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Vikings Quotes - Frazier, Kalil & Smith - May 4

Posted May 4, 2012

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier

You couldn’t ask for better weather to start off a rookie mini-camp and for us to be able to come out here and in a lot of ways, kick off the 2012 season with our rookies. It was a good start for us, just to be able to have Matt (Kalil) out here, Rhett Ellison, all of the different guys that we drafted, along with a number of free agents who we think will have a shot at maybe making our team and looking for that diamond in the rough as well but really pleased with the way this first day went. We have a chance to come back out this afternoon and get a chance to look at them but just in this first look, I think there are some guys in this draft class that will really be able to help our football team improve and that’s what you’re hoping will come out of that most recent draft. Good start for us and we’ll see how things go over the next couple of days.

Q: What are you looking for? What gets your attention?

A: You’re looking for a guy who can make plays. You want to see somebody do something and make you say, ‘Wow, that was pretty good.’ We saw a couple instances of that this morning. Now we’ll go back and look at the tape and just see how some certain guys did on tape but you’re looking for somebody who will just grab your attention by maybe making a play.

Q: What do you specifically look for from the quarterback position today?

A: You want to see how well they grasp some of the information we give them in the meetings and how well they can transfer it to the football field and you also are trying to find a guy who shows some kind of leadership ability, kind of take command, especially in this setting and if you can find that, you might have a guy who can help you down the line.

Q: You had Everson Griffen cheering on Rhett Ellison at one point. How does that help a guy trying to make the team?

A: I think it helps anytime you have positive energy and in this case, a former teammate, it definitely makes a difference but at the end of the day it still comes back to guys being able to execute in this setting but it doesn’t hurt to have someone encouraging you from the sideline.

Q: It seems strange that Greg Childs and Jarius Wright have been friends since they were young and now they are here on the same field.

A: I know. When they got in last night I was talking to them and it’s just amazing to go from elementary school, middle school, high school, college and then teammates in the pros. What are the odds of that happening? They’re great friends as you would expect and tremendous players. They are reminding me, ‘Coach, we’ve always been winners. Everywhere we went.” I said, ‘Hallelujah, we’ll take that. Bring some of that with you.’ We’re glad to have them and looking forward to seeing how they progress.

Q: Do you feel like the selection of Greg Childs was a value pick if he can be the player he was before his injury?

A: We really do. His junior season was his best year. His senior season, coming off an injury, wasn’t quite up to the form that he had the year before so we’re hoping, like a lot of guys who have knee injuries, that the second year is the breakout year. If that’s the case, we’ll be the beneficiaries and he could be the steal of the draft.

Q: What’s the scouting report on Matt Singletary?

A: Played at Cal-Poly. Was a defensive end there and we have him lined up at some linebacker and he has some traits of a Hall of Fame guy so we’re going to see if we can get a little bit of that out of him. We’re glad to have him here.

Q: You’ve probably seen him since he was born right?

A: Since he was born, right. Just looking forward to watching him play. I never had a chance to watch him in college until we started this process and watched him on tape, always talk with him and of course his dad about how he was doing and now to see him as a young man, it’s just amazing. He’s a good athlete so we’re looking forward to seeing how he progresses over these next couple of days.

Q: Are you reminded of what you missed out on last year with the lockout today?

A: The coaches and I have talked about that repeatedly. We were in meetings yesterday just going through some of the final touches for this camp that we’re having and we just looked at one another, to be able to have this discussion and know it’s going to happen, it’s a big deal for us to be able to come on the football field with so many players that we think are going to be able to help us and to spend time with them and introduce them to how we do things, it’s so different and it’s so good at the same time.

Q: What has the process been for these guys since they came in? Have you taken them through meetings?

A: We did that. The rules don’t allow us to do any installation the night before like we once could so now we have to do it the day of and that’s exactly what we did this morning prior to coming on the field. We were able to install our offense, defense, and what we wanted to get worked on in special teams and then you’re trying to find out as a part of your evaluation process, how well they take notes and can come out on the football field in that short span and execute some of the things you put in the meetings. That’s a part of the evaluation process and we didn’t have as many mental errors as we thought we might have but you’re looking for that. You’re trying to see how guys can get information, bring it out here and execute. We’ll see how it goes over the next few days.

Q: Your quarterback Christian Ponder was standing over there with Bill Musgrave watching installation. I imagine you like seeing that.

A: I do. That’s a big deal because we’re counting on him from a leadership standpoint and you like the fact that your starting quarterback is a football junkie. He would take the time to come out and just watch and observe. That’s encouraging.

Q: It’s different how you can’t have the same contact that you had under the old CBA.

A: Yeah, it’s a different NFL and everybody has had to adjust to it. The guys that really get penalized are the Christian’s of the League, the young guys, because you would love to be able to interact with them a lot more than we’re able to but you have to adjust to the new rules.

Q: Did you encourage some of the veteran guys to come out and watch?

