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Transcript: Coordinators Address the Media on Thursday

Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards

Just finishing up the walk thru as we head into this afternoon’s practice. As far as the preparation getting ready for the game this week, we had a good practice yesterday and are looking forward to coming out here and continuing to get better and recognizing certain things in the situations.

Q: What have your impressions been of Mark Fields?

A: He’s done a good job. We did him last year coming out in the draft, and he did a good job in the preseason looking at him when we had a chance to look at him. Since he’s been in here he’s been in sort of a crash course of what to do and those types of deals, but he’s done a good job. He’s come out here and been able to transfer stuff from the meeting room out here. We’re just looking for him to come out here and continue to grow.

Q: How would assess how Xavier Rhodes looked this preseason?

A: I think Xavier has approached his training camp and he’s been very consistent for us in working with the technique and the fundamentals of what we’re going to ask him to do. My hat is off to him, because he’s come out here to work every day and has gotten better. We’re looking forward to him going into the first game.

Q: What are some things the older cornerbacks have to be conscious of to stay sharp?

A: I think the big thing that they learn is that it takes a little bit more time as far as recovery, so they spend a lot more time as far as warming up before and then afterwards doing certain things to take care of their body. Eating right and getting their proper rest, all those things I think become a part of their norm just with the older corners that we’ve been around in the past. Xavier has done that and has been very conscientious of that throughout the offseason and preseason coming in. With him you just have to worry about him making sure he doesn’t over work himself.

Q: How do you make sure they don’t lose athleticism or speed?

A: I think he, as an individual, works on those things that have been identified that he needs to work on. Also just with the experience of knowing the techniques and the fundamentals and all those kind of things will help him as far as his decision making on what to do first with certain receivers from week to week.

Q: How important is it going to be for the cornerbacks to be cohesive with the depth Atlanta has at receiver?

A: All three of those guys can really run, good route runners. (Mohamed) Sanu inside is very good at the slot, very crafty as far as his route-running inside. Like you said, Julio (Jones) and (Calvin) Ridley, both on the outside, a lot of speed and a lot of athleticism to go up and catch the ball. We’ve got to do a good job of making sure we’re all on the same page and that we’re able to transfer technique and fundamentals to out there covering those guys throughout the different packages that we’ll be in.

Q: You’ve been successful against Julio Jones. What’s worked against him in the past?

A: I think it’s a combination of things. We always talk about pass rush and coverage going together. I think that’s a key ingredient to what we want to do. The one thing you look at that Matt Ryan has done is move around in the pocket a lot more and been able to throw the ball down the field. He’s had a couple of scrambles, so we’ve got to do a good job with our rush plan there. Just guys being disciplined as far as the fundamentals and the techniques of what we’re trying to get accomplished.

Q: How is Kris Boyd looking since he came back from injury?

A: He’s done well. It’s a shame he ended up missing those first two preseason games. The first game he came out and was a little rusty. The fourth game he ended up coming along pretty good. We just look for him to keep working, consistency within what we’re trying to get accomplished with him. He’s been doing that up to this point.

Q: When it comes to game planning, how much does it matter that Dirk Koetter was previously an offensive caller for the Falcons from 2012 to 2014?

A: It really makes it tough. You’re looking at sort of different situations of what he’s calling in different situations. Then you go to the preseason, where Julio (Jones) didn’t play, (Devanta) Freeman didn’t really play that much, so you’re kind of piecing together some of the things and the concepts that you’re looking at in different situations. It’s tough, any time that you get a new offensive coordinator, you’re looking at some of his tendencies from last year and now applying it to a new team.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski

We’re into our preparation here for the Falcons on Sunday. Really looking forward to getting out there in front of our home fans in that stadium. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Quite the challenge this week. I have a ton of respect for Coach (Dan) Quinn and that defense. I think it’s a really sound scheme, really good scheme and they have really good players at every level of the defense. We’ll have our work cut out for us but we’re looking forward to it.

Q: Do you back a couple years to look at Dan Quinn to see what his tendencies were?

A: We do. We probably go too far back. In this first game, you can really go spend a lot of time looking back. We’re trying to make sure we have a nice sound, concise plan but certainly you want to study Coach Quinn as a coordinator.

