Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. I think we had a good walk-through today. The guys seemed really focused in the meetings, in the walk through, and we’ll have to carry that over to practice this afternoon. The team that we’re playing, the Detroit Lions, NFC North rival, important game for us for a lot of reasons. They are a much improved football team, a lot different than the team that we played earlier in the season. They’re doing some things a lot better. In order for us to be successful on Sunday we will, without question, have to play our best game of the season. They’ve really improved and we have to take some steps to get a win at home.
Q: How is Percy Harvin doing?
A: Percy is doing better. He won’t practice today. We’ll take it day-to-day and see how he feels tomorrow, but he is making improvements. The fact is that he won’t do anything today, other than that, Letroy Guion is the only other guy that won’t practice. I mentioned to you the other day that John Carlson is back with us and he’ll practice today. But Letroy has a toe that’s been bothering him so we’ll hold him out and give him a little bit more time with that. Those will be the only two guys that won’t be out there participating.
Q: Where do you see their availability for Sunday right now?
A: I’m hoping that they both make it. We’ll learn more as the week goes on, but I’m hoping by Friday they can both participate to some degree. We’ll see.
Q: Can Jarius Wright help you this week?
A: We think he can and he’s going to prepare just in case Percy is not able to make it. He’ll be working, he’ll be a part of the mix as we game plan for Detroit. We think he can help us.
Q: What’s been the biggest reason you’ve been slow to use him?
A: Not so much anything he hasn’t done. He’s really worked hard in practice, working hard in the weight room. He’s doing everything we ask him to do. He’s on top of what he needs to know from an offensive standpoint. It’s just been a matter of our going more so with four receivers at a time and we like the things that Stephen Burton gives us when we’ve gotten Stephen up. But Jarius is doing a good job.
Q: Is it also because he’s similar to what Percy Harvin does?
A: They are very similar in a lot of ways. The way we would use him is similar to the way we use Percy if he ends up playing on Sunday. So that is a part of it for sure.
Q: What’s happened to the defense since you’ve lost Chris Cook?
A: We haven’t played the run very well but I don’t know if it’s due to Chris necessarily. We just have not done a good job run defense-wise and we have to figure out a way to get that figured out because Detroit is running the football a lot better than they were when we played them earlier in the season. They are much more intentional about running the ball. It’s something we have to get corrected, like right now.
Q: With the time that John Carlson has missed, is it a matter of easing him in at this point?
A: Some of it will depend on how he does this week in practice. Coming off a concussion, there are some things we need to see as the week goes on. We’re hoping he’ll be a factor in this game. We need him. We need all the weapons we can get in a game like this. We’re hoping we’ll be able to utilize his talents but we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: What is your assessment on how A.J. Jefferson did in his first starting role?
A: I thought he did a good job. He did a good job in coverage, he tackled well, he moved around well. He held his own for the most part in that ball game. We were pleased with some of the things he did.
Q: What went into the decision to make A.J. Jefferson the starter over Josh Robinson?
A: We like what Josh is doing in the nickel and we wanted to keep him in that role for now and let him continue to progress. We knew that A.J. has had experience playing an NFC West opponent from his past and had some familiarity with some of the things they did. His size, and his experience were factors so we choose to go with him and we’ll probably keep that rotation going for now. A.J. did a good job.
Q: Does facing Calvin Johnson figure into that as well?
A: Yeah another big receiver who we’ll have to match up with at times but no slight to Josh. He’s doing a lot of good things for us and we like the role he’s playing for our defense right now.
Q: If you don’t have Letroy Guion and besides Fred Evans, is there someone you would use at the nose?
A: We have some other guys that we’ll move in. We’ll not talk about that right now. There are only so many linemen we have dressed but we would rotate guys.
Q: Can Fred Evans play more with his conditioning level?
A: Oh yeah, without question. We tried to keep the rotation the way we have on purpose, but it’s not because he can’t play more snaps. He can do it if he has to.
Q: Was that turf toe something Letroy suffered during the game and how much did that affect his play?
A: It affected him, particularly in that last series he struggled. Probably should have got him out of there looking back at it, it definitely affected him in that ball game late. It happened right before the half, so he played an entire second half with that toe bothering him. Early on in the second half he did pretty good but as the game went on and we got more snaps, it got a little bit worse.
