More Support for the Saints

Howard Balzer

August 12, 2012 at 4:55 am.

Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma feels like he has a legit argument against the league. ( Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE)

While Jonathan Vilma’s immediate future is being dealt with in the courtroom, a former New Orleans Saints secondary coach says there was no “bounty” system with the team.

Dennis Allen is now the Raiders’ head coach, and he said on Jim Rome’s show, “We obviously had an incentive program. It’s unfortunate the things that have gone down there. I’ve got a lot of great friends there. I really respect those players, those coaches, and that’s some of the best memories I’ve got in the National Football League.”

Differentiating between pay-for-performance and bounties, Allen added, “I think when you really look at it, at no time was anybody ever trying to intentionally go out there and hurt anybody. And that’s the way that we played the game. Our guys were motivated to go out there and play hard, and that’s what we felt like they did on a day in, day out basis.”

Rising Star?

He probably can’t be considered a sleeper in fantasy drafts, but he’s also not a name that automatically comes to mind. Still, considering the explosiveness of theGreen Bayoffense, wide receiver Jordy Nelson should probably go off the draft boards very quickly.

Nelson had 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, and Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett said Nelson is improving this summer in training camp.

Said Bennett, “This guy just continues to improve. He is an elite receiver. “He has those three ‘S’ words: size strength and speed. This guy is a difference-maker. You know, it’s easy to say something like that. But when you watch the guy work and what he puts into it, then you can see it. Now we have to get to the games and let the games speak for themselves.”

Offensive coordinator Tom Clements concurred, saying, “He’s been outstanding. He’s a great player.”

Is Anyone Concerned

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin claims not to be concerned because of hamstring issues that are affecting him in training camp. What’s strange is whyAustindoesn’t think there should be concern, even though his 2011 season wasn’t what it could hav e been because of … you guessed … hamstring problems.

Somehow, Austin claims not to be worried because he worked as hard as he did this past offseason. Anyone that thinks logically would surmise he should be more concerned because he worked so hard and still is experiencing a hamstring problem.

His quote on the subject is one for the ages when he says, “It’s up to whoever to be concerned. Anybody who wants to be concerned can be concerned. I can’t focus on who’s concerned or who’s not concerned. I need to focus on getting back.”

Of which, of course, he’s not concerned.

Another Workout Warrior

He was one of the stars of the Combine in February and many wondered if he would be over-drafted because of it. Would a team ignore the lack of consistent production by defensive tackle Dontari Poe at Memphis and pick him higher than he should because of the athletic numbers he posted at the Combine?

Yes, it’s early, but, for now, consider answering the question in the affirmative. The Kansas City Chiefs selected Poe 11th overall, and the early part of his pro career has been a struggle.

When Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel was asked what Poe has to do to improve, he was blunt. “A lot,” Crennel said. “He needs to work on technique; he needs to work on understanding the system; he needs to get the calls correct all the time. He’s got a ways to go.”

Other than that, he’s fine. In fairness, Poe is now a nose tackle, and that would be an adjustment for anyone. The NFL is notorious for eating up highly selected defensive tackles in the draft and spitting them out. The list is long for those that bombed.

Poe knows he has a lot of work to do. He said, “It’s all different. The technique of it, there’s nothing the same about the college level. The only thing the same is that it’s football. As far as the speed level and the strength and all that, you’ve got to learn it all.”

My Two Cents

What’s the best news of this weekend? By the time it’s over, there will be only three weeks left of the abomination known as preseason football. And to think, the NFL gets away with charging regular-season prices for these games and demands that season-ticket holders buy them. They should be arrested for grand theft.

The Quotebook

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman on rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery: “The best way to say it is, he’s a Brandon Marshall in the making. He has that capability to be as good asBrandonif he continues to have the work ethic and work on ball skills and work to be a better player. But he can definitely be on that level.”

Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley on replacement officials: “I feel things always tend to drag to the last minute, and people find a way to work things out. When it comes down to it, both parties want to get (a deal) done. If you compare an NFL game to a college game, that’s the kind of officials you’re getting. It’s such a jump. It’s imperative that you have professionals, when you’re on the professional level.”