Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave
Q: Any doubt in your mind that
A: No, not too much doubt. I think he has stayed on schedule and I’ve seen progress every day.
Q: How tough will it be to give him limited reps if he shows good signs?
A: That’s part of our responsibility to be able to keep our emotions in check and put his safety first and foremost and allow the process to work its way for him to get all of the way back.
Q: Do you have a set number of reps you’d like to give him?
A: We do and we’ve talked about it as a staff, a plan for when he is in there, when Toby (Gerhart) is in there, when we spell both of them, with
A: Yeah, he appears to be on top of his game plan and then today we’re looking for more progress out of him as well.
Q: A lot of quarterbacks in the League are in their rookie year or second year. Why do you think that is?
A: I haven’t really taken time this season to think about it. I’m sure they deserve it. There are a lot of good young players and teams are looking for a guy they can rally around and follow for years and years. It seems pretty natural to me.
Q: Does it seem like they are coming into the League more ready to play right away?
A: It would be hard to compare. There have been a bunch of guys who have stepped right in and played, drafted, undrafted, late draftees. There’s a lot more passing as we know now in high school and college. That might be a contributing factor.
Q: How has Andre Branch looked to you?
A: Good. For a rookie, very good. He’s going to be matched up on
Q: Is this the first game where you have the comfort of know you can take a top passer rusher one on one?
A: Yes, we feel good about Matt Kalil, for sure, and Phil, too. Both our tackles have had good preseason and we’re looking for big things from both of them.
Q: Last year, what was the key to getting your players to grasp your system?
A: Well they need turns at it. They need time on task. I think we’ve achieved some time on task. It’s just our second year but we’ve made progress and last year wasn’t a complete aberration either so I don’t think we’d trade anything at this point.
Q: As a coordinator, is there a balancing act in trying to find new ways to gain a competitive advantage and maybe make things more complicated but also trying to keep it simple so the players can thrive?
A: Well you don’t want to confound yourself. You don’t want to out-finesse yourself or get too tied up in your tendencies, or being predictable that your players aren’t good at anything. Most good teams and systems, offense and defense, are going to have some tendencies and have some predictability because they’re going to be good at things and when you’re good at things, you want to keep going back to them and the players have confidence in those staple concepts.
A: He’s just been out there Monday and Wednesday. He’s trying to get back into football shape. He’s been working really hard. He’s running both our plays and Jacksonville’s on the scout team and really trying to get back in terms of a crash course in getting back ready to play football.
Q: With him coming back from surgery and
A: They’ve got some work to do to get ready. I’m glad that we’re not playing today.
Q: Did you learn anything about Adrian Peterson at practice yesterday that you didn’t know before?
A: Not necessarily anything new. We did give him more volume in terms of plays. We worked on the side a little bit more with passing game concepts in addition to his run game concepts so we’re expanding on a daily basis and getting him prepped as well.
Q: How much contact has Adrian absorbed?
A: I’d say he’s taken what a normal player would take in practice. A lot of practices this time of year is thud, rather than tackle all the way down to the ground, so he’s been exposed to that type of thing.
Q: At one point 18 was the most carries he’s gotten in practice. Is he above that now?
A: It is. We’re above that number now.
Q: Can you say in general what it is? 25?
A: Yeah, I’d say right there, probably between 25 and 35.
Q: How does that compare to what
Q: When you said you were going to limit his touches in the game, does he know what that number is?
A: You bet. Everyone will be aware of the plan.
Q: How did he feel about that?
A: Good. He’s good. We’re all good with it.
Q: Is there a particular skill or attribute that you wanted to see
A: There’s definitely more than one. He’s growing within the system and we’re growing with him too, finding out where his strengths are now that we’ve had more turns in an offseason with him. It was a simply hit it and get it last year when he had to play and we didn’t have a lot of offseason to prep him or get a real feel for what fit him the best. I think all those factors have allowed us to grow this offseason so we’re ready to put that in place starting Sunday.
Q: Given the amount of time Adrian missed, is his pass protection a concern?
A: Well it’s always a challenge for backs. That can get real complicated in today’s game, pass protection, but Adrian has been good with that from day one. Last year he was on top of it and did a great job. We ask a lot of those backs in pass protection so that’s a little bit like getting back in the bicycle for Adrian. He’s good at that.
Q: How is the Jaguars defense affected if Derek Cox doesn’t play?
A: I wouldn’t be an expert on that. Just from watching him on film, he’s a good player. He’s a really good player. He was good at William and Mary and I’m sure they’ll have a plan for if he doesn’t play but they have a number of good DB’s back there, I know that.
