NFC South: Greg McMahon

McMahon on Hartley: Tough, but common

December, 20, 2013
METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints special teams coordinator Greg McMahon spoke for the first time about kicker Garrett Hartley's release when coordinators were made available to the media on Friday. Naturally McMahon, who has been with Hartley since he first arrived in 2008, said it was a difficult move.

"Hey, I love Garrett Hartley. And as we talk around here, we'll walk together forever," McMahon's aid of a popular phrase the Saints have used to describe members of the Super Bowl championship team an organization. "And that doesn't just come and go. He's a good man, he's a great man and a heck of a football player."

McMahon, however, said that such moves are the nature of the NFL business -- especially when it comes to kickers.

"Golly, if you just look around the league, very few guys are like (longtime former Carolina Panthers kicker) John Kasay where they stay with that team forever," McMahon said. "If you look around the league at some of the guys that have been on a team, then they go through a tough time, then all of a sudden they resurface. So it happens. No different than probably a golfer, or anybody else. You've just got to kind of push through it. And heck we're at this run right now and just thought it was the best thing, Coach (Sean Payton) felt like it was the best thing for our team."

Sure enough, more than half of the current kickers in the NFL have kicked for more than one team in their careers -- including 7 of the top-10 leaders in field goals made this year.

When asked if he thinks Hartley will get another opportunity somewhere, McMahon said, "Absolutely. Absolutely."

NFC South afternoon update

August, 23, 2012
It’s time for our afternoon look at what’s going on across the NFC South:


The Bucs have rearranged their locker room so that players are no longer surrounded by their position group. Coach Greg Schiano wouldn’t go into a lengthy explanation. But I think you can read between the lines with one example -- LeGarrette Blount's locker is now next to Ronde Barber's. I think it’s fair to say that Blount’s a guy that hasn’t always been completely focused, while Barber’s a veteran with a reputation for being a dedicated professional. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs are hoping some of Barber will wear off on Blount.

The first wave of roster cuts (to 75 players) don’t have to come until Monday. But the Bucs went ahead and released three of their undrafted free agents.

Although he’s only practiced three times since being claimed off waivers, receiver Jordan Shipley is expected to get some playing time in Friday night’s preseason game. The Bucs might as well throw Shipley out there and see what he’s got because they’re going to have to be making more roster decisions pretty quickly.


Mark Bradley looks at the Falcons schedule and projects how they’ll fare in the regular season. He has them going 12-4 and winning the NFC South. It’s at least possible. One thing to note -- Bradley has the Falcons going 6-0 against division opponents.

Safety Shann Schillinger will miss the preseason game with the Dolphins due to a foot injury. This is somewhat significant because Schillinger seemingly is in a battle with rookie Charles Mitchell for the final safety spot.


Running back Mark Ingram said he doesn’t think that his development has been hurt as the Saints have limited his practice time during the preseason. Ingram said he still does mental reps during practices. The Saints have been cautious with Ingram because he dealt with several injuries as a rookie last year. I think the goal is to just make sure Ingram is totally healthy for the start of the season.

Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said the kicking battle between Garrett Hartley and John Kasay will go right down to the wire. This is one of the best kicking battles I’ve ever seen because it features two guys who have made some very big kicks. Whichever one loses out in New Orleans will end up kicking for someone else this season.


Coach Ron Rivera said receiver Steve Smith’s injured foot is improving, but the team will be cautious on when he returns to the field. That’s the only way to go on this one. Smith’s a veteran and doesn’t need preseason games to prove anything.

Checking in on the Saints

May, 14, 2012
We’re finally reaching the point where there’s some football news out of the New Orleans Saints.

The team had its rookie minicamp over the weekend and assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who is stepping in for suspended coach Sean Payton, and the coordinators met with the New Orleans media Monday afternoon. There was no major news, but I’m looking at the transcripts and seeing several items that are worth discussing.

The veteran Saints have yet to hit the field in their offseason workouts, but that will come next week. With the contract situation of quarterback Drew Brees still very much up in the air, the Saints have to prepare to take the field without their leader. The Brees situation could change with a phone call, but the Saints are preparing to begin their on-field workouts with Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield as their quarterbacks.

“We’re going to throw the volume of offense at them that we would in a normal week,’’ offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. said. “It won’t be any different in that aspect.”

The Saints aren’t ruling out the possibility of adding another quarterback before they hit the field. They had Brian Brohm in for a tryout during the camp and could possibly sign him or someone else in the coming days. But, for the moment, they’re looking at proceeding with the quarterbacks they have under contract.

“This is going to be an opportunity for Chase and Sean to get more reps and get a good look at those guys,’’ Carmichael said.

There have been reports the Saints and Brees have made no progress toward a long-term contract. Vitt said the negotiations are between general manager Mickey Loomis and Brees’ agent, but still remained optimistic that the quarterback will have a contract before training camp.

“I’ve never been a math major and I’m not an accounting major so there’s nothing I could advise Mickey to do that what he already knows how to do,’’ Vitt said. “Those guys are both on the same page and have the same aspirations and same goals. This is going to get done. I don’t (believe) anybody ever thought it was going to be easy. I think they’re both working to the same goal.”

Vitt and the coordinators also addressed several other topics of significance.

The Saints have re-signed veteran kicker John Kasay, who stepped in last year when Garrett Hartley was injured. Special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said neither kicker is guaranteed a roster spot.

“We’re going to make it competitive, absolutely,’’ McMahon said. “All phases of our team are. We re-signed John for a reason. Garrett knows that and it will certainly be good competition. It’s healthy. It’s good for us.”

Uncertainty remains about the status of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith. The NFL has suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season and Smith is scheduled to be suspended for the first four games of the season for their roles in the bounty program. But those suspensions are on hold because both players have appealed.