Q: What’s your take on Brandon Dillon and was there a time when you said he has a legit chance to make the team?

A: I think all of our young players really did a nice job through the spring, through the summer. It was fun watching those guys grow as players and really there is no secret to it. Hard work kind of got it done for a bunch of our young players that I’m excited to work with. We’ve got good group of a rookie class both from draft picks, from undrafted guys. It’s a real fun group but I go back to those guys have really worked very hard.

Q: What did Brandon Dillon do to earn a spot on this roster?

A: He worked just like those guys. That’s a tough room because it’s a lot of smart players in there. He fit right in. Everything we asked of him to do, he’s done. He’s kind of passed those tests. Again, he earned that job. But again, it goes back to what he did out on these practice fields. I think he did a nice job.

Q: How is Stefon Diggs since he turned up on the injury report?

A: We’ll see. I know he was on the injury report and we’ll just work through it this week.

Q: Does that go back to a game or a practice?

A: I don’t know.

Q: What can be the harm in going too far back for this first game?

A: I guess the harm is you want to prepare for this game, but you don’t want to over prepare. It’s the paralysis by analysis thing. You have so many days leading up to this game, even starting back in April. We did some work on these guys back in the spring and you’re into the preseason, you’re still kind of keeping an eye on Atlanta. You have to fight that urge to go too far over the top. We want to have a nice concise plan that our players can execute.

Q: You kind of lose sights of your own strengths looking for something?

A: Yes, because ultimately the focus is on us. We need to be about our business and do the things that we’ve seen our players do out here on the practice field and not overthink this thing or try and get too creative and give them too much because that would be a disservice to our players.

Q: Is one of the objectives to find new and creative ways to use the fullback position?

A: Yes. Luckily, we have a good one. We have good tight ends. We have good wide receivers. For us, we’re in a fortunate position where we think we can be multiple. Certainly at the fullback position, when you can lineup in two-back and one-back and no-back, that gives you the ability to be flexible.

Q: How do you stay unpredictable in short yardage situations when defenses may expect you to run?

A: I think you have to be well aware of your tendencies, their tendencies and then as a staff, you sit together and put together a plan of attack. Like you said, it can be the run. It can be the pass. It can be multiple personnel groups. It’s certainly an area that we spend a lot of time on because those are crucial moments in the game to go get an extra set of downs

Q: Does the tight end group’s ability to get down the field mitigate some of the concerns with wide receiver depth?

A: Yeah, I look at it a little bit globally, just exactly how you’re describing it. We have guys at every one of those positions that can help us. We don’t see it as the pass game revolves around one group over the other. We truly believe that we have a group that can be multiple and explosive out of multiple personnel groupings, run and pass. Whether you look at the wide receiver position and say, ‘Who’s the third? Who’s the fourth? Who’s the fifth?’, we don’t get caught up in that. We really are caught up in our guys and what our guys’ skillset is and how we can use them on gameday.

Q: What did you think of Kirk Cousins saying he’s a .500 quarterback in the spring?

A: I think Kirk (Cousins) is obviously a self-aware player but I will tell you his focus, our focus is on Sunday. It’s Game 1 and it’s the first game and it counts for one. We’re looking really hard to narrow our focus, if you will, on this game and get ready for a really good defense coming in here.

Q: What are your early impressions of Josh Doctson?

A: I’ve been around him for a day so early impressions: He can get lined up and he’s doing a nice job. He’s working really hard. He’s getting extra meeting time with our wide receiver coach Drew Petzing so we’re working a lot of hours together right now. We’ll see what we got. Josh (Doctson) has played in this league for a few years there, so we’ll see what we have, see what he can retain and then we’ll go. That’s a fluid situation.

Q: Is there a common theme that you’ve seen that leads to success where players like Josh Doctson can get a fresh start?

A: I don’t know if I’ve seen a common theme, just trying to think about some players in the past. I think ultimately a lot of times circumstances matter and then scheme matters and the people around you matter. Sometimes it clicks for players in certain locations and sometimes it doesn’t. Josh (Doctson) in particular, again, a guy with a skillset that we’re intrigued by. Add him to the mix and see where we go.

Q: What have you seen from Dalvin Cook’s body of work to speak on his readiness for the season?