A: Some of them asked about it. They wanted to be able to come out and watch and we said, ‘Come out and look. Just make sure you don’t jump in a drill or pick up a dummy or anything like that.’ It’s good that they want to come out and watch. They’re hungry to get out there as well. The participation we’ve had in the offseason program has been superb. The fact that they want to come out here when they could leave and do other things on a Friday, that’s a good sign. They want to be around football.

Q: Was that to watch a guy like Matt Kalil or learn some things?

A: I hope it’s both, being able to look at their future teammate and also, pick up something that they see while they’re watching. I’m sure some of it is just to watch Matt and see how he moves around.

Q: How did Soloman Elimimian, the linebacker, catch your eye?

A: He played in the Canadian League and our scouts were the ones that really talked to us about him, and then of course we brought him in and worked him out. Our coaches thought he had a chance to give us a good chance in training camp. We will see how he does, but what he did in the workout is what impressed us.

Q: Is he a special teams guy, can he play linebacker at that size?

A: We think he has a chance to be a quality backup. For sure special teams; he’s a quick, agile guy, he has that short stocky build, but he packs a punch and he was one of the top tacklers in the Canadian Football League. His quickness and ability to dissect plays got our attention.

Q: Does seeing a guy like that and then Audie Cole out here, does it give you the hope that you will have that linebacker depth that you are looking for?

A: Yeah, and the young kid from Iowa [Tyler Nielsen] here as well. We do need to sure up that depth, that’s a crucial area for us, particularly when it comes to special teams. I have seen Audie move around a little bit, I saw Soloman move around a little bit, that helps us, we just have to continue to evaluate him and when this camp is over and we don’t feel like we are where we need to be, then we will keep searching the wire.

Q: Are you still looking for nose tackles is that a position that is of some concern?

A: Not so much, we are counting on the guys we have coming back; Fred Evans and Letroy Guion to give us what we want, and we think we have enough depth from a signing standpoint that we should be alright.

Q: What kind of role do you envision for Rhett Ellison, is it more of a Kleinsasser blocking role to free up John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, or are you going to need him to help in the receiving game as well?

A: We are hoping that he becomes a guy that can do a little bit of what Jimmy Kleinsasser gave us in the past. We think with both John and Kyle, we have the guys that can stretch the field and do some things with. We need to get a guy who can come in the backfield and be a lead blocker and be on the line of scrimmage and be a blocker for us. We still have some other guys on our roster we are counting on to help us with that as well. We will have good competition for that third tight end position.

Q: What do you see out of Josh Robinson?

A: I was watching the guys return punts this morning; and we still have those cheat sheets with the guys numbers, and Josh caught a punt and he took off like a guy shot out of a rocket, and I thought, “man, that guy has a nice little burst, let me see who that is,” and it was Josh Robinson, and I said, ‘That’s a good sign’. That burst, it sticks out. You can see why he ran a 4.2-4.3 forty at the combine. He can get from A to B pretty quick, so that’s encouraging.

Q: Is he a potential kickoff returner as well?

A: His experience has been more of a punt returner, but possibly at kickoff return.

Q: How about as a corner?

A: Well, that’s what we drafted him for, to play corner. We will continue to throw things at him and watch him progress. We want him to compete for a job, not just in the nickel position, but we want him to compete for a starting job and we will see how he does.

Q: Did Jarius Wright get banged up a little bit?

A: He did, he jumped up for a pass and bumped his head. He is throwing up a little bit, so we will see how he does and decide on whether or not we will let him practice this afternoon.

Q: What was it like seeing Matt Kalil out there today? Were you impressed with what you saw?

A: Very impressed, the first thing that sticks out it his size. He is a big man. It’s one thing to watch him on tape, but to actually stand beside him and being able to watch him against our other players here; you can see why we have high hopes for him. He was excellent today, and his ability to be able to pick up information, that was encouraging as well. In our game, game plans change week-to-week, I am very impressed with his first practice.

Q: How close will you watch a guy like Kalil? Obviously he is going to make the team, but do you still monitor him?

A: You do, because you want to be able to engage and work with him when he gets back on May 14th as we go forward. What are his strengths based on this minicamp? What are his weaknesses as well, so yeah, he is being evaluated as well. We expect him to be our starting left tackle.

Q: He was drawing a lot of interest from your guys too; a lot of your players were watching him.

A: Yeah, when you are the top draft pick you are going to draw interest from both sides of the ball. Guys are really pulling for him and want him to be successful.

Q: I know you like doing Call of the Wild every year, with 71 guys is there a point of diminishing returns?

A: When we were talking about this year’s rookie minicamp I asked Rick Spielman and the scouts to get us some numbers, we wanted competition at this camp, and we want the best guys you can get, but get us some depth as well. The more guys you have competing the better chance you have of finding someone that will be able to help your team. That was the goal, to get some numbers, and not just have 20-25 guys. It should be good for us, we have plenty of time to watch tape and evaluate guys along with what we do on the football field. If you are able to find one guy that may have been undrafted that can help your football team, it’s worth it.

Q: Is there something to be said too, for limiting the reps here, some of these guys haven’t been football-specific activities?

