Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
We had a good walk through; the best part of it was the fan appreciation part. Just seeing our players go out and take pictures and sign autographs with our fans, we’ve got great fans throughout this state. The support that we get is amazing to me. Going back to watching our scrimmage and the count of attendance we had and having this type of attendance at fan appreciation, our players appreciate it. As much as the fans want to get autographs and get pictures, our players appreciate it as well. It really gets your heart stirred to see that attention we get from our fans. You guys are familiar with the fact that Everson Griffen was a little banged up yesterday, we found out it’s just soreness in his knee. We think he’ll be fine in a day or two, we’ll determine tomorrow if we’ll let him play in the ball game or not, he’s a little bit sore, nothing else involved. Matt Kalil finished practiced yesterday so he’s fine. Nobody else is any major concern. Robert Blanton we expect to be back today practicing, we’ll see how he does. Other than that we should be good. We’re all looking forward to this afternoons practice with the full pads; we have a lot to get done. We are still trying to develop our football team and bring them along and really see what we would like to have as we line up on September 9th, and that’s what we’re working on this afternoon.
Q: Do you have a few plays designed for Adrian?
A: Yes that’s about right, we have a few plays for him to be able to gauge where he is and be able to give us an indication the next day of how he feels after getting a couple reps. We’ll have a few plays here and there for him.
Q: Is that the key to this process, going incremental and not all at once?
A: No doubt about it, and that’s the word we used last night when we were talking about it and we discussed it, just getting him increments along the way and not trying to bring it all back in one or two practices. We’re going to try and be smart about it and we have to listen to his feedback as well as he tells us how he’s doing and how he’s progressing and what we can see also. We have some time to make some decisions.
Q: How stern was your message for hands off?
A: You must have talked to some of our defensive players. I definitely talked with them about it, now we have to adhere to it. One of the things they told me was, “Coach, you know how he runs, what about protecting us?” He’s not going to change his running style, we all know that, but they have to be smart out there and they know that. We’ll be conscious when he’s in the huddle.
Q: Did it take more time to communicate that than with any other player?
A: Not much, I don’t need to stand up in front of our defense today and talk about the fact that he’s going to be in the huddle and this is how we’re going to approach it. There aren’t too many players that you do that with, but he means so much to our organization and we’re just in the baby steps of what has to be done with what he’s doing on the field. We just have to tread lightly early on.
Q: If you see everything you want to in Adrian in the next two to three weeks, what is the time frame for him to be a realistic starter?
A: It’s hard to put a time frame on it, there are so many unknowns. You just have to go day by day and see how he progresses, how he feels and what we see he’s capable of doing and making determinations as we go along. It’s uncharted territories for him and for us as well, we just want to monitor. He has a goal, to be on the starting lineup September 9th, but we’ll just have to see how things go.
Q: Is it realistic for him to be a work horse on the season opener?
A: There’s nothing to say that he could, but I don’t know if there were many things that were said that at seven and a half months he would be prepared to do what he’s doing now. You don’t really want to put parameters on his rehabilitation, you want to just let it go and see where it takes us. We had some ideas, our medical staff talked all along about what this process would look like and what’s necessary. We’re in that process right now so we still have to take it day by day.
Q: What do you think about Jerry Rice’s comments on Adrian coming back too soon?
A: I haven’t seen his comments; we’re always going to do what’s in the best interest of Adrian. We trust our medical staff, we trust our trainers, and we’ll continue to do what is best for him and best for this organization as we go forward.
Q: Where is he at now in relation to where you thought he would be?
A: I don’t know if I would have put a month or time on when I thought he would be back. The fact that he has all along been so far ahead of anyone else that our trainers are aware of in his rehab and he hit every benchmark that was put in front of him. I was told the next step is to allow him to be integrated with his teammates and that’s where we are now. He’s done everything he can do on the side with our trainers, with our strength coaches; this is the next step in the process.
Q: What is Greenway’s most important contribution to the team is at this point?
