Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good afternoon guys. We wanted to be able to get outside today but the weather didn’t cooperate. But we were able to get some good work inside. It was fun to be around our guys and just see them move around. Our draft choices, some of the free agents that we signed, and even some of the guys that are here on a tryout basis; I thought they really handled themselves well. They got in last night, we had a chance to meet with them, took them through how we wanted to practice, how we wanted to get certain things done. To see them move around the way they did today, it was good. There are a lot of guys here that will be able to help our football team based on what we saw in that first practice. We’ll get them again this afternoon and twice tomorrow then come back and finish on Sunday, but so far from what I’ve seen, there are no throw-aways in this group. It’s a good group all the way around.
Q: What do you look for from the guys that are free agents?
A: We talked to them about that last night. For some of those guys you’re right, it’s just a small window, they have to jump out early and fast. Probably the way they handle themselves in the meetings, that makes a difference. Then if they can carry some of the things they grasp from the meetings to the field, and they need to make plays. They need to do something that the coaches will look at and go, ‘Wow, that guy, he caught my eye.’ You have to find a way to make a play. Whether you’re on offense, defense, whether you’re doing something on special teams as well. It’s a tall task but it happens. Marcus Sherels is a great example of it a few years ago. It can happen.
Q: As you were zeroing in on Cordarrelle Patterson in the draft process, what types of things did you want to see and go a little deeper on as you were evaluating him?
A: Well you always want to know how important football is to a guy when you’re thinking about taking him early in the draft like we were with CP. Once you find out that he loves the game and has a passion for it, then you want to find out how much his capacity for learning is. That’s going to be a big part of a receiver’s transition to the NFL. The talent was obvious on tape and then you know of course that he has to be the right character guy as well. Combine the talent, having the character, the passion for the game and then learning; it was obvious for us if we had a chance to get him he’d fit in to what we’re trying to get done.
Q: Was there a conversation that sold you on his passion for the game and his capacity for learning?
A: Just when I heard his story when we were at the Combine the first time I met him. I listened to him talk about his relationship with his mom and what it was like growing up and hearing his transition from high school to some other school that really turned out not the ideal school, then going on to the junior college. Hearing him talk about some of the things he had gone through to get to where he is now, you get a feel that this guys has a purpose, he understands what’s important. Just hearing the story kind of convinced me he would be a good fit for us.
Q: Was it hard to do research on him since he was bouncing around from team to team?
A: Between Rick [Spielman] and our scouts and what our coaches did in the offseason when we began to learn more about him, felt like we really read him well. We had a good understanding of who he was, understood his background, how he had gotten to Tennessee. We didn’t feel like we left any stones unturned. We went all the way back to high school and talked to a lot of different people. We felt pretty good about making the choice.
Q: Do you think he will benefit from having that stability of staying with a team for a while?
A: No question. We took that into some of the evaluation as well. The fact that he had been to a number of different places in a short period of time, that once we got him into our building and really began to lay a foundation with him, that would benefit him versus all the moving around he’s done over the last few years. That was definitely part of the evaluation.
Q: Do you have a specific plan for developing him?
A: It’s similar to what we have to do with all young receivers and what most teams have to do with young receivers in our League. There are just so few of those guys that come in and make an impact early on at the wide receiver position. We’ll have to make sure he gets indoctrinated early, just like we’re doing now, into our offense and just finding out what’s the best way that he learns and what do we have to do to make sure he has a chance to make a contribution in this first year. The obvious for him is the fact that he’s a good returner, but he’s a tremendous player with the ball in his hands so we have to figure out ways to get the ball in his hands and also do what we have to do offensively to include him in what we’re doing. We think we have a pretty good plan to get that done.
Q: Is there much more you have to teach on the return side or is a lot of it skill that comes naturally?
A: Some of it is skill, but also there are some things that can be taught. We saw some things to do, even in catching punts that we know we can help him with when it comes to judging the ball, getting under the ball, protecting the ball. He’s done so much off of natural ability. There are definitely some things that we can help him improve on as a receiver obviously and even as a returner.
Q: Will Patterson move around at all or will he zero in on a split end position?
A: I think early on the mind set is put him in one spot, let him learn that spot and then eventually grow it a little bit. But just get him settled to begin with.
Q: Because he is so dangerous with the ball in his hands were you able to devise some easy ways to do that?
A: Yeah, you know we talked about some things prior to the draft, some ways that we could get him the football early on. We do have some ideas and some ways we want to use him early.
Q: With the punter you took in round five, what do you look for this weekend specifically as you’re just trying to get comfortable with the guy?
