EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Passing drills make it quite tempting to follow the ball during organized team activities, but there also can be interesting activity away from the reception or pass breakup.
The coverage of Xavier Rhodes on Charles Johnson Tuesday provided an interesting matchup: two young, athletic players that experienced new levels of success in 2014 and are working hard for further development in the future. See the view of practice from Rhodes' helmet here.
For this roundup, we'll focus on a play where the ball didn't come their direction. Johnson ran a short route, but Rhodes quickly responded, tightening the window of opportunity. Teddy Bridgewater saw the reaction and checked the ball down to a running back.
What does forcing a check-down mean for a defense?
"I mean, you're playing good defense," Rhodes said. "Anytime the quarterback has to throw the check-down, you're playing the call pretty well, everyone is on their spot and on their man."
Tuesday marked the eighth of 10 scheduled OTA practices, providing quite a bit of familiarity for the defense with the offense, but Rhodes said there are still things to process.
"With the call and everything, you have a good feeling of where they're going to throw, but you're not 100 percent sure," Rhodes said. "I mean it's a good chance we know, but there's a chance we don't. We just go with the odds, and if he throws it, make a good play. If we don't, they make a good play.
Is it tempting to cheat the route?
No, Rhodes said.
"You have to stay on your man and stay on your spot because you have to play honest," Rhodes said. "If you don't, the quarterback can pump it to your man or pump it to another guy and throw it to your man. You have to do your job in football, and your job is to cover that man."
View images from the eighth of ten OTA's.
A pitfall of evaluating defensive backs (and sometimes basing votes for the Pro Bowl) is the assumption that the best DBs are the ones with the most interceptions. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has worked with the position group for years and has said that's not always the case.
Analytics website profootballfocus.com developed a "yards per cover snap" statistic "to look at which cornerbacks excelled in the 2014 season." The stat, according to the site, "measures yardage conceded when a player is in primary coverage, on a per snap basis. It lets us move a little closer to measuring just how shutdown a corner is."
According to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes played 560 coverage snaps and yielded 526 yards for a ratio of .94 that was ninth in the NFL last season.
The Vikings on Tuesday announced they have signed rookie free agent defensive tackle Chrishon Rose, a four-year letter winner at East Carolina, the same alma mater as Linval Joseph.
Rose played in 48 games for the Pirates, totaling 107 tackles (36 solo), 11.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
The signing placed the Vikings at the full, 90-player capacity that is allowed for rosters at this time of year.
It's a date
The Vikings also announced Tuesday the team's practice schedule for the 50th consecutive training camp at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Players are scheduled to report Saturday, July 25. The first practice is scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 26. All practices are free and open to the public. Click here for the full schedule (subject to change).