Monday Morning Mailbag

Print
RSS

Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted Jun 24, 2013

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the vikings.com Mailbag! Every Monday during the offseason we’ll post several comments and/or questions as part of the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag feature. Although we can’t post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

To submit a comment or question to the mailbag, send an email to Mike Wobschall at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. Remember to include your name and town on the email.

 

One rookie that we’ve not heard much about so far this offseason is LB Gerald Hodges.  How has he been looking through Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mini-camp, particularly in coverage? Do you think he’s as likely as anyone to land the starting weakside linebacker position?
-- Warren L.

Hodges was actually one of the standouts I noticed during the rookie mini-camp, mostly because he was larger than I anticipated but he still moved as well as I expected; that’s a good combination. Much of what the coaching staff wants to see of Hodges will have to wait until training camp and the preseason, when contact restrictions are lifted. So there’s still a lot to learn about the fourth-round rookie, including whether he can get off the blocks of pulling linemen and downhill-funning fullbacks and whether he can tackle bigger, faster ball carriers in the open field. But so far, so good on Hodges.

I have been seeing a lot of TE John Carlson in the mini-camp and OTA videos, and I was wondering if he will be a big part of the offense next year. Not saying he would ever be able to rival Kyle Rudolph, but do you think he will be used more than he was last season?
-- Ward C.

There’s no question that a healthy Carlson will be utilized more frequently in the offense this season than he was last season. Injuries plagued Carlson a year ago, particularly the knee injury he sustained during training camp because it prevented him from getting into an early rhythm with his new quarterback and new offense. Carlson is healthy now and he had as good an OTA and mini-camp period as any player on the roster, and I think that will continue during training camp. Remember, the Vikings are a run-first team that won’t focus on gaudy passing numbers, so while I don’t anticipate Carlson to necessarily set any new career highs for receiving numbers I do anticipate his numbers to be much improved from last season and I anticipate Carlson being a regular contributor to the offense.

Blair Walsh had a record-breaking season last year. What have you seen from him so far this year that he has improved on or anything that he could improve on? How is he progressing in his second year?
-- YC L.
Colorado

I’ve noticed that Walsh has a stronger upper body and that he was accurate in his field goal tries during OTAs and the mini-camp, including a six-for-six finish on field goal tries in Thursday’s final mini-camp practice. Supporting my opinion is Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer, so said this last Wednesday: “I don’t want to jinx it but he’s stronger now I feel like on kickoffs and even on field goals. I think a year under his belt, he’s a year older, a year more mature, his body is more mature. He is stronger than he was a year ago. That’s a nice thing to have obviously and he was such a strong guy last year.”

How do you think Josh Robinson will do in the slot assuming that Xavier Rhodes is the No. 2 corner?
-- @ColeRightley

I don’t like to get in the habit of assuming certain players will win certain position battles. But I will oblige in this situation because I think Robinson will be a solid nickel cornerback. He’s a smart enough player where he can learn the intricacies of playing the position, and he has the physical tools to hang with quick slot receivers. But another aspect of Robinson playing nickel cornerback that I like is the speed he has and how that could make him a dangerous blitzer on the edge. Robinson has huge shoes to fill as the nickel cornerback, but I think he’ll take a big step toward doing so this season.

Do you think DE Lawrence Jackson will ever have a chance to be starter?
-- Matthias B.

I’ve learned in this business that you never rule anything out, but at this point it would surprise me if Jackson beat out either Jared Allen or Brian Robison for a starting role. That’s no indictment on Jackson – I think he can compete and contribute at this level. My opinion is more of a vote of confidence in Allen and Robison, and also of Everson Griffen. As for Jackson, I’m excited about the addition of him to this team because I think he has a lot to prove and will prove it while providing the Vikings defensive line with some depth and veteran experience.