Tuesday, 03 May 2011 15:58

Martez Wilson Could Give New Orleans Saints Depth At LB

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The Saints drafted Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson in the third round of the draft and believe he will give them depth at outside linebacker while playing on special teams.

He's a 6-foot-4, 250-pound workout freak who sometimes doesn't play to his athleticism. He made the All-Big Ten team last season after missing the 2009 year with a neck injury. The Saints had him graded much higher than a third-rounder and couldn't pass him up..

"He's an outside linebacker, a Sam (strong-side) linebacker for us," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "That's the vision we have for this player. He's played outside a lot.

"When we watched him on film, we saw someone who was long, who was productive, disruptive and we're excited to get him, especially in the third."

The Saints are looking for an outside linebacker who can rush the passer.

"There are some snaps when you can see him do that," said Payton. "He has the edge speed to be a Sam linebacker. There are going to be some times we ask him to pressure. He's long and those are things that  lead you to believe he's going to do that."

Question and answer with Wilson:

Q; You chatted with  the Saints during the Combine and I'm pretty sure you knew they were looking  for a linebacker. How familiar are you with the Saints and looking forward to getting to New Orleans?

A: I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait. This is a blessing, to be picked. It's fate. From this day forward, I'm going to continue to work, work and work. I'm going to work hard and show that I deserved to be picked.

Q: You sustained a neck injury in 2009 and were able to bounce back in 2010. How are you health-wise and how is that maybe an issue? Maybe you feel like with other teams that had something to do with you being picked in the third round?

A: It's a possibility. That could be an issue, but I don't feel any symptoms at all. I'm healthy. The doctors said I could continue to play football. I see some otter players in the league to this day that have had the same surgery. If I keep taking care of myself health-wise my neck is fine, and if the strength in my neck continues where it's at, then I'll be all right  I know I will.

Q: In college you played inside linebacker and Jonathan Vilma is here. Are you looking to come to the Saints and compete for one of those outside linebacker positions?

A: Oh yeah.  I'm coming to compete. I'm coming to play. I'm a competitor. That's what I do. That's why I love this sport.

Q: What position do you think they will have you at?

A: Probably strong-side linebacker, maybe over the tight end, starting off there, learn that position, start off there. The more I learn, the more they'll put on the plate for me.

Q: Have you a lot of experience covering tight ends?

A: No, but I'm a fast learner. I'm an athlete. Coach Joe Vitt (linebackers coach) showed me some private technique on how he wants me to do it and the proper way. I feel like I'll be all right. I know I will.

Q: How much did you see interest in the Saints? You visited with them at the Combine, but how much interest did you feel like the Saints had in you going into this draft?

A: I feel like Coach Vitt had a lot of interest in me. I sat in the film room for about two and a half hours. We just talked football. He was just telling me and testing me on how well I know football, and I was able to show him that I do know the game of football. I just felt the love from everybody. We just walked around and welcomed me and I liked that.

Q: Did you come here to the Saints facility or was that just in Indianapolis?

A: I did come and visit the facility.

Q: I saw some projections of you going in the first round, early second rounder. Is that where you thought you would go at that stage of the draft?

A: I would say first or second round. I was expecting that. I'm happy. I'm going to make the best of it and show why I deserved to be picked.

Q: The Saints use a lot different packages and use players different ways. Were you strictly inside the 3-4 in college or did you move around at all?

A: I actually moved around a lot this season. I played inside and sometimes I'd be on the slot receiver and on third down I'd be the rush guy. In other times I would even be lined up with the guard in some packages.

Q: Did you know Pierre Thomas?

A: Yes I know Pierre.

Q: Do you plan to get information from him soon about the Saints?

A: Definitely. He's a former Illini player. That's the thing about being teammates with a former Illini player, he'll show me the ropes and things like that. I get to move down to New Orleans. I can't wait.

Q: When you talked to the Saints coaches, what did they say that made you think the Saints were interested in you? I know you mentioned you played rush end and stuff and they are looking to bolster their pass rush. Did you talk about that at all?

