TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Another beautiful day here, we’ve had some great days down here to work. I think our guys have enjoyed that part of it. I mentioned yesterday that sometimes from a coach’s standpoint you like for it to be a little bit warmer to get the guys to sweat more and make them feel like they’re working even harder than they sometimes are. But we’ve had some good work and today is no different, we need to have good work today. The guys’ attitudes have been terrific. We had a chance to get a break from our meetings last night and we took them out to a movie and they kind of liked that. It was a chance break things up a little bit and still try to create the team bonding and chemistry that we’re trying to create while we’re down here at Minnesota State. So, so far, so good. It looks like the only guy who may have to sit out today is Michael Mauti. He’s a little sore, so we’re going to hold him out of practice. Jacob Lacey is back as I said earlier, it’s going to be a two to four week recovery for him. Other than Christian Ballard and Mauti, everybody should be working today. So hopefully we can go out and have a good practice. These final two days that we have here in Mankato, we need to definitely have some good work done.
Q: When do you expect to have Christian Ballard back?
A: I’m not sure. I tried to communicate with him today just to see how things are going and maybe have some kind of barometer as to when that might be.
Q: Is Michael Mauti’s knee sore?
A: Yes, his knees a little sore. So we’re just going to give him a little time, give him a day.
Q: How was the movie?
A: I don’t want to endorse the movie but it was a good movie. We enjoyed the movie, we enjoyed the movie. We all went to see Red 2, it was a good movie and they enjoyed it. It held their attention which you’re always worried about when you do things off site so it was good.
Q: Who picked it?
A: Head coach picked it. I’ve had some other guys pick it before so this time I got involved.
Q: Did you pick up treats?
A: They could get popcorn, soda, whatever, the usual fare at the movies.
Q: Challenges for the upper level unit offense over these next few weeks?
A: We like to see our offense get some first downs, see our defense get some stops and if that happens and we’re aggressive in what we’re doing then we can walk away from this week and next week feeling better about where we are heading into the regular season. You have to be careful not to get too high or low, whatever happens this time of the year knowing part of what you’re doing is trying to find out the balance of choosing the right players to fit your roster. But there are certain things you’d like to see out of your number one guys. Some of it is the condition aspect of it as well and let them get a feel for the speed of the game and where they are physically, and also the production but as I mentioned you just can’t too overly consumed with production because of where we are.
Q: Would you consider going off script to go another series or two?
A: I think with the numbers that we have prescribed for the guys, we should be able to see what we want to see in this next ball game and we have an idea of what we need to get done in the third ball game as well. So if we’re not seeing what we need to see, I wouldn’t want to expose him to potential injury. I’d be more concerned with some of the things we have to do in practice to try to get what we would need to open the season in Detroit but with what we’ve prescribed, we should be able to see what we need to see whether that’s good or bad, you know, that’s not a bad thing either to find out if we’re not doing some of the things we hope to be able to do.
Q: As Cordarrelle Patterson comes along here, would you like to see him work with some of the first unit offense?
A: Not at this point. We’ll see how he continues to progress but that’s not the plan. This week now, fatigue, number of plays in a series, that could change things, injury could change things, but we’re not going in saying “you’re going to work with the first unit on this drive or the first unit on the third drive” but we’ll see how it goes.
Q: Is that more or a matter of how he’s coming along or how the depth chart is?
A: A combination of where we think he is and where we think the guys that are working with the first unit, where they are. There’s nothing that is going on right now to say that the guys that are working with the first unit should not be working with the first unit, but, we’re going to get some snaps here over the next couple of weeks with our first unit so we’ll be able to determine, are those guys the right guys to be working with the first unit.
Q: What’s the plan with the first unit offense on Friday?
A: We’re going to try to get into that second quarter depending on the number of plays. We put a number of plays along with time where we like to be in the second quarter so we’ll see which comes first and then make a determination.
Q: Will Adrian Peterson get the same playing time as the rest of the starters in the Bills game on Friday?
A: We are going to talk about him as well and see if this is the week we want to put him out there or if we want to wait another week. We are actually going to talk about that in the next day or two.
Q: In the way your team is structured, with ball position and special teams being very vital to your success, are you nervous having a rookie punter?
