Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
We’ve had a good fifth day of work at OTA’s and we capped it off today by having a chance to go spend some time with the kids from the Special Olympics and their athletes. For us to be able to go over as a team and encourage those kids, they received a lot of joy from it, but so do we as players and coaches to go over and sign some autographs, take some pictures. It encourages them in what they’re doing. It’s a special time for all of our players and everyone that was involved. Brad Madson, our community relations director, does a terrific job of reaching out to the community and today with the kids from the Special Olympics is a great example of his work being able to have the Minnesota Vikings give back to our community. It’s a fun time for our time. Practices are going well. Our players are working extremely hard. I do think we’re making improvement. We have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of work to be done, but that’s the good thing about his month of June and the fact that we’re in our OTA’s, you can work on a lot of things you want to get better at by the time that you get to training camp. It helps to have the type of attendance that we have. We have 100 percent attendance in our meetings, having guys here at practice working hard. It doesn’t guarantee you future success but it does give you a chance to have success. I firmly believe to have the participation that we have had from our players this offseason, from phase 1, to phase 2 and now phase 3, it gives you a chance to do what we talked about when we left after our playoff game against Green Bay which was work to improve our football team. Guys are working their tails off trying to improve and I don’t think you can do that if you are split as a team having only a few guys here on this day and a few on that day. To have this type of participation at a voluntary camp, really speaks well for our football team.
Q: Is Jared Allen in a situation where you’ll wait to training camp to get him involved?
A: We probably won’t see him until we get to training camp, but from everything that Eric Sugarman and our staff has told me medically, he is doing great. There won’t be any problem when we get to training camp and we’re looking forward to having him when the time comes. But the fact that he’s in town, he’s doing his rehab here, coming out to our practices, that’s a good thing. It’s good to have him in our meetings as well.
Q: Is it because of his shoulder more than the knee?
A: Yeah, more the shoulder. You really don’t want people pushing against him and also the knee a little bit as well, but more the shoulder.
Q: What all went into experimenting with splitting the team drills at the 50 and having two groups going at the same time?
A: I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and this two hour rule really kind of cramps your style a little bit when you’re talking about practice and what you’re trying to get accomplished. I’ve been thinking about it for a number of days and we went through our first three days last week and over the weekend I tossed and turned about how can I get more out of the guys we do have from an evaluation standpoint and I talked to a friend of mine on another staff about some of the things that they were doing. I talked to a couple of our guys that came from the collegiate level because these rules are really college rules so I asked a few guys on our staff that just came from college, Klint Kubiak and Jeff Howard, two guys we added this offseason to our staff, I said, ‘How did you guys practice under this two hour rule?’ I think they had like 20 hours per week where they can get work in. They explained what they did at Texas A&M and Jeff was at Texas Tech. I listened and I wanted to try it. We did it yesterday and our players liked it, our coaches really liked it. I think it’s something we’ll incorporate for the remaining OTA’s. We don’t do it the entire practice, but certain drills we’ll do it within. It has definitely helped us to be able to get a better evaluation of our players and get some reps done as well.
Q: Have you done any calculations in how much more you’re doing that way?
A: It’s a little more than 50 percent more so it’s well worth doing. I could see more and more teams going to something like this. It definitely has benefits.
Q: Looking big picture, if Adrian Peterson runs for 2,500 yards this upcoming season, can you still have a balanced offense?
A: If he rushed for 2,500 and we reach our goals of going to New York at the end of the year, we’d be very, very happy. It’s hard to predict whether or not if he rushed for 2,500 yards would that impede upon us being able to be successful as a team. He rushed for over 2,000 a year ago, we were a playoff team and the reason we didn’t go further in the playoffs was not because he was a 2,000-yard rusher, so if it helps us to win and reach our goals as a team, so be it. Adrian will be the first person to tell you, he’ll trade in a 2,500-yard rushing season for a Super Bowl ring. It’s not imperative that he rushed for 2,000 yards, or 2,500 yards for us to win. We want to be a balanced attack. Our offense is always going to run through Adrian but we want to be able to pass the ball better than we did a year ago.
Q: Is this about as healthy as you’ve seen Brian Robison in a while?
A: It really is. He’s moving around extremely well. I like his enthusiasm and the passion that he practices with, the same way he plays. To see him as healthy as he is without any hamstring injuries or a nagging shoulder, it’s good. We hope to maintain that right through training camp, but right now he’s doing well.
Q: When he’s fully healthy what are your expectations for him?
A: I think he’s one of those guys who can be a double-digit sack guy. He has that type of burst and athleticism. We’ve seen it on a number of occasions. We just want him to be consistently good throughout 16 games and he’s been able to do that in spurts. I know he’s gotten off to some great starts and he’s settled down a little bit and he’s picked it back up, but just being able to see him do it consistently through the four quarters of a season and continue to crescendo over the course of a year. That would be good for our football team.
Q: Is there anything you pitched Greg Jennings on what you saw in Christian and how he might be a good fit here?
A: Greg did a great job of doing his homework on our football team. He actually was telling me things in our first dinner meeting about our team and our quarterback that surprised me. It let me know that he had studied some tape, he had talked to some other people about our offense, studied a lot of tape on Christian and was able to take a look at our wide receivers and compare where we were at the time with what he would bring to the table. It wasn’t so much me convincing him, but just listening to him talk about us. I was so impressed with how much he knew about our situation. It was a matter of him being sold on some of the things he had heard what we’re doing here. He wanted to make sure it was authentic. People told him a lot of good things and once we sat down and talked he met some more people here in the building he realized the things that he had heard were true and he wanted to be a part of what we’re doing.
