Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Really enjoyed being able to go over for a few minutes with the Special Olympians, having some of our players come over and help out after a really tough practice. We tried to put our guys through some paces today and hit a few different situations and it’s so good to be able to come out here and practice. You plan things and now, to see them come to fruition, is just good for our football team. Attitude has been great and when you have guys on our team working as hard as they’re working, and then to take time out and do what they did after practice to help other people, it just shows you the type of integrity and character you’re trying to develop on the team and yet, working as hard as we can to prepare to win some games in 2012 as well. So far, we’re making some progress. We still have a long ways to go as a team, to come together as a team, but that’s why we have these OTAs and that’s why we’ll have minicamp and the preseason as well. We’re making progress, but we definitely have a ways to go. We’re making some progress.
Q: Where do things stand with
A: I was extremely disappointed. We talked about some things when we got together for our first OTA and our meetings on how we wanted to conduct ourselves and then when a new guy comes to the club and he’s a veteran guy and something happens like it did over the weekend, it’s very disappointing and it’s something that we’ll have to deal with and have to address but you don’t want that to drown out all of the good things that some of our players are doing and what they do in the community. Extremely disappointed with what happened.
Q: Are there some things you need to change internally due to the legal troubles?
A: I don’t know, other than what we’re doing, you’re always trying to look at the people you sign and you draft. That’s probably the number one thing you take a look at. We’ll always try to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing and what can make us better both on and off the football field. I also know that when you’re dealing with young men at this age, there is a possibility of this happening and it wouldn’t surprise me, I hope it doesn’t happen, but there may be some other incidents around the League or on our team. You hope that it doesn’t happen but you always have to be aware that that’s a possibility that it could happen.
A: He did a good job yesterday with his shoulder and we really though things were going well for him and he wasn’t here today but he’s done a good job in the time that he’s been here. This is his first miss and hopefully we’ll have him back tomorrow.
Q: How do you define
A: The fact that he’s here and participating in all of these OTAs, I told him the other day that I don’t take that for granted and really appreciate him being here because he provides veteran leadership for some of the new faces that we have in the secondary and he’s a great player. He’s a tremendous person as well. His role will be defined by how he performs in the preseason and what he does during these OTAs but we’re expecting him to be a vital piece to the puzzle in a lot of ways. We need his leadership, we need his playmaking ability on the football field and he’s played a number of years in this League but we don’t think his best football is behind him.
Q: Do you look for more out of a number three back this year with
A: We are. We talked about that in the offseason and throughout the offseason. That number three back for us really needs to be a guy who can step in and play in early downs, not just in third-down situations, which is more the norm for most third-down backs. There are guys who are more specialty types and for us, he needs to be a guy who can carry the ball as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. We are looking for a little bit more out of the third back this season.
A: So far, so good. We’re glad that we signed both of them and it’ll all play itself out once we get the pads on in Mankato but we think we’re going to have good competition between the two.
Q: Was his shoulder the reason Percy Harvin was not here today?
A: No, nothing that I’m aware of regarding his shoulder. It’s a voluntary camp. Hopeful we’ll have him back tomorrow.
Q: What is
A: Greg has a calf strain and he’s missing some valuable time but at the same time, that could happen. As a wide receiver, you could have some muscle pulls and he’s experiencing that right now and I know he’s getting treatment and doing everything he can to get back on the field and begin to learn the offense, not just from a mental standpoint, but the physical part of what we do. He’s missing that, but he’ll get caught up. He’s a smart kid and it’s unfortunate he can’t get some of these reps now but he’ll get caught up.
Q: Is he still behind from his earlier injuries in college?
A: I don’t know if he is that far behind. Our doctors cleared him and say he’s 100 percent and he’s ready to go. We haven’t had any experiences with the knee injury. This is a different injury, the calf, and we don’t think there are any residual effects from the knee. Hopefully we’ll have him back soon.
Q: What is your vision for Jerome Felton and how can he fit in and help this team?
A: We brought him in here to compete for a position at the fullback spot and that’s what we’re expecting from him, to be able to compete here in the OTAs and minicamp and on to training camp for a role on our football team as a fullback and he’ll have an opportunity to do that.
