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Frazier on Sunday’s Tie, Releasing Jefferson, Henderson’s Status, More

Posted Nov 25, 2013

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

Good afternoon guys. Looking back at that game yesterday and reflecting over a period time, it was bittersweet in a lot of ways. I really liked the way our guys competed and played as hard as they played. That was encouraging when you watched the tape to see some of the good things they did throughout that ballgame. We ended up falling short as far as getting the win, but even in the overtime you could see the fight in our players, the way they continued to push to try and get that win and we just couldn’t come up with that one play at the right time to get that win, but it wasn’t for a lack of want to or guys just laying it on the line every single play. We just couldn’t find that way to get that play that would have won it for us and it cost us, whether it was 4-minute offense or 2-minute defense, it just didn’t happen. We did a good job of moving the football up and down the field on offense. Put up some great rushing stats, it was great to see the way Adrian [Peterson] played along with Toby [Gerhart]. They did an outstanding job. Our offensive line opened up holes throughout the day. Christian [Ponder] had a solid game as well. Cordarrelle [Patterson] did a great job for us. We had a lot of guys who stepped up and made plays but we were 2-for-5 in the redzone, so we had some opportunities to score touchdowns but we kicked field goals. When you’re on the road against a good team, you want to be able to score touchdowns in those situations and we didn’t get enough of them to really secure the win. Defensively did so many things for so long and then to not be able to make a play on that 4th-and-6 that could have helped us to secure a victory or the 4th-and-1 as well. Those were crucial situations where we couldn’t come up with a play that was necessary to close it out. But the guys they fought and fought and we just came up short, at least for getting a win. But it gives you hope about what can happen. There were so many good things that happened in that game that tells me the way we played on the road, the fact that we’re coming back home this week against another divisional opponent, if we continue to work like we worked this past week, improve like we improved when you watch the play of that ballgame, we’ll have a very good chance of having success when we line up on this coming Sunday at home at Mall of America Field.

Injury wise we came out OK. The only guys that will be questionable will be Joe Webb and Xavier Rhodes, both suffered a concussion, so we’ll find out as the week goes on what will happen with them. Other than that, we came out fairly well for the most part. It’s tough for you when you’re dealing with injuries but that’s where we are. We may even get Harrison Smith back. We’re expecting him to practice on Wednesday, so that’ll be good news if he’s able to get through that practice and we’re 2 weeks away before he’s eligible to get on the field, but the fact that he’ll be able to practice on Wednesday, it’s a good sign for us and we’re looking forward to having him back.

You probably heard the news regarding A.J. Jefferson. He was released this morning. I can’t really comment on his release or what happens from this point on regarding him, but I can inform you that that is a fact, he was released.

We expect to have Erin Henderson back. I know he’s in the building today. I haven’t had a chance to speak to him but everything I’ve heard has been positive so I’ll sit down and talk with him this afternoon.

But I’m excited about our guys working as hard as they are and competing the way they competed against a divisional opponent yesterday and looking forward to the work ahead of us this week during Thanksgiving week.

Q: Can you address why you went ahead and released A.J. Jefferson?

A: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind if I could, but it’s best that I not comment regarding A.J. at this point. 

Q: Who made that decision? Was it General Manager Rick Spielman? Or a mutual decision between you two?

A: Yeah, it was mutual. Whenever we make a decision regarding our players it’s something that we do together.

Q: What will you do with that open roster spot?

A: We’ll talk about it. Everything is so sudden right now but we’ll talk about it throughout the day and tomorrow as well and come to a conclusion as what’s best.

Q: Can you see using Robert Blanton at cornerback again this week just given the depth?

A: That’s possible. He was thrust into that role this week and I thought he held his own. That holding penalty they called, man. But I thought he held his own. He did a good job so we’ll see where we are depth wise.

Q: Is Erin Henderson’s personal situation cleared up? Is he back for good now?

A: I haven’t talked with him but I will this afternoon, so I’ll get a little bit more clarification.

Q: Can you comment on any reason for it?

A: I cannot.

Q: With the way Audie played, is it possible that he could stick there as your starter and move Erin back outside?

A: I’ll tell you [Audie] did a really good job yesterday for us. To step in, he hasn’t had any true game experience other than in the preseason at that position, so it was encouraging to watch the way he moved around and some of the plays that he made. We’re going to talk about it this afternoon as a staff and just see what’s best. But he did some things that make you take a hard look at where we are.

