Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
First thing, obviously our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Zimmer and his mom and his family. Obviously a very tough time for him. From an injury standpoint from the game, the only update I can give you is Phil Loadholt and it's been reported – it's accurate – that he tore his Achilles and obviously there's a plan for him to have it surgically repaired and we hope he can recover from that and move on with his career. Anything else, I think you should just wait until Coach Zimmer is back. I think we felt we made progress in the game. We played a week better than we did in the Hall of Fame Game. I think we've got a lot of young guys that are making progress, I speak specifically about the offense. And I'm anxious to get back here. We have a really good week, training camp-type week, training camp-type practices Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before we prepare for the Raiders.
Q: Is there a date set for Phil Loadholt's surgery?
A: I don't know those details. It's been reported so much about Phil, I wanted to confirm that and then Coach Zimmer will give the update when he gets back.
Q: Can T.J. Clemmings take some inspiration from Mike Harris after he played four years at right tackle in San Diego? And how do you prepare T.J. for the position and situation?
A: Well, the biggest thing is I talked to the offensive guys today and the biggest downside about the NFL and the hardest thing is there are injuries involved. When you come into a training camp, people think this guy is a long shot or this guy is just there for camp and he's going to be gone. I emphasize to our guys there are a lot of things that happen over the five or six weeks during camp. If you get down because you're not getting reps, or if you get down because you didn't get to play in the game very much, and you don't keep improving, then you take away your chances to be a part of this team. There are just examples every week that are happening through the entire league. I thought T.J. Clemmings is improving since he got here. He is having an outstanding camp. He played well in the Hall of Fame Game. He gets thrown into action earlier in the game than he thought. I thought he played extremely well. He's a young player with a bright future and he's going to have to step it up. And our offensive line I think has played well in both games. Mike Harris looks awfully good at right guard. [Brandon] Fusco looks awfully good at left guard. Matt Kalil has had two good outings, so I think we've made progress and we've identified things in the offseason that we needed to do to help them be better. We identified things for them to do to get better and I think the culmination of those things is showing up.
Q: How tough is it for a rookie offensive lineman to come in and start Week 1? What are the real challenges involved?
A: Well, the challenges to me end up being, as I always talk to him about, he's got to learn how to manage a game, manage playing the position and he's got to get to where he and Mike Harris are communicating at a high level. Then he's got to understand the preparation that you have to have to play in this league and then understand that each week he's going to go against probably the best player he's played against to this point in his career. Obviously when you have a young lineman playing, it puts extra on the coaches. We've got to manage what we're doing and make sure we put him in the best position to be successful.
Q: What kind of skillset do you see in T.J. Clemmings and do you see some of the traits that made him a top defensive end prospect from a few years ago?
A: I think he's improved a great deal and we spend a lot of extra time on pass protection. I think that's where he's really improved. He's an explosive player, he's got good feet, he uses his hands well. He's inexperienced, that's the one thing you'd say where he's got to catch up.
Q: Have you guys considered bringing in a veteran free agent?
A: Once again, that's for Coach Zimmer and for Rick [Spielman]. I'm sure we're going to look at all of the different options there, but if T.J. plays like he did Saturday night and like he did in that first game and keeps growing as a player and continues to play well out here, he should be able to be a very competitive player in this league.
Q: How disappointing is it for Phil Loadholt especially after coming back from an injury last year?
A: Like I said, that's the thing about this league that's hard and sometimes it seems unfair. It's just what it is. I feel for him because he's a very conscientious guy, he's an extremely hard worked and this game means a lot to him.
Q: Will you put more emphasis on tight ends helping out with the blocking with an inexperienced tackle?
A: I don't know if we can put any more emphasis than we've had. We, as I said, started in February and looked hard at everything we can do to help our protection. And it's protection – everyone assumes it's just the five linemen. It has to do with the backs, the tight ends, the quarterback getting the ball out, types of protections, calls in different situations, just doing everything we can to keep guys off the quarterback. The quarterback is going to get hit in this league. We looked at the top offenses in the league last year and the quarterbacks all get hit and they all get sacked. We just want to keep them to a minimum.