A: Coach Vitt was primarily talking about outside linebackers. Just showing me how he wants to help me improve on some of  my technique, things like  that, how well he's going to coach me. For those things, I got the feeling that those coaches liked me. I was just going off to the draft. I was waiting for draft day. 

Q: Which coach called you and told you had been drafted?

A: Joe Vitt.

Draft week was a crazy week. Somehow the Giants ended up drafting Britain's Prince William,and Middleton ended up marrying Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara...But this really happened: When Cal defensive end Cameron Jordan was touring the Saints practice facility on Saturday after being  drafted in the first round by the Saints, his phone rang. "Hi," said the voice on the other end. "Jordan this is the Cleveland Browns." The caller was after some biographical information.  "Oh, yeah, this is Cameron Jordan," said the Saints' No. 1. "The Saints have already picked me." There was an awkward pause and Jordan said, "I think you mean Jordan Cameron. You're looking for Jordan Cameron and that's not me." He then hung up the phone. The Browns actually drafted the right person, USC tight end Jordan Cameron and he had called to tell him the good news. And that call was to get biographical information from him. Well, they do have something in common. They're both from the Pac-10....

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was loudly booed during the draft at Radii City Music Hall by fans frustrated over the labor discord. Hey, don't take that personally. New York sports fans would boo Mother Theresa helping up a man who had fallen out of his wheelchair...Saints coach Sean Payton said the team envisions seventh-round linebacker Nate Bussey as a "special teams player." He's 6-foot-1, 228 pounds and runs a 4.51 40. That's pretty good for a special teams specialist. Fellow rookie Martz Wilson (third round) will be in the mix for a starting linebacking job...Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall said he thinks Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett will be an All-Pro and so probably wishes Miami had taken a stab at him in the first round. Wait, let me rephrase that...

The 28th pick in the 1987 draft was Mark Ingrarm. The 28th player picked in the  2011 draft was Mark Ingram. Father and son, wide receiver and running back. Both played for Nick Saban, the senior Ingram at Michigan State and his Heisman-wining son at Alabama...Tweet of the week: "The Navy Seals get an A for their draft."...The surgeon who performed November ACL surgery on Saints No. 226 pick in the draft Greg Romeus, assured the Saints he will be ready for training camp. Romeus also had back surgery at Pitt, but that's less of a concern than the knee. He's a former projected first-round draft and pick fell to round seven because of his medical.  "He'll be a guy we have to track through the rehab and really see where he is step-by-step prior to training camp," said Payton...

Who is going to negotiate Cam Newton's contract his agent or his father?...Alabama erected a nine-foot statue of Saban, making the statue exactly twice as tall as the subject. But that's still taller than Hank Stram...A judge's ruling ended the NFL lockout, but then another ruling reinstated it as the acrimonious impasse continues. The financial hardship is hitting the owners, too. I understand one  owner has ordered his  champagne stock downgraded from Dom Perignon to Moet aboard all his private jets...If you've been following LSU baseball this season, their map to Omaha has been relocated...

SOME hither, others yon: Five horses that raced at the Fair Grounds during the recently concluded 139th season are likely to make their next start in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The horses are Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, Risen Stakes hero Mucho Macho Man, Louisiana Derby runner-up Nehro, Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Archarcharch and Decisive Moment, which finished fifth in the Risen Star. Risen Star  runner-up Santiva is on the cusp of drawing into the 20-horse field. One of the Fair Grounds' most popular jockeys, Rosie Napravnik, will retain the mount on Pants On Fire. She is the first female to ever lead the rider standings at the Fair Grounds with 110 wins this season. Isn't this list of horses like saying the list of Nobel Prize winners include five persons who have driven through New Orleans?...

The Hornets staff, Hugo and Honeybees and a brass band will second line from 1250 Poydras to One Shell Square down Poydras Street at 11:30 a,m. on Wednesday with thank you signs and giveaways to show the team's appreciation for the city's support this season. Hornets staff members will pass out free snowballs from noon-1 p.m. on the plaza level of One Shell Square. The team is also thanking fans by offering a 60 per cent discount on Hornets merchandise at the Adidas Hornets' Nest team store at the New Orleans Arena...

by Ed Staton

...(Order your 2011 LSU Schedule T-shirts from Louisiana Sports Talk.com).


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