Jonathan Vilma returning to top form

Metairie, La. - Rob Ryan's new 3-4 defense dominated the first day of training camp and linebacker Jonathan Vilma looked like his old self.

The following is Vilma's media session after practice, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:

How was the first day out there at practice?

"The first day was good. Of course it was hot, (but) that was to be expected. (The) Humidity was there, but I thought that we did a good job coming in (fighting) the elements and then getting some good work in."

You got a couple of early turnovers in that first team period of practice. How important is it to get success even though it is practice, something you can build on?

"It's good to get those turnovers. It's better when we have execution. So we're getting these turnovers off of executing the defense which is really good, as opposed to just tipped balls and things like that. I think guys are really understanding the (concepts of) the defense and what Rob Ryan wants and we're coming out here, we're executing and we're making plays off of it."

Can you see if you're starting to see plays like that, maybe you guys are more reacting and trying to find out what's going on? Is this a sign that you guys are picking up the concepts and the playbook defensively?

"Exactly. That is a sign that we are picking it up. It's also a sign of Rob Ryan's defense, a little more aggressive. He wants to get after it and for us to execute (it) doesn't always mean we're going to be right, but as long as we're fast and we're aggressive (he can live with some mistakes at this point)."

After some of the things you went through last year, does this training camp and upcoming season feel like something fresh and new? We've heard about a new sense of excitement and things like that, just for you to be here now with all that past you. Is that the case?

"I don't (need to look at it as being) about a new sense of excitement because of what happened last year. It's a new season so we're excited about coming in, (getting a) fresh start and everyone is zero and zero, everyone has high aspirations. So for us, we're coming out and making sure we can do everything we do with everyone here this time. We have the head coach back, I'm back and (we) don't have to worry about anything except football. "

How do you think your role will change in this new 3-4 alignment under coach Ryan?

"I don't think my role is any different. I still call the defense and I'm still on the field. The only thing different would be the scheme, but that's going to come with the new coach so that nothing, that is (not) to be expected and I think I'm fitting in well right now. It's the first day. We'll see how it goes."

Last year, you and Curtis Lofton had a short time together that really started in the regular season, but this year the two of you have been able to work together since the start of the offseason program. Has that been a benefit?

"It's been great really for the whole defense. We have a real good feel for each other. Last year, there were a lot of uncertainties, especially if I was going to keep playing, or wasn't going to keep playing (and) what position was I going to play when I got back. Now we have our roles, we have our defined roles and we're able to play off of each other. It's good for me (and) good for him where he has certain strengths and weaknesses, I have certain strengths and weaknesses and we can just play off of each other."