WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2013
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Good Afternoon. As we enter our final practice here at Minnesota State University-Mankato, just had chance to go through and visit with our fans. Players signed some autographs with fan appreciation, thanking them for their support throughout our training camp. We have had a terrific turnout throughout, and I think that’s good for our young players to practice in this atmosphere, and I believe it is going to be a plus for us as we enter our second preseason game and prepare for the regular season. I think up to this point our training camp has been a successful one, we have been able to cover a lot and really introduce our players to the way we want to do things over the course of the season. We still have a lot of work to get done, although this is our final day here, we still have more work to get done. I’m really pleased with the progress that we’ve made as a team, and hopefully we can have a good day today and just keep building. We should have everyone at practice with the exceptions of Jacob Lacey, who I’ve spoken about previously, and Christian Ballard, who is still not back yet. It should be a good day for us; the weather has been terrific all the way through. We are very thankful for the fans, as well as Minnesota State University, they have been so accommodating during our time. As you guys know we moved into a new dorm this year, we spent a lot of years at Gage, it has been our 48th year here. We found ourselves in a new situation, and they did a terrific job of having everything laid out for us. We are very thankful and grateful for the hospitality that we’ve been shown for our players and our entire organization. It has been very good.
Q: Whose improvement has impressed you the most over the course of camp?
A: I think just seeing some of the young players that we have that we’re trying to introduce to how we do things, how we practice, how we prepare. As a whole the way they have kind of not looked like a fish out of water with some of the things we’re asking them to do. Sometimes that takes a little bit of time when you’re coming from a different situation and they all are coming from whatever college they attended. They have really acclimated themselves well to how we want to do things and what the expectations are. A lot of the credit goes out to our assistant coaches for laying the ground work early on. I just think as a whole our first year guys, the way they have conducted themselves and bought into some of the things we’re trying to get them to do.
Q: Do you expect Christian Ballard to be available for Friday’s game?
A: I don’t think so as we speak. I’ll have a little more clarity after our ball game, but not at this point I don’t.
Q: I saw Chris Cook come off of the practice field yesterday, is he alright?
A: Yes, Chris will be fine. He will be back out there today, he’ll be fine.
Q: As you are evaluating your numbers and how many you are going to keep, how stringent are you on following what you had last year with 6 wide receivers instead of 5 and what goes into that sort of decision?
A: We will to begin to talk a little more about numbers after this preseason game, and try to get a feel at where we think our depth is, and based on that it determines whether or not you are going to be heavier at one position versus another. It depends on the talent, as opposed to we need this many numbers at this position. We may be a bit heavier at defensive line, or wide receiver, or safety based on the talent at those positions, the depth at those positions. We should have a little more understanding after this ball game, and hopefully after the third preseason game.
Q: At receiver your top 4 guys are pretty set, how do you see it shaping up after that; guys like Stephen Burton, Joe Webb and a bunch of young guys?
A: I think it will begin to clear up after this ball game and after the third ball game. Those guys will get some opportunities in these next two weeks, and even the third preseason game where we will still need to make some tough decisions. It’s too early right now, we want to get some more game situations under our belt. These next couple of weeks as well as the final preseason game will help create some clarity for us in that area.
Q: What is your assessment of the Linebacker group; you have guys who play special teams as well so is it a tough one to sort out?
A: It will be, because our backup linebackers are generally our special teams guys, they’re some of our core special teams players. Not only do you have to be good on defense as a backup, but we need you to be a solid special teams player for us if you play backup linebacker. We’re going to need that to sort itself out as well. The competition and depth is better than it has been in recent years, we’ll learn a little bit more over these next couple of weeks. It’s too early today to really slot them; we need to let things play out in the next couple of weeks.
Q: What have the three weeks of reps shown you about Christian (Ponder); and his command of the offense, his accuracy, the ability to throw the deep ball, and what he’s learned?
A: I think what I’ve seen is better command; a guy who’s more confident in what he’s doing. You’d expect that with it being his third year in the system, but it’s great to see. I can see him taking more control in the huddle, interacting more with teammates other than just that small group of guys he’s comfortable with. That’s part of growing as a leader as well. His knowledge of our offense, and the command that he’s displayed, and these last few practices have been some of his best practices from a decision making standpoint, as well as how he’s handled himself around the huddle. Seeing some growth and I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays on Friday night, and continue to grow. The growth and leadership is what’s been impressive.
Q: Can a guy improve his accuracy once he gets into the NFL or is he pretty much stuck with the ability that he has at this point?
