Finally we got some great weather here so that we could get outside. Our guys are working hard. We’ve gotten off to a great start with phase one of the offseason program, with phase two, the thing that has been most impressive in looking at our football team and what has happened so far is the participation by our players. It’s been outstanding. To come to phase three and have 99 percent of your players here, there’s a lot to be said for that. Myself and my coaching staff, we’re so appreciative of our players, because this is voluntary, and to have this type of participation. I explained this to our team yesterday that it’s so hard in today’s NFL to really plan on having a good season if you don’t get this type of participation in the offseason program. We’re very fortunate and I think this gives us a very good chance of not only being a playoff team next season, but being a team that can have a chance to go even further in the playoffs. This gives you a chance, when you have this kind of participation and guys understanding the importance of the work that’s necessary that you have to put in to have a good football team. I’m really encouraged by the participation and the way guys are practicing.
Q: Is Greg Jennings working through an injury?
A: Yeah, his ankle is a little bit sore, but he’ll be fine. It’s nothing serious. He’s on the side working with Eric Sugarman, he’ll be fine.
Q: Is that injury something that happened here?
A: Yeah, yesterday.
Q: How much does it mean to have Adrian Peterson, the MVP, here working?
A: I’m glad to hear you say MVP. That’s how you need to speak of him. Most Valuable Player in our league a season ago and the fact that he’s here really helps the rest of our players understand the importance of this portion of the offseason. We’re very grateful that he’s here, but everyone knows what he means to our team, what he means to our organization and his attitude and the way that he’s approaching things is what you want to see if you’re a young player coming in and trying to figure out this league. To be around Adrian is good for our team and good for everybody involved.
Q: Adrian was doing team drills so he must be OK physically?
A: Yeah, he has no problems. He feels like he’s 100 percent so that’s good for us.
Q: How important is it to have continuity with your coaching staff, especially your coordinators?
A: I think it means a lot. When you are trying to have a consistently good football team, it helps the players to be able to know what the system is, the guys that are returning, year-in and year-out. The fact that we were able to retain our coaches and bring back our coaching staff intact for the most part, and especially the coordinators, as a player you just have a certain amount of confidence when you come back. If you’re Chad Greenway, if you’re Adrian, if you’re our special teams players, you come back and you know the system, you know what’s expected and it’s just good for everybody involved
Q: What is your most hopeful vision for Joe Webb making the transition to wide receiver?
A: I was talking to him today about one of the toughest parts of the transition is just the route running part. He has very good hands, he knows the offense very well. He’s actually helping some of the young guys in where to line up at. Just that he’ll be able to grasp the route running part of it fast enough to give himself the best chance to go out and really have a chance to make the transition smoothly when we get to training camp. Knowing how hard he works and knowing how much he wants to succeed as a receiver, he’ll have a very good chance of getting that done.
Q: What all went into the decision to move Webb to receiver?
A: Looking at our current quarterback situation and the type of offense that we run. There are some things that Joe does very well, we’ve seen him put on a highlight show in some ball games when he’s gotten in games. One of his strengths is the ball being in his hand and carrying the football and the way our offense is constructed it doesn’t lend itself to being that type of player only, so we wanted to get him on the field rather than on Sundays having him stand on the sideline with me as a third quarterback or not dressed with the addition of Matt [Cassell] and Christian [Ponder] being our starter and this is a way to utilize his gifts so we wanted to take a look at it. To his credit, his attitude was great when I approached the subject with him. He handled it well.
Q: Is Joe playing just one position or are you putting him in different spots?
A: Right now we have him in one spot but we do have ideas about some things we want to do with him beyond just lining him up at the X or the Z position.
Q: Do you see many athletes with his skill level having that good of an attitude very often?
A: It’s rare and I told him that too. He’s a talented individual and there are guys with lesser talent that would be stomping their feet and complaining, but Joe is all about the team and that’s one of the reasons the players have always rallied around him. I can even remember as a rookie, and I used to see the guys gravitate to Joe and I couldn’t understand it, and as time went on I realized he’s just one of those guys you pull for. Sitting in my office a few days ago it came to be as well, this guy is one of those guys you want to see succeed because of his attitude and how humble he is in his approach to the game. He’s a great athlete but a tremendous person as well.
Q: What are the challenges Josh Robinson faces playing that nickel?
