Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good morning guys. We should have just about everybody at practice today. Kyle (Rudolph) was cleared of his concussion. He may be the one guy who may not work. He has a shoulder strain also that’s giving him a little trouble so we may end up holding him out just to give him another day with that, but Harrison (Smith) was cleared, which is good news. Percy (Harvin) is going to try and see what he can do and then we’ll get a better gauge post-practice but he’ll attempt to do some things so we’ll get a better feel for where he is. Other than that, everybody else should be working and I think we’re all looking forward to playing this game against a very good football team, our NFC North rival, a border rival. There are a lot of implications involved with this football game and we need to go out and play a sound, fundamental, good football game. We need to play well on the road. Big challenge ahead of us.
Q: Will this be Percy’s first day testing anything since Friday?
A: He did a few things yesterday. We took him through some things here in the indoor. It was okay, definitely not there yet so we want to try to increase it a little bit today and see how he does.
Q: Are you encouraged by the advancements that all of those guys have made?
A: Oh, no question. To know that Kyle and Harrison have been cleared, that’s a big deal because they are two keys to our football team. The fact that Percy is going to attempt to do something today, that’s encouraging, just a matter of how far he can go. But yeah, it’s a big deal to have those guys out there practicing.
Q: Was it determined that Kyle and Harrison did not have concussions?
A: No, they went through the concussion protocol because they were deemed guys to have suffered a concussion.
Q: How is Adrian and are you going to back off with him this week?
A: We’ll maybe limit some of the things that he does but he’ll try to participate in everything that we do. We just may limit some of what he does.
Q: Do you try and change the passing game at all?
A: We’ll do some things a little bit different schematically, but some of it is because of the type of defense we’re going to be playing against this week, but no matter who we’re playing against, you still have to catch the ball and you have to throw the ball where it needs to be thrown and that will never change, but there will be some changes schematically but more so because of the defense we’re playing.
Q: Will you take the same approach at right guard?
A: No, we’re going to stay with Brandon (Fusco) and we’ll rotate Geoff (Schwartz) in there at some point during the course of the game and that’s worked out pretty good for us. I think it’s helping Brandon as he’s developing as a young player in our League and also giving us a chance to get Geoff some reps considering the time he’s missed over the course of the last two years. So far, it has been pretty good for us.
Q: What has Geoff given you that you aren’t getting from Brandon?
A: It’s more of what we’re trying to get for Geoff from a play-time standpoint and part of it is making sure that we’re fine long-term over the course of this season, but the biggest thing is his experience. That definitely shows up and he gives us a little bit from a movement standpoint but Brandon is doing a good job for us. We think we’re getting the best of both worlds by having both of them rotate right now.
Q: How much can you make avoiding turnovers the message this week in practice?
A: It’s a big deal on the road. I hate to go back to the last ball game but you’re right, we definitely emphasized it and we need to play clean football to have a chance to win this game on Sunday. This is a high-powered offense. They’ve got a good defense with some good players so we can’t put them on short fields. We’ve got to protect the football and then we have to take it away, vice versa. We’ll emphasize it in practice. We’ll work on it and then we have to go out and get it accomplished.
Q: Do you sense this team needs to be rallied emotionally right now?
A: I get the sense they know what’s at stake at this point. I don’t think there is any rallying that needs to be done when you’re playing a divisional rival. We talked about that this morning. Those guys understand the implications of what has to get done. At this level, if you can’t get excited about this opportunity, whew, you’re in the wrong business. This is one, I asked them this exact question, ‘Do I have to give a motivational speech to get us ready to play this game?’ And I asked them to give me some feedback and, to a man, no. We’ll be ready to play. It’s a matter of are we good enough to get it done on the road? I just don’t sense that they’ll be lackadaisical about their approach this week.
Q: It feels like the atmosphere is that the season is almost over when you guys are 6-5. I didn’t know if that had been the feeling with the team?
A: I know exactly what you mean, and that was one of the reasons I took the approach I did in our meeting today. This game that we’re playing this week, it puts us really up two games on Green Bay if we come off that field like we should, with a win, and you just can’t lose sight of the big picture and you’re right, the people around you can sometimes drain the energy and make you feel like things are worse than they are. We have a lot of young guys on our team who have never been in this environment, don’t really understand the NFL and how it works. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t go down until the last weekend of the season. We just have to keep playing and not lose sight of one game at a time and no game is bigger than this game.
