Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
We had a spirited practice today. We came out in pads in what would be a Friday for us during the season and really went through a review of our red zone, our short yardage, our goal line; hit a bunch of different areas. The guys worked hard this week, it’s an important week. The fact that we’re treating it like a game situation, like we would during a regular season game in a lot of ways in our preparation. Not that we’ll put an extensive amount of game planning into this, but it’s been good, it’s been real good for our players. Of course we have a lot of guys fighting for positions so we’re trying to still learn a little bit about our guys who are going to be role players for us but also trying to determine a little bit about our starters. We still have some positions where guys are fighting for starting jobs and we’re trying to make sure we have the right 11 on the field on offense and defense as well as on special teams. In regards to injuries, Bridger Buche will not play in this ball game with a knee inflammation. We’re not going to play John Carlson, Chris Cook, Letroy Guion, Kamar Jorden, Geoff Schwartz; those guys won’t play. We’ll make a determination about Robert Blanton, Larry Dean, Solomon Elimimian and DeMarcus Love as well, whether or not we want to play them in this game. There are a couple more things we want to look at to determine if we want to play those guys or not. Everybody else should be up to go, we’re going to go at it with potentially the only guy we will hold out is Mr. Peterson.
Q: Did Letroy Guion aggravate this knee?
A: Yes, yesterday it flared up again so we need to give him a little more time before we put him back out there again. He’ll get this weekend and a few days next week as well.
Q: Did he have an MRI on his knee?
A: Yes, no structural damage, nothing there.
Q: Do you have a starter for Chris Cook?
A: We’re probably going to see how Chris Carr works in there early and then get Josh Robinson in there as well, rotate those guys and give them a chance. We’ll get Zach Bowman in there too but probably end up starting Carr. We’re still talking about that; that could change after we meet when we’re done here.
Q: Josh Robinson would be the third guy in the Nickel then?
A: Yes, if we go nickel he would definitely be on the field in there.
Q: Before Letroy Guion’s injury, how did you feel he has been coming along?
A: I thought he was doing a good job. We were encouraged by his work and the way he had come back with his attitude. He had his weight in a great position which he has maintained, attitude was terrific; we we’re pleased, it’s just unfortunate that he’s missing all these reps, we really need him to get these reps at that position, which is somewhat a new position for him. It’s tough but that’s the way it is right now.
Q: Two and a half weeks until the opener, any chance he won’t be ready for that?
A: No, we think as long as we give him this time he should be ready for the opener.
Q: Is it classified as a concussion with Chris Cook?
A: It was a concussion in his case. Today he cleared just about everything that needs to be done. They have one more test they have to do this afternoon. They feel like he’ll be cleared by the end of today.
Q: What is the number one thing Letroy Guion needs to do to hold down his spot?
A: We need a guy who can demand a double team at that position. We’ve lacked that a little bit and that’s what helps our defense be more successful, especially against the run. If we can get a guy who they have to double team, it frees up our linebackers to make some plays. He needs to show that he can do that and when he’s single blocked he can make those plays and make people have to double team him. If they can block him with a center or guard we have problems and we think he has the ability to demand that double team. We’ll see once we get him back on the field.
Q: Jerome Simpson was taking some punts, is that a thought to put him back there?
A: No, that’s something he wanted to do. He’s done it in the past but we’re not looking at him being our punt returner or kick off return guy, but the more you can do, it doesn’t hurt anything.
Q: How do you size up the punt return situation right now?
A: Right now, Marcus Sherels will probably be our opening game guy if we were at that point but we still have guys fighting for that position. We’re going to work Josh Robinson back there, we’re going to give Stephen Burton a chance as well, Bryan Walters will get a chance. We’re still evaluating it but Marcus is still ahead of the rest of the guys right now.
Q: How are Josh Robinson and Jarius Wright standing out?
A: Jarius has improved dramatically from when we had him back in the early spring. He was drafted as a punt returner and his hands have got better, his concentration has got a little bit better and we’ve put him out there in these two games we had. We haven’t had as much production but we’re going to give him some more opportunities in this ball game, we’ll get him out there and give him a chance. We’re pleased with his progress.
Q: Is there a common trait of small school guys coming to the NFL?
A: If there is a common trait it’s probably that you have a chip on your shoulder, you want to show people that you can play with the big school guys and that motivates some players to try and compete. It’s a great opportunity to play in the National Football League and you get guys from small schools who haven’t been on national TV. Bobby Felder mentioned to me at our scrimmage, he came up to me and said, “Coach, I’ve never had this many people at one of my games in college.” I was thinking wow that puts it in perspective; this is a scrimmage in Mankato. For those guys, it’s a motivator to show guys from the Big Ten or the SEC that, “You know what, I could of played in your league, I’m going to make it in the NFL.”