A: Well, in the slot you don’t have the sideline as a defensive back to help you when you’re playing corner. Sometimes just playing corner there are certain things by guys’ alignment that can tell you what’s going to happen because he doesn’t have as much grass based on his split. At the corner position you can look at him and say, ‘Based on his split, he has to run this type of route. If he’s a little bit tighter he’s going to run this, if he’s a little bit wider he’s going to run this.’ Well in the slot, they have a lot of field. It requires a different mindset and you’re actually asked to do a little bit more from mental standpoint as well. Responsibility changes versus when we say we want you to play press coverage at corner, now when you play the slot position, we might have you involved in our run defense as well as pass defense as a opposed to corner where a lot of times you’re just covering. The responsibility changes, requires a little bit more awareness, you have to be a little bit better tackler and you have to have the cover skills to be able to line up against a guy that sometimes is a lot smaller.
Q: How much of an emphasis has that been for Josh this offseason?
A: A major emphasis because as you mentioned, he didn’t have to do it a season ago. We primarily played him outside. We’ll start integrating him into that position now just to find out if he can do it. We think he can, but we have to get some practices under his belt and get some preseason games as well. If he can do it, it will help our secondary tremendously. We’re all hoping he’ll get it done.
Q: What will Erin Henderson have to do now that he didn’t do before with the position change?
A: In our base defense it is a little bit different than when he played the nickel position. There are some things in the run game that will require more of him than in nickel situations. There’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve there going from outside to inside and the other aspect is what we ask of a middle linebacker from a leadership standpoint and that can’t be underestimated. You’re the guy who everybody kind of looks to as the quarterback of the defense and when you’re doing that every down, it’s a little bit different than doing it in third-down situations or certain second-and-long situations. That part of it means as much as what you do functionally, what kind of leader you are.
Q: How much does it help to have one guy call the defense?
A: I think it helps. Other guys gain a little bit of confidence knowing that that’s the guy and when he talks everybody listens. There’s going to be a little bit on Erin’s shoulders to get that done but we have some other guys who are competing as well. Audie Cole is going to be one of those guys, Michael Mauti when we get to training camp will be in the mix and be competing as well. We’ll see how it unfolds.
Q: Do you anticipate those other guys receiving first team reps?
A: Only if they do enough to show that they’re worthy of that. Erin will be the starter and they will have to show that they’ve done something to pique our interested to see how they’ll handle a starting role.
Q: Has that happened yet?
A: No, not to this point. This is only our second practice so we have a long way to go.
Q: What’s your impression of Cordarrelle Patterson?
A: I like him a lot. His length, his catching ability and he has a better knowledge of the passing game than we expected. We feel like we can do a lot with him. We’re impressed, very impressed.
Q: Is the plan to limit him early given that you have Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson?
A: That is the plan. We don’t want give him too much early. We want to make sure we do enough to get him on the field and really go to his strengths. There are some things that we have in mind, but everything that I’ve seen, we’ll be able to utilize his talents. He’s a gifted young man.
Q: How is he as a returner?
A: We’re going to look at him primarily as a kick returner. He’s done some punt return but that’s not where we’re going to be looking at him primarily. Primarily he’s going to be a kickoff returner.
Q: What have you seen from Kevin Williams early in the offseason program?
A: His attitude is great. Kevin is a pro’s pro. He’s one of those guys I lean on when we’re trying to get things done here and just very, very grateful he’s come back and wants to be a part of what we’re trying to get done. We lean on Kevin a lot. Not just what he does on the football field, but what he does in the locker room, in this building. He’s a great guy to have on this team and we expect him to raise his level and play well this season.
Q: Because he’s so good in the locker room, how hard does that make the business decisions?
A: They’re hard. He’s a veteran guy who has a lot of pride and has had a lot of success in our league and to his credit he realized where things are and he made the decision to remain a Viking and we’re all happy for that because it makes us a better football team.
Q: If everything goes to plan, what do you get from John Carlson this season?
A: The obvious is a few more catches. Get him a little bit more involved in our offense and become a downfield threat for us, but if he can shoulder some of the load when it comes to catching the ball and continue to improve as a blocker, it’s going to make our offense that much better.
Q: How does he seem in terms of his mindset?
A: I know when we sat down and talked one of his goals, and it’s the same goal we all have for him, was to stay healthy. He’s a very talented guy, but he’s had trouble staying on the field so if we can get him through these OTA’s, get him through training camp and get to the regular season his numbers will be a lot better. We’re all hoping he can stay healthy.
Q: When was he finally 100 percent?
A: Maybe, from my standpoint and he may say different, week four or five. We could start seeing him get to where we’d thought he’d be, but it took awhile. When you miss a majority of training camp it’s tough in today’s NFL with how limited you are in training camp today. You’re already reduced in what you can do so if you miss that part of preparation you’re really setback.