The week of practice is over and the Vikings are set for their game this Sunday against the Washington Redskins. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared for Week 9.
Patterson says he and Bridgewater are building a bondLast week in Tampa Bay, Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson was targeted a season-high 12 times and he responded with season highs in catches (six) and receiving yards (86). That production is a product of the week Patterson and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had together in practice.
"It all starts at practice," Patterson said. "You've got to have great practice habits. Me and Teddy, we had a good week last week. He's trying to find me the ball. It paid off Sunday. This week, just keep building on from there and I'm just trying to get more balls."
Defenses have certainly focused on stopping Patterson, particularly with RB Adrian Peterson and TE Kyle Rudolph out of the lineup. That has made it difficult for the Vikings to feature Patterson in the game plan. But it sounds like Patterson is pleased with the progress of his rookie quarterback and with the progress he and Bridgewater have gone through in building a rapport.
"Me and Teddy, we've hit," Patterson said. "We've found each other, where we stand. So I just hope we can continue to build on it from there."
RG3 likely to start for RedskinsThere's been some question all week as to who would start at quarterback for the Redskins on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. While nothing has been officially declared, it's looking more and more likely that it will indeed be Robert Griffin III.
The main headline on the Redskins team website on Friday afternoon read: "Robert Griffin III: 'I'm ready to go.'"
In the story, Griffin III is quoted as saying: "I've been able to get out there and practice a little bit, and now just getting into the flow – the flow with the guys. And that's what we want to do: keep this winning streak rolling, and go into the bye feeling good."
Redskins rookie CB Bashaud Breeland may not playThe Redskins pulled off a dramatic and high-profile upset last week, defeating the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 in overtime. A big part of the win was the Redskins defense's ability to slow down what's been a red hot Cowboys offense, as they held Tony Romo to just 209 yards passing and one touchdown. A key part of that effort was the play of Washington's young cornerbacks, namely Bashaud Breeland.
Breeland, a fourth-round pick last May, is coming off perhaps his best game as a pro. He helped hold Dez Bryant to just three receptions for 30 yards in last week's win. But now he's also dealing with a knee injury. According to this report from the Washington Post, Breeland injured his knee late in Friday's practice. He listed as questionable on the week's final injury report.
If Breeland is unable to play, EJ Biggers, Chase Minnifield and Tracy Porter figure to see more action.
DeSean Jackson is stressfulTypically, NFL head coaches like to keep things close to the vest. They are choosy with their criticism and their praise. But Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who has more moments of candidness than most head coaches anyway, was blunt and honest when asked about one of the Redskins top receivers – DeSean Jackson. Specifically, Zimmer was asked how much Jackson's speed stresses a defense.
"It stresses it a lot," Zimmer said. "He's got great speed, great quickness, great acceleration, so yeah, he's stressful."
Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch this season at 20.8 and paces a Redskins passing attack that is tied for third in the NFL with 34 catches of 20 yards.
Redskins running game looks like Green Bay'sWhile the Redskins can get explosive in their passing game, they also know how to get physical in the ground game. Alfred Morris is the starting running back, and he averages 4.6 yards per carry for his career, and the offensive line is an athletic group that excels at stretching defenses out and getting to the second level to clear out linebackers and create lanes for runners.
In figuring out how to neutralize the Redskins ground attack, Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards and his staff don't have to look too far. They will turn on the tape from their Week 5 game at Green Bay.
"What it is is it's sort of like what we saw against Green Bay. They are really going to stretch it to the front side and then if you've got the edge set on the defense there, he'll (Morris) stick the foot in the ground," Edwards explained. "This guy is more of a one-cut guy where he's going to get downhill off the stretch play. We saw it against Green Bay. Certain teams do it a little bit different in how they block the back side, but from that aspect of it that's what we're looking at this week. They're really going to try to stretch us, which is going to put some stress on our defensive line and linebackers get downhill.
The bad news is Green Bay was able to execute this style of blocking and running against the Vikings. The Packers ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 28 attempts, an effort paced by Eddie Lacy's 105 yards on 13 carries; he had both rushing touchdowns.
But the good news is the Vikings defense is playing markedly better now than they did that night at Lambeau Field. The defensive line, in particular, is playing well and has been stout against the run. Since the Green Bag game, the Vikings have allowed just one rushing touchdown and just 284 rushing yards.