WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7th, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
I think that up to this point we’ve had a very good training camp. We’ve covered a lot of ground as we are moving towards our first preseason game on Friday night. It seems like our guys are really buying into how we want to get things done. That’s always encouraging, although we have been together throughout this off season working as a team, and trying to create a culture where our guys understand what it takes for us to be successful here in Minnesota. It helps to be here at training camp at Minnesota State University-Mankato, to really try and bring everything together, and create some adversity for our team, and put them in situations where they have to compete on every single play. We’ve created some of those situations, and they have responded fairly well. We’re kind of looking forward to lining up on Friday night against another opponent. You can see it sometimes where the guys are getting feisty amongst themselves, and it’s probably about time to hit some other jerseys. But we’re going to try and finish strong this afternoon. I think that we’ve been pretty good health wise for the most part, but we’ll get a chance to move on from here and get ready for this game Friday night.
Q: Injuries to Jared Allen and Harrison Smith?
A: Both are going to be fine. There are no ill effects from what occurred yesterday. They should both be fine.
Q: What’s the game going to be like on Friday, a typical preseason game, or what do you expect in terms of who’s going to play and how much?
A: I think from our standpoint, a chance to get our players out there and evaluate a lot of players. In today’s NFL, the preseason has become a premium in that regard, because of the limited amount of exposure you actually get in actual practices. Those preseason games have more importance because you’re trying to identify the right 53, so you have to utilize those games correctly. For us it’s a chance to evaluate our young guys and then for our veteran guys, just to get them a gauge on where they are at this point in the preseason.
Q: Do you like playing good teams like that in the preseason, because some of these young guys are going to see some of these pretty good players, and then you can evaluate clearly?
A: I always look at it like every team in the league is good, and I’ve never looked at it like this is the 28th team or the 29thteam. As far as I’m concerned, every team we play in the preseason and the regular season are good. This is a very tough league even in the preseason.
Q: Have you decided who’s going to sit out on Friday other than Jared Allen?
A: I have an idea. I want to get through today’s practice and conclude some things after today’s practice.
Q: What do you look for out of Toby Gerhart during preseason games?
A: I think that we have a pretty good feel of Toby’s capabilities. It’s more so of getting his timing down, and getting him some reps. We expect his numbers to be limited because of who is our number one running back. You want him to get some timing, and being able to hit some holes, and get some things that he may not get a lot of chances to get during the regular season. But at the same time, we don’t want to over expose him. He’s a very important part of our football team, so we’re cautious on how we use him in the preseason as well.
Q: Your receiving core has so many new guys. Where do you think they’re at in terms of establishing that chemistry and timing?
A: I think at this point we’re in pretty good shape. We have some things that we need to work on. I think this game will help us from a timing standpoint and a chemistry standpoint. From a practice standpoint, I think we’re where we need to be. But there’s a difference in lining up and playing a game against other competition and different defenses. With our personnel, they’ve been seeing some of the same looks since May. It’ll be good to line up against another opponent and get some different looks, and some different possibilities, different situations. Then we will have a little bit better idea of where we are with some of those guys.
Q: Do you like to see how those guys react in some of those situations, especially with the younger guys?
A: We do. As much as you try and simulate games in practice, it’s different. To be in that atmosphere at Mall of America Field, for some of our younger guys who may have never been in that situation before, we’ll learn a little bit more about them. To introduce Greg Jennings, wearing our uniform, being on our sideline, he’ll learn some things and we will too. There are a lot of pluses to having this first preseason game.
Q: Because you have so many pieces in that receiving core, does it maybe make it a more important game for you?
A: I don’t know if this first one does that, because we’re going to limit the amount of time our ones will play. As we get a little further into game two and game three, I think it will matter at that point.
Q: What do you see in the regard of how well Jarius Wright does and what he has to do?
A: What strikes me about Jarius is, and I was telling George Stewart and Bill (Musgrave) this, but his maturity for his age and also his experience in the NFL, and we saw this year ago, he’s a very knowledgeable guy, very conscience guy, and for him to step in and play as well as he did in this first start action after being, not a guy who was even dressing, that tells you something about the pro that he is and even as a rookie. To see him now kind of take a leadership role that’s pretty impressive. There are guys in that wide receiver room that kind of gravitate to him and you’d expect that with Greg Jennings, which they do, but for Jarius to step into that role, is really helping our receivers, helping our offense but he’s a very, very mature young guy for where he is in the NFL.
Q:With having the preseason game at the Metrodome will that be used as an evaluation tool for who you want to look at?
A: You know you can’t lose sight of what you want to get done in preseason. In our case, it’s all about evaluating our players and making sure we come out of this preseason with the right 53. There are some emotions when it comes to being at Mall of America Field opening in preseason but it can’t override the bottom line. That is our means to evaluate our guys and get a proper evaluation, especially for the bottom of our roster, which sometimes really makes up your team. That will be the number one criteria as we are deciding who’s going to play, who’s not going to play, how long they are going to play and what extent they are going to play.
Q: Who on the bottom of the roster has surprised you the most?
A: We’ve had a number of guys that we’re kind of counting on. Some are late picks along with some of our free agents that we signed that we’re going to give a chance to compete on special teams, get a chance to compete on offense and defense. You like to see how some of our draft picks are going to do; whether it be Gerald Hodges, Michael Mauti, Jeff Baca. There are a number of guys we have to take a real hard look at. A guy like Erik Highsmith just to see how he’ll do in this environment, being a free agent. We have had some free agents that make our team so all those guys are kind of on the cusp of joining the National Football League. It’s a great tool for them to show what they’re capable of doing beyond what they’ve done on the practice field.
Q: With John Sullivan’s 2012 season, what have been the catalysts to bring him to this point?
A: I think there were a number of factors. He was coming into last season off of a down year due to some factors that contributed to that, an injury, he had lost someone in his family, he had some things that were going on that previous year, so for him to come in healthy and play throughout the season and be consistently good, I think those things helped with his confidence. Staying healthy and having a free mind, not getting caught up in some things that were happening away from the field probably helped him to be a better player and his leadership, he really improved in that area. That was one area I was hoping he would take more of a leadership role because we were trying to develop that on our offensive line. With a young left tackle, a new left guard at the time, a new right guard at the time and then there’s Phil (Loadholt), so we needed, between him and Phil, to step up and Sully did. Phil has also and that had a lot to do with our offensive line playing as well as they did a year ago.
Q: Do you have a better sense of Desmond Bishop and whether he might be able to play Friday night?
A: I would say that’s unlikely. He’s going to try some things today, but I’m not expecting that he’s going to play, no. He could surprise me and go out there and look very good this afternoon, but as we speak right now, I wouldn’t expect it.
Q: How about Xavier Rhodes because it looked like he was getting involved in the walk through?
A: Yes, Xavier, probably the same thing. He’s going to try to do some things too this afternoon, but I don’t think we’d put him out there until he’s got a few days of practice under his belt, I don’t know if that would be wise.