Vikes Coordinators talk about Preseason Week 1 07 Aug 13


Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave



Good morning, we are getting close to a game this week so that’s exciting but we are also really focused on facing the Vikings’ defense here for the next two days before we start to think about Houston.


Q: What did you see from Phil Loadholt’s leadership and performance that helped him earn a new contract and what he did to aide the run game and pass protection?

A: Well, he is very dependable and Phil is tough, he will play through injuries. We ask a lot of our right tackle, both in the run game and in pass protection. He has done a fantastic job, especially in our division where we are facing a bunch of good pass rushers, so he just was solid and very accountable.


Q: As a run-blocker what stands out?

A: Well, he is very physical. He likes to finish, he finishes to the whistle, he is usually there cleaning up the pile, keeping additional hitters off of our ball carrier.


Q: Last year you didn’t reveal too much of your offense in the preseason, can we expect the same?

A: Well, that is a fine line. You want to breast your cards somewhat but you also want to be good enough at your concepts that it’s not the first time you run them when it really counts. We’re always trying to balance that. Remain tough to defend, but also be good at what we do.


Q: Jerome Simpson said he is moving better, are you seeing any difference in Jerome from this time last year.

A: He does, he does look like he is moving better. Shoot, it was the Tennessee game, I’d guess, the fifth game where he had his injury and from then on it was really a challenge for him to get up to full speed and he looks to be full speed this summer.


Q: Does having Jerome Simpson at full speed help the dynamic of that receiving corps?

A: It definitely helps. Yes, he is doing a better job getting separation. We can gauge his speed better as quarterbacks especially when he is himself.


Q: However long that first unit offense goes on Friday, what is the main thing that you want to see?

A:  Well, we want to be fundamentally sound. We don’t want our fundamentals to go out the window when we get into a real game situation or a clutch situation or a make or break play. We want to do what we do out here on the practice field, which is to be sound and execute and make some plays, so we want to see all of that from those guys.


Q: How much of an asset is having Coach Stewart with a receiving group as young as yours?

A: Coach Stewart has his work cut out for him this summer, I think nine out of the 12 fellows in that room are new to Coach Stewart and have never been in a training camp with him before. He and Klint Kubiak are working overtime in getting those guys up to speed and you can see it out there. They are improving every day.


Q: With John Carlson not being able to play last preseason, does that hinder a player’s ability to perform in the regular season.

A: Well not always, not always, but this preseason even though the games don’t count or don’t go on Coach Frazier’s record, they are definitely real and we can get a lot out of them. I know we grew quite a bit last year during the preseason and we were able to start off 3-1 or 4-1, whatever it happened to be, but we had a good start. We put a lot of value in the preseason games even if certain guys just get limited exposure. It’s really invaluable because we can’t practice like we used to when we used to have so many players in training camp and with the new CBA rules, one practice a day, these preseason games even gain more value.


Q: How much more does a healthy John Carlson add to your offense?

A: It adds a bunch and we’re able to really mix and match better. We have got our concepts that we believe in and hang our hat on, but with John being healthy, he can go in there and do some of the concepts that we do with three wide receivers and we can go with two receivers and two tight ends instead and we don’t feel like we fall off really very far, if any.


Q: How comfortable are you with Seth Olsen with the absence of Joe Berger?

A: Well, that will be a challenge for Seth. Seth is really a guard by trade, so he is going to get more turns at center this week and that is something that we have got to work through.


Q: What have you seen from Adam Thielen so far?

A: Adam has made a lot of spectacular catches. He has got good speed, good separation. So we have thought good things, we are glad that we have him on the team. He did a good job really in a rookie mini-camp to make a good first impression there back in May.


Q: What’s the next area that you are targeting with Jarius Wright in his progression?

A: Well Jarius is so sharp, and is such a leader in that room. He’s done a fantastic job outside the numbers as well as in the slot. He looks quick, his weight is exactly where it needs to be and the bottom line with Jarius is he knows what to do all of the time. He can help the other guys in that room with all of the new faces in the receiving room, he helps them in the meeting room, during the drills and also of course when they break the huddle.


Q: Are you surprised to see that from a guy that only has seven games under his belt?

A: Yes, yes and surprised with what Jarius did when he was called to duty last year after Percy’s (Harvin) injury. From running scout team, getting injured in this last preseason game against this opponent, Houston, he hit the ground running, is very sharp and has just grown from there


Q: Does that speak to a natural feel that he might have for the game?

A: I believe it does, he has tremendous instincts. He is a professional, he is studying his stuff, he is just a man’s man. You can count on him every single day and we are lucky to have him.



Defensive Coordinator Coach Alan Williams



Good afternoon. Just finished with walk-through and went through some things from the scrimmage to firm up some assignments and those types of things and looking forward to today’s practice. It’s another chance to get better, another chance to get some reps and get a good evaluation of our guys. I’m always excited about the weather when it’s warm out, so looking forward to today’s practice.


Q: It seems Coach Pagac and Gerald Hodges are side-by-side at practice, are you guys trying to speed up his development?

A: Not just Hodges, I think that’s just everyone. Hodges has been doing a good job in terms of his assignments. He’s moving around, he’s an extremely athletic linebacker but I wouldn’t read anything into that. He does that I think with everyone, it just may seem like a little bit more with him but he does that with all the guys. He’ll catch them going in the locker room, coming out and I wouldn’t read a whole bunch into that.


Q: Is there not much of a difference in outside linebackers in this system or do you see something more?

