METAIRIE — New Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley has trimmed down to fighting weight in anticipation of a challenging training camp battle with veteran John Kasay.
With the help of the P90X workout program, Hartley has shed nearly 25 pounds since suffering a season-ending hip flexor injury in August and now weighs a svelte 181.
Hartley is entering the second year of a five-year, $10.3 million contract that includes $3 million in guaranteed money. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $700,000 this season and annual base salaries of $734,000, $822,000 and $910,000 through the 2015 season.
“We both know that only one guy will be the guy and the other guy will be looking elsewhere for a job,’’ Hartley said Tuesday, the first day of the team’s three-day minicamp. “There’s no doubt in my mind that as well as both of us are kicking right now, both us will be kicking somewhere next year.’’
Hartley, one of the many heroes of the Super Bowl XLIV season in 2009, said he welcomes the challenge from Kasay.
“I believe that not one person in this locker room got here without competition,’’ Hartley said. “Now having one of the best kickers to have ever played the game and have him in a locker right next to mine can only help me.”
Though acting head coach Joe Vitt is the elder statesman of the Saints coaching staff at 57, he believes old dogs can learn new tricks. When asked to critique his job since being appointed the team’s interim coach in the absence of suspended head coach Sean Payton, Vitt replied:
“I think I got a long way to go. Right now, I’m undefeated, and this will be the last time I am undefeated. But I listen. I still have to do a better job coaching the linebackers. I want to do a better job with the tempo of practice. I want to do a better job with the efficiency of practice, what we’re doing in the individual periods, what we’re doing in fundamental periods. It’s something I will continue to critique every day. I will let my coaches critique me, what I can do better.
“Listen,’’ Vitt said, “unless you’re Don Shula or Tom Landry or Bill Walsh, you haven’t arrived. This is an ongoing process and I want to work every day to get better at it.’’
A new injury and an old injury surfaced Wednesday. Starting right tackle Zach Strief left the morning workout after suffering a sprained ankle and running back Chris Ivory continues to battle a hamstring injury.
“Zach is OK,’’ Vitt said. “We’re keeping him off it. We got him in a boot just to be precautionary with it.
“Chris has a high hamstring, not a sprain, a little strain. We’re going to get him ready for training camp.’’
Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (back) and running back Mark Ingram (knee) did not practice. All will continue treatment over the weekend and be re-evaluated on Monday heading into the final week of the team’s offseason program.
Third-year tackle Charles Brown, the team’s No. 2 pick in 2010 from Southern California, drew the coach’s ire after being flagged for offsides during the morning session. He was replaced by rookie tackle Marcel Jones, the team’s seventh-round pick from Nebraska. Brown had been inserted at right tackle with the first unit when Strief went down with an injured ankle.
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