A: Obviously his talent is important, especially with our situation at linebacker, we’re trying to find our way at the linebacker spot in general. His leadership is important along with what he is capable of doing on the football field from a playmaking standpoint. We’re going to need him to really have a great year this year, we need that from him. Jasper and Erin are coming along, Marvin Mitchell, whoever is playing at the linebacker spot, but his leadership probably more than anything. We expect him to play well but we need that intangible in the locker room and on the field in the huddle, we need that great leader for some of the young guys on the team.
Q: Are you working on two different offensive plans depending on how much Adrian can handle?
A: Toby is, we think, a very capable running back so we don’t have to alter our offense whether it’s Adrian playing halfback for us or Toby. We feel Toby is capable for us to run our offense and we don’t think we have to alter the things we want to do game-plan wise. We have a lot of confidence in what Toby is able to give us so we won’t change our approach. We want Adrian to be able to, obviously, line up and play, but we have to be smart about what we’re doing but we have complete confidence in Toby if it ends up being Toby starting for us against Jacksonville.
Q: What do you want to see out of Josh Robinson in the next preseason game and will he get first team reps?
A: I don’t know if he’ll get first team reps but we’ll try to get him a number of snaps so we can evaluate him and so he’ll be able to evaluate himself and find out what the pro game is all about. It’ll be a big test for him. He’s anxious to get out there and perform and show everyone that he’s capable of playing at this level and he wants to win a starting spot so we want to see him go out there and work and get some snaps against some good receivers and be able to gauge where he is at the end of this ball game. We’re looking forward to watching him play.
Q: In practice, what most impressed you with Robinson?
A: The day we got him and we were in a drill with our rookies, the burst that he has separates him from all the other players that we have in the secondary. He can close and go from point A to point B as fast as anybody we have or that I’ve seen. His closing speed is outstanding. Of course, we all know he had the fastest time at the Combine but it shows up on the football field. A lot of guys can run fast straight ahead but it doesn’t show up when you put pads on but in his case, it shows up. He has great closing speed but now it’s a matter of can he handle some of the things that come at him, formations, routes, terminology, there’s so many things that have to come in to play to be a big time corner in our league.
Q: Everson said he asked to be moved back to defensive end, is that true?
A: If that’s what Everson said, it’s a good thing. It’s good for our team and he’ll do well. He’ll do well there and we look forward to getting him back to full health.
Q: What will Adrian’s first few snaps be like for you?
A: Watching him in the walkthrough, we’re all just amazed seeing him move and even cutting like he’s always done. I remember we were watching a tape when we opened training camp and it showed some clips of our offense and it was a couple plays he made a year ago, great plays, and I came up to him and said, ‘Can you see yourself in your mind being able to do that again?’ He said, “Coach, I can do that right now if you let me.’ In his mind, there’s nothing wrong, he’s going to be fine but we’re all looking forward to watching progress and we know it’s going to be step-by-step so we’ll see where it goes.
Q: Were you disappointed there wasn’t much production from the wide receivers in the San Francisco game?
A: It’s a combination of things there; it wasn’t just what they didn’t do, but what we may not have done at the quarterback position or the offensive line position. We have some time and we hope to get our pass game going with the second group. I thought the first group did some good things with the first football in the air. We’re counting on certain guys making plays for us who didn’t play, Percy, Jerome would be a factor for us but we know we won’t have him for the first three games, Devin [Aromashodu] will get some opportunities this week, Michael Jenkins will get some opportunities, Bryan [Walters] will get some opportunities so we still have time.
Q: Rhett Ellison and Jarius Wright played a lot with the first team. Was it a conscious decision to play the rookies with the first team?
A: All along we’ve known that Rhett and Jarius and a few other young guys on offense are going to have to step up and play quite a bit for us. Not only this week, but in that third preseason game, we’re going to play those guys quite a bit and try to get then acclimated to the speed of the game, even though it’s going to speed up a little bit when we get to that first regular season game. We’re going to continue to throw them in there and they have to play early for us, it’s not a redshirt deal. We’ve got some young players we’re counting on helping this season.
