Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Today seems like it’s going to be another great day, the weather is terrific, and we’ve had good weather all along. It was warm early on but it’s really cooled off now and players of course like it when it’s like this. The people here at Minnesota State University, they’ve done a great job of hosting us like they have in years past. Mankato, the entire city has just been terrific throughout the time we’ve been here. There is a good reason why the Vikings always look forward to renewing the relationship year in and year out. They are tremendous hosts and we are thankful for their support and the way they have really laid out the welcome mat for us. Today of course being our final practice this afternoon in Mankato, our guys are kind of looking forward to breaking camp. They’re looking forward to getting back to Winter Park and some familiar surroundings, but we still have a lot of work to do. I think when you summarize this training camp from our prospective, one of our goals was to try to bring this team together by the time we were leaving Mankato; be able to have a sense that we were heading in the right direction. I think that’s the case, we’re beginning to see some guys emerge as leaders. That was one of the things we wanted to see with this team and find out internally who would be the players that would lead our team and help us go in the right direction, that’s beginning to happen. The competition at many positions has been very good, should be good for our team. That’s beginning to clear itself up a little bit but we still have a few more outings where we’ll get a chance to get a better idea of how things are going to shape out. Between the competition and building the team and seeing some young guys improve, we feel like it’s been a successful training camp. A lot of things we set out to do are being accomplished and we just have to keep working with the time we have remaining when we get back to Winter Park.
Q: What have you learned about this team from training camp?
A: The attitude has been so good, going all the way back to April 23rd. You wonder coming to training camp if that will continue, knowing that things will change because of the competition at the positions. They’ve been great, they’ve been working hard amongst one another. The competition hasn’t lowered at all, it’s been good. The one thing I learned is that we have some guys who are fighters and really want to compete and make things happen and want to see this team improve. That’s encouraging, they want the same thing that all of our coaches and our fans want.
Q: Was the idea of going six days in a row with pads to give them a physical test and see who came out of it?
A: No doubt about it. It was a part of it, you want to challenge them, you want to see who is going to moan and groan and complain. If they’re willing to make the sacrifices that we think are necessary to improve our team and part of that is sometimes doing things you don’t want to do. You have to find out how guys are going to respond to those situations as well. There are going to be moments in games as we all know where things aren’t going to be right and you still have to be able to function and function well.
Q: Who emerged as a leader this camp?
A: We still have a little more time; I want to see how things continue to go here in the next couple of weeks. There are a couple of guys that I’m really impressed with, one being
A: No, he is still competitive, he’s still can make plays out there and he’s definitely the minority. To find a guy that still performs at the level that he performs at in his age and his years in the League is unusual but it just goes to show how talented he is and also how smart of a football player he is. It’s more than just the physical in this stage of his career, he really understands offenses, wide receivers, and what it takes to be successful at that position. He is rare and very unique because of the combination of being a smart player and also a very talented guy.
Q: Is there a plan for him to start early and be a caretaker until somebody is ready to step in and move more to the nickel and not play as much, or is that still up in the air?
A: He’ll have a lot to do with that by the way he plays in his remaining preseason games and how the season goes. We will still evaluate other guys in the secondary to determine what their roles are going to be. It’s kind of early to determine what his role will be.
Q: Is there an identity shaping for this team?
A: We have some goals for what we want our offense, defense and special teams to look like and want this team to look like. I think one of the things that has come out of this training camp is I think we are coming together as a team and we are taking on the characteristics that we like to have as a team. We want to be a tough team, we want to be a smart team and seeing some of that in the way we’re practicing and I saw some of it in the San Franciso game. Now it’s are we talented enough to go out and do the things that we have to do on Sundays? I think the foundation is being laid to do it the right way and the rest of it has to come over time.
Q: Is John Sullivan stepping up and working with that offensive line to turn things up?
A: Exactly right, and that’s a big deal. We have a young left tackle (
Q: Was there trepidation with this young roster and has anybody caught your eye?