Q: You’re 5-1 in games you start at noon, what’s the deal when you’re not playing at noon?
A: We’re 5-1 when we play at noon? I didn’t know that. What’s the deal when we don’t play at noon; not sure about that. We’ll have to take a look at that, that’s good to know. We’re playing at noon this week so that should be a good sign. I can’t answer why our record is not as good as it is when we play at noon.
Q: What do you see when you analyze the route running?
A: We’re doing some things this week that we think will help our passing game. Part of it will be some of the adjustments we’ll make with the routes that we’re asking our receivers to run and also what we’re doing protection-wise to help our quarterback. We’re going to make some adjustments that we think will help us without being too specific what those route adjustments will be. We are going to make some adjustments.
Q: Are those scheme adjustments and maybe game plan adjustments as well?
A: They are. There are some things we want to do a little bit different to help us. You see things on tape where you know people are getting a good feel for our rhythm and how we do things. We have to make a few adjustments and that’s what we’re going to try to do for this ball game.
Q: How has Kyle Rudolph gotten lost in your offense?
A: We believe, in order for our offense to be effective in the passing game, we need to have him involved more that we have as of late. Not just in the red zone, we always try to target him in the red zone and people are doing everything they can to take him away, but we need to find a way to uncover him in regular downs in series, as well. That’s one of the things we’re working on for this ball game. We’re going to try to do some things to get him involved. It’ll help our offense not to just work the perimeter with our wideouts, but to get Kyle involved as well. People are doing some things coverage-wise to try to affect him, because we haven’t hit some plays down the field, so they’re trying to take our intermediate route game away, but we still have to find ways to get Kyle some touches.
Q: Do you need to attack the middle of the field more?
A: We’ve tried on occasions and we haven’t had success. We do. That’s part of getting Kyle involved, as well. He’s a part of that. You’ve seen us take shots on the outside and we haven’t had a lot of success doing that, so we have to do some things between the numbers and near the hashes and we’re going to try to get that done.
Q: Have you had a talk with Christian Ponder about putting this last stretch behind him and clearing his head going into this game?
A: Oh yeah. We’ve had conversations. We have to concentrate on this ball game and this ball game only. That’s the only thing that really matters now so we have to be so invested in this game plan and the execution of this game plan that we can’t be looking back. We have to concentrate on getting better for this ball game.
Q: Do you feel like Jerome Simpson is all the way back from his injury?
A: He’s not where he was prior to that injury. He’s not. You look at the tape and you know that. He’s still able to give us some things, but he’s not where he was before the injury for sure.
Q: Where is the injury affecting him? Is it his ability to make sharp cuts?
A: That’s part of it, being able to push off on certain cuts. It does affect him and just being able to just sprint and open it up the way he was doing before the injury. It’s taken a little bit away from his game, but he’s still able to give us some things, but it has definitely affected him.
Q: You think you will go another 30 minutes with Adrian Peterson only getting five carries?
A: That ball game on Sunday, it happens sometimes. You don’t want it to happen. You need to get first downs to maintain possession of the ball and when you’re not getting first downs in the second half and you fall behind, it puts us in peril when it comes to handing the ball off to Adrian. That’s where we found ourselves, particularly in the fourth quarter. It got to a point where it was a two score game, so all of the sudden, you’ve taken your greatest weapon and put us in a bad spot. We have to do some things to get first downs so we can maintain possession of the ball and continue to hand it off to Adrian and at the same time, score touchdowns and not give up touchdowns.
Q: Are you seeing more from your leaders this week to push back against the bad vibes?
A: I’m getting ready to go sit down with them in a moment. I’ve talked with some of them individually, but I’m getting ready to go as soon as I leave here, to sit down and talk about some of those things you just mentioned. That’s important. We’re not at a bad spot if you understand and can see the big picture. You just have to be able to see the big picture. If we do what we’re supposed to do Sunday, we still control our own destiny in so many ways. I have to remind our guys of that. We just have to go out and we have to play better than we’ve been playing and that’s up to us to get it done. And yes, I will sit down and talk with those guys about some things and get some feedback from them
Q: With Jerome Simpson, is the injury still bothering him? Or is it just a matter of getting that explosiveness back?
