Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
It was a good day for us. The participation, the fact that the guys are flying around and really competing is exactly what you want. The weather cooperated – no rain – so it’s a good start all the way around. I really like the attitude of our team and the approach that they’ve taken. They have tremendous focus and that’s what you need to have this time of year as you are working on the fundamentals and the techniques of what you do and hoping to carry some of that over to training camp. But I like our attitude. I like the approach that our football team has right now and we’re looking forward to finishing up over the next couple of days. The way they practiced during OTAs really has myself and the rest of the coaches encouraged as we go through this mini camp. So we have a lot of work to get done but we are really on pace, I think, to have a really good mini camp.
Q: What have you seen in these four weeks from in Erin Henderson at MLB?
A: I think he’s shown more command of the defensive huddle than we expected early on. You can see that he has a lot of control and the guys really respect everything he’s trying to get done. I like his movement. I like the way he’s moving around and getting in the spots in zone coverages. It’s a little tougher from a run standpoint because we don’t have pads on so you can’t be as physical, but I like some of the things he’s doing in pass coverage as well.
Q: Is the toughest part of the move for him the mental aspect or the physical adjustment?
A: I think it’s going to be a combination. Just being able to handle the huddle, that’s going to be a big part of his job. You’d like to have a guy who can command the huddle and provide the leadership that you need at that position along with some of the things that are going to transpire once we put the pads on – being physical enough to handle some of the run situations we’ll put him in. It seems like watching him here in these OTAs some of the things we ask him to do – pass coverage as well – in this mini camp that he can handle those things. It seems that way. Now the next step is when we get to training camp to see if he can handle some of the run things that will be required of him.
Q: Is the reported visit of Desmond Bishop a reflection of what you guys think Erin has done?
A: I wouldn’t want to verify any reports. Rick and his staff do a great job of bringing guys throughout the year and it will be ongoing. We will be bringing guys in to work out all the time. At whatever position we bring guys in it’s usually not a reflection of that position. It’s just ongoing. We are always trying to have a database and try and do whatever we can to help our football team, so no reflection on our team. I wouldn’t read much into our roster when we work guys out because it’s something we are always doing.
Q: Would you have liked for Erin to have been able to hone in a position for his third straight year?
A: In our business you’ve always got to be ready to adjust. We are in a position where we needed to find someone to really fill an important role on our defense. We are fortunate that Erin has the flexibility to get that done. We want to utilize that flexibility and we have other guys that have similar traits. They are able to play more than one position. So in Erin’s case it’s a plus that he can do what we are asking him to do.
Q: What have you seen in the development in Harrison Smith in the last year?
A: Alan Williams and I were talking about his development and just listening to some of the comments from Harrison about that rookie year and what it was like for him. He said there were so many days that he just did not know what was going on around him and you could not tell by his performance. He seemed to be so even keeled and handled things really well. For a lot of rookies there is a big jump from your first year to your second. We are expecting that from Harrison as well. We expect him to be even better than he was a season ago and you are kind of seeing that in these OTAs and now in the mini camp. The confidence that he’s playing with, how quickly he’s getting to where he has to be and just the way he’s calm and handling certain things in the meetings as well. You can see the growth so we expect that to show up in his performance as well.
Q: What can Jerome Felton improve on from last year?
A: I think one of the things you like to see happen is that he’ll grow even more in the offense as far as his knowledge and understanding of what we are asking him to do as we install a few wrinkles here and there. He’ll have a better understanding, a better foundation because of what he did a year ago. We still want him to continue to get better on his blocking because we never want to get status quo in that area. We want him to get better as a blocker. He was a Pro Bowl player for us a year ago, but we think he can get better. We want to also make sure he’s always assignment sound. We want to find ways to maybe get the ball to him out of the backfield catching the football. We want him to work on some things even this offseason and not just be satisfied with the fact that he was a Pro Bowl player.
Q: How much does it help to mix in guys that might start out on the PUP list such as Michael Mauti and Greg Childs?
A: It helps a lot. I think it helps more for their confidence. Eric Sugarman and his medical staff do a great job off working with the guys off to the side, Tom Kanavy as well. But for that player to be integrated with his teammates, whether it be individual like what we did today with Greg Childs and being able to be a part of those group settings, it kind of helps their confidence to know where they are and how far they have to go to get to where they want to be eventually.
Q: What have been your thoughts of Mauti?
A: He seems to be a guy that is pretty driven. He has a good idea of what thinks he can accomplish and how he can get it done. A guy with a single focus, which is not a bad thing at the position we are asking him to play. A very focused guy, goal oriented and has strong beliefs in his abilities and those are good traits to have when you are a linebacker.
Q: Who practiced well today and what did you think went well?
A: I liked the way our players moved around. I liked the enthusiasm that they had, just the way they competed in our two-minute drill, our team situations. As a whole, I like the way they are competing and that’s what you have to be able to do in our league on every single snap and give great effort. We did that today and that’s a good sign for this time of the year.
Q: What are your thoughts on John Sullivan and when to mix him back in?
A: Well, based on everything I’ve been told, it’s not going to happen until we get to training camp. Hopefully there are no setbacks between now and then. Then when we get there we will plug him in right away. Unless they tell us there are some restrictions, we plan on plugging him in and going full speed ahead. From what I’ve been told there should not be any restrictions.
Q: Is Greg McCoy nicked up?
Yes he is. He has a hamstring, so we are holding him out for now.