Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
We have a good opponent this week. Traveling out to Seattle should be more like a real preseason game with a big crowd, so we're excited about the opportunity to get out there and get a chance to compete against them.
Q: What did you see out of Tashawn Bower in the preseason opener against Buffalo?
A: I think he did some good things. There is definitely a transfer, you could see some of the things we did through the start of training camp and the offseason, doing it the way we wanted to do it. He did some good things as we progressed through, and we got some things that he has to definitely keep improving on.
Q: What did you think of Mackensie Alexander's performance against Buffalo?
A: I thought he did a good job. One thing he's been, he's being pretty consistent right now with the technique and the fundamentals and doing a good job mentally with the calls and the communications. We just look for him to keep that consistency going, and to keep getting better at the things we're asking him to get better at.
Q: We've seen Antone Exum out there more in practice lately. Has he become more acclimated now that he's healthy?
A: I think what you've seen out of Exum is that we've tried him in a couple of different positions. He's been in the system for a while. Again, like you said, he's healthy, which adds to it. But he's done a good job with what we're asking him to do right now, with the different hats that he's been wearing at practice, whether it's playing underneath in coverage or playing back in the middle of the field. He's shown the ability to be able to do that thus far, and we just look as we keep progressing through this process to see consistency show up.
Q: With a less experienced player like Mackensie Alexender, is there added value to for him to get extra preseason reps?
A: Everything for us is built off competition. We believe what we see out here on the practice field, believe what comes to face in the game, so with those guys we just look for them to keep competing as we keep going through this journey in the preseason. We look for them to keep being consistent with what it is we're trying to get accomplished out of the position, and just look for them to keep growing with the experience that they're getting in these games.
Q: Will you be doing any play calling in Seattle?
A: You'd have to talk to Coach Zimmer about that to see what that is.
Q: Why is that such a secret?
A: It's no secret. Everything goes through the head coach as far us. That's his decision to tell you what's going on with injuries or anything that's going on with us as a staff.
Q: It looked like there were some issues early on in last week's game with run defense.
A: That's one thing we definitely have an emphasis on. We realized that we have got to stop the run in order for us to be able to pressure the quarterback. That's definitely an emphasis for us this whole offseason going in to training camp, and that's something that we'll continue to work on with the fundamentals and techniques of each position. We're going to have to be able to stop the run some with seven in the box, and guys realize that. We have to be valiant to get on and off blocks and be able to make plays where we're not giving up big yardage on first and second down to make it a third and manageable situation.
Q: What did you see had happened that allowed some of the bigger runs in last week's game?
A: I think it was a coordination of things where the guys were in the wrong gap, where the guys weren't getting off the block and were just trying to handle their responsibility. I think it's a matter of us just schematically feeling a little bit more comfortable, especially with our younger guys, in what we're teaching and what we're expecting out of the position and the techniques.
Q: Is that in any part due to being too aggressive?
A: Sometimes. Sometimes it is. It was the first time we really had, other than the one time in training camp, where we had some live tackling. You always worry about that in the first preseason game. But they seemed to get acclimated as they got out there and they got going. We got to keep emphasizing those things, taking good angles, getting everybody to the football with our pursuit, and hopefully we'll continue to improve.
Q: Where is Datone Jones at with his development into his position?
A: He's done some good things as we went through training camp and the first ball game. I think we got a good evaluation of where he is and where he's starting, and where we need to go from there. He's got a list of things that we've talked to him about that we look for him to improve on as we keep going through the preseason, and hopefully we'll continue to get better each and every game.
Q: Has it been all three technique stuff for him, or has he been moved around?
A: We've moved him around some. I think that's the big thing with us schematically is that we see a guy's skill set and we try to move him to try to utilize his skills to help us. We've tried a couple of different things with him. He's primarily been a three technique, but he's shown ability to move around and do some other jobs.
Q: Is it good to be able to see a couple of mobile quarterbacks in the preseason?
A: Yeah, we're going to see a couple of them this week. Yeah, it will be. Of course in our division we got some quarterbacks that are able to get out of the pocket, so that's something that we have to prepare for and see twice a year out of two teams. So for us, it'll be critical. With [Russell] Wilson, he's very special in the pocket. He has a good feel for pocket pressure, and we got to do a good job of rushing him and keeping him contained, not getting too high and allowing him to step up and run the ball.
Q: We know you guys don't game plan as much for the preseason, but do you preach more defensive discipline because of that?
A: I think each week we have a rush plan, and when we have a mobile quarterback of course we're going to talk about our rush lanes and those types of deals with the front. But again, this is the preseason. We're not doing a lot of game planning. We're really just knowing we got a mobile quarterback, and knowing what we got to do as far as our rush plan.
Q: Did you see Coach Zimmer get a little more aggressive calling blitzes last week than in a typical preseason game?
A: We blitzed quite a few times last week. But again, I think it's good for the evaluation to see what our players have retained and what they can take to the game and go out and execute. So we got in some situations that were good to see them responds to those situations.
Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer
Q: What do you think of the punters performance thus far?
