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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Saints LB Jonathan Vilma gets in dig at Jets while criticizing anonymous teammate

Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page [1] or click here for the top stories from our news wire [2].

College football: Fiesta Bowl, Oregon vs. Kansas State, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball [3]: Northeastern at George Mason, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Michigan at Northwestern, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Colorado at Arizona, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Penn State at Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. (Big Ten [4] Network)
College basketball: Stanford at USC, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)


‘™¦ An anonymous Saints player blasted first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in a New Orleans Times-Picayune story than ran Wednesday, and that did not sit well [5] with Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma [6].

“I’m bothered you reported it,” Vilma told the paper. “We’re not the Jets, who run to the media for everything.”

Under Spagnuolo, the Saints defense was ranked last in the NFL in total defense and allowed the most yards ever in one season (7,042). The unnamed player criticized Spagnuolo for his performance and his personality.

“He does have that good-guy persona, but he is a control freak and treats people like crap,” the player said. “[Spagnuolo has] no patience and zero personality. [He] has a way of pissing players and our defensive coaches off with how he says and does things. [I] think it’s even harder after having [former defensive coordinator] Gregg [Williams], who guys enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Williams, who left his position with the Saints for the same job with the Rams a year ago but was suspended indefinitely for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, will not return to St. Louis, according to a report from Fox Sports [7]. Williams’ son, Blake, who was the Rams’ linebackers coach this past season, also reportedly will not be retained.

‘™¦ The Jets get criticized for talking to the media too much, and now they might get fined for not talking enough. With Rex Ryan [8] reportedly vacationing in the Bahamas while owner Woody Johnson [9] searches for a new general manager, the team has yet to hold a season-ending press conference [10]. The Jets scheduled a conference for Tuesday, but the league mandates it must be held within a week after the final game.

Ryan received a public vote of confidence from Johnson in a team statement on Monday, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty regarding the rest of the coaching and front office staff.

“Everyone is in limbo,” a source told ESPN.

‘™¦ Adrian Peterson [11], who rushed for the second-most yards in a single NFL season (2.097), wants to contribute to the Vikings in another way. The running back acknowledged Wednesday that he’s been pushing for a chance to help on special teams [12].

“For the past two years, I’ve been trying to get in on field goal block,” Peterson said. “Come in off the edge, you know? It’s just going to take one block for them to really be like, ‘OK, you know what? Let’s take the chance and let you go out there and get it done. Kickoff return, I wouldn’t mind getting back there. I’m in it to win.”

Peterson, who returned 16 kickoffs as a rookie in 2007 (averaging 25.8 yards), isn’t likely to have his request approved by coach Leslie Frazier, especially after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski [13] broke his forearm while blocking for an extra point earlier this season.

“He always asks,” special teams coach Mike Priefer said. “He’s a football player. Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome. I always say yes, and then I ask the head coach and he says no. I know what the answer is going to be. I don’t even have to ask.”

Countered Peterson: “I believe in having your best players on the field, especially in critical times. You never know what can happen.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 3, 1998, the Patriots lost to the Steelers in the divisional round of the playoffs, 7-6. Which Patriots receiver set a team playoff record (since broken) with nine receptions for 104 yards?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’€™m excited to have him. I think it makes our bullpen that much stronger. I think ultimately, with how things went last year, with myself being injured, it’€™s a business. I understand that. I’€™m excited. ‘€¦ I think that with me and him going eight, nine, that’€™s kind of set out in the forefront, I like it and I think it makes us that much stronger. The focus is on winning. It makes our team better.” Andrew Bailey [14], on the Red Sox’ acquisition [15] of Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan

STAT OF THE DAY: 132 — Consecutive games forcing at least 10 turnovers for the Grizzlies [16], who continued their NBA-best streak in Wednesday night’s victory over the Celtics [17]

‘NET RESULTS: Nettleton (Ark.) High School sophomore Victor Dukes shows some serious elevation with this dunk.

California high school baseball player David Denson hits a 515-foot home run off the Marlins Park scoreboard at the Power Showcase event in Miami.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Shawn Jefferson

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Gene Summers was born on this day in 1939.