on two things. We are trying to get better every day and we are trying to win a football game. That is what we do around here. The process does not and it's not going to change. The best people are going to play, the people that have earned the right to be on our team, to be on our active roster, are going to play and the process doesn't change. It just doesn't change."
Last year, I know it's a different sport, but New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams, when they were long out of the playoffs, he was saying 'I need to see who wants to be a part of this team for the future.' Does that apply to you guys at all?