“Both of those players were in the building today and we’re moving forward,’’ Vitt said. “We had a great film session with these guys. I think I have to go back to what we said a couple weeks ago. We’re trying to win today. Today, we got a little bit better than yesterday. This weekend we got a little bit better than the previous weekend. We’re going to adjust those challenges when we have to face them.”

Vitt also said the Saints will open training camp at their facility in Metairie, but suggested they will spend some time practicing against one of their preseason opponents. The Saints open the preseason by playing in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio against the Arizona Cardinals. They follow that with a road game in New England, home games with Jacksonville and Houston and close out the preseason with a game at Tennessee.

“We’ll open up (camp) a little early because we have the Hall of Fame game and then we’ll probably go and practice against one of our upcoming opponents in training camp,’’ Vitt said. “I think Mickey’s ready to talk about it in a week when it gets settled, but we’ll go away, kind of like we did in California (last preseason) for a week. We did it two years before that in Houston. We’ll go away and practice with an opponent that we have in our preseason schedule.”

Vitt also addressed the status of running back Mark Ingram, who recently had arthroscopic knee surgery.

“I think anytime you see a player limping around with a late-season offseason surgery like he had, you’re concerned,’’ Vitt said. “What I’m not concerned about is his dedication to getting better and his accountability to his teammates. He’s shows up to treatment on time every day. He’s not late. He’s taken a good business approach to this thing. The surgery is probably something that he didn’t have to get done, but as an organization we all agreed that he should get it done to make him a stronger player. Mark a dependable guy now. He’s not going to miss his treatment. He gets his work done. You’re concerned obviously with this, but not much with him.”

Vitt said the Saints may proceed cautiously with Ingram at the start of training camp, but have no doubt he’ll be ready for the beginning of the regular season.
There already has been a lot of media coverage out of the weekend rookie minicamps held by the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers.

The New Orleans Saints also had a rookie camp over the weekend, but there’s been very little talk about that. There’s a reason for that -- the camp wasn’t open to the public or the media.

But the Saints will have a media session late Monday afternoon, where assistant head coach Joe Vitt, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon are scheduled to review the minicamp.

According to the minicamp roster sent out by the Saints last week, the more than 20 rookie free agents were scheduled to take part on a tryout basis. Draft picks and undrafted rookies previously signed also were scheduled to take part. The Saints also were scheduled to bring in some veterans for tryouts. That list was highlighted by quarterback Brian Brohm. Other players with NFL experience who were scheduled to try out included linebacker Tressor Baptiste, defensive end Alex Daniels, defensive end William Davis, offensive tackle Hutch Eckerson, cornerback Brian Jackson, punter Kenneth Parrish, tight end Derek Schouman, fullback Frank Summers and linebacker Lawrence Wilson.

The Saints are likely to sign some of the rookies and veterans that were in for tryouts. We’ll have more on that and a wrap-up of the Saints’ minicamp after Vitt and the other coaches meet with the media.
I’ve been reading an advance copy of Sean Payton’s book “Home Team: Coaching The Saints And New Orleans Back To Life’’ periodically over the last few days.

The book comes out June 29, and I’m still promising a full book report once I finish. But I have to break in with a few items here. It took more than 20 chapters to spot anything I didn’t already know because the story of the Saints winning the Super Bowl and its significance to New Orleans played out very publicly.

I don’t think either of these items is earth shattering, but they did cause me to raise my eyebrows a bit.

First off, Payton reveals that the onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl wasn’t his initial idea. He’s talked many times previously about how he wanted to take a possession away from the Colts and that happened. But Payton says in the book that his first thought was to use a fake punt and he hatched that idea while talking to his mentor Bill Parcells in the week off between the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.

Payton said that he began talking to his assistants about how to set up the fake punt and word began spreading to the players. Veteran long snapper Jason Kyle approached Payton and cautiously suggested a fake punt wasn’t a great idea.

Payton wrote that’s when he realized he needed to give up on the fake punt. Soon after, special teams coach Greg McMahon suggested the “ambush’’ kick and Payton bought it.

The other thing that jumped out at me -- and this may matter more to me because I’m in the media -- is that Payton gave a pretty lengthy explanation of why the Saints were late to media day on the Tuesday before the Super Bowl. Believe me, I was aware the Saints were late. League officials were freaking out because the Saints were at least 30 minutes late in showing up in the interview area.

In the book, Payton says five players -- and he names them -- missed the team bus that morning. According to the book, defensive backs Tracy Porter, Roman Harper and Usama Young, defensive end Bobby McCray and offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod did not make it to the bus.

Payton wrote that team officials began frantically trying to locate the players. Harper, Young, McCray and Bushrod made it to the stadium on their own. According to Payton, Porter was the last to show. Once he did, Payton said he shut the locker room door, let the media wait and proceeded to rip his team.

His theme was that the Saints were behaving like they were just happy to be at the Super Bowl. Payton let them know that wasn’t good enough.

Like I said, I’ll do a more complete review of the book once I’m finished. But I thought those two items were worth sharing quickly.

The day ahead for the Saints

January, 21, 2010
METAIRIE, La. -- It’s going to be another busy day out at the Saints’ facility. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on.

The Saints will practice from 10:45 a.m. CT to 1:30 p.m. That’s not open to the media, but coach Sean Payton will address the media as soon as practice is over and we’ll give you whatever injury updates he has as soon as possible.

After Payton’s news conference, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon will meet with the media. The Saints will open their locker room from 2:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. for player interviews.

I’ll bring you news and notes on all of that and I’ll also be working on an extensive story about Jahri Evans, who seemingly has come from nowhere to become perhaps the best guard in the NFL. That story will run Friday afternoon and you’ll find out all of the details about where “nowhere’’ really is.