Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. We had a good walk-through. Guys really seem to be focused and got off to a good start in our meetings. We have a tough opponent, going on the road to play Detroit, a team, of course, that’s in our division. It’s going to be quite a game. We know we’ll have our hands full to go on the road and try to get a win against an NFC North rival and we’ve got a lot of work to get done between now and Sunday and I think we’re all anxious to get on that practice field this afternoon and get started on some of the things we’ll have to get accomplished in order to be successful on Sunday. We have a couple of guys who won’t participate today. We’re going to hold Kyle Rudolph, he’s a little under the weather with a leg injury so we’ll hold him back a little bit. The only other guy, we’ll see what we end up doing with Jared (Allen), he may participate some but we want to be cautious with the neck spasms. Other than that, I think we should be pretty good. We’re familiar with Mistral (Raymond), of course, the time he’ll be away from us. Erin Henderson still hasn’t been cleared so we won’t have him today in practice. Should be fine from there.
Q: Do you have a timeframe on Mistral Raymond?
A: They think maybe three to five weeks maybe before we get him back so we’ll see how that goes.
Q: Did he see the specialist?
A: He did. They confirmed that there was no need for surgery so that was good news.
Q: Are you thinking Erin Henderson may be able to pass those tests in the next few days?
A: That’s what we’re hoping. We have to continue to let him go through the protocol and we’re hoping that maybe we may get him tomorrow. I have my fingers crossed hoping that will be the case.
Q: Is Kyle Rudolph’s injury a contusion?
A: Just a little sore. Give him a day here and see how feels tomorrow.
Q: Is it his knee?
Q: Nothing to do with his hamstring?
Q: Are you going through this week preparing as if Matthew Stafford starts for the Lions?
A: Yeah, we’ll prepare as if he is going to start. We’ll, of course, look at tape on Shaun Hill as well but yeah, we’re expecting Stafford to be the starter and then we’ll have to adjust if it’s Shaun Hill.
Q: Did you noticed anything different about how they approached their offense when it was Hill versus Stafford?
A: Not really, just the situation was different. When Hill got in the game, they were down and he was throwing it just about every down so it’s a little bit different but the offense, philosophically, didn’t seem like it changed a whole lot.
Q: How pleased have you been with Percy Harvin stepping up?
A: We know he is a tremendous talent and he’s meant a lot to our team, both in the past and of course now. I’d dread to think of where we’d be without him. He’s been terrific in every phase and every situation we’ve asked him to make plays for us, he’s done it repeatedly and the type of plays he makes, they energize our entire team. He’s extremely valuable to our cause and just happy that he’s playing so well.
Q: What’s the number one thing technique-wise that a corner has to do to have a chance against a Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall?
A: You just have to find a way not to get in bad position because, as you mentioned, he already has the length, so you have to find a way to try to stay on top of routes and not be underneath routes and try to find the ball. You have to be able to put yourself in a position where you can see the ball because if he’s in a position where he can see it and you have trouble finding it, his leaping ability, his athletic ability, he’s going to come down with it more times than not. So you don’t want to get in a position where you’re playing underneath him. You don’t want to get in a position where you can’t find the ball. It can be very tough with a guy like him.
Q: Is that a case where you’re trying to get it out of his hands when he is pulling it down?
A: Sometimes that will be the case, where you have to play through his hands. Other times, if you find it a little bit quicker than he does, maybe you can jump a little bit quicker much like in basketball, be a quick jumper. But yeah, there are going to be times where you have to play through his hands and try to punch it out just because of his length.
Q: Does Calvin Johnson look as good as usual?
A: Oh yeah, he’s a great player and you can see by the way defenses pay attention to him that everybody recognizes he’s a great player and you can’t just be conventional when you’re trying to defend him.
Q: Do you throw on the tape of Chris Cook from last year to remind them that Calvin can have a ball taken away from him?
A: I know, it was a nice play by Chris and he’s matched up pretty good with Calvin on the occasions when he’s lined up against him. Glad we’ll have him for this game and should be a good battle.
Q: Has Harvin’s leadership taken another step this year?
