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Presser Points: A Nod to Wings and Assessing the Eagles

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — After a bye week, Vikings coordinators have shifted back into prepping Minnesota (5-0) for its trip to Philadelphia (3-2).

That means Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner, Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer returned to the podium for sessions with the media.

Turner opened his session by giving a shout out to a growing tradition at Winter Park, "Chicken Wing Thursdays," before covering the Vikings upcoming efforts against the Eagles.

"Just on a personal note, I eat a light breakfast on Thursday mornings because Geji [McKinney-Banks] — our great cook, runs our kitchen — makes the best chicken wings ever. … A little hungry and excited about the wings."

Turner was asked about the success Kyle Rudolph has had since joining the Vikings on Sept. 3 via a trade with the Eagles and said all that Bradford learned previously has helped his transition. Bradford is leading the NFL with a completion percentage of 70.4 and ranks second with a passer rating of 109.8.

"I think there's a number of things, but if you get right down to it, it's his experiences in the past," Turner said. "You're not dealing with a young guy who's seeing things for the first time.

"When we get ready to play somebody and start looking at their defense, he's very comfortable understanding what people are trying to do and how they're trying to do it," Turner continued. "He understands attacking personnel rather than just running plays. He's an experienced player. Then obviously you tie that together with his really, really good talent. He's been unbelievably accurate, and he gets the ball out of his hands real quick. I think it's been a good match for our group."

No surprise here

Adam Thielen started in place of Stefon Diggs against the Texans and turned in career highs of seven catches for 127 yards that included a 36-yard touchdown.

Thielen may have caught some around the league off-guard, but the Vikings weren't surprised by the level of production.

"Like I've said, when Adam's gotten opportunities he's been productive all the way back to two years ago," Turner said. "He's grown and become a lot more consistent player.

"He's a great example of why the guys do the offseason work and do all of the lifting, running and conditioning in-season because he's gotten stronger, he's gotten quicker and he's gotten faster," Turner added. "I attribute that to the offseason program, the way he's committed to it and the way he works."  

Edwards on pressuring quarterbacks

Edwards was asked about the importance of pressuring a young quarterback.

Carson Wentz was sacked five times last week by Washington on a day when he completed 11 of 22 passes for 179 yards. He's been sacked a combined eight times in two losses, compared to four times total in three wins.

Edwards said creating pressure is "part of it," but the Vikings also wouldn't be surprised to see several quick passes in Philadelphia's West Coast offense.

"With a West Coast offense, that ball is coming out quick, and they do a great job of getting five people out in a route and those types of deals," Edwards said. "So, we're going to have to be very disciplined as far as leverage of our coverage, whether that's underneath with the linebackers or safeties being down in the box or whether we're back in deep-half coverage underneath. They're going to try to isolate us one on one underneath, so that'll be a big thing for us this week in preparation for the game."

Road warriors

The Vikings are 2-0 this season and have won their past seven of eight road games. In those seven wins, Minnesota has allowed an average of 14.6 points and 20 points by an opponent just once (Chicago).

There are multiple factors to credit that, but part of it is managing different scenarios within games.

"I think Coach Zimmer has done a great job since he has been here talking about situational football, and no matter where we're at, no matter what the situations are – whether it's the crowd noise or whatever – we try to have them prepared for that before we go into that situation," Edwards said. "They know going in exactly what we've got to get accomplished, how we're going to have to accomplish it, and being able to adjust once you get into the game when something goes differently.

"So, I think Coach has emphasized that with our team and understanding what's offensively, defensively, on special teams the formula of what it's going to take to go win the game," Edwards added. "And I think our guys know that going into a game, and then being able to adjust once we get into the game, to those situations if something changes or how the course of the game is going." 

Priefer on limiting Sproles' strolls

Priefer said he considers the Eagles "quite possibly the best special teams unit across the board that we've faced so far this year."

One of the biggest threats is posed by Darren Sproles, a running back who ranks second on the team in receptions and continues to be a dynamic punt returner. Sproles returned two punts for touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, making the Pro Bowl both years after arriving in Philadelphia in 2014. He has seven punt return touchdowns in his 11-season career and led the NFL with punt return yards in each of the past two seasons (506 in 2014; 446 in 2015).

Priefer, whose past coaching experience includes time in Kansas City and Denver, said he's known of the challenges Sproles has created since the Waterloo, Iowa, native was drafted in 2005 by San Diego.

"He's not only an outstanding football player, I don't know him very well, but I know he's a great person. He works hard; it's important to him," Priefer said. "He's battled back from some injuries earlier in his career.

"He's just an outstanding returner and yes, I don't like facing him. I hope we don't have to punt at all on Sunday," Priefer joked. "If we do, we hope we can limit the damage and kick them high and short and net what you punt. That's kind of what you want to do against a good returner like Darren." 

Embracing a new role

Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels has five punt return touchdowns in his career with the Vikings, including two this season. Sherels returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown at Carolina and broke open a 79-yarder against Houston.

One of the key blocks against the Texans was by first-round pick Laquon Treadwell, who worked at special teams during training camp and has been doing more recently.

Priefer said Treadwell has had a good approach to an aspect of the game he didn't play in college.

"It was new for him during training camp and he was a guy that was working so hard to become a very good receiver, and he's still working hard to be a good receiver, but he was running so much that we kind of took him off some special teams early on," Priefer said. "I didn't get quite a good enough look at him in training camp and in the preseason games. But because he's not been used a whole lot on offense this far, he's too good of an athlete to be standing next to me on the sideline, and that's what I told him that.

"He's had a great attitude," Priefer continued. "He played a couple reps at gunner last game at Houston. He had a key block on Marcus' touchdown on punt return. Filled in for Adam Thielen on kickoff return as well. Got a great attitude, he's smart, he understands the game. He just needs reps. He needs to learn how to play those spots which he doesn't know how to do quite yet. He's getting there."

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