Q: What has Marvin Mitchell shown you? Is he set as an outside or inside guy?
A: We’ve played him mostly as an outside backer through camp. We know he has the potential to maybe move inside. He has done a good job not only on defense, but on special teams as well. He is an athletic guy, he is an extremely hard worker, and has a real desire to be good. He’s showing some things with his athletic ability and his ability to be able to blitz as well, which is something that we needed at the outside linebacker position.
Q: How is (Chris) Carr going through the adjustment of being on a new team? Is he starting to react instead of thinking?
A: It seems that way. He is a very bright guy. He is a very bright guy when it comes to understanding football and the concepts. His experience helps him a lot. Some of the things we do are a little bit different than where he has been. He has adapted very well, and it is good to pick his brain on some things as well. He is a sharp football player.
Q: How much more diverse or unpredictable do you think this defense can be now that you have a few more pieces?
A: If we can get the right pieces in place we think that we will have the chance to give people different looks and try to be creative with some of the things that we do. The key is keeping those guys on the field that we think can help us, and we have got more depth now than I can remember which bodes well. It should give us a chance to do some things to help our defense be better.
Q: What examples do you have?
A: There are some things we can do personnel-wise if you have the number of defensive backs that we are thinking about keeping, versus where we have been in the past, now you can match up a little bit better when people go three, four, and five wide receivers. It eliminates the potential of you having to stay in zone coverage all the time like we’ve had to do over particularly this past year. That will help us, that you can’t just go into the game saying ‘well they’ve only got this many defensive backs, they have to play this particular coverage.’ Then the flexibility we have with some of our linebackers that have the ability to cover as well and can blitz off the edge. If we can keep these guys healthy we have a chance to be a little bit more creative with the way that we want to approach opposing offenses.
Q: Was that a conclusion that you came to in the offseason? That you want to play more man?
A: Well not only this offseason, it’s been a desire. Probably ’09 was the last time we could really play some man on a continuous basis. It just hasn’t worked out injury-wise where we could have enough guys up that could get it done.
Q: Does having better safeties impact that too? The way that you guys where rolling the safeties down in that last game it seemed as though that was the emphasis.
A: It does. If you know that you have a liability, especially today when you have safeties that have got to cover tight ends, you have a liability there and it’s going to get exposed when you play man so you are less likely to play man coverage because you are going to have problems. It depends how you want to die, slow death or quick death?
Q: How much weight do you put on performance in this preseason game (game three) when deciding who stays and who goes?
A: It is very important. We talked about it as a staff this morning, we are going to go in and talk about it this afternoon. For the guys that are on the bubble, for the 75 as well as the 53, when they get their turn in the game on Friday night it is going to be so, so important that they show that they deserve to be a part of the next week’s team. We put a lot of weight on what happens when those guys get put into the game in the second half on Friday night. It will mean a great deal as we are trying to make a determination of what 15 are going to remain or not remain.
Q: What happened to Larry Dean?
A: Larry (Dean) had a shoulder sprain. He has practiced pretty well this week but we still want to talk to him when we go back in just to see where he is. With the pads on today we could have him go on a little contact so he can kind of gage how he feels.
Q: Is that something that has been lingering for a while?
A: No, it came up after the game. It bothered him a little bit in the Buffalo game.
Q: What was it like preparing for the NFC North teams last year?
A: Don’t make me go back, those are bad memories. When you know going into the game that you are limited, and know the people look at the tape and know that you are limited… We played a team, I won’t mention the team, one of the secondary coaches called me after the game and said ‘man, going into the game we knew if we put this put this package on the field you could match up, if we did this you couldn’t match up, and I don’t know what you are going to do but you guys have to address your secondary.’ But you are in the season so you are limited with your options, so it is a hard thing, especially if you coached defense before. It’s not a lot of fun, but I think we have addressed some of those issues this offseason and now if we can keep our guys healthy it should help us to answer some questions when we play opposing offenses.
Q: Are you rolling with Mistral (Raymond) next to Harrison (Smith)? Or will you give Jamarca (Sanford) one more shot?
A: We are going to give Jamarca one more shot just to see how he does. He has had a great camp and he has busted his tail to compete and fight for a job so we are going to give him another shot. We are going to still keep Harrison in there and Jamarca may end up starting it off on Friday night. We are going to talk about that when we go back in.