A: I don’t know about trepidation because it is what it is. This is our roster and this is the group that we made a decision that this is the direction that we’re going to go. You try to bring that team along and develop those guys along the way. There is a lot involved with that, especially when you have so many that could potentially start for you and really have an impact on your team. No reservations, I think we’re doing the right thing, it’s just a matter of how soon it all comes together and what parts that we have to fill along the way. Rick (Spielman) and his staff will have to continue to keep their eyes on the waiver of what’s out there and what other ways we can continue to make our team better.
Q: Did you alter anything in camp because it is a younger roster, did you take things a little bit slower in installation or anything?
A: No, but I did take this into account when we were putting together the schedule that we really needed to have time to teach, that was going to be so, so important. We couldn’t just say the guys have familiarity with how we do things, and they understand the system, know the system. That is not the case here this year. We really started from the bare basics, as if nobody knew anything, but the plus was we had this offseason to kind of give us a leg up on training camp, and that has been a big, big plus for so many young players on our roster. No real alterations other than understanding that we needed to have time to teach, and that was one of the reasons we went to the morning walkthrough and the afternoon practice. I think it has really helped us.
Q: How long will you go without hitting
A: We talked about it last night, at some point here real soon, maybe next week we will have to let him get a little bit of contact. It depends on how he is feeling and where he is. We are going to get him a few more reps today and increase that as we go along. As far as the contact, we will have to make a decision on that as time goes on.
A: Yeah, I would say so. He would be the only one. All of the other guys that are a little knicked we should get back if not next week, for sure the week that we are preparing for the Texans, even if they don’t play in the game to practice. Geoff would be the only guy.
Q: Through three weeks of camp you haven’t lost a starter yet to injury, your thoughts?
A: It’s a big deal in training camp. All you have to do is read the wires and see teams losing guys, but it’s the NFL, so we are fortunate at this point.
Q: With all of the technology that has come along, having these guys stay on cots in their dorms seems a little archaic, doesn’t it?
A: We like our situation here in Mankato, they have been very good. Our players like this situation, our coaches like it. Minnesota State has done a great job with the dormitory, the cafeteria. The location of Gage, you know Gage is going to be torn down, we will miss Gage, but this has been a good situation for us.
Q: Will the guys that didn’t play last week going to get any playing time in this Friday’s game?
A: The guys that won’t play are the guys that are injured. Jared (Allen) and Percy (Harvin), all of those guys are playing, yes. Our goal is to get those guys through the first quarter and maybe some of the second quarter as well. We have a number of plays that we want to get to and we will see how it goes. We want to get everybody some action before we get to that third preseason game.
Q: Will (Brandon) Fusco get more of a test this week facing a four-man front?
A: Absolutely, with the 4-3 he will get more of a test then he did a week ago with the 3-4 front. We are anxious to see how he responds, they have a good defensive front early on, so he will go against some pretty good guys. We want to see how he responds, but you’re right, he will be tested more this week.
Q: How do you think he played against San Francisco?
A: I thought he held his own pretty good. There are a few things we would like him improve on and he will as he gets more work and more confidence in what he is doing. This game will be a real good test because the team we open the season with runs a 4-3 defense.
Q: What did you think about
A: I was impressed with the way he came in and had the confidence he has shown in practice. He threw the ball around, he was confident with the some of the things he did. I thought he did a good job.
Q: Is there a possibility he will earn a practice squad spot with the situation you’re in with your quarterbacks?
A: We feel like we have identified our starting quarterback, we feel pretty good about our number two quarterback, so right now he is fighting for that third sport. Things could change, but he is fighting to be that third quarterback. There is a battle to get that done, we are not pigeon holed in saying he has to be a practice squad quarterback but we will see what happens.
Q: What are your thoughts on
A: We like having Sage, that is the reason he brought him back, because of his veteran experience. We will see how it all shakes out, there is competition all across the board, even in that third quarterback spot.