Q: What are his strengths?
A: Probably his blocking and that’s what we need out of a fullback, a guy who can be a good lead blocker along with the ability to catch the football out of the backfield and be a good guy when it comes to blitz pickup as well, but his blocking would be the number one priority for us.
Q: How much are you going to lean on
A: John is a guy we’re really counting on. From a leadership standpoint, he was rewarded, as you know, this past season with a good contract and because of how he has matured on the football field, he’s really come along and he’s begun to accept that role as a leader. We saw it last season and his performance has continually gotten better. As long as he can avoid the nagging injuries, he’s an outstanding football player. Now you combine that with his experience and his leadership, he has tremendous value for our team.
Q: What have seen out of
A: He’s done a good job here at practice, working out real hard and being at all of the meetings and being where he is supposed to be and doing all of the things we’ve asked him to do. He’s been a good teammate and it seems like he’s doing the right things off the field. Chris will continuously have to earn his teammates trust. He’ll have to do the things he has to do on the football field to compete for a starting job and hold on to a starting job and just be that quality of person we expect him to be, that we expect all of our players to be. That’s the way he’ll validate his being here. Just being the right kind of person.
Q: How do you reconcile that?
A: The one thing I know is he’s here and he’s working as hard as he can to help our football team, both hopefully on and off the field, not get involved in any incidents off the field and doing what he has to do on the football field to help us be successful. I think he’s doing the right things for himself personally to be the best person he can be. We’ll see as time goes on how it plays out.
Q: What have you seen out of
A: The good thing for Stephen is that he was able to get some reps in ball games a year ago when I know he wasn’t expecting that early on and neither were we. That helped him because he has a lot more confidence at this stage than when we had him in training camp. He’s grown so much from having the chance to dress and get in a ball game and his understanding of the offense is so much further ahead as well. You can see the confidence and that’s a big thing for a receiver, big thing for any young player. He has tremendous athletic ability and he is one of those guys who can jump out of the gym and make the acrobatic catch, but his confidence, that’s the one thing that you can see is coming through now.
Q: It seems like the focus he has when the ball is in the air is much improved now too?
A: Much improved. He’s doing some things with our kickoff return and punt return that we were hoping we’d get from him. He’ improved in that area. We think he’s going to be one of those guys who can not only help us as a receiver, but can help us on special teams as well.
Q: How much did your heart drop when
A: That was a scary moment. We were relieved when we found out it wasn’t an ACL or something that severe. That would have been tough to lose him. He plays so well for us in Adrian’s absence. Just glad it wasn’t as bad as it originally looked like.
Q: He’s gained some muscle weight. Is that something you told him you’d like him to do?
A: It’s kind of a combination of what Tom Kanavy asked him to do, our strength coach, and Toby really adhering to what his body was saying. He is still a developing guy and there are some things we’re going to find out in these OTAs before we send him home and come back to training camp. We’ll give him a prescribed weight but we want to take a look at where he is right now and just see how it would affect his quickness because there’s a very good chance he’s really going to have to carry the load early on or be in a bigger role in the early part of the season.
Q: How big were his strides from his first year to his second year?
A: The thing that stuck out was the breakaway plays. He had a number of plays where it was just him and maybe one other guy. You saw the power in that first year, you saw it at times where he’d break tackles but to see him get out in front of the linebackers and the secondary at times, we hadn’t always seen that burst and that was the one thing that came up. He’s a deceptively quick guy but his power shows up but then his speed shows up as well and that’s something you don’t always associate with Toby’s style of running. You think of him more as a bruiser but he showed some breakaway speed as well.
Q: I think they caught him in Washington.
A: (Laughs) They did catch him but the fact that he was in the secondary was a good thing.
Q: When you needed a back after Adrian went down, how did you settle on Todman?
A: Rick (Spielman) and his scouting staff brought him up to us last season and we talked about him. Of course we were well aware of him coming out of college and the fact that he was on their practice squad and it was a possibility, we were getting a little bit thin at running back at the time and we had some concerns. We were also looking forward to this next season and with his breakaway speed, his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, he was an enticing guy. He is a bright guy, solid guy character-wise. We just thought he’d be a good fit for what we’re trying to do so we’re anxious to see him when we get in pads and see how he comes along.
