Saints defence is moving on under Spagnuolo

METAIRIE, La. Ray Rice Purple Jersey . — The all-out blitzing the Saints unleashed during recent seasons appears to be a thing of the past under new defensive co-ordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins is lining up closer to the line of scrimmage and is no longer a tackler of last resort. Martez Wilson, drafted last year to play linebacker, finds himself practicing at defensive end. New Orleans defence looks and even sounds different under Spagnuolo, who is more understated than his brazen predecessor, Gregg Williams, though not necessarily less aggressive. “Spags defence isnt a sit-back defence,” Jenkins said Thursday, after the Saints completed their first set of off-season practices, known as organized team activities. “Its not your all-out pressures that you get from a Gregg Williams, but he does have a lot of pressures coming from a lot of different places and preaches playing fast,” Jenkins added. “Youll still see the aggressive style of play with swarming and everybody getting to the ball.” Williams left the Saints shortly after they were eliminated by San Francisco in last seasons playoffs. He then took a job as St. Louis defensive co-ordinator, but was later suspended indefinitely in connection with the NFLs findings that Williams ran a bounty program in New Orleans that offered cash bonuses for injurious hits from 2009 to 2011. The Saints defence is moving on under Spagnuolo, a recent head coach in St. Louis who is perhaps better known for his previous job as the New York Giants defensive co-ordinator. In New York, Spagnuolo oversaw a dominant defensive line that battered Tom Brady in the 2008 Super Bowl, allowing the Giants to narrowly upset a heavily favoured and previously unbeaten New England squad that had rewritten NFL scoring records. While Spagnuolo might be more inclined to rush four or five defenders than the six or even seven the Saints routinely sent the past few seasons, he still expects to apply pressure on the quarterback. “We dont care where the pressure comes from. … Well bring it from all different directions,” Spagnuolo said. “You win up front, offensively and defensively. … There will be an emphasis on winning up front first, both on the run and the pass, and I think we have guys that can do that.” One reason Wilson has been moved to right defensive end is because his speed and versatility allows him to rush the passer or drop into coverage. Spagnuolo also wants New Orleans to play more zone, which he believes will result in fewer big plays given up than last season, when heavy blitzing often left cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson in man-to-man coverage with little or no help from safeties. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who coaches linebackers and also is acting as head coach during Sean Paytons season-long suspension in connection with the bounty probe, said the change to more zone made sense “because of the big plays taking place in the National Football League right now.” “Against zone defence, they are less prevalent,” Vitt said. “It is a little bit of a transition for Patrick and Jabari, but they have really done a good job so far.” Vitt said the Saints defence last season gave up 99 big plays, which New Orleans defines as either a run of 10 or more yards or a pass of 20 or more yards. “Too many,” said Jenkins, who used to line up more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage and often was the only one left to make the tackle when the blitz wasnt effective. This season, Jenkins said, he and strong safety Roman Harper will have similar roles, with either able to move up in running situations or drop into zone coverage and do some ball-hawking. “Instead of it being a clean-up role like its been the last couple years, Ill be closer to the ball and thatll always give you some opportunities to make some more plays,” Jenkins said. Spagnuolo also has a number of players on his unit who werent in New Orleans last season, including free-agent acquisition Curtis Lofton, who will start at middle linebacker if Jonathan Vilmas full-season suspension in the bounty investigation is upheld. Fellow free-agent signing David Hawthorne also is working with the first team. The Saints have another new linebacker in Chris Chamberlain, who played for Spagnuolo in St. Louis. Defensive back Marquis Johnson is another former Ram who is now with New Orleans and is hoping to see time at nickel back. Spagnuolo said he will adapt his schemes to players strengths and weaknesses, so while some changes are evident already, the finished product remains months away, particularly in light of the fact that players do not wear full pads during OTAs. “I dont know if I have the personnel part figure out yet,” Spagnuolo said. “Its not real football until you put pads on. … Its going to take a little while here as a staff before weve got it figured out which direction were going to go, and were going to need some games, some preseason games. Were going to need some football contact out here.” Notes: There were no signs of progress in the clubs protracted contract negotations with Drew Brees, who is holding out for a long-term extension. Chase Daniel is running the first-team offence until Brees returns. Saints players said they miss Brees but that Daniel is performing well. “Chase runs the huddle awfully similar to Drew,” right tackle Zach Strief said. “The ball is coming out well, Chase is doing a good job, making the right calls and putting us in the right positions. … Its good for him to get the (work). It can only help our team.” … Vilma, who is appealing his suspension, attended all three OTAs this week. He was in meetings but sat out most of the work on the field so he could focus on rehabilitating from minor off-season surgery on his left knee. Vitt said that because the Saints are permitted to have players at headquarters for only six hours per day during OTAs, that approach made more sense. … Spagnuolo said LB Jonathan Casillas did not practice this week because of a sore back. Vonta Leach Jersey . Hes dominating, and a contender just might want him. Dempster pitched four-hit ball over seven innings, and the Cubs hung on to beat team president Theo Epsteins former club, topping the struggling Boston Red Sox 3-0 on Friday. Terrell Suggs Black Jersey . — The Royals have declined their 2013 option on Joakim Soria after he missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery, making the former All-Star closer a free agent. . For the women, the Canadian entries are Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney, both of Toronto, and Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., and Marie-Andre Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que. For the men, the Canadian pairs are Josh Binstock of Toronto and Martin Reader of Comox, B. Dennis Pitta Black Jersey . Marsch and the expansion Major League Soccer franchise announced on the weekend they were parting company. The team is in Italy for friendly matches with Serie A teams Bologna FC and Fiorentina, and Di Vaio and interim coach Mauro Biello spoke with reporters on a conference call Wednesday. Ray Lewis Camo Jersey . — Warriors centre Andrew Bogut insists he will no longer even attempt to guess when he might return to the court for Golden State, saying only that he is out “indefinitely.Ohio State is paying football coach Urban Meyer $4 million per year, more money than his predecessor, along with specific requirements for reporting violations of NCAA rules. The university has completed a seven-year contract with Meyer that the board of trustees is expected to approve later this week. Meyer was hired last November to rebuild the program, which got a one-year bowl ban for NCAA rules violations underr former coach Jim Tressel. Anquan Boldin Elite Jersey. Meyers contract guarantees $4 million, with a chance to make significantly more through bonuses and youth camps. Tressel was guaranteed $3.8 million. The contract goes into greater detail about how Meyer should handle any violations within the program. Athletics director Gene Smith says it was “more the message than anything” to include the language. ‘ ‘ ‘

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