A: I’m really excited to see Dalvin (Cook) out there on Sunday. He’s a kid that, as you all know, works really hard and has worked his tail off to get back from injury so now he’s feeling healthy. He’s raring to go. The Dalvin Cook that I’m so impressed with is the leader, is the guy that works and leads by example, maybe not vocally all the time. Our players are very well aware of that guy when he’s on the practice field because you see him not only doing his job, but doing it with great passion and working. We’re in a drill and he’ll go take a run and burst for an extra 50 yards because he’s getting into that shape. The guys just see a worker. I think he really fits the mentality of our offense, the mentality of our team.

Q: Do you go in mindful of Dalvin Cook’s injury history and needing to mitigate that?

A: I think we’re mindful of all of our players and the usage at every position. That’s certainly something that I’ll work with Kennedy Polamalu to have a plan as we go into this game and future games, not just for Dalvin. It’s really all of our players. We want to be cognizant of their usage.

Q: How much of a role does Kennedy Polamalu play in the rotation during a game?

A: A very large role. I trust him implicitly. He’s got a great feel for those guys, for when they need a breather and when they don’t and when to ride them. He’s on top of it and I think he does a great job.

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Marwan Maalouf

Hey everyone. Just want to start off by saying that I’m real excited to open up at home this week. I think our guys have done a really good job of preparing, and will continue to prepare obviously until the last minute. I’m happy with where everybody is at. I think we’ve gotten the right guys the right amount of reps and just excited about representing our state and getting everything going.

Q: How much of a chance do have to get to U.S. Bank Stadium and work the guys there?

A: They’re able to go, and a couple times they have gone. The good thing is it’s such a good field. There’s really not much need for extra prep just because of the preseason games. I think all of our guys have had some experience there and they’ve done a really good job with that turf. It’s a really, really good playing surface, so no issues there.

Q: Do you want Britton Colquitt to get down there before Sunday?

A: He’s a good pro. He’s been around a lot of different stadiums, and I don’t know if he needs to necessarily do that.

Q: What are your thoughts on Colquitt so far?

A: He’s been a really good pro, a very talented guy. He adds a really good element to that room. He’s been very good in our individual periods, and he’s been what we expected and what all the scouts and Rick (Spielman) and George (Paton) have expected, so that’s a huge positive.

Q: What goes into the art of being a guy who can hold successfully?

A: I think it’s something that, I don’t remember how many years he’s had in the league but it’s well over 12 and I think 14 or 15, after that you stop counting. He’s done it for so long and he’s done it for different guys. I think the thing that he’s been pleasantly surprised with is Austin (Cutting), our long snapper, and how accurate he’s been. He’s just got a really good natural feel to it and I think that he’s done it for so long that you can’t replace those reps.

Q: What are some of the deficiencies you see from people who aren’t as experienced at holding?

A: I think there’s a level of smoothness, just seeing him really place the ball down and getting the spot. He hasn’t had any problems with that for a long time before he got here. You just kind of see it. It’s even evident to somebody who’s not around it as much as I am. He’s done a really good job with it.

Q: Is holding different for each kicker? Does each kicker like a certain tilt?

A: Yeah, I mean there’s not a huge science behind it, but yeah, every guy has a tilt that they like depending on the conditions, too. If we’re playing outside, may tilt a little bit more depending on where the wind is going as well. Britton’s (Colquitt) been very proficient in all that stuff. We’ve communicated with him and he’s done a great job of communicating with us what he likes and we’ve tailored it so far to him as well. It works both ways.

Q: How is Dan Bailey handling all the changes?

A: Very well. Very well.

Q: How much is Nate Kaeding around and what does he do when he is?

A: Yeah, just depends on his schedule. This week he was with us for a few days already and he’ll be with us through the end of the game. He’s been really good about working with young guys especially and just kind of managing when we’re in meetings, Nate’s with them. As far as how often he’s here, it varies week to week because he’s got a business on the side in Iowa as well. He’s been able to really communicate well with the guys through FaceTime and all that stuff and watch videos and keep up with them. He’s been really good.

Q: How much do think it helps Dan Bailey to have someone he can talk to who’s done it?

