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Transcript: Coordinators Address the Media Wednesday

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner

Q: How nice is it to have the luxury of two good centers in John Sullivan and Joe Berger with Sullivan back from injury?

A: Well, we've got a good mix on the offensive line. Getting Sully back is big – a veteran player who is a really good player. We all know Joe stepped in and played extremely well last year. Obviously we made other additions in the offensive line, so I think it's an area we can improve greatly and I think it'll show up for our entire team.

Q: Are you just throwing a lot of different pieces around on the offensive line and seeing what works right now?

A: When you get into the season and you get limited by roster numbers, your backup players have to be able to play both sides and you have a swing tackle. When we practice now and when we practice in the summer, someone is going to continue to move and get reps at both sides.

Q: How has T.J. Clemmings looked at left tackle?

A: T.J. has been doing good. It's a change for him. He gets challenged every day by our defensive front. We've got good players over there, so I think he's making progress.

Q: What have been your impressions of Moritz Böhringer so far?

A: He's a big, physical athlete. He can run, he's starting from way, way, way behind. He's catching up. Everything happens extremely fast for him, but he's got physical skills.

Q: What are your thoughts on Alex Boone so far?

A: He's a veteran football player. You watch him on tape and you know he's a very, very physical football player. That doesn't translate to being out here in jersey and shorts, but he's brought some energy and some spark to our group – not just the offensive line. I'm excited watching him play when we get in the fall, when we get in pads and start practicing and get in games.

Q: In what ways do you expect the move for Brandon Fusco to affect his play?

A: I'm old school and I think where you line up and play is where you play. And you control how you play. Brandon obviously voices that he's more comfortable on the right side and that's a starting point. It might just be a mental thing, but he's played well over there in the past. We're looking for him to do that again in the future.

Q: How has Phil Loadholt looked so far after missing a lot of time the last couple years?

A: He's missed a lot of time and I think he's handled it extremely well. He's got a long ways to go to get back to where he can be ready to go play in games, but if anyone can do it, Phil can and he's working awfully hard to get that done.

*Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards  *

Q: What are your expectations of Trae Waynes this season?

A: We expect him to continue to compete. He's doing a good job this offseason, he seems to have recalled a lot from his first year. He's learned a lot. Just continue to work on the fundamentals and the techniques that we're working between the different concepts that we have coverage-wise in and to take the next step. Take the next step awareness-wise, competition-wise, being able to recall it when we get out here on the field and make plays.

Q: How does awareness show itself on the practice field?

A: I think that when a young player comes in, especially a rookie, comes in and not only learning what we're doing schematically and technique and fundamental-wise, but also the college game is so much different than the professional game. I think there's a learning curve in there, a lot more so than it used to be years before. From that aspect of it, come in, you've gotten acclimated to what it is we're going to see week-to-week, the different concepts that we have and technique and fundamental-wise, we want to be able to apply those things.

Q: According to draft analysts last year hip tightness was an issue for Trae Waynes, have you seen an improvement in that area?

A: I really think the biggest thing is him coming in and knowing and being confident in what we're trying to accomplish schematically, defensively and the different techniques that we ask him to play, as opposed to what he was doing in college. I think there was a learning curve there. Again, he approached it, he worked hard at it, he had limited reps last year, but we saw some good things when he was able to play.

Q: Is there any concern with Mackensie Alexander being limited on the field today?

A: No. Again, he's another one coming in and making that transition. You don't like for anybody to have to miss any time, but those things happen and we realize that. He's been a good worker since he's been in here, understanding the different things we've asked him to do, sort of like he did last year. He's come in, we're playing him at the nickel, we're playing him outside so they can get a bigger scope of what we're trying to do schematically overall. I think that puts a little bit more added work to him mentally and just schematically what we're asking him to do, but in the long-haul we think it will pay big benefits for us.

Q: It seemed like Mackensie Alexander was taking mental reps with defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, is he trying to soak it all in?

A: Yeah, there's no doubt. He's paying attention to the details of it even though he couldn't take reps today, being able to come out here and take mental reps can be very valuable, especially to a young guy. 

Q: Do you envision Mackensie Alexander as a nickel cornerback or an outside corner?

A: Our biggest deal is trying to see his skillset and see where we can match his skillset schematically in the way it is that we're doing. He's played in the nickel before some in college and just looking at the different things we do coverage-wise and the different things we ask the nickel to do, putting him in there and let him work inside and outside should hopefully pay dividends for him as we keep progressing down the road.

Q: How has Jake Ganus looked in his first NFL action? He seems to be making plays.

A: He really has. He's come in and he's been working hard, has picked up the things we're asking him to do. We just want to see continued progress and then after the OTAs and the mini-camp is over with continue to press through training camp. We're excited about where he is right now and look forward to him continuing to improve and get better as we work through this process.

Q: How difficult is it for an undrafted free agent to make the roster as a linebacker?