A: Yeah, like I said earlier, some of the plays he makes just energizes the entire team and the way he practices, he practices hard. He doesn’t ask to get out of reps. He’s been great in the meetings. He’s been a very good teammate and we need that when you have so many young guys that are learning how to play in our League and how to have success in our League, to have a star player like him stepping up and being attentive and taking notes and just showing other guys the way, then going on the field and playing the way he’s playing, it’s big for our entire team. One of our coaches was telling me how Jarius Wright, who missed the first game of the season, and we didn’t play Percy a whole lot in the preseason and after that first game against Jacksonville, he goes, ‘Wow, that’s what I have to do to be able to play in this League.’ He just couldn’t believe the tempo that Percy practiced with and the way he went out and played in his first ball game and then Jarius’ first live NFL opening day. It just does something for our entire team and especially for the young guys, to see a guy with his talent practice the way he does and then go out and play the way he does.
Q: How is he holding up physically?
A: So far so good. Hasn’t complained about anything and we have to be smart, even in practice, some of the things we do but so far, he’s been fine.
Q: Does the addition of Jerome Simpson give you the opportunity to get Percy off the field a little bit?
A: Maybe, but I don’t know if we’ll go in that direction. Like I said a few different times, defenses play us a little bit different when he’s on the field and when he’s off the field. As much as we can keep him on, even if he’s not the primary guy, it’s better for our offense. We’ll pick our spots where he can get a blow without taking him off the field but we’d like to keep him out there as much as we can but we do have to be smart. There are times he needs to come off and get a blow as well.
Q: How eager did Jerome seem to be to finally get out there?
A: Oh, he’s fired up. He’s chomping at the bit as you can imagine. He’s extremely excited about being able to now practice with his teammates and be engaged in everything that we’re doing so he’s pretty pumped up.
Q: How much do you plan on using him?
A: We’re going to use him quite a bit. We want to get him involved and a lot of it will depend on how he does this week in practice, his first action back, but we definitely want to get him involved.
Q: How much did Mike Singletary help you in preparation of the 49ers?
A: It was a tremendous insight for our staff. He’d sit down with our defensive staff and went through their personnel and their psyche and did the same thing with our offensive staff, talked about their personnel and their psyche and you ask our coordinators, they’ll tell you, he deserves a game ball for his input. He did a great job in really laying out his thoughts on their players and it helped us when we were putting together our game plan across the board. He was good, he was a big help.
Q: It sounds like they’re close to an agreement with the NFL officials. What kind of effect do you think that will have?
A: I would imagine it will be well-received, I would imagine. Just have to wait and see if that comes to fruition. I hadn’t heard that news. We’ll see what happens.
Q: Were you surprised by how it engulfed the country yesterday?
A: Our game is, without question, the number one sport in America. There are a lot of people that follow our game, so not completely surprised. A lot of people love professional football. It’s a big deal in our country, as we know.
Q: Was the final decision to have Jarius Wright down last week medical or was he ready to go and it was a numbers crunch?
A: He’s just about there at that point a week ago and we just felt like give him another week, let him practice a little bit more. There were some things we saw in practice that said give him a little bit more time but we felt like getting past this past week would help him.
Q: You don’t have to make a decision until tomorrow but have you made one yet on the roster move?
A: We have an idea. We’re going to still go back and talk. Anything could happen between now and three o’ clock tomorrow so we’ll talk again after practice is over with today and just look at our roster again.
Q: In terms of penalties, how do you go from that many to just one in a week?
A: One. Say it loud. We’re going to work to get to zero this week, that’s our goal. Credit to our players and our coaches for just harping on what we have to do to help ourselves to win. Same thing will be true on the road, especially this week. We talked to our players about playing a clean game. It’s tough on the road to win and you don’t want to do anything that’s going to create other issues on top of playing a very good football team in a hostile environment but credit to our players for responding and our coaches really pushing the envelope in that area. This is a process, it’s ongoing and what happened this past Sunday doesn’t necessarily guarantee that’s what will happen in the future. We’ll have to continue to keep our nose to the grindstone.
Q: Covering Randy Moss last week, Chris Cook was playing off quite a bit. Was Cook doing what you wanted or was he hesitant?
A: No, he was pretty much doing the things we wanted to be able to do. We felt like we just didn’t want to give up things over the top, we wanted to keep things in front of us and he did what we needed to do on the particular coverage that you’re describing. There were other times where we wanted him down and he got down and did a good job but on the occasions when you saw him off, it was more about what we did and what we wanted to get done in that situation.
