Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: In your experience with joint practices, what have been the benefits?
A: To me the biggest thing is you get to go against different personnel. We've had nine practices, or whatever it is, and you've been practicing all spring against each other, and you get to know each other pretty well. You get to know how a guy runs a route or rushes a passer, or whatever those things are. It's not a pure game experience, but it gives you a feeling of different players and how they play. It's another experience for all the players, but particularly the young players. In practice, you're able to do things that you've been working on, that you don't really want to run in the preseason. There are some things we have that we like, and you run them against a team in practice, and people shouldn't be scouting you and people shouldn't find out what you're doing, so it gives you a chance to get some full speed work in that area. And again, I think it's valuable for your quarterback, particularly your starting quarterback, because you can give him a lot of reps without the concern of getting him hit or banged up in the preseason.
Q: How is the battle at center going, and do you expect that to go down to the wire?
A: I think both guys are playing really at a high level, and I think both guys are good players. The other part is Coach Zimmer, but it's really nice to have those guys in there. (Brandon) Fusco couldn't practice Saturday, so we put Joe (Berger) at guard, and Sully (John Sullivan) played center. So, it's just experienced players that give you depth and versatility.
Q: What kind of progression have you seen from Moritz Böhringer from OTAs to now?
A: He's getting a feel. He's doing things better physically. It's a big change, the physical part and physical presence of the defensive players. It's totally different from what he has experienced, so he's made progress.
Q: How has Jerick McKinnon's role evolved over the last couple seasons?
A: Obviously, Adrian (Peterson) played one game two years ago, and Jerick had a big role. Until he got hurt, he was our explosive player in terms of running out of the backfield, making plays. He did a good job receiving the ball, and it changed a little bit last year with Adrian. But the last third of the season, we started using him. He got better at some things. We started using him in the passing game, moving him around a little bit. Hopefully, it continues to grow that way, and to me it's a week-to-week deal. There are certain games where they're really going to struggle with a guy like him, and there are certain games that it may not be the best fit. So, those are the decisions we make on a week-to-week basis, but it's nice having him because we know he's an explosive player that can make big plays.
Q: Have you been able to get the full potential and use out of Kyle Rudolph that you wanted to?
A: It's the same thing when you get into production. Kyle has been a really productive player for us, and he was three passes away from his career high last year. I thought the second half, we had more production. I thought he played faster in the second half of the season than he did early in the season. So, he's having a really good camp, and again, there are games he's going to get a lot of opportunities. And there are games, just by the nature of who we're playing, they may be limited. But, he's getting himself ready, I think, to have a really good year.* *
Q: What are your thoughts on Willie Beavers' camp?
A: I think he is having a really good camp and a typical rookie camp. He shows his athleticism, his physical presence when he does things right, and he knows exactly what he is doing. He has been really good. And then it's like I have said, rookies, there are times that they aren't sure; there are times things run together, and you don't have the type of performance you'd like, but he has shown he can develop into a really fine offensive lineman.
Q: How has MyCole Pruitt progression been, where is he at?
A: I think MyCole has really grown in year two. You like to see that kind of jump from year one to year two. I think he's really much more decisive in his routes. He's playing a lot faster, consistently. He always catches the ball well. He caught the ball well when he first got here. The other night, Saturday night, I think he caught five or six balls and really in the seams, in the flats, the high percentage. I think he's a guy that's really going to be able to contribute for us.
Q: How do you think Laquon Treadwell's blocking has translated from college to pro?
A: He's a physical player. We're not finishing out here, but he is a physical player, and I think he will be a really nice addition in the run game.
Q: When you were a head coach and practicing with other teams, how did you control the competitiveness versus being smart and making sure that guys like Adrian Peterson don't get roughed up in practice?
A: I've been in it a couple times where we worked with other teams and it wasn't good. There was too much of what you're talking about, and what I found is – we worked with Dallas twice, and Jason Garrett and I obviously have a good relationship and go way back – and we got together and said what we are going to talk to our team about and how we want to it get that done and why we are doing it and how it benefits both teams. I think that's what has happened with Zim and Marvin Lewis. They know each other really well, so I think they've a good plan to make sure that doesn't happen.
Q: In your situation with Jason, is that a situation that worked out well because you know each other well?
A: Well yeah, and I think it's that deal of approaching your team ahead of time and saying we are not coming in here to have a WWF situation. We are coming in here to help each other get better, and I think that when you have that starting point and understating, you have a chance to have it work.
Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
We're heading toward the end here at training camp before we go to Cincinnati. I think our guys have maintained focus as we've gone through camp with our installs and recalling a lot of things from the spring, but we've still got a lot of work to do. And now as we start competing against other teams, to see them do it from week to week and be able to carry that information in from a game plan-type situation. So, we're excited about getting the opportunity to move forward and go against somebody else other than ourselves and looking forward to competing at a lot of different positions as we go through this process.
Q: From your perspective, what are the advantages of practicing against the Bengals instead of this?
