MOBILE, Ala. — Sean Payton confirmed the changes he has made on his coaching staff since the end of the regular season, which were already known. But he did end the mystery surrounding one situation.
When the Saints hired Dan Campbell to serve as the tight ends coach, it was widely reported he would also serve as the assistant head coach. This raised questions about Joe Vitt’s role with the team since he was previously given the title of assistant head coach.
It turns out nothing will change at all. Payton said Tuesday that Vitt and Campbell will both be assistant head coaches. Vitt will be tasked with focusing on the defense, while Campbell will focus on the offense.
“We typically sit in a room for a long time and go through the run and the pass,” Payton said of Campbell’s role. “Sometimes it’s not always efficient, it’s long and it’s tedious. That helps me.”
The addition of Campbell is one of several moves the Saints have made this offseason. Joe Lombardi, a former New Orleans assistant and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator, is returning to coach the quarterbacks. He replaces Mike Neu, who left to become the head coach at Ball State.
Dan Roushar, who coached the tight ends, will move over to coach the offensive line after Bret Ingalls was fired. Offensive assistant Kyle DeVan, who assisted on the offensive line and left to join Neu’s staff, will be replaced by Brendan Nugent.
New Orleans still needs to replace offensive assistant Greg Lewis, who assisted with the wide receivers and left to take a job in Philadelphia. Payton said the team will interview some people this week.
On defense, the Saints have added secondary coach Aaron Glenn and senior defensive assistant Peter Giunta. New Orleans lost its secondary coach, Wesley McGriff, to Auburn.
Deion Jones’ morning order of duties is simple, the former LSU linebacker says.
“Get up at 5:45 a.m. Get dressed. Brush my teeth,” he said. “Call J-Mills to see if he’s up. Or he calls me.”
It’s a lot of the latter, says “J Mills,” the nickname friends use to refer to ex-LSU defensive back Jalen Mills.
“I call him,” Mills insisted Tuesday night at a Senior Bowl function in downtown Mobile. “That dude will sleep through a hurricane.”
Mills and Jones, two of the Tigers’ departing seniors from last season, are training together in Miami. They lift weights together. They run together. They do similar position drills and eat together.
Not much has changed since their days at LSU — except, of course, that they’re living in a Miami condo preparing, not for a college game, but for the NFL draft.
“He’s a lot stronger than me. Don’t tell him I told you that,” Mills said. “I’m always throwing up a lot more weight than him when I know it’s his (lifting) down week, just to throw it in this face.
“That’s my brother. Since my freshman year, he was my roommate. It’s just been a journey for both of us.”
Mills and Jones have the same agent — Drew Rosenhaus — and they’re both here in Mobile practicing together with the South team ahead of Saturday’s Senior Bowl. They both say they’ve met with about half of the 32 NFL teams since arriving in Mobile on Sunday.
Mills, who played cornerback, nickelback and safety at LSU, said he’s told teams that he wishes to play corner. He played corner and nickel during Senior Bowl practice Tuesday. Teams have told Jones that he’s an inside linebacker in a 3-4 front and an outside linebacker in a 4-3, he said.
It might seem like the Saints have a bias for players who play in the Senior Bowl because they drafted three players — linebackers Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha, quarterback Garrett Grayson and running back Marcus Murphy — who played here last year, but Payton says that’s not the case.
Or at least not totally the case.
“ I think probably a little coincidence,” he said, before admitting he likes more experienced players. “There’s something about a senior, if two players were equal.”
Payton said he feels the Saints have an advantage when it comes to scouting the Senior Bowl, given the proximity to New Orleans. The team has its entire staff here this week, save for offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, whose father died earlier this week.
Payton also said this event is one of the more valuable ones during the scouting process since the players actually engage in live contact.
“This environment is so different because really you get to see them in contact, you get to see them in 1-on-1s,” he said. “You see a lot more than maybe a combine or pro day. And this Bowl has had a history of really, really successful players in our league.”