Q: You mentioned how good you felt about the effort. Do you think that the players still have that hope that you talk about?

A: The way they fought, even when the game got into overtime, I just sensed that they were working as hard as they could to win that game and they were doing everything possible, even when Green Bay had the ball with 2 minutes to go to try to come back and drive down and kick a game-winning field goal, our defense shut them down and that could have been easily a “here we go again” but they didn’t, so I do sense that there is a belief there that things are heading in the right direction, we just got to get a [win] and we’ll have a chance to get that done this weekend.

Q: When you watch the film do you see anything on these missed tackles?

A: You’ve got to wrap up. We didn’t do a good job of wrap-tackling. That back Eddie Lacy is a very good back. We watched tape, we saw him breaking tackles with other teams. He’s had some big days. We talked about gang-tackling, getting multiple people to the ball and at times we did, and there were other times we didn’t. When it’s one guy trying to make a tackle against a back like that, who is very good after contact, it creates some problems for your defense. We obviously didn’t tackle as well as we needed to. 

Q: What has clicked with Cordarrelle Patterson with the last few weeks?

A: I think it’s just been a maturation over the course of the season. I don’t think the light bulb all of a sudden went on. I just think he’s been growing all along and the situation with Jerome [Simpson] thrust him into a different role and we’ve tried to – and we were doing this all along – just increasing what we did with him, but now he’s a starter and he’s really embraced that opportunity and we’re continuously trying to find ways to get him the ball, but I think it’s just a process that he’s been a part of over the course of the year.

Q: How did Audie end up playing all of the defensive snaps? Was that the plan all along? Or did that come about because of his performance?

A: Well we talked about it during the week knowing what Michael Mauti’s situation was coming off an injury and if Audie played well early, stay with him, stay with him, see how he’s doing and it seemed like the more he played the more plays he made, so there was no reason to really substitute him. He did a really good job. 

Q: The way Toby Gerhart has played the last couple of games, are you going to make a concerted effort to get him more carries and give Adrian a little rest? How are you going to approach that with your two backs?

A: Well, with Adrian nursing groin it’s the wise thing to do to get Toby in there and especially like yesterday where Adrian had a bunch of carries. He ran hard and he ran well, it was the right thing to do to get Toby in there but he’s shown, especially these last two weeks and throughout his time here, he’s more than capable when he gets in the game to do well. We are going to make a concerted effort to give Adrian a break when he’s having a tough time injury-wise and Toby has proven he’s more than worthy of those carries.

Q: With Jerome you talked about what kind of punishment you could deliver because of the league and CBA. In the case with A.J. Jefferson, did you have to call the league?

A: I’m going to have to go back to what I was saying earlier, in A.J.’s case I’m going to have to refrain from commenting, but the procedure, I’ll say this, the procedure isn’t a whole lot different from player to player, but I can’t talk much more than that.

Q: It’s not different from player to player?

A: When it comes to the CBA, those rules are those rules. They don’t change depending on what it is, whether it’s substance abuse or whether it is whatever it is.

Q: Can you comment on how the news was delivered to A.J.? Did you tell him personally? Did somebody else? Did you just tell his agent or how was the news delivered that he was released?

A: I’m going to have to go back to what I said a moment ago regarding A.J. questions. I’m going to have to stay away from commenting regarding A.J.

Q: Was that the best Xavier Rhodes has played this year?

A: I think it was. He had his hands on a number of balls, really competed well. We put him in a lot of man coverage. We felt like that was the best approach against their offense and he stood up. For our defense to, I think we held them to 19 percent on third down, he had a lot to do with that. Because we put him in man they tried to attack him with him being a rookie, which other people do as well, but he played with a lot of confidence and played well.

Q: Why did you play more man? So you could bring more pressure with linebackers?

A: That was part of it. We wanted to be able to bring more pressure and that required us being able to play more man and make those quarterbacks have to be accurate passers and that was effective for the most part. We had some P.I.’s because we were playing some man that kind of inhibits what you do, but it was the right strategy.

Q: Is he more comfortable playing man than zone?

A: He probably is. That’s one of the reasons we drafted him when we did. We saw him playing a lot of man in college and he was pretty good at it at the line of scrimmage and that was one of the things that really got us excited.

Q: Would you like to incorporate more man-to-man, not just specific to who you’re playing, but just more in general?