Q: Does the rivalry still matter or is it more about the task at hand?
A: I think it matters. I definitely try to make it a point to our team. I want it to matter to our team. When you have so many new guys on your team like we do, and when you have so many young players, they don’t know the implications of the rivalry. They don’t know the passion that our fans have for getting the win against Green Bay. I wanted our players to understand that, I wanted them also to understand where we are in the standings and the importance of the game to that point of view. But also, the border rivalry. I think that’s important that they understand the history of this rivalry.
Q: Are you still being really cautious on how much Percy Harvin is doing?
A: We’re still being cautious in how much we’re giving him. We’ll learn more today because we’re going to try to increase it a little bit and see how he does.
Q: Will you do that in team settings?
A: We’re going to let him go through our individual drills and see where we are at that point. See how he does running routes and some things, get a gauge.
Q: Do the guys know the history of Lambeau?
A: Some guys will. Some you have to educate, we have guys from all over the country, different situations. Some guys, no, some guys wouldn’t.
Q: What do you think about the schedule and how it’s laid out for you with all the division games late in the season?
A: As it turns out for us, it’s a good set up. We really, if we go out there and do what we think we’re capable of doing, it really works out perfectly for us. All the games that we need to win are in front of us. We need to do it one game at a time. We need to get this Green Bay win. It’s important for us and it’s no different for them. They need it as much as we do. I like the way it stacks up, I really do.
Q: Have defenses approached you differently without Percy Harvin?
A: Obviously. Percy, for coordinators, he can be a nightmare. Yes, they do approach us differently. You don’t have to double our slot receiver like you do when he’s out there. You don’t approach our kickoff return team the same way you would if he’s out there. It definitely makes a difference.
Q: Is Jared Allen losing a step?
A: I don’t think he’s lost anything. I think people are still trying to do the same things. They respect his game, we still get the chips, we still get the tight ends over there, trying to block him with the tackles. I don’t think it’ll be any different this weekend, although this is a team who will spread you out at times. When they do, like most teams, it’s going to be quick rhythm passes. He’s still a very good player, he still impacts all the games. Although he may not have the sack numbers, you can feel his impact in the way people approach us in the passing game. Perfect example this last week, that team had been a drop back team, all of the sudden it’s a lot of underneath routes. A lot of that has to do with Jared Allen.
Q: How long does it take to get a loss out of your system and are you angry with them when they don’t perform to your expectations?
A: Well, in our League, you better get it out of your system in a hurry. It doesn’t do you any good to linger with the past. You have to get ready for the next ball game. We always talk about the 24-hour rule. At the end of 24 hours, we have to move on, we have to get ready for the next opponent. That’s the NFL, I talked to them about that today. We can’t dwell on the past. We have to focus on the Green Bay Packers. That is what’s most important. If we can get that done, we’ll go out and play well. Our focus has to be on Green Bay.
Q: Do you sense any frustration on Jared’s part that he isn’t getting as many sacks?
A: Jared’s a competitor. He wants to get sacks. He knows the impact they have for our team and what it does to opposing teams. He’s no different than any other competitor. He wants to help our football team win and sometimes sacks help that to happen. It is frustrating, but at the same time, he knows where we are as a team and whatever it takes to help us to win, that’s what he wants to do. As I mentioned, he still impacts the game even though he doesn’t have the sack numbers.
Q: How are the veterans holding up physically as we go into week 12, 13, 14..?
A: It seems like they’re doing pretty good. We try to do what we can to help them in practice. Antoine [Winfield] is pretty healthy, so is Kevin [Williams] and Jared [Allen] and some of our other veteran guys. We try to manage their reps in practice to make sure they’re ready to go on Sundays.
Q: Does Antoine Winfield missing so much of last season help contribute to how well he’s played this season?
A: I don’t know, maybe. We really, really would have liked to have him last year. I’m just happy he’s healthy at this point of the season, that’s a big deal for us. He’s playing extremely well.
Q: Being 35 and playing that position isn’t an easy thing to do.
A: Not at all. There aren’t many 35-year-old corners playing at his level. It’s very good for our team, it’s amazing to see what he’s done. He’s been so productive throughout the season and he stayed healthy, which over the last two to three years hasn’t always been the case so it’s good to see.
Q: What’s Kevin William’s level of play?