Q: Did the replacement officials change the way you coached at all?
A: I can’t speak for other coaches in the League but I just kept thinking about our team and what we had to do in all situations and just trying to keep our guys engaged in the game itself and not thinking about the what if’s, what if’s, what if’s and I’ve tried to take the same approach from a coaching standpoint and just tried to coach it as it came up, whatever happened, tried to handle it the best we could.
Q: What kind of impact would the end of the Packers-Seahawks game have had on your team if it happened to you?
A: It’s purely hypothetical. As you guys know, we’ve had some tough losses we’ve had to overcome here and none more evident than when we went to Indy so who knows, who knows.
Q: For some teams, does it look like it has become a scapegoat for all of their problems?
A: It’s hard to speak to all the teams. I just know for us, I’ve continually talked to our players about being focused on what they can control, and that’s their effort and the way they approach every ball game in their preparation and it won’t be any different this week whether something is resolved or not. I just know better make sure we’re focused on our assignments and what we have to do and have the ability to overcome whatever happens because you’re going to have some adversity on the road and our guys know that and we’ll keep talking to them about that throughout this week.
Q: Do you think that Monday night game will have major implications on who wins the division?
A: It’s hard to say because we’ll look back in December, late December, even November and people will have dialogue and look at where the races are. It’s hard to say today.
Q: You had Jared Allen on the left side of the line a few times. Was that because of the neck injury?
A: I’m almost reluctant to answer that one, just because I would like for the opposing team to say, ‘Oh, they’re moving Jared Allen around. We can’t just block him on the left or the right.’ That’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to leave it open ended, so speculate.
Q: What are some of the things you need to correct to end this losing streak in the division?
A: We need to go to Detroit and get a win. We need to play a good football game, a clean game, and find a way to get a win, by one point, two points, whatever, find a way to get a win. 2012, new year.
Q: Having played as well as you did against a team as good as San Francisco this past week, do you feel the bar has been raised on this team?
A: I couldn’t say that, because we sit down in training camp, the day we opened training camp and went through what our expectations are and I’d be surprised if we have any guys in our locker room who didn’t think we were going to win that game on Sunday. I’d really be surprised. I don’t think our expectations have changed.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Another beautiful Wednesday afternoon. Today is an important day for us to finally move past last week. Obviously we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves but that doesn’t really matter. Detroit is coming off a tough loss against Tennessee. We know that they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulders. For us, we’ve lost 11 straight NFC North games, its’ a very important game for us. We’re trying to win our first road game this year, trying to get our first win in the NFC North and that’s our number one goal is to win the NFC North so this is a good starting point. It’s also the most important game for us because it’s the next one. It’s our next game, that’s what we’re solely focused on right now and we’re moving past last week. They’re a good team, they have a good defense, obviously one of the best front fours in the League, if not the best. They have very aggressive linebackers that play really well, they have a very experienced secondary. They obviously gave me some fits last year so it’s going to be a challenge this week.
Q: Last year at Detroit, was that rock bottom?
A: It was definitely a tough game, to have three interceptions and dealing with the injury and everything. It was tough and the weird thing is, on offense we moved the ball, we put up points and I just kept making mistakes and turning the ball over. That was definitely a tough game.
Q: How do you keep the mindset from last week?
A: We just have to continue and realize that one win against a good team doesn’t mean anything. There are 13 games left and this is a huge one for us, again the first game in the NFC North and we’ve lost three straight to Detroit. We need to start off on the right foot in this division. I think everyone has that right mindset. I think they’re coming to work today and are focused to put in work and get ready.
Q: How do you measure that? What are you picking up from the team to have a response to the win?
A: You just look at attitude. I think the biggest tell tale sign will be at practice today whether guys are here to work. It seems like guys were in to meetings so far and during the walk-through everyone was paying attention and that’s a good sign.
Q: Do you see teams scheming to take away Kyle Rudolph more than they have in the past?
A: No, I’ve seen teams scheming to take away Percy [Harvin].I haven’t really seen any doubling or anything on Kyle yet.
Q: How do you get Kyle Rudolph the ball more?
A: We’ll find ways. Coach [Bill] Musgrave will find ways to give him the ball. We need to get him the ball more. Obviously, he’s a heck of a player. We’ll figure that out.
Q: Did last year’s game hurt your confidence going forward?
