THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2012
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
We were able to finish on a positive note today on the final day of mini-camp before we head up to Mankato. A lot of good things happened throughout this offseason. This nine-week program that we’ve had, I really feel good about where we are, how our guys have participated and worked as hard as they have. It gives you some hope. We have a lot of work ahead of us when we do get to Mankato but we feel like we’re just so far ahead because of some of the things that have happened in practice, the way the guys have competed, the competition that we have on our roster. We just feel like we’re going into this thing with the right attitude and the right approach and now we just have to take care of some things when we get down to Mankato and put the pads on. We’ll learn a lot more about our team when that happens. I’d say that this nine-week offseason program is really a success for us, without any question, a tremendous success for us.
Q: Do you feel like you got as much accomplished throughout the OTAs and mini-camp with the new restrictions and fewer practices?
A: We made the most of what we had. It is far different in the way things are constructed now than when they were in the past but for what we were allowed to do, I really believe we got the max out of what we could do. I don’t have any regrets, don’t feel like we should have done this or should have done that. I think we approached it the right way.
Q: Have you spoken with Percy Harvin since yesterday?
A: Yeah, briefly. We talked about a couple of things. It’s great to see him out there with his teammates and practicing. Just great to have him around, around his teammates. It’s always good to have everybody participating.
Q: Do you feel like that situation is behind you?
A: We have a lot of things to get done, not only with Percy but our entire team. There are a lot of things that we have to work on to get better as a football team. There are some things he wants to work on to get better as we approach Mankato and we’ll all keep working towards that.
Q: How much clarity did you get on his issues?
A: I think he wants the same thing that we want. We all want to bring a championship to Minnesota. He wants that in the worst way and that’s one of the most important things, that we all want the same thing. That’s to bring a championship to Minnesota.
Q: Do you feel like you need further conversation?
A: In Percy’s case, and it’s not just Percy, but with Adrian (Peterson), with a lot of our guys, I’m going to talk with them about a lot of different things between now and Mankato so it won’t be out of the norm other than the fact that he was absent yesterday but that should be behind us. We’re moving forward.
Q: Did you say he would be at training camp on day one?
A: My expectations are that we’ll have 100 percent participation when we get to training camp.
Q: It sounds like you feel good about the dialogue going on.
A: Yeah, I feel good about everything that has happened over this nine-week period and having him involved along with the rest of the guys that have been here. I feel good about it, I do.
Q: Is your relationship with Percy as good as it was a month ago?
A: We still have a good relationship. There will always be things you have to work through. I think that will always be the case with players and coaches. There is a line there always but I think we have a good relationship.
Q: You said you talked with other players but others are not requesting a trade. This is different isn’t it?
A: Yeah, it’s a new day today and the fact that he was engaged and working to help us win, that’s where my focus is. Just glad that he was participating in what we’re doing and you move forward.
Q: Not only is Percy here, but he is participating 100 percent. Can you talk about that?
A: It was good that he had the energy and wanted to get out there just to see how he felt and we wanted to make sure that there was nobody contacting him during that period or he didn’t fall and everything went well. He leaves, going home, feeling confident that things are moving in the right direction. We feel confident things are moving in the right direction. That was really good to see.
Q: Is there a group of players that will stay here to rehab during this break?
A: We have a few guys that will have to stay here to do a couple of things but Jasper (Brinkley) and a couple of other guys will have to get few nicks and bruises taken care of but for the most part, Eric Sugarman, our head athletic trainer has set up something in their hometown. There won’t be anyone staying here from now until Mankato.
Q: Is Percy sticking around at all?
A: No, he’ll head back home I’m sure.
Q: How do you evaluate Christian Ponder against this type of defense that can’t hit?
A: One of the things you try to evaluate with Christian is how is he making decisions, whether or not he is taking command of the huddle and taking command of our offense, how well is he learning some of the things that we’re teaching conceptually at the quarterback position? If you get some of those things taken care of now, once we get the pads on and start doing a few more things from a live standpoint, then you can evaluate some other things, but his arm strength, none of those things have changed. His accuracy, he’s worked on that, he’s improving that. But for us, the leadership, the command, this is what you can judge and evaluate during this period because we need it at that position and how well he is really becoming comfortable with our offense and not having some of the glitches and some of the miseries that can cause you problems but there are some other things obviously that will come once we get to Mankato.
Q: You said after the Draft that you had felt you addressed some key areas where you needed depth. How did you feel watching these guys through the OTAs and mini-camp?
A: I think we’re much better in some areas from a depth standpoint whereas now, if you lost a guy, you wouldn’t feel like you’re at a complete loss but that being said, we have to continue to look at our roster and see what’s available because we want to shore up some areas and continue to try to improve but our depth has been far superior to what it has been in years past at a number of different positions. We feel a lot better about that.