Q: What was your assessment of how Joe Webb played?
A: It was an up and down performance. Part of what he dealt with was, so many things, so many guys in front of him were not able to do and that affected some of the things he wanted to do at the quarterback position. We fully expect him to keep progressing at the quarterback position. He’s probably the least experienced of all of our quarterbacks as far as playing the position over a long period of time. You just have to continue to let him get reps and let him development. Joe is a big play guy as we all know so he’ll make his share of plays.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Q: How do you work Adrian Peterson into practice?
A: We are going to work through it initially today. Get him a hand full of plays in 11-on-11 and also 7-on-7. Just to get him back into the football mode, so to speak. He has to go through the mental gymnastics as well as the physical part.
Q: Is the third preseason game a logical choice for Adrian to play in or wait until the fourth?
A: I think both of those are possible. We’re going to take it day-by-day. Today we have a good plan and then we’ll reassess tonight and tomorrow morning based on how today goes.
Q: No chance of this week?
A: That’s correct.
Q: What was your overall assessment of the first two series last Friday?
A: I thought the offensive line did an admirable job against their defense. We’re still looking to get our young right guard (Brandon Fusco) from Slippery Rock a little bit more acclimated. This week he’ll have somebody over him and not just be playing a guard bubble like he did Friday night or last year when we played against the Green Bay Packers. So that’ll be part of the maturation process for Brandon. The young left tackle (Matt Kalil) did an admirable job as well. He battled a couple guys. We didn’t want to expose him too much; but that’s part of the process. His day is coming when we are really going to have to count on him out there on an island.
Q: Does Adrian have to wear anything? How do you get him into the line without him getting hit?
A: I think we have to practice smart. I know Leslie has addressed the entire team about that. We’ll get him in there and get him some good work so he can start to feel a little bit acclimated without risking anything that might happen too early, too soon.
Q: Did the San Francisco game go as you hoped?
A: It was good. I think we showed some things. We also got to evaluate our players. We had some personnel groups out there that we definitely wanted to get out there on the field and see them execute. There were a lot of things that we got accomplished. We didn’t get result that we are always shooting for in terms of lighting up the scoreboard; so we’re looking forward to making up for that, starting this week.
Q: Are you disappointed there weren’t many plays made by the receivers?
A: We were disappointed in the production. We want to be out there on the field more than we were. I think we only had 50 plays, so we’ve got some making up to do in that department.
Q: What was your takeaway of the quarterbacks?
A: It was tough conditions for any of us that were there with the wind. They battled through it real well. We had some drops and we also had some misfires. This week has been good. We’ve been productive so far in making corrections of the mistakes we made Friday night. All the quarterbacks did a good job. We protected the football relatively well until the end when we threw an interception. We want to make sure to make ourselves tough to beat in terms of minimal penalties and no turnovers.
Q: At what point do you scale back Jerome’s reps?
A: We’re about to get to that point. We wanted to get Jerome up to speed, but you’re right, we’re going to get to the point real soon where we start to prepare somebody else to play that split end for the first three games.
Q: Do you expect Jerome to play in the third preseason game?
A: He’ll definitely play, then we’ll determine how much is with the first and how much is with someone else playing that split end with the first.
Q: Is anybody separating themselves to fill that role?
A: We’ve got some good candidates. We’ve got good depth at the WR position. We’re going to give everybody their shot at cracking into the starting lineup at split end for sure.
Q: What are you specifically looking for from Adrian today?
A: I think to see if his normal reactions take place when a defender flashes or when he needs to make a cut. Maybe when a play doesn’t quite come off as the way we chalked it up on the chalkboard. Can he handle it physically as well as mentally? He’s had a long layoff, that’s an understatement. We’re looking for the normal Adrian to emerge over time. Not today, we know it’s a process and that today is just another step in that.
