Aaron Kromer takes over as New Orleans Saints' coach

METAIRIE, La. -- Aaron Kromer began his first day in charge of the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff by providing his players with a dose of perspective.

The images of flooded homes, schools and businesses in the south Louisiana communities hit hardest by Hurricane Isaac last week provided all the material he needed.

"I talked to the team this morning about adversity, and that this isn't adversity: Having a new coach (in) Game 1, having Joe Vitt during the preseason, having Sean Payton have to leave when he did," Kromer said. "That's an opportunity for all of us to step up.

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"Adversity is when your house is flooded and you can't go home," Kromer continued. "That's what we talked about ... and our guys over time have realized that the fans and the people in this area can always bounce back - and we live by that."

Kromer will be the figurehead of the coaching staff for the first seven weeks of the regular season, starting with the opener against Washington this Sunday and including the bye week between the fifth and sixth games.

Monday was the first official day of his ascension, and also marked the beginning of suspensions for Vitt (six games), general manager Mickey Loomis (eight games) and defensive end Will Smith (four games) in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.

Payton, the Saints' banished head coach, and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, a former defensive captain, were already serving suspensions running the entire season.

When the Saints opened practice on Monday on their indoor field, Kromer, an offensive line coach, stood with a group of linemen near the corner of one end zone as he always has, running that position group through individual drills. When the team went to 11-on-11 drills, a portion of practice closed to media during the regular season, Kromer said he took on more of an oversight role.

Right tackle Zach Strief, also a captain, said the team is aware things will seem different sometimes.

"You can't expect coach Kromer to be coach Vitt or coach Payton. There will be times when his message might not be exactly what coach Payton's message was," Strief said. "When we're on the field, we know the offense. We know how the offense functions. We know how we adjust. That stuff won't change for us."

Notes: Lofton (left ankle) and starting CB Jabari Greer (groin) both rode stationary bikes during practice, but both said they expected to play against the Redskins on Sunday. ... After missing all five preseason games because of arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee, WR Adrian Arrington ran routes at practice and said he will be fit to play this week. ... LB David Hawthorne, a projected starter who had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee two weeks ago, returned to practice and appeared to be running with the first team. He said trainers are monitoring him closely but that he hopes to play in the opener.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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