What We Learned: Vikings vs. Seahawks Storylines

Posted Nov 15, 2013

The week of practice is over and the Vikings are set to travel to Seattle tomorrow to battle the Seahawks on Sunday. Here’s what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared to face one of the hottest teams in the NFL…

Ponder improving, decision to be made tomorrow
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Friday afternoon and said quarterback Christian Ponder (shoulder) is improving and took on an increased workload in practice. Frazier did not name Ponder the starter, instead saying a determination on his status would be made on Saturday when as assessment of his condition could be made following Friday’s practice.

Other injuries of note
The official injury report will be released later Friday, but it sounds like the Vikings will be getting a few key players back, including cornerback Chris Cook, defensive tackle Fred Evans, right tackle Phil Loadholt and safety Jamarca Sanford. Greg Jennings was added to the injury report this week but Frazier said on Friday he expects the veteran receiver to play. Also, Adrian Peterson is listed on the report with a groin injury. Again, the official report and a designation of out, doubtful, questionable or probable will be given for each player. Stay tuned.

Patterson to play more
The Washington Redskins went out of their way to keep the ball out of Cordarrelle Patterson’s hands, using a series of squib and pooch kicks last Thursday night rather than kicking it deep to the Vikings talented, play-making rookie. While Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer explained earlier this week that he thinks Seattle will actually kick the ball to Patterson, you can also anticipate the Vikings doing things to get #84 the ball more frequently – on offense.

“He now knows more than just one position,” Musgrave said of Patterson. “We're mixing and matching him and trying to get him in good spots as well as featuring our other guys, too.”

Said Patterson this week: “My route running has improved a lot. I'm not worried about the plays. That's coming along. It's great. I've got great guys. Quarterbacks, they help me out every day. I can't worry about that. Whatever happens on the field happens on the field. We all make mistakes that you've just got to learn from.”

If Patterson makes any more mistakes this season, they’ll likely come on the field because it seems he’s in line for more playing time. That’s good news for the Vikings and for Patterson’s continued development.

Vikings prepared for difficult environment at CenturyLink Field
Preparing to play on the road by emphasizing the challenge to the team in meeting and then practicing with crowd noise throughout the week is standard in football. But there is nothing standard about playing at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, a stadium and environment well-renowned throughout the League as one of the toughest places to go and play. Frazier, Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave and several players have made mention of how difficult it is to play in Seattle, so none of this was lost on the Vikings over the week.

It bears noting, though, that Seattle’s advantage at home is real. They haven’t lost a regular season game in their own building since Christmas Eve 2011, and quarterback Russell Wilson has never lost at home as Seattle’s starter.

Seattle has great punt coverage
As great as the Vikings have been in the return game with Cordarrelle Patterson leading the League in kickoff return average and Marcus Sherels leading the league in punt return average, the Seahawks have been just as impressive in their kick and punt coverage. On the punt coverage, specifically, watch for punter Jon Ryan to utilize the “Aussie” style drop on many of his punts, a tactic that can shave some distance off punts but that also aides the coverage team in their ability to get downfield and cover up returns.

This will be a challenge for Sherels on Sunday, but you can be sure Priefer and Sherels have a plan to handle this type of kick. Sherels is as diligent a player as there is when it comes to preparing for a game and working on his craft.