A: I was very pleased with the overall performance. I thought Ryan [Quigley] was three-for-three in his punt attempts and I thought Taylor [Symmank] was probably three-of-four. He had that one 31-yarder that just wasn't good enough. We controlled the field position with our punt team overall and I thought we did a good job. We covered punts well and we protected well, they really didn't come after us. Overall, it was a good night for the punt team.
Q: Does it seem like Quigley and Taylor Symmank are having a lot of fun with this?
A: I think you have to have fun with it. If you let the competition get to you then you're not going to be able to perform. Both those punters are good kids, they work hard, they're very, very talented. Ryan's got a little bit more experience but Taylor has come in, I think a year under his belt out of school has helped him mature and gotten stronger. The competition has been great. They've handled it like pros, I'm real proud of all the guys the way they've handled the competition so far.
Q: Have you kept in touch with Blair Walsh?
A: When he first got to Seattle, I congratulated him, I was happy for him. That's pretty much it. I'll say a little, I've got no ill-will. I like Blair, he's a good, fine young man. We had four and a half years together. I've known him for a long time.
Q: What do you think of the kicker competition thus far?
A: Both guys did a great job on kickoffs and the two PAT attempts and the one field goal attempt. They'll keep alternating. Right now, they're both kicking very well. In practice, they've done a pretty good job. Over on the side, they've kicked probably around 90 percent each and in the team work it's only around 75 percent, so that needs to get better. They're both kicking off well. So, they're handling it like pros just like the punters are. It's been a good competition thus far.
Q: Is there a certain time you want to get the holder-kicker combination set to get the rhythm down?
A: That's why we're working different, I don't know if you noticed in practice yesterday, Case Keenum took a couple holds in the team work, Adam Thielen took a couple holds in the team work. Taylor's done it, obviously, Ryan has done it. We're working a bunch of different combinations that if the punter wins the job isn't the best holder, then we can have somebody else hold. I think we want to keep the best punter overall, the holding is part of it but it's not the most important thing.
Q: Do you have an estimate for how many kicks you've charted during this offseason and preseason?
A: Field goals, in the spring was about 250 field goal attempts. I think we're probably upwards of close to 325 now. It's amazing how close they are, it's incredible. They're both, like I said, around the 90 percent mark, which is pretty good. We've been moving around too, outdoors, indoors, everything.
Q: What have you seen from Jack Tocho?
A: Jack's a young man, back in the spring it was kind of new to him a little bit. He's a very intelligent guy and sometimes the real smart guys overthink things. He's really settled down and into his role, he's improved immensely. I'm real pleased with where Jack is and where he's tracking right now. So far, so good.
Q: Do you think Blair Walsh has totally moved on from everything that happened?
A: I would hope so. He did a lot of really good things here in Minnesota. I know it didn't end well for him and for us a couple years ago. At the end of the day, he's a very talented young man.
Q: Are you interviewing to be a Cleveland Indians manager?
A: No, I'm a big fan. I'm a big fan of the Cleveland Indians. They're just guys I met at spring training a few years ago. They love coming over here. Michael Brantley, the all-star left fielder, he's the biggest Minnesota fan there is and he's on the DL right now. It's killing him that he's not here today. That's what he told me anyway.
Q: Have you been fanboying out a little bit with the Cleveland Indians in town?
A: Oh absolutely, big time. It's ridiculous. If my wife was here she'd be making fun of me. As Corey Kluber was sitting there, I was like 'Hey Corey, how you doing?', and I've met him several times. So it's just like being a little kid, absolutely.
Q: Typically teams want to have most of their starters in order in time for the third preseason game. Does that put additional pressure on entering next week to know who the punter and kicker may be?
A: I think the competition is so close right now that it depends on what we're going to do with the roster, but I would like to have both punters and both kickers go all the way through to get as many attempts as we can to make sure we're making the most informed decision with the most data available, and then go from there.
Q: How about the kickoff returners?
A: We just had our defense play so well the other night that we only had a couple of opportunities, and that's kind of how you always want it. But at the end of the day, we have three or four guys that are going to challenge for that spot. You'll see more guys get attempts this weekend, and the best guy is going to get out there, so we'll see what happens.
Q: Do you think Marcus Sherels could return some kicks?
A: He could. He's always a possibility, because he's going to know what to do. But he plays on kickoff, he's a gunner on punts, he's our punt returner, so we don't want to use him too much if you can find a guy that's going to be a kickoff returner as well.
Vikings Quarterback Sam Bradford
Q: What are you hoping to get out of Friday's game?
A: Really the same thing you are looking to get out of every game; go out there, look sharp, play crisp, good communication in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage, between myself and the center, making sure we're on the same page with protections. Just go out there and whatever play is called, just execute.
Q: What do you see with this team's running back position?
A: I think we have got a lot of really talented guys in that position group. Kind of like I said all spring, I think that's a group that we really feel like is a strength. Obviously we've got some guys that can do a lot of different things, both when they're in the dot, when we're in the gun, some different styles of running that we can use. Then also just with their ability to be useful in the pass game, to be able to spread them out and empty, create some matchups with linebackers or just use them all over the backfield in some five-man protections and get them matched up with guys. We just feel like there's a lot of different things we can do with the guys we have in that room.