A: That is a good question, a very good question. I’m not nervous. We have talked about this prior to the draft, but it is a very good question. But it is one of those things we talk extensively about prior to the draft because it is different with a placekicker than a punter when you’re talking about coming to the NFL and performing. But we believe that Jeff is going to do a great job for us, he was an outstanding collegiate kicker and we expect him to be an excellent punter for us here in the NFL. So he will just have to continue to grow here in the preseason, but we are counting on him to do a good job for us because you’re right, a lot of what we do is field position football. We have talked about it in our internal meetings. We are structured a little bit different than some NFL teams and we win a lot based on field position and not turning the ball over, running the football well and playing good defense. Special teams are a big part of it as well. That position for us has a lot of weight, but we are confident Jeff can get the job done.
Q: Jeff had a couple 70 yard punts in practice a few ago. Does that make you feel more confident in your selection of him in the draft?
A: It is great for those moments, but what you always want to see is consistency, and it is great when that happens in practice, but can you consistently perform at that level? That’s what you are measured by in this league. You know as well as I do that those splash plays at any position are fine, but can you consistently get the job done? That is what we will be looking for from him. If he booms one, can he come back and consistently get another good punt off.
Q: What’s the biggest adjustment from college to the professionals with punting?
A: Part of it is the speed of the game here as well. Those guys coming off the edge at our level versus what he saw in college could be a little bit different. Some of the schemes that people are going to use could be a little different, and the way that they are going to attack him as a rookie punter will be different than what he saw as a senior or junior at UCLA. We know there are going to be some things thrown at him. We are going to put him in some situations, at least we are trying to in practice, that make him have to do some things under pressure. But we expect him to be under some pressure. The speed of the game still, and the magnitude, the weight of every punt. We had a situation and I won’t go in too much detail but we had some situations in our game on Friday night that could turn a ball game and we want to go through some of that. We wanted to go through some of that with him, and coach Priefer talks him about the impact that every one of those punts can have on our football team because of the field position aspect of it. It is different. It is hard to get up on someone three touchdowns in our game, but when you are down seven points or 10 points in the fourth quarter field position once again matters and the amount of time on the clock. It is a different mindset at our level.
Q: What are your concerns with the youth and lack of experience at the cornerback position?
A: That is one that will we have to get a better barometer. When you asked about being able to judge our offense and defense in these next couple ball games that we need to get a feel for the reasons that you just mentioned. They haven’t had much time together on task. For Josh Robinson, we need to get a feel for him playing a new position playing a slot corner. Xavier Rhodes as well, having to play hopefully a lot of snaps for us in nickel situations, is like being a starter now. So that secondary, these next two games, will be very, very important to find out where we are and what we are trying to do improve before we play that first game. It is a key area for us to get a feel for coming out of this preseason.
Q: Is there a philosophy of holding a rookie out of a starting role until you get to the regular season?
A: There was a time that you could do that. That would be almost a luxury today. Our depth is young. It is not like we have a ton of veterans at other positions. So you almost have to play young guys. It is just a matter of us getting those young guys up to speed to play at an NFL level and play well. But if you had your druthers you would rather have them be able to grow into the position, but that is not always the case. We are one of those teams where we are going to play young guys at key positions, and the secondary is one of those positions. (Cornerback play) is key to our success on defense. We have A.J. Jefferson who will compete for a position, but A.J. has limited starting experience as well, but that is across the board in our secondary with the exception to Chris, who has been up and down for different reasons in his career. So it is not like we can turn to some senior player in our secondary and say, “Until Xavier is ready, or until Chris can say he is a consistent guy over 16 games, you are going to play or until Josh is ready you are going to take over.” We don’t have that type of experience at the cornerback position especially.
Q: Are you going to use these next games to speed Xavier up?
A: No question about it and that is how we are looking at it. We are going to throw things at him and that is why it is good that he is healthy now. There are going to be some growing pains, that is just the way it is in our league, at that position especially. Not only with him but with Josh as well. We have to keep giving them a lot of other looks and situations, while letting them respond, react, grow, and learn. But we have to expose them to a lot because when we line up in September, nobody is going to feel sorry for the fact that this is the first time starting at their positions.