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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jun 11, 2012

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

Why didn't the Vikings address the wide receiver position during the offseason? There were plenty of big names out there and they didn't make any moves.
-- Stephen W.

That’s not true, Stephen. The Vikings made multiple moves this offseason to address the position, including drafting both Greg Childs and Jarius Wright in the 4th round and signing free agents such as Jerome Simpson and Bryan Walters. Granted, none of those names are house-hold, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make significant contributions to the Vikings. On top of that, the Vikings have veterans Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins returning in addition to youngsters Devin Aromashodu, Manny Arceneaux, Stephen Burton and Kerry Taylor coming back from last year as well. Some will argue it doesn’t appear to be a formidable group on paper, but I believe this is a group with big-time upside that will surprise people this year.

 I also disagree with the idea that it takes big names to fix big problems. There are numerous examples of players who lacked big-name credibility that ended up being big-time contributors for their teams, including: Victor Cruz (undrafted), Miles Austin (undrafted), Marques Colston and Stevie Johnson (7th round), Antonio Brown (6th round) and Brandon Lloyd and Brandon Marshall (4th round).

With the exception of Chris Cook, should we be concerned about the team's size at cornerback? Is the smaller, faster guy a scheme thing, or simply a result of the talent availability at that position?  Do you think that our cornerbacks will be more competitive at the line of scrimmage this season?
-- Darin
Tacoma, WA

Size of the Vikings cornerbacks is not a concern to me. Without going through each team’s roster, it’s hard to know what the average height and weight is of a cornerback in today’s NFL. There are advantages and disadvantages to having both big and small defensive backs, but either way height and weight are not near the top of the list of factors to consider when judging a defensive back or players at any other position. Look at Antoine Winfield. For a long time he’s been one of the smallest cornerbacks in the NFL, but he’s also been one of the best in the League and he’s the best-tackling cornerback I’ve ever seen play.

Playing defensive back – or any other position – in the NFL is more about technique, athletic ability, instincts and competitiveness. Whether it’s at the line of scrimmage, the point of attack or down the field, I expect the Vikings entire secondary will be improved in 2012 and I’m looking forward to watching them play.

I have noticed that many of the better teams around the League often go into a no huddle offensive mode. It makes the defense waste valuable timeouts, and doesn't allow for substitution packages. I don't recall ever seeing the Vikings in any sort of no huddle. Do you think that might be something we add to the menu in coming years? Or is our coaching staff not comfortable enough with our quarterbacks to do this?
-- Shawn T.
Olathe, KS

At this point in the preparations for the 2012 season, I wouldn’t rule anything out. The no-huddle is something all teams work hard on in practice because it’s probable that teams will have to execute it during the season, whether by design or not. A lot of times when it comes to the no-huddle offense or any other offensive strategy, it’s as much about what the coaches are comfortable with as it is what the players are comfortable executing.

I noticed in Christian Ponder's interview with NFL Network last week he mentioned WR Stephen Burton has been impressive. And you have mentioned him in your OTA coverage as well. What are the odds of him being a top three or four receiver entering training camp?
-- Paul S.

Entering camp, Burton has a good chance to be a top three-to-four wide receiver on the team, largely because he’s a returning veteran with game experience from last season. The real question is, can he maintain or improve that standing during camp and the preseason? The wide receiver position battle is going to be a fun one to watch this summer, and Burton is a big reason for that.

With a rocky season for the Vikings secondary last year, the Vikings did a quality job at adding some depth to the cornerback position this offseason. Who do you think will emerge as our top four cornerbacks? In your opinion, will there be much improvement?
-- Jack M.
Plymouth, MI

It’s too early to tell who will emerge as the preferred cornerbacks on the roster and it’s also unfair to wager any water-tight estimations. Fans may be sick of hearing this answer, but it remains true when we’re this far from the start of the regular season. There are so many things that can and will happen between now and the start of the season, that any guesses at this point are futile.

Regardless of the players who emerge as the regular contributors, the Vikings secondary, and the cornerback position specifically, is in a good position to improve. Cook and Winfield will be back on the field after missing most of last season, and as Jack noted in his question the Vikings have added quality talent during the offseason, including the selections of S Harrison Smith (1st round), Josh Robinson (3rd round) and Robert Blanton (5th round).

Can WR Percy Harvin do the same things Steve Smith does for the Carolina Panthers (play on the outside, be a #1 wide receiver, etc.)?
-- Dave V.
Derby, KS

It’s dangerous to make comparisons such as these because Harvin and Smith are different players who play on different teams and are asked to execute different offensive tactics. With that being the case, Harvin and Smith also share several physical traits and aspects of their skill sets, so I understand the basis of Dave’s question.

Smith is a great player and has been for a long time. To me, he’s especially lethal playing as an outside receiver and running vertical routes. Granted, he’s dangerous on short and intermediate routes, too, because of his explosive ability with the ball after the catch. Harvin, on the other hand, is productive out of the slot when the ball gets to him quickly. But, he also has great deep speed and can be a dangerous receiver on deep passes, too.

Ultimately, both guys are athletic enough and have the skill sets to be productive as both outside and inside receivers.

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