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Transcript: Coordinators Address the Media Thursday

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner

Q: How do you think Stefon Diggs performed against Denver?

A: Stefon [Diggs], I thought did everything we asked him to do. It was his first time playing, I thought he ran his routes good, he was very sharp mentally and obviously, he's showing the same thing he's shown us since he got here. He's very good at attacking the ball, catching the ball in tight areas.

Q: If all six wide receivers are all healthy and available for Sunday's game what's your plan to handle the inactives?

A: Those are decisions that Coach Zimmer will make over the next two and a half, three days. It's just not really in our best interest to tell Kansas City what we're doing, how we're doing it and why we're doing it. That will all play out.

Q: Will it make the decision more difficult considering some of the receiver's value on special teams?

A: You can't ask to be in a better position. When you have two guys get hurt and the guys that go in and play for them catch five and six balls, we've got a good group of guys and throughout the year we're going to need them all.

Q: What's Stefon Diggs' biggest issue in transitioning to the NFL?

A: He's a rookie and he's just getting an opportunity to play. I wouldn't classify it as an issue, he's doing what every other young guy does. He's a hard worker and he listens and he's working hard to do things the way he ask him to do them. That's the position he plays, he plays X [receiver] and he stepped in there good.

Q: It seems every receiver says they prefer facing man coverage rather than zone, why do you think that is?

A: I don't know that that's the case, number one. I think you attack all defenses differently, I really don't have a preference and I don't know that they would, in terms of how to attack. You just go play and if you're a good player you have the ability to be successful against any look.

Q: Coach Zimmer's defense runs a lot of man coverage, do you think going against the defense every day in practice has an impact on the preference for man coverage?

A: We see a variety. I wouldn't classify us as being a man team, we see a variety of coverages in practice. Obviously, we see a variety of coverages in games. Our biggest plays have probably come up against zone looks.

Q: Are you comfortable with how involved with how Kyle Rudolph has been as a pass catcher?

A: My experience, particularly in this system, is that things go in cycles. The way that people are playing us right now, or I should say the way Denver played us, there were opportunities to throw the ball to the outside. Obviously, we were playing against two outstanding pass rushers, so the ability to help in there with the tight ends was very important for us. Again, another game, the tight ends might get between them get five, six or eight catches and the receivers might get as many. I don't get caught up in that because through 16 games you're going to have a lot of different people contribute and that's just the way it tends to work in this league.

Q: Do you expect to be using your running backs and tight ends to help with blocking again this week?

A: The thing about the defense we're getting ready to play, they have two outstanding edge rushers, very similar to what we saw in Denver. They've got very good cover guys, their corners are outstanding, they're very aggressive, they play a lot of press-man. Again, obviously, we want to have balance, we want to have success in the running game. If we can have success in the running game that tends to help you in the issues you're talking about in protection. We just have to be very smart on 3rd down.

Q: Apart from Adrian Peterson's long run against Denver, they seemed to have him bottled up, what were they doing to slow him down?

A: The biggest thing is going into the game and then the last two games counting ours and then their game in Oakland, they're 1st in the league in defense. They're one of the top teams in run defense and they're one of the top teams in pass defense. We probably had more success both running and passing against them than any team has in the five games they've played. The biggest thing for us, obviously, is to eliminate the negative plays. That's the best thing they do, they create negative plays. When we were able to protect, I thought we did a good job attacking them. We have just got shore some things up with protection.

Q: How is going against 3-4 defensive fronts different than facing a 4-3 front?

A: The biggest thing is, all of these teams say they're a 3-4 defense but when you put the tape on, they're not. They're very multiple, Denver was a very multiple front, Kansas City is a very multiple front. The actual number of snaps they play a 3-4 defense are very few. That's the thing, obviously, that when you have new guys in the line or young guys in the line, recognizing and understanding the front is the starting point and then your techniques and assignments can change based on how they line up.

*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards *

It's good to come back off the off week and get a chance to look at ourselves in what we accomplished in the first four ballgames and things that we needed to improve on and get back to work this week as far as getting ready for Kansas City. We're excited about being back for our home game and hopefully being able to get going. Questions?

Q: What are some of those things you worked on?

