Coach Frazier talks John Carlson’s injury and more 01 Aug 12

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2012

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good morning. We had another walkthrough practice. It was pretty productive for us. It seems like the schedule we put in place is working for us, being able to have our walkthroughs and meetings in the morning, then come back in the afternoon and actually do some of the things we’ve talked about in live practices. So far so good with this schedule. The weather has cooperated, although I think it’s going to be a little bit warmer today than it has been. But our players have responded. They’re working extremely hard. I think we’re making some headway. We still have a lot of work to be done. But we’re making some progress as a team.

Q: How will John’s (Carlson) affect the team?

A: It will have some affect. For Rhett (Ellison), but for all of the other tight ends as well. It will probably increase their snaps, which is not a bad thing. We’d like to see Mickey Shuler, see how he does. We’d like to see Allen Reisner, see how he does. Kyle (Rudolph), we still want to make sure that he continues to progress this training camp. It’s not a bad thing that those guys are going to get increased reps.

Q: What did you learn from the MRI?

A: It confirmed what the doctors initially thought, a sprained MCL. So it’s going to be maybe a week or two before we actually get him back out there. Hopefully in the next week or two. Two weeks at the most we’ll have him back.

Q: Random or could it be prevented?

A: Whether we were in pads or not, I don’t know if it really mattered. He was blocking someone and the guy fell on the back of his leg. That tends to happen sometimes when you’re doing drills. It can happen. Legs get caught up, guys trip up and fall. So I don’t know if it would have really mattered if we were in pads or not in that situation.

Q: Significance of not having him out there the next couple weeks?

A: There are a lot of reasons you’d like to have him. His veteran presence. You’d like to have that. He’s been successful in our league and sets an example for some of the young guys. You lose that veteran presence on the field without him there. But he’ll still be in meetings. The fact that it’s a new offense for him. The terminology, being not able just to hear it in meetings but to actually go out there and actually practice his movements. You miss that part of it. But he’s a pro. He’ll pay attention and when he comes back he’ll be ready to go. But you’d like to have his presence in the huddle and in the drills with the young tight ends.

Q: What do you like most about Rhett?

A: Rhett has been impressive from opening day. We got back together after we had our rookie minicamp. The way he approaches the game. I don’t want to put him too far out there. But he really shows maturity that you don’t always expect from rookies. But maybe that’s part of having a father that played the game. His preparation and attention to detail are second to none. He is a guy that works extremely hard. You can see him after practice, pre-practice doing things that you would expect a veteran player to be doing to prepare for a meeting or practice. The tape that he watches. He’s been very impressive in the short time we’ve had him, so we’ll see how he continues to progress.

Q: You wouldn’t have much apprehension using him (Rhett Ellison) in games if needed?

A:  At this point I would say no, now we are extremely early and we haven’t lined up against any other opponents, and we have only been here for a short period of time but some of the things that he has done in the short time that we have had him really lead you to believe he is going to be a factor in our offense through the course of the year.

Q: What is the degree of John Carlson’s MCL Sprain?

A: A grade two MCL sprain.

Q: Are there any setbacks with Josh Robinson?

A: Actually, we are going to try and take him through some things today, so we think he is making good progress. Eric Sugarman and his staff are going to do some things with him on the side to see where he actually is. We might actually have him back pretty soon depending on how he works out today. We think he’s making good progress.

Q: Has Antoine Winfield looked more rejuvenated coming into this year’s camp?

A: We were talking about that as a staff last night, he really seems to be into this training camp more than any other. You see him out there taking one-on-ones and all of the reps. In years past he always would be kind of getting himself ready for the season in a different way. He is taking all of the reps and doing everything he can to be ready. We will have to monitor that a little bit, he is not 22 years of age anymore, but he is definitely invigorated in a lot of ways, which is good for our young players in our secondary to see the way he works and how he approaches things. It’s great for them.

Q: What do you want to see out of Saturday’s scrimmage?

A: I’m looking forward to the fact that we will have a lot of fans here and they will be in an environment not completely similar to what they will see in that first preseason game, but when they feel the pressure of performing in front of fans in a different light in a night game along with seeing some of the young guys perform with a little bit different atmosphere from what they are seeing in in practice on a daily basis. So just being able to see how they respond to some of the different situations that we are going to put them in as much as anything and being able to go back and evaluate that tape and determine how those guys handled certain situations.

Q: Are you going to have the second half of tomorrows practice in the stadium as well?

A: We are looking at doing that and we are going to make a determination on that this afternoon.

Q: What is Jamarca Sanford going to have to do to retain that starting safety spot?

A: At the safety position we have made it clear to those guys that it is pretty wide open. We want them to compete for the position, both him and Mistral, and the other guys that are playing that position. Jamarca (Sanford) has done a good job thus far, but it is still too early to declare that it is going to be his job. We still want to give Harrison (Smith) a chance, give Robert (Blanton) a chance. We still want to continue to evaluate that position, we will see how he progresses as time goes on. As I mentioned before with Jamarca we have to be able to see him make some plays on the ball down the field, that is something we want to see him improve on and we will get enough turns here in camp and in the preseason to see if that is happening. Then we will make a determination as time goes on.

Q: How would you describe Jamarca Sanford’s energy level?

A: Off the charts. He’s one of the premiere special teams players in the league. And part of that is the way he approaches practice and the energy he brings to the game. He is one of those guys who plays at a high level all the time. You can always hear him chirping and talking, and the player’s kind of feed off of that. We all like that energy that he brings.