Q: Has Teddy showed you the ability to have a quick release?
A: I really believe he did the second half of the season. I thought he did that at a very high level. We happened to last year play three or four of the best pass rush teams in the National Football League and when we looked at other teams playing against them, they had similar problems to what we had. We're working hard so that we don't have those problems. I think Teddy is very in-tuned with what we're trying to get done in terms of trying to get the ball out. I think all three of our quarterbacks did an outstanding job on Saturday night getting the ball thrown quickly, making good decisions. As I said, we can help them some with different style passes, different styles of protection. That's our goal.
Q: Is he getting better going to his fifth or fourth option during the preseason so far?
A: I think it shows up more in practice than it does in games. In games, we've been able to get to the primary receiver quite a few times. That's our ultimate goal. The more you play, the more snaps you play, the more situations where that doesn't come up. But he's a very quick decision-maker and I'm always going to relate to when he played at his best that last third of the season. As I tell you, I'm not a big stat guy, but I don't see us as the 28th-rated passing game in the league last year because over the last six weeks, we were probably a top 10 passing game and that's what we're trying to build on.
Q: What about Shaun Hill? It looked like he had good command of the offense the other night.
A: When you've played as much as he has, you know what's happening really before it happens. Sometimes you can get through your reads too quickly, but I think he handled it extremely well. He got the ball out when he needed to, he made good decisions at the line in terms of getting us in and out of the right plays. He made good throws, he made a good throw to Cordarrelle [Patterson] on the go route against cover two and he made a good throw to [Adam] Thielen on the crossing route.
Q: With a guy like Shaun Hill, does he remember 2007 or was it just a pick up where he left off?
A: I relay it. With a guy like him, I don't remember '07 I don't know that he does either. He knows how to play football and he understands our system and he appreciates the way that we coach and teach the quarterback to play, he's very comfortable with it. We try to simplify it as much as we can for those guys. It's not clinic talk, it's football. It's real football and I think he appreciates that and he responds to it. If he has to play, I would expect him to play at a real high level.
Q: With Zach Line's performance, are you committed to keeping a fullback on roster?
A: You're talking to the wrong guy when you're talking about the 53-man squad or how many guys we keep on offense, but Zach Line is a very good football player. He's a very versatile football player, he can play fullback, he can play halfback, he can play on special teams. He's having an outstanding training camp, so I see him as a valuable part of our offense.
Q: How are you planning to divide up the snaps between the 3rd and 4th quarterbacks in the final few preseason games?
A: We haven't talked about that. We try to split it up in practice and then in the games, obviously, Mike Kafka has got a lot more experience than Taylor [Heinicke] so we wanted to give Taylor an opportunity to really try to catch him up and see how he handles things. He's handled things well at this point. Those discussions will be Wednesday and Thursday, how we play this game.
Q: When you were a head coach and you were putting your final 53-man roster together, how often did you make your decisions based on a pre-determined number at each position and how often did you make adjustments based on personnel?
A: I've never been anywhere where we've had a set number on offense or defense. Really, I kind of looked at it, and still do, and if I'm asked to comment or asked for my opinion on things. I think you really get down to picking a 46-man squad that you would play on Sundays and then after that, I think you take the best players that are there. If it ends up being more on offense or more on defense, you want to keep the 53 best players and I think that's one of the things here we do extremely well, is evaluate our players and do a good job of evaluating them. Sometimes you get caught up in if a guy was drafted or not drafted or when he was drafted. I think if you stick to taking the 53 best players, it could come out overbalanced one way or the other.
Q: How much of the offense do you hold back during the preseason despite it being early in Teddy Bridgewater's career?
A: A lot of it. We do the things we need to do to go play a preseason game. We spend a lot of time in practice that we're going to use, get ready to use early in the season, things that we're going to use in specific situations, 3rd downs, redzone, 2-minute, those type of things. Our 3rd downs have not been very good to this point, we've been in way too many 3rd and real long. Part of that is by our selection and what we're doing and part of it is, like I said, we've been in way too many 3rd and longs.