Vikes coach talks after Monday’s practice 30 Jul 12

All of our guys are excited to put the pads on and get started in earnest with what we have to get done at training camp. We’ll begin to learn a little about our football team and how far we have to go as far as preparing for our season opener against Jacksonville. It really starts in earnest when you put the pads on. It really begins to separate certain players from others and we’re all looking forward to it.

Q: You said earlier that you were looking forward to the heat, is a 96 heat index about what you’re looking forward to?

A: Well it’s going to be warm for sure. We’ll have to make sure we’re hydrated. We’ve done a good job we think with our trainers, our coaches, and our players with hydrating, and we’ll be monitoring that for sure.

Q: What did you find out about Nick Taylor? Did he end up having an MRI?

A: He did. We’re going to end up having to put him on injury, waive him, and eventually bring him back on injured reserve. He tore the labrum I think it was, so it’s going to require surgery, major surgery, so it’s going to take him out for a while, I think three to four months maybe.

Q: Are you keeping him on injured reserve, or are you waiving him?

A: We gotta waive him.

Q: Is the guy that you signed (Chris Stroud) one of the guys you were working out on Saturday?

A: He was.

Q: What did you see out of him?

A: You know, we had him back in that rookie minicamp where he worked out for us there and he did a pretty good job in that three days. We just didn’t have enough room for him. So, we wanted to bring him back and see what kind of condition he was in and he showed well in that workout that we put him through a couple days ago.

Q: Nick (Taylor) was going to be competing for a defensive back position, will Chris Stroud be doing the same thing?

A: That’s not really one of his strengths. He will be working more as a corner. He will be working primarily in the secondary.

Q: What are your plans for Josh Robinson?

A: He’s making progress. We’ll still kind of take it day-to-day and just see where he is, but he’s not quite ready to get back in the mix with the rest of the players yet. But he’s making improvements.

Q: It’s your first year without E. J. Henderson around. How do you think those holes are getting filled right now?

A: Well I’ll know a little bit more after we get a few padded practices, especially at the middle linebacker position. The thing about E.J. is that leadership was such a big deal.  But we’ll learn more about that position after we get some padded practices under our belt.

Q: How do you see the offensive line changing with Charlie (Johnson) moving over and Matt Kalil coming in?

A: That’s one of our goals, to be a physical offensive line, a dominant offensive line. It’s the same on our defensive line. We want to be a physical group up front. And we think moving Charlie (Johnson) to guard really makes us better. We’re really expecting big things from Matt (Kalil). Although he is a rookie, we have high hopes for him. So we think that left side of our line is really improved. Charlie has been a guard, he’s played well. Having Matt, who’s a natural left tackle, versus having Charlie at left tackle should make us better; that’s what we’re thinking. If we can across the board come together, one of the keys will be the right guard position, identifying the right guy for that spot, we think we’ll have a much better offensive line. We have to have a much better offensive line. But that right guard spot is one where we have to hone in on the right guy.

Q: You had specific things you wanted Robinson to get better at. What is he missing?

A: Well, any time you’re a rookie and you miss time, it sets you back. But it’s out of his control. An injury is an injury. You can’t rush him back, especially with a hamstring and at his position. We just have to take it day-to-day, and when he’s back he’ll catch up, but you hate to see any rookie miss time at training camp.

Q: Do you think the limited amount of padded practices hinders your ability to coach the physical nature you want?

A: It’s something that every team in our league is dealing with, and you have to adjust and get the work in that you need to get in. Everyone is dealing with the same situation and we all have to adjust across the league, and we will. Every team will. We are no different.

Q: What are you looking for in the right guard position?

A: We would like to have someone who can really step-up and separate themselves from the pack, a guy who plays smart and plays tough like we want them to. He is a disciplined player who executes his assignments and really does a good job against some of the three techniques and even the nose tackles that we are going to face, but if he can be a smart guy, tough and disciplined which is what we want to get out of our entire offensive line, being a physical player. That is the type of player we are looking for, assignment sound.

Q: Do you see two of those guys starting in one of those two first preseason games to see them againdy the opposing team’s first string guys?

A: Not necessarily, it depends on how it plays out in practice. If someone is really showing in practice that he should be the number one, he will be the starter in that game. Unless they’re pretty close in practice that is probably the normal way you want to rotate them in that fashion. Otherwise if someone is separating themselves in practice, until he shows in the game he can’t do it, he will be the number one.

Q: What are the challenges of evaluating guys on the defensive side of the ball with the new CBA, there is only so much hitting you are allowed to do and a certain amount of practices?

A: Well you have to figure out ways to be more creative in some of the drills that you do to try to evaluate them, but the preseason games really become more of a premium from an evaluation standpoint. Which is one of the reasons you will play some of the young guys a little bit longer, because you have to give them a proper evaluation. You can’t just beat each other up in practice because you have to have bodies to practice with, so it puts a premium on when you do play games, getting guys in the game and letting them have some quality reps in those preseason games.

Q: What’s an acceptable level of contact, particularly today?

A: We are going to have some moments where we have some live drills where we will take them to the ground. Today for us for instance, we will be live on the line, but we won’t take the running backs to the ground, but there are going to be some periods as we move through training camp that we will take guys to the ground. You just have to find that balance between giving them what they are going to see in the game and trying to prepare them for games, but yet not losing guys in practice. It’s a fine line and everybody is going to do it a little bit different, but you are trying to find that balance.

Q: Do you like to see the veterans go after some of the young guys?

A: I’m sure some of the vets will go after the young guys and indoctrinate them into the National Football League. I’m sure some of the younger players are a little bit nervous; it will be their first time putting pads on and lining up against some of the guys they have watched on television for a number of years. It should be a good experience for all of those rookies.

Q: (Lorezo) Booker was a little bit of a change of pace type of back. Do you want a guy who brings a speed element to that spot, or is special teams more important?

A: Special teams is definitely a factor when you’re talking about the potential third running back on your team, but we are also looking for someone who can play in every down, first and second down, not only a third down pass receiving back. We were looking for something a little bit different in that spot going into 2012. We think Lex (Hilliard) gives us some of that; we think Jordan (Todman) gives us some of that as well.