A: We went through and sort of self-scouted ourselves. Not going to be specific about what it is we worked on, but we were able to look at things that we wanted to work on fundamentally and technique-wise within the scheme. We were able to show the players those plays and come back and work through the cutups and then be able to work some of it at practice, so it's been good for us to make some corrections on some things schematically that we've been working on through the first four weeks.

Q: Do you think Anthony Barr looks more comfortable in coverage?

A: I think coming in last year, he really hadn't done a lot in coverage. Last year was sort of his first year where he did a lot of covering, walked out in a displaced number two, covering backs, covering tight ends, playing different progressions underneath – that's not something he did a lot of at UCLA. And I think after going through last season and really through the offseason, at least being in the meeting room, hearing the terminology, getting the communication between the safety, the nickel, the guys underneath, the corner, you can just tell he's starting to be a lot more communicative himself, so I think that kind of helps the whole out a bunch, where he's not having to second-guess himself or think about what his responsibility is – know what your responsibility is and now understand what the offense is trying to do to attack.

Q: What kind of threat does Travis Kelce pose?

A: He does an excellent job within their route tree of what it is they ask him to do. He's a tough cover, he's their second leading receiver, so he's getting a lot of touches on the football. We've got to do a good job of containing him within the passing game with what we're trying to do coverage-wise. So from that aspect of it, he is one of the guys that we know he is going to get the football. So that is one of the things that we've got to make sure in our matchups and our zones and our progressions underneath, that we do a good job with the leverage and whatever we've got called for that play.

*Q: Do you think having a lot of interchangeable players at the safety position so far next to Harrison Smith make it difficult when it comes to communicating in the backend? *

A: The one thing we've always talked about from Day 1 is we want to make this a competitive atmosphere and we've got guys there that we feel can go out and each week, keep improving, keep competing and that's where we are right now. They understand schematically what it is we're trying to do. They've got to communicate, they've got to be able to get lined up, they've got to be able to adjust the formations, so we're just continuing working that process of competing every day, looking at the different packages and using the skillsets of the players that we have at that position.

Q: How has Antone Exum Jr. been developing in practice this year so far?

A: He's come a long way and he's doing a lot better job with the communication. He's doing a lot better job with the awareness. Here's a kid who came out of college, was a corner and now all of a sudden we move him to safety last year and just adjusting to all of the things that we're asking him to do. So he's doing a good job paying attention to the details, asking good questions, working on what we're trying to do from a week-to-week game plan, and we're preparing him like everybody else to get out there and compete and try to use his skillset to help us.

Q: How about Anthony Harris? Is there a way he could jump up to the active roster?

A: Possibly, anything is possible. Like I said, each week we're competing. We expect those guys to be able to transfer what we're doing in the meeting room out to the practice field, have those things and keep competing and that's what we're trying to get accomplished. When that happens, I don't know. Is it a possibility it could happen soon? It's a possibility it could. But right now we're just trying to keep moving forward, keep working these guys, keep competing every day and hopefully just keep getting better from day-to-day.

Q: What is the advantage of playing man-to-man on defense compared to more zone?

A: You have a lot of quarterbacks in this league that are very capable of throwing the ball in short windows. We're not just a man-to-man, but a lot of pattern match with a lot of the things we do in our zone coverages. We do play zone, you've got to have a good mixture of both where they can't say you're going to be this all the time. So from week-to-week and game-to-game, situation-to-situation, we try to look at the different matchups that they're trying to present from week-to-week and then try to put our players in the best position to succeed. 

Q: Is there a certain type of defensive back that you think needs to fit into your scheme based on what you guys do?

A: Again, we try to get the most out of the guys that we have. Our scouting department does a great job of scouting the guys and the skillsets that we're looking for and the requirements that we're going to ask out of the position and then when we get him, sometimes you can't control who you have. So whoever we have we just bring him in, try to use their skillset, adjust it and adapt to what it is that they do best to help us out schematically.

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer *

It's great to have the guys back in the building this week. We had two solid days of meetings and practice a week ago, kind of set the tone for the bye week for them. They came back refreshed this week. So far it's been a real good week, excited about the game on Sunday.

Q: What do you credit Jeff Locke's improved punting this season compared to his first two years to?

