There’s a pecking order to NFL teams that puts rookies below veterans and well below veteran stars and rookies are usually expected to show deference to those ahead of them on the chain.
Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro didn’t show much deference to tight end Jimmy Graham on Tuesday, though. There was a brief scrap between the two at practice on Tuesday after the two men jostled for a pass and Vaccaro “flicked” the ball into the back of Graham’s head. Cooler heads wound up prevailing as they did when Vacarro put a lick on running back Pierre Thomas and no one on the Saints seems to want to see Vaccaro tone things down.
Safety Roman Harper calls Vaccaro’s aggressive nature “perfect” and coach Sean Payton said that the team doesn’t really want such things during an unpadded practice, although he used words like “necessarily” as hedges that suggest that he didn’t mind seeing Vaccaro fly around the practice field. Vaccaro said that his teammates are telling him to keep it up, which the rookie said won’t be difficult.
“That’s just the way I am,” Vaccaro said, via the Saints website. “I have a physical nature. If anything, you have to slow me down before you speed me up. I approach every practice like that and I’m not going to stop until somebody says, ‘Hey, relax, take care of yourself.’ I think every team needs a guy that’s going to be like that, a little craziness, a little edge to him. You’ve got to be smart. There’s a lot of guys that we’re going to need in the upcoming season. But it’s still early in the training camp and I want to establish my physical presence early on.”
The Saints defense had no presence, physical or otherwise, in 2012 which makes it easy to understand both why they drafted Vaccaro and why they aren’t working too hard to reel him in during practice.