Q: What kind of things do you want to see from Robert Blanton this year?
A: With Robert he had limited exposure a year ago in the secondary. He did a great job on special teams. He really came on for us as the year came on. Now you would like to see him take another step after he’s had a chance to be in our system now for the second offseason in a row, stay healthy, he was banged up in training camp so he missed a lot of time a year ago. Being able to stay healthy would be a big plus for us because we think he has the athletic ability, we think he has the coverage skills to be a real good safety. We know he’ll tackle, but now can he stay healthy and consistently help our team. We’ll see once we get the pads on how much he’s improved.
Q: Is Joe Webb a possibility for you on punt returns?
A: Not thinking that way. We’re thinking more wide receiver, potentially kickoff return guy, but not so much punt return. We do have him fielding punts because it’s going to help him with catching the ball, but it’s we’re not looking at him as a punt returner.
Q: Mike Priefer was talking to him quite a bit.
A: Yeah, that’s his job. Coach him up and get him prepared. We’ll see. If he caught one in the preseason and went 60 yards, we may have to rethink it
Q: What are you guys getting from Jeff George at practice?
A: It’s great to have Jeff around. He’s a guest coach this week for us, just here to observe and try to take a look at coaching to see if that’s something he’s interested in doing. We told our players, just to be able to pick his brain, our quarterbacks, and talk with him about some of the things he saw as a young quarterback and what he saw as a veteran and just his maturation over the course of his career. He was a very good player for a long time. He was a high draft pick and I think he can really help some of our players with some of his background and his knowledge as well.
Q: Does he give you another set of eyes on these guys?
A: Yeah, and he and I have talked about what he’s seen from our guys and it’s been very favorable. He can always point out some things because of his experience. He worked for a number of coordinators during his playing career so I think having him around is a good thing.
Q: How difficult is it to gauge a player like Xavier Rhodes who’s so physical without pads on?
A: It’s a little bit harder in these OTA’s to gauge some of the defensive backs because of the style of play we want to play here. We want to be closer to the line of scrimmage and really get our hands on people. This part of the offseason program you’re limited in being able to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage but we see enough of the athletic ability and the size, the size definitely shows up, and the speed. You can see that and the change of direction that he has so we know with those long arms he’s going to be able to go out and do what he drafted him to do and that’s go out and play press coverage. We’ll learn more when he get into training camp and get pads on.
Q: Is he a guy that can come in and be a starter from day one?
A: Potentially, but we have some others guys that are going to be starting for that starting role as well. Josh Robinson, he’s not going to take a back seat to anyone and A.J. Jefferson is battling as well. Of course, Chris [Cook] is on the other side so we have some guys who are going to be battling for that number one spot.
Q: How do you look at the competition, if there is one, at the guard position?
A: We’ve tried to, throughout this offseason, talk about creating more competition at the guard spot. We think that will help our football team. We drafted Travis [Bond] and Jeff [Baca] to help us in that area but also to provide us with some depth as well. Hopefully between DeMarcus Love, Travis, Jeff and Seth [Olsen], who we signed as well, we’ll create some competition and really push the guys who are starters to improve and if for some reason they stumble, we have some other guys who can step up.
Q: Have you seen anything different from Kyle Rudolph?
A: I try not to get too far ahead of myself, but the Kyle Rudolph that I see now is so much more confident and more sure of himself than the Kyle I saw a year ago at this time. It’s like night and day to me, personally. I’m anxious to see how he does when we get to training camp from a blocking standpoint, but that Pro Bowl, it’s flipped the switch. He knows he has a chance to be a premier tight end in this league after what he did over there being MVP and it’s evident by the way he’s practicing, the way he runs his routes, the control he has in the meetings. I was teasing Jimmy Johnson I said, ‘Don’t forget you have the MVP of the Pro Bowl running routes for you.’ But it’s obvious he’s taken his game up to another notch but we’re still only in June so I have to temper my emotions a little bit. I’m excited about what I see.
Q: What’s the challenge with making sure it doesn’t become a numbers game and the guys stay within the concepts on the defensive line with a lot of guys contracts coming up after next season?
A: It’s going to be a challenge. I would think it’s something, from my standpoint, I would have to address with those guys and I have to address it with our team all the time. You have other guys at other positions who are in contract years and you have to be able to get them to focus on the team goals and to understand that if we succeed as a team, they’ll be the beneficiaries of it as well. That will be a part of the task that I’ll have, that Alan Williams our defensive coordinator will have and Brendan Daly and Diron Reynolds, with so many guys in the room who are in the final year of their contracts, not to just get stuck on, ‘I have to have this type of year to get paid.’ And lose sight of what we’re trying to do as a team. That will be a part of it. They’re playing for a reason, they want to get paid and there’s nothing wrong with that, but we want to make sure we’re focused on what will help our football team.
Q: Is Nathan Williams nicked up right now?
A: Yes, he has an ankle that’s bothering him a little bit so we held him out of some things.
Q: Was Jacob Lacey absent or injured?
A: He’s injured, so we’re holding him out as well.