Comments from Minnesota Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier:
Well a little inclement weather this morning so we decided to do our walk-through inside. Things should be cleared up this afternoon where we can go back outside and be able to get some quality work as we work towards our first preseason game of the season. I would like to begin our press conference by congratulating the most recent hall of famer as far as a Viking alumni, Cris Carter. A tremendous honor. I had a chance to speak with him on Sunday morning after the ceremony and he was thrilled as you can imagine. He was still riding on that cloud with all of the things that had happened on that Saturday. In our conversation, I just encouraged him and told him thank you on behalf of our football team for the way that he has represented our organization and for his continued support of what we are trying to get done here in Minnesota, so congratulations to Cris. Everybody is extremely excited for what has occurred in his career, in his life post football. Good things happened from that scrimmage on Saturday night. Had a chance to watch it on tape with our coaches and then taking our players through it this morning. A lot of positive things, there are definitely some things that we need to work on to achieve our goals, but I think we are heading in the right direction. There is a lot that we have to get cleaned up, we have a few guys that are banged up right now, but that attitude and the work ethic of our players really gets you encouraged. We have got to do some things better in order to win a game in the National Football League, but they are working the right way and hopefully we can have a good week of practice and keep improving so we will be able to identify the right 53 for our football team.
Q: Why didn’t Joe Berger practice?
A: Joe Berger has a personal matter that came up last night and he had to leave, not sure the date of his return, but I may be able to share more about that later on, but he had to leave for a personal matter.
Q: What have you seen from Everson Griffen so far this camp?
A: He did a great job for us, especially towards the end of the season a year ago, really came on strong, was very consistent and he has kind of picked up where he left off throughout this offseason and training camp as well. He’s been a bright spot, the way he has practiced, the attitude that he has had. Really looking forward to watching how he develops over the course of this year, but so far so good. He is off to a great start.
Q: Marcus Sherels has a lot of competition for the punt return spot, correct?
A: He does, Marcus has a lot of competition for that punt return spot, as well as the nickel cornerback position. But Marcus has shown that he is a very resilient guy. He seems to find a way. He’s battling like he always does every time we come to training camp, every session that he is a part of, every practice, he battles and he’s going to do the same thing this preseason. He is consistent and he is doing well, but we will see how things play out over the course of this preseason.
Q: Any idea of when you might get some of those injured guys back?
A: Not certain. I will probably know a little bit more today depending on whether they can go or not, maybe tomorrow I might have a better answer than today.
Q: With Everson getting more snaps last year, are you still looking for ways to get him snaps at the different positions along the defensive front?
A: The way he came along last season and the way he is practicing right now, you definitely want to have a plan similar to what we had a year ago, but you want to have a plan to get him more snaps. He’s showing that he is deserving of that. So as he continues to develop, we have got to make sure that we have a plan to get him on the field and give him an opportunity to make plays and that is a part of our conversation during this preseason but we will see if he can remain consistent. Right now he is off to a great start.
Q: Is that tough to do when you have two guys on the end in Jared Allen and Brian Robison who play as many snaps as they do?
A: Well, Jared and Brian they are very good players for us obviously, Jared being a Pro Bowler annually, but when a guy is performing at the level that Everson is performing you have to find ways to get him on the field to help your football team and we will see if he continues to do what he’s doing. He is doing a good job.
Q: With a game coming up and having a little bit of a shorter week coming up, how do you pivot into week two of camp?
A: For us, we’re really concentrating on our team and our roster. This preseason game is important for different reasons; the primary reason it’s important is it gives us a chance to evaluate guys in game situations, but from a win loss stand point, there’s not a lot of credence in it so we’re just doing the things that are necessary to evaluate our players. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to do less or more from the isolation stand point based on the fact that we have a game on Friday. So we’re just going according to our plan, what gives us the best chance to evaluate our guys and also puts us on track for our regular season. The Texans game is on our schedule, but it is not really on our radar other than the fact it is a preseason game and our players get a chance to get evaluated in front of some live action.