A: You just want to make sure that he handles some of the situations we’re going to put him in. Mike Priefer and some of our other people took him down to the Dome today to kick. Just want to put him in different situations and see how he responds.
Q: Is it similar to what you looked at with Blair Walsh a year ago where you got a feel for how he handles the moment?
A: Very similar. Similar process, although a different position but yeah, try to test him a little bit and see how he handles certain things.
Q: What are some of the hallmarks in Sharrif Floyd’s game that he can lean on to make an immediate impact?
A: Probably starting off, his effort should always be there and I think it will be. He’s one of those guys who plays with a high motor at all times and that’s going to give him an advantage as he learns the game and begins to understand blocking schemes. The fact that he just goes 100 miles per hour, with his quickness, his athleticism, his power; as long as he’s doing that other things will come. He’ll be able to react to certain blocks, understand blocking schemes. His tempo should help him early on.
Q: The fact that he has moved around so much, has that stunted his growth in the pass rushing game?
A: Yes and no. We see it as a positive because we do some things in 3rd downs where we move some guys around a little bit. We liked his versatility and the fact that he’s played multiple positions on the defensive line. We see it as a plus. On the other side of that, maybe the fact that he didn’t just root at one position it could have slowed him a little bit but not so much for us. We liked the fact that he’s played multiple positions.
Q: Would there be any scenario in which you’d use him at end? Could he play end in your scheme?
A: I wouldn’t say no, but that’s not why we drafted him. The fact that he’s done it and had some success, it’s always a possibility.
Q: As these guys head back to finish up school, what do you tell them about what they can do to get better in between?
A: We had our strength coach talk to them last night about the transition from this weekend, to going back home, then having to come back, I think they’ll be back on May 13th. What they need to do from a conditioning stand point, I think a lot of the guys that we drafted, they’ve been on the circuit, going out, visiting teams, eating the dinners and not so much from a conditioning stand point. They need to get back into football shape. When they were training, they were training for the combine, to be able to run these 40’s, do these vertical jumps. Well now all that’s behind them. So we wanted to kind of bring them back to the football training aspect and that’s what we talked to them about last night. We’re introducing them to that this weekend, then they need to continue it because when they come back, that’s exactly how we’re going to approach it.
Q: What do you see in Duron Carter?
A: Well, he has great size that sticks out. He has good hands and he moves well so we’ll see how he does throughout this weekend. He had a good first practice so we’ll see what he does the rest of the weekend.
Q: Is Xavier Rhodes ready-made for the NFL based on his skill set and his position?
A: I think so. When you look at the way teams are drafting receivers, trying to get these big receivers across the League and particularly in our division, with his skill set, you would think it would be a good match. He did some things today in this first practice that really opened your eyes. I think he has the game that fits what the League is becoming. Now it’s a matter of how fast does he mature and how confident can he be when he lines up in that first ball game.
Q: Is cornerback not as much of an adjustment in the NFL than receiver?
A: Well there’s an adjustment because you face great receivers every weekend.
Q: Will Xavier have an adjustment schematically?
A: Schematically, there won’t be a big adjustment for him. They played similar defenses to what we do here. That part won’t be much of an adjustment and it is usually isn’t. It usually more the personnel adjustment and handling some of the different game plans you’re going to see week-to-week. We don’t play the same defense 16 weeks in a row. It’s a little bit different than what you see sometimes in college.
Q: Is Erin Henderson playing at the Mike linebacker position now?
A: We’ve been talking about it. We want to take a look at some things in this mini-camp and we’ll probably make a decision here after we get done and just talk about some things, but he’s definitely in the conversation.
Q: Who else is in the conversation at Mike?
A: Audie Cole is a part of that as well. Tyrone McKenzie is one of the guys we’ll take a look at and Michael Mauti, the guy that we drafted, as well. We have some options, but Erin is definitely one of those guys we’re talking about.
Q: How much does it put Michael Mauti behind that best case scenario he’s back for training camp?
A: There’s no question he’s behind as a rookie to miss all the reps he’s going to miss between now and training camp. It makes it tough, but he’s capable of catching up. He’ll have to. He’s definitely going to be behind when we make it to training camp.
Q: Who would be your top options at the weak side position if you end up moving Erin?
A: Well we still have Marvin Mitchell, who’s coming back, we drafted Gerald [Hodges], he’s a candidate as well. We have a couple of guys there who could possibly do it. McKenzie could do it if it doesn’t work out for him at Mike. We have some options if we have to go in that direction.
Q: What more do you want from the punter position than what you have already?
A: There are some things we want to take a look at with Jeff [Locke] and just see certain things we want to get accomplished. I don’t want to be too specific, but there are some things we want to be able to look at and just see if he can get them done.