A: That’s a part of having those numbers, because now, you don’t wear them out, you still have a good tempo, you say ‘ok we have to slow this down, or cut this period out’, so it works two-fold.

Q: How close do you take a look at Blair Walsh or do you wait until him and Ryan Longwell are together?

A: We are obviously going to take a close look at him. Obviously when you draft a kicker you are drafting for a reason, so we will take a real good look at him this weekend and see how he does. He was an outstanding kicker throughout his first three years at Georgia and we want to see if we can get that form back. We feel like he can.

Q: Would you keep two kickers?

A: I don’t know if we would keep two. It’s possible, but it’s not in the game plan right now.

Q: Do you envision Robert Blanton being at safety for the long haul now?

A: We would like for him to compete for that safety position. We know he has the potential to go outside at corner, which gives us some flexibility, but we are hoping he can compete for a position at the safety spot, so that’s where we will line him up at. Eventually we will give him a chance to work in the slot, but initially he is going to be a safety.

Q: So he has a chance to be a starter?

A: It’s possible; if you look at where we ended the season at the safety position, its open competition. Those guys are returning, but we want an open competition.

Q: Will you give Jarius basic concussion testing?

A: Our trainer Eric Sugarman will do everything that’s necessary to make sure we don’t put him in harm’s way. So whatever that means, they will get it taken care of.

Q: Two practices tomorrow and one on Sunday?

A: Exactly, yes.

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2011

Vikings Tackle Matt Kalil

Q: How does it feel to be back out on the field?

A: Feels good. It feels good to be running football plays and working on our o-line again. It’s been since November, so it just feels good to get back out there, knock a little bit of the rust off and come back flying out second practice.

Q: What are your thoughts on what the Vikings did at the draft overall?

A: It’s a great organization, so they have a good idea more than me of what guys to pick. But I know they got some great players and it looks like we’re getting a good team together over here.

Q: What was it like out there today? A lot like college practice?

A: It’s pretty similar to USC. Nothing I haven’t seen before. At SC we did a lot of helmets flying around, basically full contact with less pads, so it’s something I’ve seen before. It’s just cool to be in a different uniform on a different team and see how great these players are.

Q: Was this a hard decision for you at all looking at the kind of team USC has coming back?

A: Not at all. I think I accomplished everything I wanted to at USC and I’d still be there if I wanted to stay. So, I’m confident in my decision to move on to the next level and play for the Minnesota Vikings.

Q: Does this give you a pretty good idea of what the offensive concepts are?

A: A little bit. It’s been somewhat of an easier transition, I guess, than some other guys since we ran a similar offense at USC. So, it’s a lot of the same things with basically a different language. So, it’s about translating what something used to be called into what they call it here. So it’s just like taking Spanish class in college or something. Just like learning a whole new terminology and all that. But I’ve been catching on pretty fast and I feel comfortable and confident with what I’ve done so far.

Q: What specifically is the most similar thing that you’ve seen?

A: Just what they do, what kind of offense they run, play action and zone-running principles. It’s a lot of what we did at USC.

Q: Jeff Davidson said he made a point to introduce Charlie Johnson to you and your family, are you guys going to be cool over there on the left side?

A: Oh yeah, it was really cool. It was a big relief seeing him and he said he felt good that he’s playing guard right next to me. So, it’s kind of cool to have a veteran to play next to and have someone openly come out and great you and say that he’s excited to win some games. So, that made me feel a lot more comfortable coming in here playing left tackle.

Q: How can you guys help each other get better?

A: I can definitely learn a lot from him more than he can from me. He’s been in this league a long time and that’s what I’m looking to do. Start camp when all the veterans come in and just learn everything I can from them. Pick their brains left and right and hopefully they can help me become a better player.

Q: Do you know Junior Seau at all?

A: Not at all. Never met him personally. But definitely one of the greatest players to come out of USC and I was really sad to hear that news.

FRIDAY, MAY 4, 2011

Vikings Safety Harrison Smith

Q: What does it feel like having the purple on out there on the field?

A: I mean, it’s awesome finally getting out here and mixing it up with the coaches and the guys and just jumping into the playbook a little bit. It’s just nice getting back on the field and it’s just awesome doing it with this organization.

Q: What do you look to get out of these practices the next couple days?

A: When you’re away from football for so long, you can work out and you can train and lift weights, but there’s nothing quite like getting in and playing defense. Getting in your gaps, playing your assignments and then doing it and getting in shape for football. So, it’s just a little bit different from what you can do on your own.

Q: Do they throw a lot at you the first day?

A: It wasn’t too much. They just gave us a little piece I’m sure. So they’re just trying to get us all to do that well and have everybody do their job.

Q: What do you anticipate will be the major adjustment for you coming from Notre Dame to the NFL?

A: Well, I mean, I haven’t played a down of NFL football yet. But obviously, everyone’s just another step above what they were in college. Everybody’s the best here. And everything is on the line everytime you come up; for practice, for games, for preseason games, it doesn’t matter. So, it’s just a whole nother level you have to take your game to.

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