Q: Christian said at the beginning of the offseason program that he was watching film from last year and saw things he didn’t like. Are you seeing improvement from him in some areas?
A: I think his decision making has gotten a lot better. I was talking to (Quarterbacks Coach) Craig Johnson this morning about yesterday’s practice when we had our blitz period. Just seemed where he was a little frantic early on in OTAs, getting the ball out a little too soon or not recognizing things as quickly as we would like for him to. Now, things have kind of slowed down a little bit for him. He’s able to identify things in pre-snap a lot better, which is something we were all hoping for. We think as we give him more reps and keep throwing more things at him, he should get a little bit better in that area but the decision making is a key ingredient to being successful at quarterback and that’s an area we want him to get better and we’ve some improvement in these OTAs.
Q: Do you view Christian as having competition? Is Joe Webb capable if he outplays Christian during the preseason?
A: We’re going into it with Christian being our starting quarterback. If something were to happen to Christian because of injury, we feel like we have a capable backup in Joe but there is no competition as to what Joe has to do to beat out Christian. Christian, it’s his job. We trust that he’s going to be the guy to lead us to where we want to go this next season and we think we have a capable guy if something were to happen to Christian that Joe could step in and do a real good job for us.
Q: How have you thought about Joe Webb now that he’s getting those full-time quarterback reps?
A: I think he’s done a good job. There are still some things, the fact that he’s never gone through this. Although this is his third year in the League, you can see how valuable this offseason has been for him, just like it has been for Christian. It’s probably no different for Joe, even though Joe has a little more experience but not so much under center. This has been very valuable and he’s improving but he has a ways to go for some of the things we want to do with him.
Q: Everson Griffen was doing some work with the linebackers. Is there a chance he’ll get more linebacker work than he did last year?
A: Yeah, that’s one of the things we’re talking about as a staff, being able to get him a few more reps at linebacker when we get to Mankato because, as you know from last season, we used him in that situation where he was a linebacker in some of our third down defense. We’d like to be able to escalate that a little bit and maybe even in the early downs, get him on the field. We feel like we have two outstanding defensive ends in Jared (Allen) and then Brian (Robison) but with Everson, he’s an excellent athlete. You want to be able to get him more than 10 or 15 snaps a game and this is a way to possibly do that so we’ll explore and see how he comes along in Mankato.
Q: Do you still view him as a primary backup at defensive end?
A: Yeah, we think he can do that, but based on what we see in Mankato, that’s going to determine that. We want to give him a chance to see if he can help us at that linebacker spot where we’re still working with our depth, we’re still trying to identify what our depth is going to be at that position.
Q: Do you think you’ll sign some free agents between now and camp?
A: There’s a chance of that. We’re actually going to meet this afternoon and talk through some of that with myself, Rick (Spielman), George Paton, and some of the other scouts. We’re going to see what’s out there and talk about our current roster, where we are. We’re going to spend the rest of this summer and training camp as well trying to make sure we identify the right guys that are all available and try to come out with the best 53 that we can.
Q: There are a lot of free agents still available aren’t there?
A: There are some guys still available and we’ll have to make some decisions about some of those guys.
Q: Josh Robinson worked with the ones the past few days. Could you see him being a starter right away?
A: He has a lot to learn. I think once we get to Mankato, we’ll know a little bit more about Josh. I wouldn’t read too much into the rotation right now but once we get to Mankato and as we get closer to that first preseason game and particularly our third preseason game, now if he’s still working with the ones, then you can kind of say, ‘Okay, we’re starting to believe that he has a chance to do that.’ But it’s too early right now and there’s so much that he has to learn and see. I wouldn’t read too much into the rotation right now.
Q: You really have to test the physicality of those guys when you get there because you’re not allowed to bump-and-run here.
A: That’s a big deal now, especially for the wide receivers. That’s a key component of what they can do, receivers and defensive backs.
Q: What does Chris Carr offer?
A: His experience should be a big plus for us, and his versatility. He’s a guy who can play in the slot but he can also line up outside and be a factor and that should help us. He’s probably not at the top of his game for where he is in his career, but he’s a good enough football player where he should improve our secondary and with his smarts, that should help us a lot as far as reducing the number of big plays that we had a season ago.
Q: Did Bryan Walters sprain an ankle yesterday?
A: Yes, he turned his ankle but he should be fine.
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Nine weeks flew by. It’s crazy that we’re already done. Just to see from day one of the OTAs to the third day of minicamp, we’ve progressed so much. It’s unbelievable, especially on the offensive side of the ball. You can tell everyone’s so much more comfortable and confident in what they’re doing, even myself. I feel so much better with my reads and getting the ball out so much faster, picking up blitzes, being able to recognize different things. It’s been such a tremendous help going through not only the first part, the classroom work before the OTAs started and now minicamp. I think we really put in a lot of hard work and it’s going to transition into heading into Mankato. I think we’re going to have a lot better year than people expect of us.