Q: What are his skills on special teams?

A: Well, he is one of those guys that goes 100 miles per hour so there is never time where he takes any time off. And if you are an opposing special teams player and you are trying to get your breath, look out because Jamarca will rock you now. The energy he brings, he carries that over to the way he plays, and he plays lights out. And he is a guy who is a compact guy, but he is extremely strong, he runs a 4.3, 4.4 40 so, he’s a fast, strong, quick guy. And those guys are usually pretty good on special teams.

Q: Is there anything you’ve seen from Antoine (Winfield) that has helped Percy (Harvin)?

A: I think he is experienced lining up against Percy (Harvin). For that reason, he has helped Percy as a route runner. That’s one of the areas that Percy wants to improve on, is his route running. And to go against a veteran corner like Antoine, who has had so much success against so many great wide receivers, it can’t do anything but help him to get feedback from Antoine. Of course the fact that Antoine wants to take those reps this early in training camp is good for us, it’s good for him, it should improve his playing. One of the concerns with Antoine is that we don’t just pigeon hole him as a slot corner, that we don’t just remove him from having go to line up outside and play corner. And he is showing in these one-on-ones that he can still get out and match up at time with wide receivers.

Q: (Alan) Williams has talked about this ‘hockey philosophy’. What are your thoughts on the philosophy, and also the depth there?

A: Well we do feel like we have good depth on the defensive line. Being able to rotate those guys and keep them fresh, in particular Jared (Allen) and Brian Robison, that’s a big deal, Kevin (Williams), now he’s getting a little bit older, we need to be able to rotate him, not have him to play 80-90% of the downs. Part of that is what kind of depth do you have, and we think that we have good depth, so why not have a rotation system going so we can have them fresh in the 4th quarter. We thought that that really hampered us at times a season ago. We want to learn from that and try to, if we have the right kind of depth that we think we have, get a rotation going which should keep us fresher over the course of four quarters.

Q: How tempting was it to keep Everson Griffen at defensive end and will he play there?

A: We’re still going to, in third-down situations, let him get down and be a pass rusher and even drop sometimes because he showed the ability a season ago to help us in some of our three-down stuff. We’re not going to get away from that but to give ourselves the competition we wanted at the outside linebacker position, we’re also looking at increasing his snaps. We felt like that was something worth doing at this time of the year and make a determination of how well he can play that position on a consistent basis, the linebacker position. We know what he can do as a pass rusher. We’re not going to get away from that but if he can help us at linebacker, if he can make that position better, especially the outside linebacker position, makes us a better defense.

Q: Have you seen Jerome Simpson’s personality rub off on any other receivers?

A: He does have an interesting personality. He’s another guy who brings some energy. Doesn’t say a whole lot but when he says something, he has a way of making you smile, some of the things he has to say. He’s one of those guys who plays lights out in practice, diving for balls, making the hard catches. He’s one of those guys who messes with those rookies when we’re in meetings. We have a policy where we don’t haze the rookies but they have their way of making the rookies let them know what school they attended. He’s one of the ring leaders in doing that.

Q: What was your impression the first time you met Jerome Simpson?

A: When I first met him, part of what I had to get past was some of the things that I had read and heard. When I sat down and talked with him, I was extremely impressed with his honesty, the humility that he showed and then when I brought our players over to just interact with him, to see how he would act around them and respond around him, I was even more impressed with the way he handled himself and he convinced me that he fit in to what we’re trying to do here in Minnesota and he hasn’t disappointed. He’s done a good job of fitting in and really helping our football team and helping our other receivers as well.

Q: What limits do you put on hazing the rookies?

A: I really don’t want them to haze those rookies. I remember when I was a rookie myself and I didn’t like it a whole lot and I said, ‘If I ever get into a position where I can control it, I’ll try to control it.’ They can get them to sing their college fight songs and some certain things that we’ll allow them to do but there’s a point where you don’t want them to go, where it becomes a little more combative than it becomes fun and games and we don’t want that.

Q: What is the worst hazing you endured as a rookie?

A: Just having to sing my college fight song. That was hard just doing that. That’s probably the worst I ever had to do.

Q: How does Jasper Brinkley look at the middle linebacker position?

A: He’s done well. We were hoping to see him come along and do some things because we didn’t have him in the offseason and we didn’t have him of course last season. So far, so good. We’re still early. We’ve only had two padded practices and we get a chance to go at it today but so far, so good. He’s doing a good job. He’s moving well. Hasn’t had to be in the training room for any reason. He had a big hit the other day in practice. He’s doing well at this point.

Q: It sounds like Percy Harvin will only be used in some situations on kick returns. Is there anyone besides him that has stood out for kick returns?

A: Bryan (Walters) of course did a good job in San Diego when he was there. We want to be able to have him in the rotation and Jarius (Wright) is improving, who also may be a candidate for punt return but Marcus (Sherels) did a good job for us a season ago. We’ll continue to have those guys available as candidates and monitor when the right time is to use Percy and when it is not the right time to use him. We think we have some options when we don’t want to put Percy back there but we have to continue to go through this process and the preseason will help determine that.

Q: Do you have an idea of how often Percy will be back returning kicks right now?

A: That’ll be more game-to-game, situation-to-situation, what’s going on, what do we need? You can definitely see a difference when he’s the guy returning kicks versus some of the other guys that we have. It’s obvious but as we said before, you have to weigh what he gives us from an offensive standpoint as well and the way he plays, you have to weigh all of that when you’re making a decision about putting him back there.