A: Usually, Kevin really beings to kick it into overdrive this time of year. He’s done a lot of good things for us this season. He’s still a guy that’s productive but it’ll be great to see him kick it into overdrive as we head into this home stretch. In the past, that’s been the case. At the end of November and December, he’s really raised his level of play so we’re looking forward to watching him perform on Sunday.
Q: What does he give you in the locker room?
A: Kevin is a relatively quiet guy. He’s a tremendous player as we know. When Kevin speaks, he’s one of those guys, everybody listens because he’s not a mouthy guy. He’s not always shooting off about this or that but when he does have an opinion, it makes sense. Guys respect him because of that. He’s a great player that picks his points when he wants to share his thoughts. He’s been a tremendous leader for us, a great player for a long time and just glad that he’s on our team for a lot of reasons. He’s tremendous in the locker room, at practice, there’s not a lot of great players with his demeanor. He’s terrific.
Q: Did it surprise you the way the Giants handled the Packers?
A: Well in our League, it’s such a League now of a parity. Any given Sunday, how do you predict sometimes what’s going to happen from week to week the way things are set up. New York Giants, they’re a good football team. They won the Super Bowl a year ago, playing at home, they did a great job.
Q: What’s your level of disappointment with Jordan Todman?
A: We liked Jordan. We would have liked for things to work out here but we have a couple of good backs and he saw that as well. He and I talked and it’s not like we’re going to sit down number 28 or 32, so he did what’s best for him. Wish him nothing but the best. He’s a good player.
Q: Have you made any decisions to stick with Jamarca Sanford and rotate Mistral Raymond in?
A: I don’t think we’ll do anything different this week. We’ll rotate them once again and we’ll take a look at it the following week but for this week we’ll probably keep it the same.
Q: Have you sat down with Jerome Simpson and talked to him because his frustration is pretty obvious at this point?
A: We talked a little bit, just encouraged him. We have to move on. We know he’s more than capable of making plays for us and we need him to do that this week. We don’t need anybody sulking or looking back or being down. We need everybody energized and ready to have their best game of the season.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2012
Vikings Quarterback Christian Ponder
It’s a great week to be at work. We’re excited. It’s a big rivalry game and we know what this means to the state of Minnesota, what it means to this organization and what’s at stake for this season right now. We’re excited. We’re 6-5 right now and sitting in a great position. We’re going into one of the biggest games of the year and we’re ready. We’re ready to work on a lot of things during this week. You can ask anyone in the locker room, I think they’re excited for this week and they’re prepared and they’re focused this week to get better at what we need to get better at and get things going.
Q: Is this one of the harder weeks to prepare for?
A: No, I don’t think so. Obviously it’s against one of the better opponents we’re going to play all year, but it’s our rival. I think everyone is excited and I think it’s a lot easier to focus this week than it has been any other week. We know how good of an opponent it is and what this game means.
Q: In a game like the Chicago game when you have turnovers and dropped passes, is focus a legitimate issue?
A: I don’t know. Obviously, when you try to pinpoint those mistakes, I guess you can always pinpoint them as focus and the lack thereof and that needs to change going into this game.
Q: How much more of an emphasis can you put on turnovers this week?
A: Obviously, it’s very important every game, especially when you’re on the road. You never want to give the home team that much momentum and we kept doing that last week and, obvisouly, we have to keep the ball in our hands and convert on third downs and keep our defense off the field so they’re not on the field the whole time. We kept going three-and-out and that puts your defense in a tough spot. Obviously, we want to limit those turnovers and that’s one of the highest correlations, when you turn the ball over, to losing games.
Q: What kind of a difference will it make to have both Kyle Rudolph and Percy Harvin healthy for this game?
A: It would be vastly important that they get back. Obviously, they’re a huge part of this offense. Kyle, obviously, we know him and the things that he can do in the red zone and all over the field, and Percy, we know how big of a part of this offense he is and it’s important for both of those guys to get back. We’ll be excited. We’re hoping that Percy will be back this week. Obviously, we missed him the past few weeks and hopefully he’ll be out there and practicing this week and be ready for the game.
Q: How deflating is it as an offense when you’re dealing with dropped passes like you were on Saturday?