A: After what I experienced in that game? I think it definitely hurt my confidence. After that I tried to re-group, what was the game after that, New Orleans. That was a tough game for me as well. Obviously, my performance, it took a little bit to re-group after that and that’s something I learned from. Everyone is going to have a tough game, it was obviously not my best performance but you have to move on. Again, it’s week to week. Like last week, you play well, it’s week to week, you have to move on.
Q: What have you seen from Percy Harvin? It seems like guys are feeding off of him?
A: I’d be happy if I’m getting the ball as much as he is. He’s doing well. He’s a great teammate, everyone loves him and loves being around him. He’s stepping up huge right now in the season. I know he’s happy to be a Minnesota Viking and he’s showing that right now.
Q: With Jerome Simpson back this week, do you have to remind yourself to be smart and not just throw downfield just because he’s back?
A: Yeah, definitely. Again, we’re not going to try to force things and we’re going to use Jerome to get down field. Obviously he has the speed to do it. We’ll try to do some things to get the ball down field but again, we want to make big plays but we’re not going to force them.
Q: Are you anxious to see what John Carlson can do?
A: We know what he can do. We’ve seen him in practice and he’s practiced well and he’s done well. We just have to continue to find ways to give him the ball. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s had a catch this season yet but he will. He’ll come around.
Q: Did you think he was going to come open on one of those routes Sunday?
A: That was a designed play to get him a touchdown, unfortunately they took it away. Again, we’ll find a way. We’re going to get him the ball. He deserves it. He’s a good player.
Q: Does Jerome Simpson seem pretty eager to get back out there?
A: Yeah, he’s got quite the enthusiasm for the game of football so I can imagine what he’s going to be like in practice today. Everyone feeds off of that energy. He’s got so much energy that he brings to the table and he loves being out here. He’s going to be ready to work.
Q: What are your expectations for him? Are things going to click like they did in training camp?
A: Yeah, I think so. It’s only been a month and a half. It’s not like it’s been five years. Everything’s going to be fine. He’s going to fit in well.
Q: Word is leaking out that the officials are close to an agreement with the League. What would it mean to get the officials back?
A: I’ve heard that report and I don’t know if it’s confirmed or not but, again, it’s something we can’t control. Obviously we’ll be happy if they can come back. The thing is, the referees, the replacement guys, they’re put in such a tough position. They’re doing the best they can and you can’t blame them for anything and they’re busting their butts to do it and even when the regular guys come back, they’re going to make mistakes as well. I feel bad for them. They’re doing a lot of hard work and I appreciate what they’re doing.
Q: Has the National Football League’s image taken a hit?
A: I don’t know. I don’t really know what was going on in the negotiation room so I don’t know how difficult negotiations were. I know it was a tough situation to figure it out so they did the best they could to make things work and it’s worked. We’re playing games; we’re playing on the field. It’s something that’s out of our control that we can’t worry about.
Q: Did you see the play on Monday Night Football?
A: I did see that.
Q: What were your thoughts?
A: It was a tough call and Letroy [Guion] said it last night on SportsCenter, when you’re out there it’s so hard to see things in split seconds. Everything is going so fast. It was a tough call. I don’t know if I stuck myself out there, I don’t what I would have called. I don’t know.
Q: You said you feel bad for the officials, do you feel bad for the Packers, too?
A: No. I don’t.
Q: When you look last at year compared to the first three games from this year, what stands out to you?
A: I think number one is my ability to get the ball out. I know where I’m going and even just watching on film, I just look so much more comfortable in the pocket. It’s just a look of confidence. It’s definitely different.
Q: Coach Frazier talked about a play where you threw the ball away from inside the pocket, is that a part of it, knowing when something is not there?
A: Yeah. That’s exactly what Coach [Bill] Musgrave and I talked about through OTA’s and the preseason. Every quarterback can make a play when it’s there, it’s the guys that are the better guys in the league that know what to do when the play’s not there and knowing where the outlets are to throw the ball away and everything. That’s kind of something I’ve been focusing on lately and again, it all goes back to not forcing something to happen that’s not there.
Q: Do you feel like the bar has been raised for this team after beating a good team last week?
A: I guess. I don’t know. We always expect ourselves to play well. We expect to compete in every game no matter who the opponent is and I guess we just proved that on Sunday but we’ve always have had high expectations for ourselves.