A few of the hot-button topics at Winter Park on Wednesday as the Vikings began on-field preparations for their season opener against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday...
Get ready for Reggie
The Vikings see a lot of the Lions – twice a year, in fact. So Detroit is a familiar foe, but on Sunday they will have a new twist on offense and it’s something the Vikings are aware of as they work on their defensive game plan. Detroit signed running back Reggie Bush this past offseason and he figures to be a factor for them all season.
While Bush is not going to be a 20-25 carry-a-game workhorse as a running back, he can still have a profound impact on the game. Last season for the Dolphins, Bush had six rushing touchdown and he also caught 88 passes for 742 yards with two more scores. For his career, Bush averages 5.1 yards per touch and has 44 touchdowns.
“I think he’ll definitely add a lot to their offense,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He’s another weapon for their quarterback. He does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield and creating some mismatches for opposing defenses, and he’s running the ball better. If you take a look at what he did on tape at Miami, he did a good job of running the football as well. He’s a good added dimension for their offense and should be a plus.”
No team threw it more than Detroit last season, and while Frazier’s commentary on Bush’s improved running production may lower that number a little in 2013, make no mistake that the biggest threat Bush poses to the Vikings defense is as a receiver, particularly in the screen game. Against New England in the third preseason game, Bush caught five passes for 103 yards, including a 67-yard gain on a screen pass. It will be important for the Vikings to remain disciplined and tackle well in space against Bush on Sunday.
Kevin Williams continues to make progress as he recovers from the knee injury he incurred at San Francisco during the Vikings third preseason game. The hit that injured Williams’ knee was the kind that can result in a catastrophic injury, but fortunately the Ticket was able to avoid that kind of outcome. He still has work to do to get healthy, but Frazier would not rule him out for Sunday and said more will be known by the end of the week.
“He’s really improving,” Frazier said. “He’s making a lot of progress, so we are anxious to see if he’s able to do anything today. But he’s making good progress.”
Williams did not practice on Wednesday and there’s no word on what his status is for Thursday’s practice, either.
“It’ll probably be on Friday,” Frazier said when pushed on a timetable for a decision as to whether Williams will play on Sunday in Detroit. “If he’s not able to do much on Friday, then that might be a concern about whether to have him play on Sunday, but we’ll see. We’ll see how he progresses. He’s doing well so far so we’ll see how things go as the week goes on.”
A guy who figures to see significantly more snaps if Williams can’t play is rookie
“We need to see him get some practice under his belt, and today (Wednesday) will be the most extensive amount of work he’s had in quite a while,” Frazier said. “We’ll see how he does and we’ll just gauge it throughout the week.”
Evaluating in quarters vs. game-by-game
NFL coaches like to break their team’s season schedule down into quarters, concentrating on coming out with a winning record in each of the four-game segments. For the Vikings, the opening quarter of the season is filled with challenges. They begin with two consecutive road games within the division, come home to play a tougher-than-you-think Cleveland Browns team that features running back Trent Richardson and some serious speed on the outside at receiver, and then they hit the road and travel across the Atlantic for a “home” game against the Steelers in London.
While Frazier is a coach who subscribes to the quarters theory when it comes to breaking down the season, he insists that his players and staff are laser-focused on the Detroit Lions.
“I’ve thought about that,” Frazier said when asked what his goals were for the first quarter of the season, “but for us and where we are right now, it’s more about just this first game and really concentrating on getting this win on the road and not looking too far ahead. We need to focus on this Detroit game. It is so important the fact that this is a divisional game, this is a divisional opponent. It has tremendous meaning so that’s kind of where our focus needs to be and then we’ll look back at the end of this quarter to see where we are. But we’ve got to put all of our energy and focus on this Detroit game.”