A: As we practice against each other, they kind of know the personnel. They know the abilities of the people across from them. They know schematically. It has been kind of a progression as we've gone through camp, and now we're going to go and get ready against a team that we really haven't seen every day. So, they're going to have to recall that information, play their base roles, concentrate on their fundamentals and techniques, and we want to see them be able to do those things in practice, and then we play them there on that Friday at the end of the week. We're excited about the opportunity to get a chance to go up there and compete, because this is going to be a continuous competition all the way through the preseason.
Q: Have you ever run across a safety built like Jayron Kearse? What are some of the challenges he has being that tall?
A: Yeah, we've had a tall safety in the past. The biggest thing is, he's going to have to continue to stay low in his backpedal and in his reaction to be able to get in and out of cuts, because he is a little bit taller, but I'll tell you what, he has done a nice job of doing that through the camp, which is something we didn't see a lot of with him first coming out initially. But coming down in the box to play the run, he has exhibited the ability to do those types of things, and he's able to have power and explosion out of his hips. So, we're excited where he's at right now and look for him to continue to grow and progress as we go through the rest of the preseason.
Q: You had some guys who were maybe not taking as many reps, or not participating, at Saturday's practice or the morning walkthrough. Can that be beneficial, because it could give you more looks at players who might not usually get as many reps?
A: Yeah, and that's our philosophy as we go through the season. Inevitably, you're going to have injuries. You're going to have time where guys are going to miss practice. You're going to have time where guys are going to have to miss games, unfortunately, but it's sort of that next-man-up mentality; and it kind of starts now. We want to be able to execute what we want to do defensively, scheme-wise, to be able to stop our opponent. So, the more guys that are trained at that position and at that skillset enables us to be able to go and game plan without making a lot of major adjustments.
Q: Are you maybe at a point in camp, too, where if you don't want to push players, especially a starter who knows the defense, and you know what to expect from them?
A: No, I think Coach's (Mike Zimmer) philosophy has been: we're going to take care of guys where we need to take care of guys, but we want competition every single day out at practice.
So, guys that are able to go out and practice, they're going to practice and know that they've got to compete. You look at our positions, especially on defense right now, we've got a lot of good competition within each group. So, that's one thing we want continue to keep pushing, not only just through the preseason, but as the season wears on, we want guys to come to work every day and compete.
Q: Speaking of competition, how do you look at the cornerbacks with Trae Waynes, Terence Newman, and how has Waynes been looking?
A: He's been doing a very good job. Waynes has shown that he's been able to retain the information and shown it on the field. He's made plays when he has had the chance, and he got the chance to go with the 1s. And that's going to be a continuous process to keep seeing him go. Now we're getting to practicing against Cincinnati and playing in games. We want to just see him continue to grow through the whole process. It's a journey, and we're just looking for him to keep competing every day, just like he's doing. The process kind of handles itself that way. I think Terence (Newman) has done a great job from where we started off in camp. He's had a nagging injury, but he has popped back out there. Every time he's out there, he's competitive. Good awareness, he brings a lot to the table and a lot to that room, a lot to our room defensively as far as, his experience. We're excited where we are right now.
Q: Is it a real competition for that spot, or do the nagging injuries play a role?
A: I think that both plays a part of both of it. But as Coach (Zimmer) always says, we want to have competition at each spot.
Q: Have you been able to see an improvement in communication in the secondary?
A: Yes, there's no doubt. That's the big thing when all of a sudden with our offense we get a lot of shifts, you get a lot of motion. It's very good and comforting to know that those guys are tuned in to what's getting ready to happen, whether they're changing a split of a receiver or shift and change the whole formation. But you can see the communication going and I think that gives them a jump on what to anticipate and what's getting ready to happen by formation, down-and-distance and those type of things. That's a big thing that we wanted to emphasize coming into training camp, and they've done a good job of carrying that out.
Q: How has Shamar Stephen done this camp coming back from last season's injury?
A: I think he has done a great job. I think Shamar has a great work ethic. You saw him; he was in the building every single day this offseason getting ready. Beginning of the season when he got hurt, he really worked hard to get to the point where he is now. You can just see he comes out, and fundamentally and technique-wise he's as sharp a guy you want up there on the front. You can count on him; it's money in the bank. He's going to give you exactly what you ask for or attempt to do it with the best of effort. We're pleased where he's at right now and look for him to continue doing the same things and keep continuing to work on his pass rush inside to get push on the pocket. I think he's done a good job of that during training camp, working in that area and just continuing to be solid in his run fundamentals. We just look for him to continue to grow there.
Q: Usually Stephen has worked as Linval Joseph's backup. Now, do you look to get him work at the three-technique?
A: We kind of do that throughout the course of training camp. We move guys to different positions. When we cut down to the 53 (man-roster) and all of a sudden your numbers are short, we may end up having to do that during the course of the year sometime. He's a solid as a run-player, and we have repped him in there some. He does a good job, whether he's at the nose or at the three-technique. There's certain adjustments with the tight end, and both of those guys have to be able to play both positions anyway. That's not anything that's new. Certain movements, certain things, Linval has to play the three-technique, whether it be Shamar or Sharrif (Floyd) has to bump down and play the nose. So, that's not anything new.