A: Are you saying I’m not approachable? Is that what you’re saying? No, I think it’s always good to have another guy who’s done it for a long time. I think Dan appreciates his relationship with Nate and they get along real well just like we all do.

Q: How do Britton Colquitt and Dan Bailey complement each other personality-wise?

A: I think, if anything, Britton’s personality brings out some liveliness in everybody. I think it’s a good thing. It’s a positive. There’s no awkward silence or anything like that. The guys have a good time. He adds a little bit of a relaxed nature that maybe wasn’t here with the other guys that we’ve had. I think that’s a plus. It kind of keeps everybody even-keeled. We have fun. We’re with these guys more than we are with our own families. When you can laugh and enjoy being around each other, that’s a huge positive.

Q: How does a special teams coordinator react when they say we’re going to bring a guy in to help with the kicker?

A: I’ve welcomed it. I don’t think you can ever get enough help. I think Coach (Mike) Zimmer helped us pick Nate. There was a lot of guys that wanted to do it. I just thought we found the right with Nate, him being kind of a local, about four hours away, so it’s easy for him to get up here and help. To me, as long as they’re helping, I have no problem as far as I have no ego when it comes to—I’ve been around a lot of good kickers and I’ve learned from a lot of good kickers and punters. I don’t think you stop learning and if I have a chance to learn from a guy like Nate, that’s great.

Q: Can he see things that you can’t?

A: Yeah, I mean sure. There’s some things that he’ll pick out and I think that there’s some things that I kind of see that might have skipped his vision as well. The cool thing about him is you always get to learn something new. He coaches youth kickers as well and you’d be surprised at how many interesting drills that he can bring that kind of keep everything fresh and keep it lively for the guys that have been doing it for so long. It always challenges them which I think is important.

Q: What’s your confidence level at the punt returner spot?

A: We feel good about it. We’ve got three guys that could possibly do it. Again, I think it’ll depend on the situation and where we’re at in the game. Those guys have a done a good job in the preseason and preparing and we’re excited.

Q: Do you expect Chad Beebe to take the lead role?

A: He’s going to have a role. I don’t know if you call it lead role. Like I said, everybody kind of has their own areas of the field that we’ll cover. We’ll kind of play it by ear. It just depends on where we’re at in the game. It’s kind of hard to predict that.

Q: How tough is that punt return job because guys are on top of you so quick as opposed to a kick return?

A: The good thing is you can always fair catch it if you feel like you’re in bad position. It’s difficult. We ask a lot of the guys. We ask them to see the entire field, study who’s the opposing gunners, who’s the better of the two gunners. We try to help them out as much as we can with our scheme but there’s a lot of factors that go into it. It’s a little bit different since we’re playing at home and there isn’t really much of a weather element. When we start going to Green Bay and Chicago and all those other places, it becomes more difficult.

Q: How unusual is it to have three guys handle different parts of the field?

A: For me, it’s not unusual. I’ve had guys do it a lot, actually. Hopefully you graduate to a position where maybe one guy does the majority of it but for now, I think it’ important we take advantage of all the talent that we have and get those guys on the field depending on the situation.

Q: Is that going to give you a chance to evaluate guys for the full-time role?

A: Yeah, I mean everybody is being evaluated every day for everything as you know. But it helps. It definitely helps in that situation.

Q: Is there a good chance we’ll see all three Sunday?

A: There is. There is. Again, I can’t tell you how the reps are going to go I can’t tell you where we’ll be at on the field when that happens as far as the field position goes, but there’s a good chance.

Q: What are the strengths of all three?

A: I think every guy is built a little bit differently. Some of them are vertical returners. Some of them can get to the edge. Certain guys we trust making decisions depending on where we’re at on the field. I think all that plays a factor in it. They all have a different skillset which hopefully we’ll maximize.

Q: How much do you have to hammer penalties starting Day 1 with the young guys?

A: I think a part of it is how you educate them, teaching them what’s legal and not over emphasizing what’s illegal. How to block it let’s say, how to block somebody legally. I think that has a lot to do with it. You’re right. They’ve done a great job here in the past and we hope to keep building on it and being smart. We go over plays of the week all the time. We watch other teams that commit penalties and we learn from our own mistakes. We’re not perfect by any means but I think the biggest thing we can do is educate the guys and give them alternative to committing a penalty.

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