Q: Can you really tell how much better you’ve gotten on first and second down?
A: We’ve taken stats of it and work on different situations. In some situations we work on first and second down passes and we’ve kept track. Coach Musgrave does a summary of every day during OTAs of how we did, percentage passing and stuff like that. We were right close to our mark, if not better, so there definitely has been improvement.
Q: What’s the mark?
A: 75 percent completions
Q: You were upwards of that in OTAs and minicamp?
A: I think so. The last time we checked last week I think it was 73 percent and its only gotten better since.
Q: How are you able to get a better feel in the pocket?
A: It’s hard to do it in minicamp when there are no pads on and everything. Kind of what I told myself was just stay in the pocket and work on moving around. It’s tough when they blow things dead so quickly. There’s ways to work around it and I think its gotten better. We’ll see once we get into a game. It’s hard to tell now.
Q: Does some of that have to do with timing with new receivers?
A: Yeah, I think so. I think understanding the reads and getting chemistry with the guys, it helps getting the ball out so much faster and if you get the ball out fast, you don’t have to worry about the pocket.
Q: Did you learn anything new this camp?
A: I think we’ve built a ton of chemistry, especially with Jerome [Simpson], obviously with him being new. I thought what we did together was really great and also with Jarius [Wright] and Greg Childs, those new guys. I think we’ve all learned a lot and I think, for me, picking up blitzes and learning how to do that and recognizing things a lot better. I think the game’s really slowed down in just these 10 OTAs and three days of minicamp. Its really slowed down for me.
Q: Do you have any concern, after building so much chemistry with Jerome, with bringing new guys out there when he’s out the first three weeks?
A: No, not really. Once he gets back, we’re not going to miss a beat. We just have to have the younger guys step up. Stephen Burton and Manny [Arceneaux] have done a good job of filling in roles and having Bryan Walters in here and [Michael] Jenkins and Devin [Aromashodu] in here, we have a lot of guys who can fill in those roles, but we’ll be happy when Jerome gets back.
Q: Are you concerned at all with Percy’s situation?
A: No, I’m not. I haven’t really thought about it. I just assume that he’ll be here. It’s not my job to handle it. The front office will handle it and they’ll do a great job. We know that Percy’s a heck of a player and we like being around him and he’s been out here practicing like nothing’s wrong and that’s what we like to see. He still cares about being here. We talked about that, right before practice, about getting together in these next couple of weeks in Florida. We want him here and I’m sure it’ll get worked out.
Q: Did you ask him, ‘How can I make you happy?’
A: I don’t know what the deal is. I’ll do everything in my power to get him here. Take him out to dinner, go to a movie, go bowling. We’ll go on a couple dates, or something.
Q: Are you going to wear a Gator shirt?
A: No. I won’t do that.
Q: Did you talk to him at all during this process about what the issues were?
A: No, I haven’t really. Everything seemed normal. This kind of came out of nowhere. I’m not really sure what the issues are, but I’m sure they’ll get worked out. Obviously, we want him to be here and coach Frazier and Rick Spielman will do a great job of working it out and we expect him to be here.
Q: Is there a part of you that thinks you may be without Percy and Adrian week one?
A: Not really. This just came about Tuesday. I haven’t really thought about it. Again, I’m just going to assume that he’ll be a part of it and if something happens differently then we’ll adjust from there.
Q: What will you do between now and training camp?
A: Keep in the film. I think the biggest thing we can do is stay in condition. I am going on vacation for a week and a half and then I’ll be back here to do the Larry Fitzgerald Camp at the ‘U’ and be a part of that. I’ll be in and out of the facility and talk with Bill [Musgrave] and just keep in touch with everything.
Q: Where are you going on vacation?
A: I’m going to Hilton Head for five days then we’re doing a family vacation to Orlando at Disney World for a few days, which will be fun.
Q: Aren’t you supposed to wait until after the Super Bowl to go?
A: I have a three-year-old niece so we’re taking her. It will be fun with her. I’ll just keep that in the back of my mind that we’re going for her, not for me.
Q: What have you tailored your offseason workouts around?
A: I’ve definitely put on weight. I’ve gotten bigger and I’ve gotten stronger. I try to keep my flexibility. There’s a lot of things we do flexibility wise, doing Yoga and Tom Kanavy does a lot of great flexibility stuff with the hips and everything. Just trying to keep my body in the right position and get a little stronger.
Q: How much weight did you gain?
A: I weighed 233 the other day which is probably a little too heavy. I’ll probably be right around, just under 230. I think I was 212 when I started offseason stuff.
Q: Do you believe in the ‘Sophomore Slump?’
A: I don’t think so. I think I had a freshman year slump last year. I don’t think it can get any worse. I don’t know. I think it’s all in your head and I have a lot to improve upon from last year and there’s nowhere to go but up and it will go up. I don’t believe in it. I think this year will be a lot better than last year.