A: It’s more of the explosiveness. He doesn’t have pain. That’s not the issue for him. If you recall, when we did get him back for that Detroit game, that leaping catch, that’s like a trademark of his. The leap that he had, I can’t remember which preseason game, maybe Buffalo, where a guy comes to tackle him and he leaps over the top of him. It’s taken a little bit of his explosiveness away. When that will come back all together, the doctors can’t tell. What he has is still giving us something, but it’s not the same Jerome prior to the injury
Q: How impressed are you with Adrian coming back from the knee injury, dealing with the ankle injury and he’s had three straight 100-yard games?
A: I don’t know if words can describe how impressed myself and everyone is with what Adrian has accomplished. He’s just an amazing athlete, a guy with so much determination. To play the way he’s played, you wouldn’t even know he’s coming off a major knee surgery. Going all the way back to our game against Jacksonville when we opened the season, the things he’s done throughout the year and it seems that now, he’s beginning to get even stronger. He’s looking more and more as if he never was injured. It’s just incredible. I don’t know if words can really describe the admiration that I have for what he’s accomplished and there’s still so much football to be played.
Q: Did you get the sense that he was feeding off of people’s doubts in the offseason?
A: Oh yeah. That was a motivating factor for sure, to get back and to prove to everyone that he could be as good as, or better than, he was before. And he said it a number of different times, ‘I’m going to be better.’ You would say to yourself, ‘How could he be better than he was? He’s already the best back in the League.’ But, the way he’s improving, who knows what’s going to happen the rest of the season. He’s been an inspiration to everybody.
Q: Will you get a full week of practice out of him?
A: We’ll gauge it and see how he does today in practice to see if we need to pull back a little bit either Thursday or Friday. As you get further into the season, you really have to monitor even his practice snaps and be smart about how we use him because he’s definitely our workhorse. We’ll see how he does today in practice.
Q: Where would you place Matthew Stafford and his maturation among the top quarterbacks?
A: He’s a very good quarterback. He led their team to the playoffs a year ago. He’s really been complimented by their run game as of late, which has helped him to be more efficient as a quarterback. He’s a very good quarterback. Anytime you can lead your team to the playoffs, that’s a good sign for you football team and for your organization.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
Happy to be back at work, happy to start a new week. Obviously, a big one for us. Obviously, Detroit, we played them before, looking to go 2-0 in the Division. It’s a very important game for us. It’s the next one, which is always important, but to end this two-week losing streak is going to be important for us. We’ve let two slip away from us and it’s time to get back on track the way we were, especially going into the bye week. It’s an important week and we’re excited about it. We know that Detroit is a better team than we faced a couple weeks ago. They have our full attention now and we’re looking to have a good week of practice and make a big jump from last week to this week.
Q: As you look at the tape, are you seeing repeat issues from week-to-week or is it something different against each defense?
A: It’s pretty much different each week. We’re not really seeing repeat mistakes and if we did, that wouldn’t be good but no, there’s nothing that is being repeated, no.
Q: When you looked at your performance, what specifically jumps out at you?
A: Obviously, I can play better. I don’t know if there are any specific things that jump out at me. It just goes back to execution and my execution has to pick up but we know that, obviously, that’s important for this week for such a big game, but nothing really specific has jumped out at me.
Q: How much has the knee injury affected your ability to push off?
A: Not at all, not at all. My knee has been fine. Even when it was injured, it didn’t really hurt. It was just swelling and no real pain.
Q: Did it get dinged up again this last week?
Q: Is there any finger pointing in the locker room?
A: No, not at all. We have a lot of good characters on this team and a lot of great leaders and there has been absolutely no finger pointing.
Q: It looked like you double-clutched a couple of times on Sunday, including on the one to Michael Jenkins before the half. Are you playing with enough confidence?
A: Yeah, I am. I think some of it, like that specific play, I was trying to go somewhere else and then it didn’t happen so it came late to Jenkins. Confidence breeds from preparation and I think we’re preparing really well. We have great game plans and again, it just goes back to us executing, but I have full confidence in what I’m doing.
Q: If you’re having good weeks of practice, is it more frustrating when you don’t have more production on game day?
