Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Just a sports update, our Viking employee softball team got beat last night. A couple of the players are here. I think they got mercy-ruled and one of our equipment guys, Terrell [Barnes], got run over at third base by a girl, they say. That's the sports update if you missed it yesterday. We don't really have much to talk about. I picked a good day to come up here. We didn't practice yesterday, so this will be quick.
Q: What can fans expect to see at Saturday night's practice?
A: The history of it is, obviously, we get a great crowd here and it's the first time we really get to go out and be 11-on-11 in a little bit of a high-energy situation. I think you get to some high-speed football. It's good. It's a lot of energy, the first time under the lights and young guys get an opportunity to go out and try to show up and make something happen. It's exciting, it's fun. As long as I've been doing it, you get out there under the lights and a little bit more of a speed-it-up atmosphere and your juices get going a little bit, so it will be good.
Q: Who are some of the young guys you keep an eye on during 11-on-11?
A: Well, what you really want to do, I always talk to them, we have situations where we go 1-on-1, we go 9-on-7, 7-on-7, without the entire team. And then our team period, you watch it and there's coaches coaching guys after every play. What you're doing all this for, is so when you can get 11 guys on the field out there by themselves, they can function. It's amazing how some guys really step up when they're out there, just 11 guys and some guys regress, they're not sure what to do. In these early situations, early preseason games like the Hall of Fame game, I think you get to see these young guys, the adrenaline gets going and they just step up. The number one thing we want to do is make sure these guys can function out there without a coach helping them between plays.
Q: How much does playing five preseason games help with identifying the third quarterback position?
A: I really think it does. It helps with the reps, in terms of the third quarterback. Two things, having Shaun [Hill] in here, Shaun doesn't need as many reps right now, so we're able to work the two young guys. I've never worked our two young guys, or the three and fours, as many reps as we've had to this point, right now. But, they're going to get to play in the preseason games and it's like I just said, there are certain guys that really show they know what they're doing and they step it up a notch when you get in games and some guys regress.
Q: Mike Zimmer said he assumes you'll have three quarterbacks, but he said it's not set in stone. Where do you stand on that?
A: It's Mike [Zimmer] and Rick [Spielman], I'm sure they're talking about it every day from the standpoint of the total team. If it works for your entire team to have three, then to me, that's a bonus. I think long-term, you're better off having three. But if it costs you a player that's going to help you during the season, there's always that discussion, which way you go and that's a long ways off from now.
Q: What do you see from Mike Kafka and Taylor Heinicke right now?
A: I see two young guys and Mike's [Kafka] not as young as Taylor [Heinicke], but he is young in terms of being exposed to our system. I see guys that when it's all clicking and they're doing it right and they're comfortable, they have the ability to execute. When they're uncertain like any player, it doesn't look so good. Taylor's where Teddy [Bridgewater] was a year ago at this time. Things happen really fast and it's one thing to walk through it, it's one thing to look at it on tape, it's one thing to look at it on a video screen or on a visual reality, whatever that is, mask. It's another thing to have it happen full speed out there. I think they're making progress. It's going to be fun watching them.
Q: There's so much to install at this stage in camp. How do you gauge the progress of your players on a day-to-day basis at the early stages of camp?
A: At this time, I don't get too high or too low on anybody. We've had four practices, two in pads. I always spend a lot of time evaluating players based on who they're matched up against, how they function against better players. Are they using our technique? There's a lot of things that are involved. How well do they know what we're doing? It's amazing the faster things get, the more pressure gets, guys revert back to something they've done in the past rather than doing things the way we want them to do. We're trying to get them to where they've got so many repetitions, that they've done the same things over and over again, that it doesn't break down when things get going real fast.
Q: How has Mike Harris looked in his transition to guard?
A: He's looked surprisingly good in there. It's tough for a guy his size, his length, sometimes going in there, but he's getting tested. That's what I'm talking about, matchups. He's going against good players. We've got good tackles. He's going against good players and I think he's doing well. He's gradually getting his pad level down and you can't play too high in there because you're just going to play against big guys all the time.
Q: What can a guy like Jerick McKinnon do for this offense?
A: Jerick [McKinnon] has picked up where he left off. He's got a great burst, he kind of lulls guys to sleep and then sets them up and goes. He's got his own style, I think we all saw it when he was playing [in 2014]. He's got the ability to make big plays and I think he's going to be a good compliment with Adrian [Peterson].
Q: Is there a particular quarterback that Teddy Bridgewater reminds you of?
A: I've never been where I look and say, "This guy reminds me of this guy." I think there's different traits that guys have that remind me of other guys. He's got good balance in his abilities. He's got good vision. He's got great poise. He's very accurate. He works extremely hard at it. The thing he has, I've been lucky to be with a couple guys that had it and I've been with some guys that don't. The thing that surprised me most about Teddy [Bridgewater] last year was his mobility, because it didn't really show up in the college tape and it certainly showed up in our games.
Q: Was the plan going into the day off to re-evaluate the right guard position?
A: Those questions I think are best for Coach Zimmer. We have a plan there and I don't know who told you we are staying, where we are, or saying that we are moving people around, but we have a plan there and were going to continue to look at the things that are best for us.
Q: You mentioned this is the time to experiment with some of the new guys, what have you seen from MyCole Pruitt so far?
A: If I used the word experiment, I apologize because I misspoke. I don't ever think we're experimenting out there. We're trying to teach guys maybe some new techniques, new routes. We're working on some new plays but you know with a guy like MyCole Pruitt we're not giving him a lot of leeway because he's got to learn our base [offense]. The guys that we might give a little different wrinkle to would be a guy like C.J. [Charles Johnson], or a guy like Kyle [Rudolph], or a guy like Matt Asiata, who have been in the system a year and have a pretty good understanding of what we're doing.
Q: What are you going to emphasize for tomorrow's night scrimmage? Do you think you are further along than you were at this point last year?
A: We're playing a lot faster, have a better understanding of what we're doing. We're pretty much in the same spot in terms of our instillation and what we're doing and the things we're working on. There's things we want to accomplish and want to get done. Obviously, when you get out there and it gets a little more competitive in terms of 11-on-11, the defense has something to do with that as they always do in games. My number one deal with all our guys offensively is that they go out and they manage their game, they do their job. That's the number one thing in terms of getting started to being able to go play 11 guys together. People get caught up in is the ball complete, is it not complete? Did we get first downs, did we not get first downs? Did we score points, did we not score points? My emphasis is on these guys doing what we asked them to do. Are they doing it the way we're teaching it? Are they buying into the system? Are they trusting the system? I've said it, we have a lot of guys who make plays and I'm not going to lose sleep if they make plays tomorrow night or don't make plays tomorrow night. I want them to go out and do things our way.
Q: Where do you think Cordarrelle Patterson is at compared to last year?
A: He's a year further along and he's been in the same system. Someone said this is the first time he's had back-to-back systems in five years, so he's further along in understanding, so I think when he's doing things right, he's playing faster and he's doing a good job catching the ball. We are moving him around, playing him in some different positions, he's handling that well and that's what you hope for and that's what you expect when you're in year two.
Q: Is the fifth preseason game going to give you a chance for more evaluation?
A: I think it helps in the evaluation, I really do. Offensively, certainly our biggest deal is finding the young linemen that are going to function and play the best in games and that gives us an opportunity to see that.