A: It's a competition, that's the one thing Coach [Zimmer] has preached since we've been here. We want that competition throughout. He played in a good program at the University of Georgia. He understands what it takes to come out every day and compete and it's kind of transferred over. He approaches it like a pro, he's working diligently, I know he's meeting extra and doing all of those things with Coach [Adam] Zimmer and doing all of the things necessary to give him a chance to compete.

*Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer  *

Q: How has Blair Walsh looked so far in OTAs?

A: Excellent. We started working back in phase two. We're allowed to go indoors and kick with just a snapper, holder, kicker and he's come back stronger, more efficient. He's really had a good spring so far, indoors and outdoors.

Q: Why do you keep most of his kicks from a shorter distance during OTAs?

A: Shorter just because especially on a windy day, the wind won't affect the shorter ones as much, it'll give him some confidence. But he's confident right now, he's in really good shape. But we'll keep doing that. We'll start him from short, then go longer from there and increase his confidence as spring goes on.

Q: How happy were you when you resigned Marcus Sherels?

A: I was very happy. Absolutely.

Q: How has Jeff Locke looked so far?

A: Good, good. He's actually come back stronger. We talked back in January that one of the most important things for Jeff to understand is that he has to be a more consistent performer. He's a very good punter and people want to look at the total numbers and the raw numbers from last year, but he punted in TCF (Bank Stadium) for eight regular season games and a playoff game, and if you compare the numbers to the other guys that he competed against on those certain days, he punted just as good or better than the rest of them. And his indoor punts were phenomenal last year in the three days indoors. I feel very confident about Jeff going forward. And the other thing we talked about was coming back stronger, bigger and stronger not so much weight-wise but to have more confidence, especially kicking in the windy situations and so far, he's responded quite well.

Q: Could you still potentially bring in a punter later this offseason?

A: Well, I think it depends on how Jeff [Locke] does the rest of spring. I think it's how comfortable Rick [Spielman] is, how comfortable Coach Zimmer is, and we'll talk about that as the spring goes on. We had two good, young rookie punters here for the rookie minicamp that performed very, very well, so we know those guys are out there if we need to go that route. But right now from what I'm seeing so far from Jeff, he's become a most consistent punter. That's got to be a consistent theme for him the rest of spring into training camp.

Q: With the way you use your kickers and punters in training camp, why do you guys feel bringing in another "camp leg" is not necessary?

A: First of all, it's a numbers game and you always want that extra receiver, extra D-tackle, extra DB for as much running as those guys do and as much pounding the big guys have. We have young players, we have a young snapper, a young kicker and a young punter. And if we monitor their workload and not over-kick them or over-snap Kevin [McDermott] in camp – which I've never done – we should be just fine taking those three to camp.

Q: Do you feel the move indoors will help Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke?

A: Yeah, I think it's going to help everybody. It'll help our returners, it'll help kicker, punter and unfortunately it's going to help the opposing team, too. We felt TCF became a home-field advantage for us, where the kickers and punters came in and their eyes were big as saucers and they were really concerned about the wind. Our guys, as you know went down there every week of home games and went down there and had one day and were kicking at TCF, and they felt – not comfortable, it's harder to kick in those situations – but they felt better than they would if they didn't have that practice or those reps that they had throughout the season. Kicking indoors, obviously it will be a different type of game for us, but it'll be different for our opponents as well.

Q: Have any young players stood out in OTAs yet?

A: Yeah, I don't want to point out any guys, I think it's a little bit too soon for that. But for the most part – I would say pretty much, the whole part – our young guys have come in. They're young, they're eager, they're high character kids that have a love of the game and I think that's what Rick [Spielman] and his staff and Coach Zimmer preach so much about having the right type of character kids in that are smart, they're tough, they're passionate about the game of football. And that rolls right on into special teams. That's a lot of our same themes that we coach on special teams and these guys have bought in already and they look at the veterans around them and our locker room is full of guys that have bought into being successful on special teams and that has really helped us in the past and we're going to hope that continues, especially with the young guys.

Q: Is special teams more experimentation or fine-tuning during these OTAs?

A: It's probably not quite fine-tuning yet, but we're working on fundamentals and techniques solely. The schemes are very, very simple right now. The most important thing for us is alignment and footwork and hand-placement and moving your feet and teaching the offensive players the correct way to tackle. We're really big on safety, we're really big on doing things the right way, so we keep our guys healthy, so they can play effective that way as well.

Q: Is there any downside at all to kicking inside as far as kickers and punters go?

A: Probably not, not a downside. The only thing, when you get a beautiful day in Minnesota, you get those early beautiful September days and there's just a little bit of a breeze, the ball will travel a little bit further, if there's a little bit of wind. Even if there's a tail-wind, the ball might hang up a little bit higher. But indoors, if the windows are closed on the side like we have now, which would be kind of pretty cool, but if everything is closed and it's kind of in a little bit of a vacuum, the ball won't travel as far if it is a nice, slight wind day if that makes sense.

Q: Do you get any say if the big doors are open during the game?

A: I don't want any say. I've got enough to worry about on game day. That's for the bigwigs to worry about.

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