A: I think regardless of how the week of practice has gone, it’s always frustrating to perform not at your peak and to lose games. That’s frustrating no matter what.
Q: Was there a point in these games where you felt the game getting away from yourself?
A: No, not really, especially with what we’ve shown this whole season. I don’t think that we feel like the game is getting away from any of us, specifically until it says 0:00 and the time is out and when the game is called because when you look back at Week 1, Jacksonville, 14 seconds left and we’re down by three and we end up winning the game. I never feel like the game is getting away from me.
Q: Are there things that can be done schematically to get receivers open?
A: There are things that we can do and obviously, Bill (Musgrave) is doing a great job of finding ways to get guys open and we’re not really abandoning anything. Bill has come up with great plans and we’re going to keep getting better and find guys open this week and I think we especially match up well against this defense. We’re not overhauling our offense but obviously, every week we’re game planning and scheming and trying to find ways to get guys open.
Q: Could you describe what it would be like to go into a game if Percy Harvin is not available?
A: Obviously, we want him in but if not, I don’t know if we’re going to have Jarius Wright up or whoever, but we’ll have guys step in and we can do it without him. We’ll find ways to win and again, that’s stuff with Bill and how he is going to devise his game plan without him, but we’ll be fine.
Q: Do you practice much with Jarius Wright?
A: Yeah, Jarius gets in there. He’ll take reps for Percy every day. Every day he is in there.
Q: What are his strengths and how can he help you?
A: He’s a lot like Percy. He is quick, he’s very dynamic. We just need to get him reps and he’ll be fine. He’s a very dynamic player. Rick Spielman drafted him for a reason and he played well at Arkansas. He’ll play well once he gets in.
Q: Have you noticed Jerome Simpson missing some of his explosiveness that he had before the season?
A: I don’t know. The biggest thing I think people need to realize about Jerome is he spent three or four years in a specific offense so he’s still growing and still learning this offense. We’re seeing that he is getting better every week and we’re looking for him. He had a great game against Detroit last time so we want him in that same position this week.
Q: What will having John Carlson back do for you?
A: That will be huge. Obviously, a great tight end and we’re going to do some different things with him, but yeah, we’re happy to have him back and he can only add another element to this offense.
Q: Do you see some specific things with Kyle Rudolph that you’re missing?
A: No, nothing specific. We just have to keep trying to get him the ball. I think we’re going to do a good job this week trying to figure ways to get him the ball. They’re taking him away, we’re not trying to force things that aren’t there but they are doing a good job of taking him away and we just have to keep figuring out ways to get him the ball.
Q: Are they defending him differently now after he had such a good start to the season?
A: I don’t know if they are defending him differently, but they’re doing certain man coverages on him. Number 31, the safety last week, Kam Chancellor, did a good job of playing man coverage and taking him away and in the red zone we’ve seen teams have doubled him at times, but we just have to keep trying to find ways to get him a win.
Q: You guys are going outside the numbers a lot. Do you need to attack the middle a little more?
A: We try to attack the middle but sometimes it is not there. Again, it goes back to just trying to get guys open and that’s what we’re trying to do, whether it’s outside or in the middle, long, short. We’re finding ways to get guys the ball.
Q: What impresses you the most about this Division?
A: It’s so competitive. We’ll probably have three teams from the Division go to the playoffs this year. Chicago is obviously playing at an extremely high level and Green Bay is getting there and Detroit is obviously progressing as well and we’re in the mix as well. All four teams are competitive. Good teams, it’s a fun division to be a part of.
Q: You have five more games against Division opponents. Do you look at it as make or break time?
A: Not really. The thing we realize is that we control our own destiny and we’re going to take it one week at a time. We’re focused on Detroit this week but once we get there, each team, we’re going to take it one week at a time. It’s going to be tough. Obviously, it’s a very competitive division and has some very good teams but we have five wins and obviously, we could have more than that but we control our own destiny. We have everything in our hands.
Q: When you look back at last year, you got off to a good start but then you said you starting thinking too much. Is some of that happening now?
A: No, I don’t think so. I’m a lot more comfortable in the offense right now than I was last year. A lot of that had to do with not being comfortable but no, I don’t feel like I’m thinking out there, no.