Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: How difficult would it be to get guys like Stefon Diggs and Cordarrelle Patterson involved with you having your top three receivers established?
A: I think we've worked hard to get everyone involved in this preseason, through training camp and everything we've done. I just think we have a number of guys that can make plays and we want to give all of them an opportunity to make plays.
Q: You have a veteran in Joe Berger at center if you need him. What have you seen from him through training camp and what do you like about him?
A: Joe [Berger] has had an outstanding camp. He's played guard, he's played center, he's kind of a leader of that group right now while we're getting Sully [John Sullivan] ready to go. He's a valuable guy to us, that's why we wanted to have him back. I think he will do well if he has to go.
Q: Are you limited at all with what you can run due to different personnel groupings along the offensive line?
A: There are no limitations. We're asking a lot of those guys, as I've said, I think we've gotten better, a lot better on the left side. Those guys are veteran guys, they're comfortable with each other, I think we're improved on our left side. We're making progress every day on the right side. Obviously, we have a position change guy (Mike Harris) and a young guy (T.J. Clemmings), but they've responded. We did a good job of protecting the quarterback in the preseason, we need to continue to do that and be able to run the ball.
Q: Does John Sullivan need much time to be game-ready?
A: I wouldn't think, certainly not from a mental standpoint. It's just obviously a day-to-day thing in terms of where he is physically.
On Zach Line:
A: He's our starting fullback, number one thing he's showed us. He's quick to the target, he's a physical player and he's a very good athlete so he stays on blocks. There aren't very many plays where his guy made the tackle, in terms of what we're doing. We're not a big two-back, fullback in the game team, but it's something we need to be able to do, we need to be able to do it out of our base personnel, we have to do it out of our short-yardage and goal line. There are so many things that you end up with two tight ends and two backs in the game, backed up for a minute. There's a lot of different times you use that different personnel group. He's valuable to us.
Q: What did Zac Kerin show you guys to keep him on the roster from being an undrafted guy a year ago?
A: Zac, [Kerin] he's just had a good camp. He's a versatile guy, he's played center, guard, he's played guard. He played the 2nd half at guard in our last preseason game. I'd be comfortable if Sully [John Sullivan] couldn't go and we got in a position where Zac was our center in the game, I think he would handle it well.
Q: With all of the weapons at wide receiver what makes Charles Johnson standout?
A: He's a bigger person than people realize. He's 218 pounds, he's a long-arm guy, he's got great reach. I thought he played really well the 2nd half of the season, I think he's improved a great deal over that, just being comfortable with what we're doing and he can run. All of the things you can say about guys, defensive backs feel speed and when a guy can run, he changes the way they defend him.
Q: How anxious are you to finally to call a play with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Teddy Bridgewater under center and a healthy Kyle Rudolph?
A: These guys, starting in April when we started phase one, these guys have worked as hard as any group I've been around and Coach Zimmer has pushed them extremely hard. We always tell them, you do all of this stuff from April to when you get going in September for 16 weekends or 16 games, used to say 16 Sundays and now you have got to use a lot of days, but to get started on Monday Night Football and get rolling I think everyone is anxious to get going, including me. We want to be an offense that gives your team a chance to win. Sometimes that means wide open and you've got to do what you've got to do. Sometimes it means just being smart and executing your offense.
Q: Is Rhett Ellison a guy that could step in and play as a true fullback role if you needed him to?
A: Yeah, he's played fullback, it brings on a different dimension when he's in there, but yeah, he can do that.
Q: Which position do you think is under more pressure in the NFL, the offensive coordinator or the head coach?
A: I never thought of it and don't worry about it. When you're going good and you're winning, both of them are easy and when you're struggling and things aren't going the way you'd like, there is some stuff that goes with the job. I always tell people – this for me and I know for Coach Zimmer – it was a dream of mine growing up to be part of this league in any manner and so if someone starts worrying about pressure – I've got a lot of friends who have pressure-jobs and who are in pressure-situations and have a lot tougher situation than I would ever have, and so I don't look at it in terms of a pressure situation.
Q: How would you assess Adrian Peterson as a pass-catcher?
A: I think he caught four balls in that game in St. Louis and he did a good job. The thing that is hard – Adrian can catch a ball really well and there are certain routes he catches better than the other. It does change when it's in games and everything is 100 mile an hour, but I expect him to be a productive receiver for us. I really think he is going to have an opportunity to make big plays in the passing game if we're getting the ball spread around to everyone else. It's hard to cover everybody.
Q: How different does this feel heading into Week 1 with your starters compared to a year ago?
A: Well, it was a year ago in Week 1, we had all those guys and we opened with a pretty good win. It was that next week that things changed. This is an exciting group number one for me is because how hard they've worked. It means a lot to them and they want to be good and we are really young. It's fun to be around young guys.
Q: Is there one play that stands out in the preseason that you liked in particular about Teddy Bridgewater?
A: There's a lot of plays. It's hard. Probably the deep ball to [Mike] Wallace in the Dallas game because we had a lot of things going on on that play and we were on the road and it was loud. He was changing plays at the line and we ended up with a big play. Those are the things he has to be able to do.
Q: What does MyCole Pruitt offer you as a coordinator?
A: We're finding that out. Unfortunately he missed a couple weeks, but he started fast in the offseason and training camp and the preseason. I think he's healthy. This is the first week he's been back healthy. He played a little bit in the game the other night and as I said, was stumbling and bumbling around a little bit. He's going to be a good player and he's going to add to our offense. How much we can use him, we'll see, but he's a big, physical player. He's a good blocker, he's a good receiver and we've got a number of good, young players and he's one of them.
Q: Is Charles Johnson's size an underrated factor of his game that many overlook?
A: Yeah, because he is a lean guy and he doesn't look as big as he is. I know some people have described him as not being a physical guy going to the ball, but I think he does that and I think he's done it better in this camp than he did a year ago. He's got a long reach. He made that play in the preseason in the Raider game where he reached out and caught the ball in the back of the end zone. He's made a number of catches out here that when the ball is thrown you think there is no way he can get to it, and he reaches out and gets it one-handed or gets two hands on it. He does have a good catch radius.
Q: Do you feel you're catching San Francisco in an opportune time after all of their turnover this offseason?
A: The first game of the season is always a challenge because they have a new defensive coordinator I'm looking at from our standpoint. He obviously has a track record in the NFL in [Eric] Mangini. I thought they played very well in the preseason. I thought they were very sound, did not give up a lot of big plays, so we have to prepare for what we're looking at on tape. I know people are talking about the players they've lost, but in terms of looking at them they still have a group of guys that play at a high level and play extremely hard and as I said, they don't give up a lot of big plays, so you have to be able to put together a 10, 12, 14-play drive and you have to be sharp and sometimes in the first ballgame that is harder to do than when you get into a rhythm. So I think they're a pretty good defense.