A: In the college game they’re seeing a lot of spread so he was moved out over number two quite a bit. You didn’t see him in the box, taking on leads, taking on iso’s. You’ll see a little bit more of that in the NFL where he has to take on fullbacks and the neat thing is, or the good thing about that is, that he’s been physical. I don’t know if you remember on the goal line, there was an open hole and the running back came in there and he stood him up so he can do both. He’s adapt at playing both weak side and strong side linebacker.


Q:With Desmond Bishop out are you concerned at all about the competition for that position?

A: Not at all, not at all. The good thing about this year is that we have a lot of competition, younger and with the vets, so not at all. I wish he were getting the reps so we could see what he is and see how he’s doing but you always have to take it for what it’s worth. When guys are out, the next guys have to step in and play and compete so that’s what’s going on now.


Q: Are there any areas you’ll think you’ll be looking at specifically on Friday night?

A: Really just can the guys execute their assignments under the lights; that’s the big thing. When the crowd gets out there, the emotions start flowing and the juices start to flow, can they execute and do what they’ve been doing in individual. What the coaches ask them to do in the meeting room. Also, in the group work, can they carry over from the practice field to game like situations and then really, you want to see if guys can run, can they tackle, and can they think on their feet when it’s all running together. 


Q: What growth do you expect to see from Jamarca Sanford?

A: Well, I just expect him to improve, that’s all. With everyone we don’t want to stay stagnant, we want to see each guy improving each week, each game so I’m just looking forward for Jamarca to improve. He has a year under his belt where he played quite a few ball games as a starter and you just want to see if he can take over from where he left off and continue to improve.


Q: You’ve said that he likes the vocal aspect, do you have to meter that or do you just let him go?

A: I let him go. I let him go. That’s his personality. I’m not going to hold the reigns in on him. I let him go and let him play. That’s part of what makes him a leader and what makes him a good football player.


Q: Do you think Jamarca Sanford or Erin Henderson talks more?

A: Jamarca does without a doubt.


Q: How do you feel about the injuries and the depth of the secondary?

A: It’s expected. You wish it wouldn’t happen, but if you let that get you all out of whack, it’s going to be a long training camp. You just know that hamstrings can be a part of what you do and the one thing that we talk about is just the next man up. The next man has to come in, and compete and play good football and we told them even before camp started, if someone happens to go down, if you’re young, you have to know your assignments and you’re expected to come in and compete and play well. I think that’s part of what makes us a good defense is that the guys know that if someone goes down, they’re expected to come in and not be the next guy, but be themselves and still play well.


Q: Is AJ (Jefferson) dealing with something too?

A: I think it might be a foot or something, I’m not sure.  We will see what happens today if he practices, and see how that goes.  Yesterday he made it through most of the practice, and we’ll see how today goes.


Q: You haven’t had a lot of opportunity to work on tackling during practices, so will the preseason game be the first opportunity to see the new faces do that?

A: We did a little bit of live work goal line wise, but it’s still not in the open field.  Usually that’s a progression you tackle around your second and third preseason game, and the fourth game as well.  What we want to do is make sure our guys are fresh and running hard and allow the tackling part to catch on as it does.


Q: What kind of strides have you seen from Josh Robinson?

A: Big strides. We’re very pleased with the way Josh (Robinson) is coming along. Like I said before, the nickel slot is a different animal. You have to be able to fit up like a linebacker in the run, and cover like a corner, and have enough range like a safety.  That’s a spot that requires a big skill set, and he’s taken that on.  We know there is going to be a learning curve once he gets back in the ball game, but he’s handling it well, he’s handled the outside spot as well.  We feel good where he’s at, but with that he still has some improvement to do.


Q: Do you think that we will see any significant changes in the depth chart after this first preseason game?

A: I wouldn’t know about significant. I’m not sure how you would describe significant, but there’s always some, there’s some that revert back to some old habits and don’t play so well, then there are those guys that surprise you.  What we just do is look at the film, and we see what the film shows and we’ll go from there.  The one thing that we do not do is hang everything on one scrimmage, on the amount of plays, we want to look at the whole body of work and go from there.


Q: How much does Xavier (Rhodes) injury set him back not being able to be out there?

A: To be such a young guy, he’s come in with a really professional attitude.  I kind of peek over there during practice to see what he’s doing, and he’s paying attention, you can see that he’s going through practice mentally, so that’s a good thing he’s getting mental reps, he’s in the meeting room and he’s attentive, asking the older guys questions.  So even though he’s not on the football field, he’s getting those reps in.  We will see once he gets back if he is behind at all, and if not we’ll go from there.


Q: Is it a difficult process to go through as a rookie dealing with an injury, and trying to get out there and practice at the same time?

A: You wish that they’d be out there, but it’s a part of football.  You know it’s going to come at some point, and you just deal with it.  If you let it throw you off, or you let it put you in the tank, you’re sort of going to set yourself up for failure.  We just make sure that he pays attention, and that we meet with him extra if needed, and just roll with the punches when he gets back.  You don’t want to put too much on his plate, because conditioning can be a factor when they get back, but we’ll ease him in once the trainers think he’s ready.


Q: Sharrif Floyd seems serious and really focused.  Is he always that way, or do you see a different side of him?

A: Every now and then I get a little peek of something different.  What I mean by that is the non-serious side of Sharrif Floyd, he’ll crack a joke, he’ll smile from time to time, but not too often.  From time to time I see the personality, the fun loving side of him come out.