Do you get an unbelievable sense of support from the fans here as well, as if they are family?
“Absolutely. It always amazes me just how much support we get and how much people care about us and the Saints, not just as players, but as people. There are more people that ask me how my kids are doing; ‘How are the boys? How’s Brittany after giving birth?’ They care about you more than (asking) how many yards you are going to throw for this weekend or what I’m going to do for their fantasy team. The people in this community care about you and love the fact that you’re living uptown in the middle of the city. They see you in Audubon Park and they see you buying a snowball standing in line. I think that’s what’s special and unique about this city in that they care about you as a person and not just as a football player.”
With five running backs on the roster. We know you’re used to the more the merrier mentality on offense. What’s it like having those guys. Do you have intentions when you get on the field to incorporate all of them plus the wideouts?
“We love weapons and obviously we have some weapons at running back. It’s a numbers game when you get to gameday. All of them can’t be active. According to the game plan, injury situations and everything else, you have the guys that are playing, you know how you want to use them. The great thing we have at the running back position is that they’re so versatile. Each one of them can are great at certain things, but they really can do so many things. You plug any of them in in a lot of different situations and you know what you’re going to get out of them. You know you can count on them and I think they push one another as a competitive group. You add that with the receiver position, the tight end position and it’s a pick your poison.”
Scott Shanle has said that Joe Vitt is the “speech” guy. How is it going to be different on gameday with Aaron Kromer?
“We’ll adjust, just like we did with Sean’s (Payton) absence. Obviously we’re used to having Sean address us at the beginning of each day, post-practice, everything else. That kind of changed hands to coach Vitt. Now that coach Vitt’s gone, you take those things that coach Vitt had taken over in addition to the stuff that was coach Vitt stuff like the night before the game (speeches), pregame, that stuff and it’s somebody else’s opportunity, next man up to take that over. I think that’s what’s fun about it. You give guys opportunities to step up, fulfill that role. Can we replace Sean Payton? No. Can we replace coach Vitt? No. But we also know that we have the mentality here that it’s next man up. All it is is an opportunity for somebody else to step up, fill a void and fill a role.”
Aaron Kromer has that opportunity now. Have you seen any change or progression in his process and decision-making dating back from week three or four of the preseason?
“Yes, absolutely. Granted this is just the first game of the season and he has six games with us, but I think like anything, when you step into a role, you gradually gain more comfort in that role. Now, coach Kromer has the responsibility of addressing the team at that 8 a.m. team meeting before the day starts. To hear his voice at the beginning of the day. In his message, it’s the same message, different voice, but it’s him getting into the flow of doing that before practice, after practice and the things that come up during practice that he feels is a coaching point that needs to be addressed and it’s a learning thing for us. (There might be) something where he feels he needs to impart wisdom on the guys, because of something he saw in practice. He’s been a coach in this league a long time. He has a lot of experience. He knows our team. He knows our personnel. He knows the way we do things, yet each guy has a little different personality, so they lead within the personality. But we all respect coach Kromer a great deal. He’s a fiery coach who can give it to us when we deserve it, but also point out the things that kind of cut through all the stuff to get to what’s most important, which is one of the great things that Sean (Payton) has (done).”
How does Adrian Arrington look in practice?
“Yes. A lot of it in similar to (Darren) Sproles, a guy gets dinged in the preseason. It’s not worth the risk, even when he’s healthy of bringing him back for the third or fourth game, when you have the whole season that you’re trying to prepare for. All those guys look good. (Robert) Meachem’s departure left open an opportunity for guys like Adrian Arrington, Joe Morgan and others to kind of jump into the role and fill it a little bit. Still each guy has his own set of strengths, so within the gameplan, we work to those guys’ strengths to try to put them in the position to succeed.”
Do you think that Arrington’s opportunity to play in the postseason last year gave him confidence?
“Definitely, what’s interesting is that every opportunity Adrian has gotten, he just goes out there and looks like an old pro. I recall 2010, we brought him up from the practice squad for the last regular season game against Tampa Bay, I think he had around seven catches for seventy something (79) yards. Me throwing to him, from an outsider’s perspective, people can wonder who I’m throwing to, how we can look on the same page. It’s because he’s been around. He’s been one of the guys here for a long time. He’s just never really received that opportunity. When he steps in there, he makes it look like it’s old hat. He belongs there. I think his mentality is that he thinks he’s a competitive guy. He’s prideful. It shows in the way he plays. He’s extremely smart and tough. He can play all the receiver positions and makes it look pretty easy.”
Do you feel this is the most talented team you have been a part of?