A: He's been more consistent. He's worked real hard on that part of his game. Last year he flashed some really good qualities and he just wasn't as consistent as we needed him to be and he's done that so far this year.

Q: With the net punt average, how much do you put that on Jeff Locke and how much is on the coverage unit?

A: We put it on everybody because we have to protect to give him a good launch point, protect the pocket. Jeff has done a really nice job of pinning people deep, I think we have nine inside the 20 [yard line] already out of 17 punts, whatever it is. Our guys are covering really well. We're protecting well, we're covering well and our gunners are doing a good job, as well.

Q: With the punts inside the 20-yard line with no touchbacks what's been the difference this season?

A: Calibrating the wind, mainly. We work hard on that in practice. I know the winds are different here at Winter Park than they would be in TCF [Bank Stadium] or any other stadium. In pregame, we talk about it, he works on it. He checks on when he has to use his Aussie punt or if he still uses a field punt, depending on certain areas of the field. He's a very intelligent guy, I'm trying to help him to not overthink things. When it comes to when to use the Aussie punt or the field punt, that's really helped him. Our goal is just a fair catch at the 10 [yard line] and that's pretty much what he's done. I'm not asking him to pin them at the three [yard line], because if you do that, you're playing with fire, the ball is going to go into the end zone most of the time. We tell him we want a fair catch at the 10, that's our goal and anything else is a bonus.

Q: Is Jeff Locke doing less directional punting than he has in the past?

A: I think when we go outside, because of the winds, especially in TCF, how they swirl, we won't do as much directional punting. When we do directional punt it it's because we have a good cross wind. 

Q: With roster moves are you expecting Edmond Robinson's role to increase on special teams?

A: We've been training Edmond Robinson since he first got here. Edmond is a big, strong young man that can run. He's smart. People think that just because he didn't play at a big school that he can't handle the NFL, I think he's going to do a great job for us. We expect big things from him on special teams and I look forward to getting him out there.

Q: Has Edmond Robinson been picking things up quickly in his time here?

A: I could tell right from the get go back in May when he got here that he was a young man that will probably end up playing for us at some point, just didn't know when. We've been preparing him for these roles since day one. He's taken it very seriously, even though he wasn't playing early, getting a little discouraged like any young player would. He's hung in there mentally and physically and he's ready to go.

Q: What do you tell a player when they want an expanded role, to hold on, wait, their time will come?

A: That's pretty much what I tell them. That's what it is. Sometimes it is a waiting game and these guys are used to waiting around. They've been playing their whole careers from Pop Warner all of the way through college they've probably been one of the top players on their teams. It is difficult, I've known that. Each guy is a little bit different in how we motivate them and how we talk to them. That's the great thing about my job, and I've told you guys this before, I get to know the whole team and try to figure out what makes each guy tick. Edmond is one of those guys, he's a quiet guy, but he's very serious about his work and he's improved tremendously since he's been here.

Q: What does Adam Thielen add to special teams?

A: Adam has an attitude, he's tough, he can run, he's smart, he does a lot of different things for us on special teams and when he's out there we're a better team.

Q: What have you seen from Trae Waynes on special teams?

A: Trae has come in – it's always nice to have a 1st round draft pick type athlete on special teams and we're going to use him for as long as we can until he becomes a starter here at corner. The great thing about Trae is he's another quiet young man, but he's done a phenomenal job of taking the coaching. He hasn't played a lot of these spots ever before, especially on kickoff return or punt return. He's come in and done a really nice job and every week you can see him getting better, so he's been a pleasure to coach and work with.

Q: What's the difference really between Marcus Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson returning kickoffs?

A: Well, Cordarrelle [Patterson] is so big and strong and he can run. Marcus [Sherels] is more probably quicker than fast, although he does have good speed. Cordarrelle is built like a kickoff returner, Marcus is built like a punt returner. That's the best way to describe it, I think.

Q: Would you feel comfortable with Marcus Sherels ever handling kickoff duties?

A: Absolutely. [Marcus] Sherels, Stefon Diggs, Cordarrelle [Patterson], they're all very solid kickoff returners and Marcus has done it here before. He's subbed in for Cordarrelle before in the last couple of years.

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