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Presser Points: Edwards on Lions Offense, Shurmur on Vikings Offense

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –Defensive Coordinator George Edwards, interim Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer addressed the Twin Cities media Thursday as the Vikings prepare for their second consecutive division matchup.

Minnesota will host Detroit and look to right the ship after back-to-back losses on the road.

As the Vikings adjust to coaching staff changes after Norv Turner **announced his resignation Wednesday**, they are gearing up to face a Lions squad that underwent a **midseason change** at offensive coordinator last year.

Here are two topics covered by Edwards:

The Jim Bob Cooter effect

Cooter took over offensive coordinator duties in late October of 2015, after the Vikings had already played the Lions twice. This will be the first time Edwards is preparing for an offense led by Cooter, who was previously the Lions quarterbacks coach.

Edwards said there are a couple of differences he's noticed from the last time the teams played each other.

"I think, from what they're doing route-wise and the quarterback getting the ball out, [Matthew Stafford] has scrambled around, thrown the ball down the field," Edwards said. "[There is] a little bit more formation variation than what we saw before, but […] that seems to be the biggest thing, just their route tree, a little bit more of an Indianapolis route tree from in the past and not as much West Coast. But it's sort of a mixture of both."

Edwards also said the Lions have changed things up a bit protection-wise.

"You saw the success they had offensively toward the end of last year once they made the change, also, what they were able to get accomplished there in the first couple ball games," Edwards said.

No more Megatron

Another big difference about the 2016 Lions offense is the absence of wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who retired following the 2015 season. Edwards said there's a different approach defensively when Johnson is no longer a factor, because now the Lions have been spreading the ball around to more receivers.

"They've always had [Golden] Tate, but [Anquan] Boldin has come in and done a good job for them," Edwards said. "[Marvin Jones, Jr.] has come in and done a good job for them."

Edwards added that running back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron also providee offensive threats. He complimented Stafford on reacting to a defense's coverage and being able to quickly get the ball downfield.

"He's spreading it around a little bit more and reading the coverages and not just kind of going to one guy," Edwards said. "We've got to do a good job with leverage. We've got to do a good job of rush lanes to affect the passer and not let him scramble around and let him get down the field with the routes."

Here are two topics covered by Shurmur:

Focused on offense

In just his second day of taking over offensive coordinator duties, Shurmur delved into the facets of Minnesota's offense that he believes were strengths at the beginning of the season and need to be emphasized again moving forward after two losses.

First and foremost, Shurmur said, is taking care of the football.

"In the first few ball games, we took care of the ball well," Shurmur said. "Against Philadelphia, that wasn't the case. So first, we've got to take care of the ball."

He then added:

"It's important that we're efficient running the football. We've got to find a way in the passing game to also be efficient, get completions but then be able to get some big plays. Certainly this game is all about scoring so we have to find a way to get points. Preferably early in the game, because that helps our defense if we can get ahead.

Consistency from Clemmings

On Wednesday, Shurmur said he believes in the Vikings offensive linemen and wants to help them improve their game in whatever way possible.

When he was asked specifically about offensive tackle Anthony Harris Thursday, Shurmur said consistency is the biggest thing he's looking for from the second-year player.

"T.J. has battled against some really fine rushers," Clemmings said. "I've been impressed with how tough he is, how hard he works. He's had quite a few really good snaps. For anybody it's a matter of being consistent. We're going to just try to do what we can to help all our players be as good as they can be."

Here are two topics covered by Priefer:

Detroit's dynamic special teams

In preparing his own special teams unit, Priefer is also looking ahead at Detroit's, and he said the Lions special teams is made up of talented players, including two "phenomenal" gunners in Johnson Bademosi and Don Carey.

"I think those guys do a great job on kickoff and punt," Priefer said. "I do know their punter [Sam Martin] is having a great year; I do know that their kicker [Matt Prater] is outstanding – I coached Matt in Denver, and he's gotten better every year. I do know that their longsnapper [Don Muhlbach] is a 13-year veteran that still zips them back there like he's 22 years old."

Priefer added that wide receiver Andre Roberts has been an excellent punt and kickoff returner for the Lions.

"They have good specialists, they have good players," Priefer said. "They're good at what they do, and we have to be at the top of our game to help our team win."

Effect of new touchback rule

Now midway through the season, Priefer reassessed the effect of the new NFL rule implemented for the 2016 season that puts touchbacks after kickoffs on the 25-yard line rather than the 20.

"When they changed the rule, I had a positive outlook on it and said, 'OK, it's going to be a little more strategy," said Priefer, who emphasized that the Vikings haven't executed kickoff coverage the way he'd like so far this season.

He said the revised rule is an interesting one, and he's also curious to see what the league does with it moving forward.

"As long as we keep the play in the game," Priefer said. "Because it's an exciting play, and it does make a difference, obviously, on field position. The way we teach it here is to teach techniques, keep guys safe."

Priefer also said the touchback moving out to the 25-yard-line influences his approach on when a player should attempt a return.

"The last few years, we put Cordarrelle [Patterson] at nine deep in the end zone, and if he gets to the 24, it's a successful return," Priefer explained. "Now if he gets to the 24, it's not. We might as well have taken a knee."

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