Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes came on late last season flashing the skills to become one of the top corners in the NFL. While Rhodes was listed as questionable with a groin injury and may have been slowed by it a little bit, didn't have his greatest day at the office, but is doing his best to learn and get better, as ESPN's Ben Goessling points out:**
View images of the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders from the September 14 game against the Patriots.
*Rhodes said his groin wasn't bothering him on Sunday, but for the day, Rhodes gave up four catches for 67 yards, and was flagged three times for penalties; twice for pass interference and once more on an illegal contact penalty that was declined. Two of those penalties came against Edelman.
Rhodes' experience in press coverage helped get him into the first round of the 2013 draft, and he's getting asked to play tighter on receivers in coach Mike Zimmer's system than he was in the Vikings' former scheme, which often had Rhodes playing off receivers in zone coverage last year. Penalties will occasionally be part of the cost of doing business that way, but Rhodes is still trying to find the line between playing receivers physically and interfering with them.
"There is a very fine line between the pass interference and covering a guy close," Zimmer said. "The thing that he did yesterday on most all of those situations, we talk a lot around here about having contested catches and making sure the guys in there. Sometimes, you're going to get those things. Obviously, we don't want penalties defensively. The good thing is, if you want to take a positive out of that, we were pretty darn close to the receivers on all of these situations, now we have to keep perfecting the technique of not only being in the right place and contesting catches but not committing a foul."*
Rhodes hasn't played as well as he would like so far in 2014, but he will continue working hard with the Vikings coaching staff who excels in getting the most out their players, especially defensive backs.
- Zimmer focusing on football, reflects on Patriots loss, Via Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune.
- Watch the Vikings Week 2 report card from NFL.com here.