Q: Do you like how you can use your tight ends, Kyle Rudolph and David Morgan, with them being strong and physical?
A: Yes. Obviously with both those guys too, we feel very comfortable obviously. Me and Rudy [Kyle Rudolph] have a great connection and just throughout camp continuing to strengthen that. I've said it before, but he's just a really big target. He's got a large catch radius, and when you have a guy like that who can run, running down the middle of the field or even in the red zone, the end zone, he's a big target. I've got all of the confidence in the world that if I put it up there, he's going to go make a play and get it.
Q: You've had some guys on the line in-and-out with injuries. How important is it to continuity in the preseason knowing who the starting linemen are as they seek to protect you?
A: I think it is fairly important. I think it would be nice to kind of figure out who those five guys are going to be, just so I can work with them, so they can work with each other, and so the communication at the line can become better and become quicker. Obviously though at that position, having been in the league, it seems like every year, there's a time during the year where guys are having to move around and play different positions and you have a different group in front of you and I think the fact we are working some different guys in right now and they're getting used to playing with everyone, I think that can be beneficial as well, just so if something does happen, we do have to make a change or someone has got to slide over, it's not the first time we've done that.
Q: Is there a rule of thumb of having your line intact for a certain amount of preseason games?
A: I don't know if there's really a rule, a concrete rule, that says you need to have them by this date, you need to have them by this game. I think it's kind of a feel. I've been part of teams that it's really een a competition up until Week One and the line really wasn't solidified until we made it to Week One. So, I think there's different ways of doing it. Obviously it's up to coach Zimmer and how he feels, but at this time, like I said, I think there are some benefits of guys moving around a little bit.
Q: When you're working with a couple of different centers, are there nuances to they way they snap the ball that you have to get used to?
A: Yes and that's why we spend a lot of time with that in pre-practice every day out here getting snaps from different guys. Obviously, everyone's a little bit different in how they snap it. Obviously the quarterback-center exchange is critical to the play. It's what starts the play, and if we can't execute that, then we can't have a successful play, so we've spent a lot of time with those two guys just trying to make sure that we're comfortable with each other.
Q: Is there a greater learning curve with under center or shotgun?
A: I would say under center.
Q: What were you thinking last year at this time in the preseason? Obviously your life changed dramatically. What were you thinking about this time last year with your football future and how it was going?
A: Obviously I was in Philadelphia last year and I was preparing to be the starter in Philly, and obviously that changed after the preseason after that fourth game. But, very similar to where I am at now just going through camp, going through the preseason working through everything we had in that new offense up there and making sure I was comfortable with everything that we were doing and our guys were comfortable. But, obviously it's a little bit different being here having been with Pat [Shurmur] last year and kind of being able to fine-tune some things as opposed to having to learn an entire new system which we were doing last year in Philadelphia at this time.
Q: Are you a guy who wants to see blitzes in the preseason?
A: Yes. I think you can try to simulate it in practice, but it's probably not the same as it is when it comes to game days. I think all the blitz work that you can see during the preseason, I think it does have its benefits just because it's really hard to simulate the speed, the pick games, the twists, the things that we see on Sundays. It's just hard to recreate that in a practice atmosphere.
Q: Is it difficult to deal with the different combinations of the offensive line and how they are handling things?
A: Obviously in the preseason, it's a little bit different because there is no game planning and so everything that happens out there is kind of a reaction. Obviously there are certain things you are able to see in practice, but you're not going to be able to see every look like you would during the regular season and really kind of scheme up how you feel like the best way to protect certain blitzes is. But, I think it's good during the preseason to see those because usually each week you see one or two blitzes that might be new from a defense and it's nice to know that our base rules and protections will hold up.
Q: Now that you've had a year to work with Adam Thielen, how impressed are you seeing what he can do day in and day out?
A: Thielen has been extremely impressive. Obviously you've looked at what he was able to do last year, the season he was able to have for us. He was a big part of our offense, and he's extremely valuable to us just because we really feel like we can move him to any position in the offense and he can be successful. He can play in the Z, he can play in the F, we can play him at X. We can really kind of move him all over. I think the mental side of his game is what has been very impressive. He's just got a very natural feel for how to run routes. I think with some guys they can only play on the outside, and they don't really have the feel for how to run routes and how to get open in the slot. But he's got a real natural feel for how to do both, so I've been extremely impressed with Adam.
Q: Is that something you can't teach, guys either just have it or they don't?
A: Yeah, I think part of it is just natural instinct. Some guys have it and some guys just don't.
Q: Do you think it will be good to experience Seattle's atmosphere?
A: Yeah, obviously, they're a really good defense. Probably one of the best defenses in the league. I think it's good for us to be able to go on the road and see them during the preseason. Just so some of our younger guys can get a greater understanding of what road games are like. What an atmosphere like Seattle will be like. When we do have to go on the road in the regular season. I think it's a great challenge for us just knowing how good they've been traditionally on defense in the past. To go out there and accept that challenge and go out and play well on Friday.
Q: Does the quarterback have to be the leader of the offense?
A: I think the quarterback is definitely the leader of the offense.