A: It’s not deflating. Obviously, we want to make the plays that we’re supposed to make on the field, but we have full confidence in what we are doing and I have full confidence in those guys. We’re going to be fine. It was nothing to do with ability. It’s just certain things that we have to work on and get better at. We’ll be fine. Watching that that film against Chicago, obviously they’re a great team, but a lot of those mistakes come down to what we’re doing and they’re all fixable.
Q: When you look back at the third-and-two, fourth-and-two sequence, is there anywhere else you could have gone with ball or did they have the perfect defense called?
A: On the third-and-two I could have probably thrown the ball to, I think, Devin [Aromashodu], who was open on that play. I could have gotten the ball to him. On the fourth-and-two, I don’t know if anyone was really open on that one, but especially on the fourth-and-two, I have to be smart and I have to put the ball in play and let someone make a play and not throw it out of bounds.
Q: What statistics are most important to you?
A: Number one is turnovers. Obviously, those impact the game the most. Other than that, the thing we talked about early on in the year was efficiency on first down and that’s something that I’ve kind of swayed away from and something that I need to improve. But, other than that, that’s what a quarterback needs to do is efficiently spread the ball around and not turn the ball over.
Q: How do you counteract teams getting ahead early?
A: Well one thing we always talk about is starting fast. We’ve seen what happens when we don’t start fast and we do play from behind. We need to start fast, especially on the road. It’s vastly important that we don’t let them start off with the momentum in the game. We need to go out from the first drive and string a drive together and put points on the board.
Q: Is there any difference you can see the past couple of weeks in the way defenses have attacked you guys without Percy Harvin there?
A: Not really. Obviously, when we had Percy on the field they were doing some doubling and putting extra coverage on him, but when he wasn’t there they weren’t doing that. Schematically, they weren’t really playing us different.
Q: When you got on the bus, was there ever a moment where you were wondering where Adrian Peterson was?
A: No. There was no concern. Adrian is going to be there all the time. It’s not an issue.
Q: What happened on the first play of the game?
A: We had a couple crossing routes and Adrian out in the flat. Pressure got to us and obviously wasn’t able to get the ball out, but that’s something where we can’t take a negative play on first down and I have to do a better job of just getting rid of the ball. A play of zero is better than a loss of six, seven, whatever it was. We were hoping for man coverage and we didn’t get it. We got zone coverage and unfortunately we weren’t able to get the ball out.
Q: That was similar to the first play against Detroit wasn’t it?
A: It was a little bit. It was a different route, but we spread them out, obviously went to five-wide and empty backfield and tried to get the ball out of our hands.
Q: For the most part you’ve been able to respond after losses fairly well, what has led you to be able to do that?
A: I think it’s just the senior leadership on this team and creating an atmosphere every week that keeps the guys focused and keep that sense of urgency up that we are in this race and if we do lose two games in a row, that’s taking yourself out of it. Obviously, we want to stay in this race and hopefully when it comes to the end of December that we’re going to keep playing into January.
Q: You guys didn’t need any motivational speeches this week?
A: No, we didn’t. I think everyone knows what this game means and it’s a rivalry game. These are the ones that you live for. These are the ones that when you’re playing in pee wee, you dream about, playing in the NFL against your rival. Vikings, Green Bay that’s a huge game and obviously what’s at stake makes it even bigger. At that same time, we aren’t going to put extra pressure on ourselves. I think everyone’s motivated to come in, work hard and get better from last week.
Q: What are your expectations for Jarius Wright once Percy Harvin is back?
A: I don’t know. Obviously, we want him on the field. He’s a very versatile player. Coach Musgrave will figure out a way to have them both on the field and get them both the ball in their hands. It’s awesome to think about having those two guys on the field at the same time. We’ll see what happens.
Q: With all the injuries Green Bay has had, have you seen them do anything schematically different than last year?
A: Watching them on film, they are doing a lot of different things to different teams. It’s hard to tell what exactly they’re doing. I think they do a great job of game planning. They played a lot of zone coverage against Detroit and obviously when they’re throwing the ball all around the place and same with the Giants. They played more man coverage against us before, they brought a lot of pressure. This year they brought a lot of pressure against San Francisco and St. Louis and they didn’t bring pressure against Detroit. You can tell they’re game planning and different things, so it’s hard to tell schematically if they’re doing things for personnel or more for who they’re playing.
Q: They threw a ton of blitzes at you the first game last year didn’t they?
A: No, it was more the second time they brought more pressure. I think we threw the ball around pretty well the first game and I think they tried to stop that in the second game.