Q: Is the plan still to move
A: It really depends on the opponent. Not every game did we have Percy in the backfield but we’ll definitely want to get him his touches. We’ve worked on some other concepts that, some we’ve shown in the preseason and some we’ve breasted our cards in that regard, but we want to get Percy his touches, just like we did last year.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams
The preseason is OK, pretty good, but the regular season, preparing for a ballgame that counts, is much more exciting, much more fun. It’s nice to actually game plan for an opponent and I look forward to seeing how that game plan shakes out.
Q: With them having a total overhaul at the receiver position, how much did you look at last year’s film or did you focus on just the preseason?
A: We did a little bit to kind of give our coaches a sense of what they had personnel-wise. Even though it’s been an overhaul, you still want to see what guys can do, how they function, how they performed last year, so we did go back and look at some of last year’s tape in the offseason to see what they do and how they were.
Q: Overall, how do they work together? And is Justin Blackmon clearly their number one guy?
A: Blackmon’s a difference maker. He is big, he has big hands, he catches the ball well, he can sink his hips, he’s an extremely gifted route runner, intermediate wise, he can run after the catch, so he is a difference maker, ball player.
Q: How does he complement the other receivers?
A: [Mike] Thomas is in the slot and new to them is Laurent [Robinson]. He is a blazer and they put him out at X and he’s a deep route runner and he has a complement of routes with comebacks and those types of things so they do have a good complement of wide receivers.
Q: Robinson only caught two passes for 18 yards in the preseason.
A: That’s OK. I don’t put a whole bunch of stock in that. It’s still preseason and the quarterback is getting used to his receivers and the timing of it so I don’t put any stock in two receptions or whatever it was. They’re in the NFL and they get paid and they’re a good receiving corps.
Q: Maurice Jones-Drew is going to be relegated to third down, how much do you buy into that?
A: Do you believe that? I’ve seen him for the last few years at Indianapolis and, preseason or not, I’m not even sure if he was there if he would have been playing in the preseason so I don’t take any stock into that either. We’ll be ready for him first, second, third and fourth down. He’s a guy that you would have to pay attention to. Being on the sideline or being in the ballgame, we’re going to know where he is at all times.
Q: Does it turn out that you’re preparing more for Jones-Drew than you would for Rashad Jennings?
A: Nope, because that means we would be taking Jennings for granted and he is good back in his own right. If you saw two years ago and this year, the preseason, they used that get him tuned up and he’s a good back in his own right. The one thing we will not do is take any of the ballplayers for granted.
Q: You face a lot of young quarterbacks early in the season, is that a good thing for a young secondary?
A: I don’t know, because when you have a young quarterback, you don’t have a ton of film on that guy. We don’t have a ton of film and what he’s doing in [Mike] Mularkey’s system. I don’t look at that as a good thing. I like to know what I’m getting. When you know what you’re getting, you have a little bit of a comfort zone and right now we don’t with this quarterback so no, it’s not a comfort zone for our secondary, whatsoever. I’d rather be able to prepare them for what we think we’re going to see.
Q: So it’s a harder to prepare for rookie?
A: Right now it is, without the body of work in this system. It is.
Q: What do you seen when you look down the depth chart at their receiver position and how much will they use those bottom guys?
A: It’s tough to answer those questions because I’m not sure everyone played during the preseason and during the season now, when it’s for real, I’m not quite sure how much those guys will play, how they will rotate them and what spots they’ll put them in, how much of a blow they’ll give the first group. It’s tough to say how much they’ll use those guys and again, we aren’t going to take any of those guys for granted. They’re NFL football players. If you do that, you’re setting yourself up for a trap.
Q: Do you expect to see any three or four-receiver packages?
A: They’ve shown some four-wide sets and we’ll prepare for that. Again, when you’re going into that first ballgame with a new staff, a lot of new personnel, you have to prepare for everything and see what you get.
Q: How important is
A: A great deal. He’s a physical ballplayer, he’s smart, and he does not look like a rookie out there, in terms of the plays overwhelming him. He looks like he belongs. It’s nice to have guy out there that settles the defense or settles the secondary. We also have some other guys, Antoine [Winfield] is a calming influence on your secondary and on your team so he’s another guy like that, that gets lined up and plays smart.
Q: Have you ever had a rookie settle the defense like that?
A: I’ve played with rookies before when I was in Indianapolis. Antoine Bethea was a rookie and he played every ballgame through the Super Bowl and he played great ball. Bob Sanders, when he came in as a rookie, he played, when he got healthy, a ton of ball so that’s OK as long as they’re good football players and Harrison is a good football player.