A: We talk about that a lot. When we were preparing for the draft a few years ago, and searching for a quarterback, trying to answer that question of can a guy improve his accuracy? We think that there are some things that you can do to help a guy improve his accuracy, but if there is one characteristic that can be a flaw when you are trying to develop a quarterback it is the lack of accuracy. So, it is something that every team places a high premium on when you talk about a quarterback. There are some things you can do to improve it, and how much you can improve it; that’s not the question. But I think you can improve it.
Q: Have you determined Adrian Peterson’s role for Friday against the Bills yet?
A: We are going to talk some more about it. Between this week and next week, obviously those would be the weeks that we would play him if we do play him in the preseason. We are going to have some more discussions about it. We have an idea of what we are going to do, but we also want to talk about it after this practice and just make sure that we are doing the right thing. Are we are going utilize him, or are we going to let him wait till the next ball game? So we will talk more in depth about that this evening.
Q: Is there a possibility he doesn’t play at all this preseason?
A: We want to get him something these next couple of weeks.
Q: What makes Greg Jennings unique in the sense that it takes time for Christian to learn how to throw him the ball, and where to throw it?
A: Without being too technical, Greg is one that stretches his route running. But Greg is not a typical route runner; he does a lot of stemming in his routes. If he wants to run an out route, he is not going to just run straight up the field and break out, but he is going to stem the defensive back inside, and try to get his hips turned, get his feet out of whack, and then he will break outside. When he releases from press coverages, he is not a guy that is just going to release to you, but he does a lot of shaking at the line of scrimmage. For a quarterback, you need to adjust to how he runs routes, and how affective he is at getting it done, because you don’t want to change what he has done to this point or the success that he has had. So as a quarterback, you got to adjust to when he is going to get in and out of his routes, and at what point is he going to break back out of that route. He is a good route runner, and great with the ball after he catches it, but his timing in this training camp has really improved as Christian has got more confident and familiar with the way he runs his routes.
Q: Do you think Everson Griffen has the potential to be a starting defensive end for you in this league?
A: He has the potential to be a starter in this league. He has shown some flashes for sure at the end of this past season. It is not a bad thing to be in a rotation with Jared Allen and Brian Robison. I know from our standpoint as coaches we like to have three guys (at the defensive end position). If you rotate them in, you don’t feel there will be a major drop off. It is very good for our football team. But to answer your question I do think he has the ability to start in our league.
Q: Are Stephen Burton, Jarius Wright, and Marcus Sherels the only three you are looking at to be your punt returner right now?
A: We will give Bobby Felder some opportunities as well. We are not sure if we will get to Cordarrelle or not. Having those three along with Bobby will handle this next games duty.
Q: Would a good performance like Cordarrelle had last week as a receiver against the Texans hurt his chances to be the punt returner?
A: Not if we felt like it was going to help us win some games. He has shown that he can catch the ball as a punt returner. We just have to weigh the options of kickoff return alone, and what we will have him do on offense and decide if we want him to have a shot at returning punts as well.
Q: What do you expect to see from Xavier in his first game this Friday?
A: We just want him to get a feel for the speed of an NFL game. Just to get a feel for our game, as much as anything, albeit a preseason game. I know there are going to be some moments where he feels the jitters a little bit, probably early on, so we just need to get him through some of that. Looking forward to having him get out and participate, and work with a sweat in the game, but then see him improve the next week. But more than anything get a feel for the NFL game.
Q: Will he be in line to get the start?
A: He will be our starting nickel corner out there, which is our third corner. But Josh Robinson and Chris Cook are going to be our starting corners.
Q: Cordarrelle mentioned being winded after that first kick return last week. Is that something you blow off or that you need to monitor as the season goes on?
A: I think you do have to be conscious of it. At this point, he pushed some things the rest of the way. We also saw he got a little winded, and part of that is the hyperness of the first time in an NFL game, and that he did something he dreamed of doing, being able to return a kick as well as he did. Once he settled down he was able to come back and run routes, and do it effectively. But I think some of it has to do with the nervous tension he experienced. But it is something going forward that we will have to be aware of. If he going to return kickoffs what type of effect does it have, and when we start a drive, how will it affect him as a receiver?
Q: You had movie night last night, any big plans for the last night at camp?
A: I hope none of our guys have big plans. I hope it is just a quiet peaceful night on our final night in Mankato. That would be a great way to say “so long.”
Q: Do you just go back to Winter Park or do you go to the airport tomorrow?
A: We go to the airport, and head out tomorrow. We will meet at the facility to leave to go to the airport.