A:  We really would. It’s always based on your personnel, what you can and can’t do in the secondary and that’s one of Xavier’s strengths and we’d like to be able to utilize that strength, along with Chris Cook and the other guys we have back there. But it’s all based on your personnel, but that is something we’d like to do more of, play more man.

Q: Did you call the league today to get clarification on what they were reviewing?

A: I have not, but we are going to do that. We are going to send that play in and get some clarification for sure.

Q: Could Audie Cole play outside?

A: Yeah, we’ve practiced him there before and he played there some in the preseason so he possibly could.

Q: If you were just going to go with Audie and Erin Henderson, which position would each of them play?

A: When we sit down this afternoon and just talk about what we’re going to do with this opponent, we’ll probably talk about what’s the best scenario to get the best 11 on the field. So we’ll have to determine is will Audie be one of those 11? Or how will we do it? It’s hard for me to answer it right now.

Q: How comfortable are you with Robert Blanton playing the slot corner position?

A: He played some corner at Notre Dame and we drafted him to be a safety and to make that transition and I think he’s done a good job in making that transition, especially in his second season there. Now because of the situation we have in the secondary we’ve had to make him utilize those corner skills playing the slot corner, which is a challenging, challenging position. But he did a good job yesterday and because of where we are we’re probably going to have to get him a few more snaps there both in practice and in the games, but that wasn’t the original goal, to make him a slot corner, but this is where we are.

Q: Can you explain why some teams can play well with the lead and the Vikings have lost a couple of leads? How do you get over that hump?

A: You just have to keep putting guys in position to make plays and see them make those plays. We were in this situation against Pittsburgh when we found a way to make a play, Everson Griffen comes up with a big sack. We were in this situation against the Redskins, we had good pressure on the quarterback and forced and overthrow. Guys made plays. Yesterday, same deal, we were in the situation on a fourth and six. We jump offsides, they throw the ball up in the air, just throw it up and their guy made a play and we didn’t make a play. So it still comes back to at the end of the day making a play. That’s it. It’s not all about X’s and O’s on the board. The game has always been that way. It was the same way when I played and it’s the same way today. Sometimes It’s just a matter of who can make a play.

Q: How did Audie play compared to how Erin was playing?

A: Erin has done a good job for us throughout the year at the middle linebacker position. It’s a new position for him. He’s always been an outside backer for us. As the season has gone on, he’s gotten better at that position. In comparison, it’s hard to compare one game versus, in Erin’s case I think 10 games at the position, but Audie did a good job for the one game he was lined up as the Mike linebacker.

Q: Are you going to have to bring in a cornerback?

A: We’re going to have to consider it with Josh (Robinson) being down and our situation back there we would definitely have to consider it. Even for practice purposes, you get thin enough where you can’t line up and have the kind of practices that you want to have.

Q: Are you going to have to IR Josh Robinson?

A: I don’t think we’ll have to IR him. We think he’ll be back in a couple weeks. He’s making good progress. Had a good report about he and Kyle Rudolph today, so both are making progress. The IR conversation is kind of on the back burner.

Q: What is the report on Kyle Rudolph?

A: That he’s making good progress as well and could very well be practicing next week, we hope.

Q: On A.J., what was the deal with his neck? How long would he have been injured? Did that factor into the whole situation?

A: Probably going to have to go back to what I was saying earlier. We’re more specifically concentrating on the guys who are on our club right now.

Q: With Cordarrelle being targeted more, did that have something to do with what they were doing defensively, or more of a focus for your offense?

A: It’s a focus. Each time we were getting him in there earlier in the season you could see we were trying to get him the ball and we were getting a little bit predictable. He wasn’t getting that many snaps early on and when he was people were like, ’84 is in the game,’ we said, ‘Oh boy, this is not good.’ So as time as gone on we’ve moved him around to different spots. He’s not just playing the X receiver anymore. We played him a lot yesterday at the Z receiver position so we’ve had to adjust some things. But the intent is to get him the ball in space as often as we can and see if he can make plays. And down the field as well, we tried some shots with him yesterday so we want to try to get the ball in his hand and let him make plays. That is the intent.

Q: You said that Erin Henderson may be playing in the next game. Was his not playing – you said it’s a personal reason – was there any connection to a possible arrest several months ago and him getting pulled over by a state policeman?

A: Erin Henderson?

Q: Erin Henderson?

A: I don’t know anything about him getting pulled over. That would be news to me.

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