Q: What works best for players to pick up a new system from a new coordinator?
A: I think that the coordinator has a system and he doesn’t venture outside that system. He has a package and that package is tight. They give them a set of rules to operate under and they show them all the looks under those rules. They may add some window dressing to it, in terms of moving the pieces around, but when it’s all said and done, it’s the same set of plays. That’s when a rookie or even a veteran player gets used to operating under that system and they play faster.
Q: You mentioned earlier in camp rotating across the interior of your defensive line, going into week one, do you pretty much know what you’re going to do?
A: Not just yet. I think we’re going to start off small and see how big we can get. Meaning we’ll start off with a few reps and see how those guys play, see how they earn the reps and go on from there and if it works, keep pushing it and keep evolving and keep giving guys more reps. If a guy does well with 10 reps, you give him 20, if he does well with 20, you give him 30 and ultimately you get a good rotation in there and you have multiple guys who can play winning football for you. We’ll see how it goes and hopefully we’ll evolve to a point where guys are getting significant playing time and playing good football.
Q: Did you get some pushback from
A: You’re always going to get pushback from good players. I don’t know of any good players that want to come off the field. With all good players there’s pushback and they want to be on the field at all times and you expect that. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not a big deal. Good players that want to stay on the field, that’s a good problem to have as a coordinator and as a coach.
Q: How does he compare to Freeney and what you had in Indianapolis with him?
A: Great players. There both great players so they want to be on the field and they make plays.
Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: So is Percy Harvin getting all the kickoff returns?
A: I hope so. That’s the plan and we’ve talked about this for almost two years now, when you have the best athlete you have on the team out there as your kickoff returner, that’s what you want.
Q: How much action is
A: He’ll start at punt returner and he’ll be a back up kickoff returner and hopefully he’ll be healthy enough to help us out on punt and kickoff as well. That would be the plan if he continues to improve, as he has.
Q: Does your teaching change whether it’s Percy or Sherels?
A: The teaching doesn’t because everyone else is the same. The other ten guys will be the same. What I might call on game day might change depending on who’s back there. It depends on what the coverage is and some people kick differently when Percy’s back there. Some of the teams we played last year, Denver for one, would kick it to try to get touchbacks when Percy was back there and if it wasn’t him, if it was Marcus or someone else, they would try to have us return it and we did a pretty good job overall. One time we didn’t, but the other two or three times we did a pretty good job against Denver. That’s the philosophy, whoever is back there, I will base my call off whoever our returner is.
Q: Does Jose Scobee still have a big leg?
A: Big time leg. He’s outstanding. He’s very, very good. He’s one of the better combination kickers in kickoff and field goal guys in the league.
Q: Do you have a percentage on how many kicks get returned against him?
A: In the preseason, 11 out of 20 were touchbacks. The other nine were returned. You can tell me that percentage. It’s a bit over 50 percent touchbacks, I know that.
Q: What were you looking for in terms of
A: Kickoff wise, I thought he did very, very well in the preseason. He had a couple miss hits but you’re going to get that, especially with a young guy. We survived them. Field goal wise, the good thing is, every time he missed one, it was three times, and obviously that’s too many, and he knows that, but he came back and made the next one. He had the opportunity to come back in the same game to go back and make his next attempt, which was, to me, huge. I think he’s got the right mentality, the right mindset, he’s continually working on all the little things we talk about and I’m excited about him for his first real game so we’ll see.
Q: When the final 53-man roster came out, did you feel good about the players at your disposal?
A: Yeah, I do. That great thing is, and we talked about this at training camp, we have more competition at different spots and when you have that, it’s a good problem to have. When you have better competition and better personnel across the board, when you’re 53-man roster isn’t set in May, like it has been, I’ve been on teams where you know who it’s going to be going into camp if everybody stayed healthy, here you didn’t’ know until the end. That fourth preseason game for huge for a lot of guys. Am I disappointed we lost some guys? Sure, but all in all, I think we’re a much better football team, defensively, offensively and special teams and I’m excited about where we’re at.
Q: How much were you in Marcus’ corner when it came time for cuts?
A: I’ve always been in Marcus’ corner. I think he’s what you want in a professional football player in terms of his attitude, his work ethic and his intelligence. Is he the biggest guy? No, but he’s always going to play hard, he’s always going to work. He’s gotten better in every phase since we’ve been together. I’ve always been in his corner to be quite honest.