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With Norv Turner taking over the Vikings offense and adding more plays specifically for Cordarrelle Patterson, do you see Patterson focusing more on receiving full time and splitting his kickoff return role with someone else, or filling both slots as our full-time kick returner and possibly No. 2 receiver? -- Ryan Evans Mills, NY
I'm sure this is a question Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer will be asked on Monday during his press conference, so he may shed some light on the team's plan regarding this matter. Until then, though, my sense is that the Vikings will use Patterson as their primary kickoff returner because of how well he fulfilled that role a year ago. I understand the added exposure to injury that Patterson assumes as the returner, but I feel that is outweighed by the benefit Patterson provides in terms of field position and, sometimes, points as the team's returner.
With all the hype about Teddy Bridgewater, it seems that fans forgot Anthony Barr was a top 10 pick in a very deep draft class. How has Barr been looking? And what do you think we can expect from him in our defense? Jon O.
Barr has looked good every step of the way as a Viking. He looks the part in terms of size and movement skills, and he seems to be picking up the defense quite well, too. I've seen the coaches working him with the first and second teams on base defense, I've seen him play linebacker in sub packages, and I've also seen him play defensive end on occasion. That Barr is being used in so many different spots tells me things are going well for him so far.
What has impressed you the most with Teddy Bridgewater? I'm looking for something that not everyone sees. I have noticed his quick release and smart footwork, and I heard Norv Turner praise his deep accuracy. So I am wondering if there is anything else you have noticed with him that really jumps out at you. -- Tim D.
One thing that has stood out to me about Bridgewater is that nothing has seemed too big for him. Granted, we haven't even played a preseason game, yet alone a regular season game, so he really hasn't faced high-pressure situations on the field. But he can only handle what's been put in front of him to this point, and to this point he's been nothing but the consummate professional and he's handled everything in perfect stride, from his first day at Winter Park following the draft to Organized Team Activities to his first few days at training camp.
When a quarterback is picked off in practice, how do the coaches balance the fact of a bad play by the offense with the defense making a good play? I guess an easier way to put it would be: How do they view it when the offense has to mess up and make a bad play to see the defense have success? -- YC Lindsay Colorado
It's not necessarily true that one side of the ball has to make a mistake for the other side of the ball to look good. Sometimes, one side makes a good play but the other side just made a better play. Another aspect of this to remember is that coaches structure practice so that the team is working in different situations. For example, one day they seven-on-seven drill may also be a 3rd down drill. Coaches may structure the period for 3rd and long – the offense practices converting 3rd and longs while the defense works on forcing the offense to punt. If there's a five-yard completion, it's a good play for the offense but a better play for the defense.
At the end of the day, what coaches want to see is balance. They want to see the defense making plays, and the offense making plays. They want Everson Griffen to beat Matt Kalil on pass-rush moves every now and then, but they also want Kalil to hold his water against Griffen. It's all about keeping the periods competitive and having a good balance between defensive wins and offensive wins.
View images from practice No. 2 of 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp which took place on Saturday, July 26.
This year it finally looks like Adam Thielen will make the 53-man roster. I've always been a big fan of his. He's tall, quick, and fast. What do you think? Any thoughts? -- Jamie S. Woodbury, MN
There's no question Thielen continues to impress at Vikings camp. He seems to make some kind of "wow" catch every day and I also like his versatility – he can be used as an outside receiver or in the slot. We don't know how many receivers the Vikings will keep on their initial 53-man roster and we don't know where exactly Thielen stands right now, but I am certain it will be hard to cut Thielen at the end of the preseason and I think there's a good chance Jamie is right – this could be the year he makes the final cut.
When I see some of the players with a cloth cap over their helmet, does that identify them as an undrafted player? Always wondered, but didn't want to ask a stupid question while at Mankato. Thanks for the help. -- Mike G.
The cloth over the helmet is used for special teams periods. The reason they are needed is to identify players on the same "team." On special teams, a mix of offensive and defensive players are used on the same side of the ball, and since the offense and defense wear different colored jerseys, it's impossible to tell which is the kicking team and which is the non-kicking team. The cloth on the helmets creates that distinction and is helpful for the players and the coaches.