Q: Do Christian’s throwaways excite you?
A: That’s the way winning football teams play. They may have poor plays, but they are not so poor that the team has a tough time overcoming them to get the outcome that we want. We can overcome a lot of things, but when we turn the ball over or go backwards with sacks and penalties, those are more difficult to overcome.
Q: Is it exciting to have a more athletic offensive line this year?
A: It is. We are more athletic at guard this year for sure. Not to take anything away from Anthony Herrera and Steve Hutchinson, they were true warriors. But we are more athletic at guard and that showed up Friday.
Q: What will the lineup at quarterback be?
A: They’ve all got to be ready. The other night, McLeod going in got a good number of series and this week it will be Sage going in after Joe. We’ll play it by ear after that.
Q: How much of Joe’s lack of production had to do with what was going on in front of him?
A: Joe had a couple plays where our guards got walked back right into his lap where he couldn’t step into it. We know as quarterbacks sometimes you’ve got to throw when you can’t step into it. We’re doing a bunch of drills this week to help Joe in that regard. I just think Joe will get better and better. We know what Joe can do, we’ve got to make sure we can enhance Joe’s limitations in the pocket. He doesn’t have a lot of time on task playing quarterback in the pocket and we want to make sure that we don’t just paint him into a corner where he can only do this. Joe’s tall, he has a good release. We think he can be more effective in the pocket than he has been in the past.
Q: Is that the key?
A: You bet. Joe’s got a lot of room to improve. To his credit, he’s very coachable. He works at his trade. We’re going to continue on that track for sure.
Q: From everything you’ve seen, are you confident Joe can be a long-term QB in the NFL?
A: I am. Joe’s a heck of a leader. As you know, the team really rallies around him. He works at it. He’s in the meeting room all the time and is really attentive to detail.
Q: When was the meeting with the team about practicing smart?
A: It’s been over time. I know today we are going to have another impromptu meeting just to make sure when Adrian is in there, we want to be smart. We want to get Adrian ready, but we want to be smart. We realize it’s a process and it’s not just an immediate recovery.
Q: It will be reinforced before the practice this afternoon?
A: That is correct.
Q: Sounds like you lit a fire after last Monday’s practice, what was your message?
A: I’m trying to think back. Like any game or like any practice, there’s ebb and flow. We had a rough practice the Monday after we came back from the Saturday scrimmage in the stadium. All of us sometimes need a burr under our saddle to get us going. To our credit, we’ve got a good group on offense and they really work at it. It’s human nature at times to not be able to crescendo up every day in practice. We just wanted to remind them of that. That’s our job. Even if you don’t feel like it, you’ve got to be able to get better each and every day. If you are not getting better or remaining stagnant we’re losing ground on everybody else.
Q: You are pretty mild-mannered; does that change in the locker room?
A: Yeah, I think so. But I think these guys know that when we as coaches make a point, there’s not a big requirement for a lot of hollering and screaming and cursing. I think they get the message. They are very smart.
Q: How big do the flames get?
A: I’m sure they got too big for the fire code but luckily we got to put them out quickly. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea looking back on it.
Q: What are you benchmarks for Christian’s first down percentage?
A: We want to be effective. We would love to rack up 30 first downs a game and I think we are capable of that. We want to make sure when we do throw on first and second down, we want to complete a high percentage. I don’t know what that number is; but I know it’s higher than the number we completed last year.
Q: What was your evaluation of Rhett Ellison and Jarius Wright?
A: It was a good first outing for both of those rookies. Neither of them were wide-eyed or intimidated in any regard. That was good for us to see. We’re going to continue to put them in those spots early and often to help their growth.
Q: How much of a challenge will it be to get John Carlson back into the mix?
A: We’re chomping at the bit to get him back. I know he’s working real hard to get healthy. We’re looking forward to that day.
Q: Is it important for him to get a preseason game?
A: I would think so. I’m sure he feels the same way. It’s tough being injured for anybody. I know he’s working as hard as he can.