Payton has high praise for Kenny Vaccaro

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – After a standout rookie season, New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro has continued to impress his coaches in Year 2.

Saints coach Sean Payton didn’t hold back when asked how much growth he’s seen from Vaccaro.

“A ton,” Payton said. “From an Xs and Os [standpoint], he’s really football savvy. He’s really sharp. He has good instincts. He’s powerful. We have seen a big skip from Year 1 to Year 2. And he was playing at an awfully high level when he got injured last year (in Week 16).

“His offseason’s been fantastic. He’s moving around and carrying himself like a veteran.”

Vaccaro returned from his fractured ankle in time to participate in all of the Saints’ OTAs and minicamps this summer. But he said Friday that he feels much better now after five more weeks of recovery heading into training camp.

As defensive coordinator Rob Ryan suggested, that should be on display Sunday when the Saints practice in pads for the first time in camp.

“Tomorrow will be his type of day,” Ryan said. “He loves to play. He’ll be excited and he’ll be running around doing some things. The nice thing with Kenny is that he knows every position. With a guy like that, they’re invaluable to your defense. …

“He’s one of our smarter players and he’s one of our leaders. He’s had great growth. Coming back from that injury is awesome, to get him back out there. He looks great to me.”

Vaccaro, who finished third in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting last season, talked earlier this summer about how his goals are much higher going forward. He also talked bluntly about how he has no plans to change his admittedly "reckless" style despite the ankle injury and two concussions that he suffered last year.