The Saints first round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro is certainly distinguishing himself on the field this training camp with his aggressive style. The former Texas Longhorn says it’s all about defining himself and playing with an edge.
“I’m just real physical. That’s the way the game should be played. I think I have an old school style,” says Vaccaro.
But sometimes that physicality carries Vaccaro into questionable territory – such as during blocking drills Wednesday against the wide receivers when Vaccaro got into it against both Chris Givens and Preston Parker.
Some critics are questioning whether Vaccaro’s aggressiveness goes too far. He has accidentally bounced a ball off of tight end Jimmy Graham’s head and thrown Travaris Cadet to the ground.
Vaccaro took to Twitter to respond to his critics after practice Wednesday, saying he has never crossed any boundaries.
“Just want to quickly address some of the stories coming out about my actions during camp. In all my years of football I’ve never been ejected from a game or been called a dirty player. I’ve always taken pride in playing aggressively but within the confines of the rules. I’m blessed to play the sport I love & have been given the opportunity to make a living doing so. I play every snap, whether it be practice or a game, like it could be my last. I have nothing but the utmost respect for all my teammates, especially the veterans that have helped maintain the Saints legacy and would never intentionally disrespect any of them. I never purposely threw a football at Jimmy and or hit anyone outside of a padded drill. So until my coaches, teammates or my mother tells me to take it easy I will continue to leave it all out on the field. #WhoDat”
Saints veteran Will Smith is rallying to Vaccaro’s defense, saying he likes what he sees.
“Definitely. For the rookie, you don’t see that with rookies coming in just flying around and banging guys every single day over and over and over,” says Smith. “Now we have to see if he can do it in a game on Sundays. We know he is going to be a terrific player and he has to continue to get better in coverages and tackling.”
Vaccaro’s fellow rookie – Oklahoma product Kenny Stills – is well familiar with his style, after the two clashed several times in the Big 12. Stills says people just need some time to warm up to Vaccaro.
“Yes, we have had some heated rivalries there with Kenny,” says Stills. “I know what type of player he is, and he knows what type of player I am. I think it has taken a little bit for the other guys and the rest of the team to get used to him.”
As long as Vaccaro can channel that aggressive energy and keep it legal, his physicality may be just the type of spark the Saints defense needs.