Q: At the punt returner competition, who other than Marcus Sherels are you going to look at?
A: Well, we have a few different guys. We want to take a look at Stephen Burton a little bit. We’re probably going to give Bobby Felder a chance. We’re debating about whether or not we want (Cordarrelle) Patterson to have a chance to do it as well, Jarius Wright may get an opportunity. So we have a few candidates to potentially take a look at and we’ll just see how it goes as the game unfolds.
Q: Are you prepared to hear as much lobbying from the defensive line about staying in the game?
A: Without question. That will not end. That will be ongoing and that’s a good thing. You want guys that want to be on the field, you don’t want them over there saying, “Okay, i’m fine, you go ahead this time.” We want guys to be competitive, that want to go ahead and make plays for us. So that’s a good problem to have, especially when you have guys as good as ours are. So it’s a good problem.
Q: For John Carlson to get hurt so early last year at training camp being a new guy, did it set him back?
A: When you’re a new guy and you come in and you get injured as you said, as early as he did and you’re trying to develop the timing in between the quarterback and also time to develop a rapport, your teammates, offensive coordinator, no question it set John back a year ago, but so far he hasn’t missed anything, he’s had good practices and we’ll get him now to hopefully get to the ball game on Friday night and get a chance to play with our starting unit some. It should be good for us, but if you’re a new guy coming in and miss a lot of time during training camp like he did, it’s going to set you back.
Q: Do you see John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph being a double threat this year?
A: John did a good job on Saturday night and we’re encouraged and we know he’s a good player, we know he’s capable of making plays and we just want to see him continue to progress. We’re going to try to give him as many opportunities as we can this preseason and try to get him involved. A lot of it will be based on what we get accomplished here at training camp and what we get accomplished during the preseason.
Q: Is H-Back an option for him?
A: Yes. There will be times when we’re going to want him in the back field some of what we do with Rhett Ellison as well so we’d like to get him involved in a number of different ways, that’s one of the options we’re taking a look at during the preseason.
Q: Where have you seen Jamarca Sanford come the furthest since he was put in the starting lineup?
A: I’ve seen his confidence has really grown. He’s gotten better at getting his hands on balls, but the confidence, that’s the one thing that is really evident to the coaching staff and his teammates as well. He is much more sure of himself, not over concerned about trying to impress this person but just concentrating on his job and playing with a lot of confidence, which is what we need from his position. We need confidence in guys and being really certain in what they do because other guys in the secondary, especially some of the young guys that they feed off of that from our veteran guys like Jamarca has become for our team.
Q: Will there be some starters that will rest in Fridays preseason game?
A: Kind of typical. Maybe a little sooner than I wanted to talk about it, but yes that will be the case. There will be some guys that won’t necessarily participate.
Q: Are you going to lighten up on the pads leading up until Fridays game?
A: No, we’re going to wear pads each day, other than Thursday, the day before the game but we’re going to continue to have padded practice. As I mentioned, we’re working towards the regular season and so I think those padded practice are necessary this time of year, so we’ll continue in padded practices.
Q: Is tackle also a position Sharrif Floyd could compete and has the skills for?
A: Yes, we’re hoping so. We think he has the ability to be an inside pass rusher for us, but Everson will definitely be in there but there may be times when they’ll be simultaneous and may be in at the same time. We’ll see how Sharrif does here in the preseason and even in our practices and determine if he deserves some snaps in third down situations and giving him a chance to rush the pass. We think he’s capable of doing it but we’ll see.
Q: Would you do something similar like the New York Giants with four pass rushers?
A: We’ve always tried to do that. I mean that’s one of the reasons we put Everson inside. We did the same thing when Brian Robinson was in that role as a third in, when Ray Edwards was here, so we’ve always tried to get our best four rush passes on the field when we know that people are in a passing situation, so that’s something we’ve always done.
Q: With Desmond Bishop was that a groin, and how concerned are you?
A: Not overly concerned unless it lingers, so we’ll see. He will be day-to-day and hopefully we can get him back and get him some action on Friday night but we’ll have to wait and see. It is a groin.