Q: Would you like to take away some of the carries that Percy Harvin had? Is that too many for him?
A: I don’t know if it’s too many, but we’ll have to see where we are. We don’t want to put him in harm’s way very often. I don’t know if we would have done that if things were a little bit different for us at the halfback position, Adrian had another injury prior to his ACL, if you remember with the ankle. Percy’s ability to make plays, we still want to utilize that in the backfield but maybe not to that number but we’ll see.
Q: How concerning is it when you hear the League talk about replacement officials?
A: I’m sure whatever direction the League goes, it’s going to be one that’s good for our players, good for the coaches, good for the League. We really have to trust their judgment regarding that and we’ll have to see how it all plays out but you really have to trust that the League will do the right thing.
Q: One of your guys described what’s going on in the defensive backfield as “cooperative competition.” How do you foster that when guys are fighting for spots but you also want them to work together?
A: We always tell our players that you’re not necessarily competing against that guy next to you or that guy that maybe lined up behind you, you’re competing against yourself. Every day we look at each guy individually and your performance is what you need to be most concerned about, not who is lining up in the line with me and as long as you take that attitude, you can be a good teammate and not be hoping that a guy fails. You need to be more concerned about your performance and if that’s the case, then you’re pulling for the other guys because you’re more concerned with what you have to get done.
A: In today’s NFL, you really need three starters in the secondary at corner. You see so much three, four, now five wideout sets that you need three starters. It would be great for us to have three guys that we like can be starting corners. We’d be so much better if that were to happen. If Chris or Josh or Zack (Bowman) or one of the other guys steps up, it would be great for our team. We need three starting caliber players to compete in today’s NFL.
Q: Is the slot still where you want Antoine Winfield’s home to be?
A: Yeah, when people have three wides on the field, that’s where we like to line him up, at the slot position. In years past, there were times when we’d line him up outside for different reasons but you like for, like I mentioned a moment ago, to have three guys you can really count on and let him play the slot position. That would be ideal.
Q: How do you feel about your cornerback depth now as opposed to a year ago at this time?
A: It’s so much better. A year ago, the uncertainty with the injuries, with Cedric (Griffin) and so on. It’s just ten times better going into camp. We’re much further along than we were a year ago and the fact that we have an offseason to practice and introduce the system to the guys, I think we’re much further ahead.
A: No, he was actually here yesterday and it was great to see him and then he called me at 6:30 this morning, things got a little bit worse for he and his family and he had to head where he had to go. He’s dealing with some major issues in his family but Chad is a loyal guy, he wants to be here, but he’s dealing with a serious matter.
Q: With the additions at tight end, is the goal for the offense to include them more than just blocking and a five-yard pass?
A: No doubt about it. That’s what we want to see happen. We want to be able to feature our tight ends on occasion. You can see the evolution of the League with the tight end position. They’re almost becoming another wide receiver with the way they’re used today. We like to be able to spread our tight ends out at times. If we have them in the corps, to be able to use them catching routes inside. Yeah, we want to feature our tight ends on occasion and Kyle (Rudolph) has that ability, John (Carlson) does as well and we’re going to try to determine whether Rhett (Ellison) or Mickey (Shuler) or some of the other guys can help us as well. For sure with John and Kyle, we’d like to be able to feature them at times.
Q: The guys seem to get excited when
A: Anybody who witnessed that play today, you’re going to get jacked up. That was an incredible play and one of the reasons we get excited about him. We’re hoping to see that on Sunday afternoons, plays like that. That would really help our team, help our quarterback’s confidence and we need that. We need that.
Q: How are you going to ration reps through training camp with Jerome Simpson being out the first three weeks?
A: We’ll have to change a few things because of what you just said, we’re not going to have him early on. We’ll have to get someone else ready, take those early reps but yet, bring him along where he’s getting some reps too to make sure he’s into it mentally but we’ll have to go through that and make sure we get those guys ready who are going to be playing in the games.