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What We Learned: Vikings vs. Saints

The week of practice is over and the Vikings are set for their game this Sunday against the Saints in New Orleans. Here's what we learned this week about the Vikings as they prepared for Week 3.

Priefer Preaching Patience to PattersonVikings Special Teams Coordinator and Vikings kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson have made no bones about it – they will be aggressive in returning kickoffs from the end zone. Routinely, Patterson will field kicks eight or nine yards deep and return them. Many special teams coaches would insist their returners take a knee rather than run the risk of being tackled deep inside their own territory and setting up the offense with adverse field positions.

But Priefer isn't most special teams coordinators and Patterson isn't most kickoff returners.

Early in the season, though, Patterson hasn't gotten many opportunities. Vikings opponents have five touchbacks already, which means five times Patterson has watched a kickoff sail over his head and through the end zone.

"I've talked to Cordarrelle about not being frustrated because we're going to face more touchbacks, especially earlier in the year," Priefer said. "As the year goes on we're going to play outdoors, obviously more games, and not facing as many kickers that can put the ball through the end zone."

Unfortunately, that waiting game may have to continue this week. New Orleans plays in the touchback-friendly confines of the Superdome and the Saints have already logged nine touchbacks on 12 kickoffs.

"Thomas Morsted is their punter but he's also their kickoff specialist and he's got a big-time leg," Priefer explained.

Conventional QB Wisdom Kicked to the CurbSo often we hear defensive coordinators and defensive players talk about pressuring a quarterback and forcing him off his "spot" in the pocket. This week, though, Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards described what he thought would be key to defending Drew Brees, and the explanation sounds at first like an unorthodox strategy.

"He's a mobile quarterback in the pocket," Edwards said, "He likes to step up, he buys time with his feet in the pocket. We've got to do a good job of keeping him contained within the pocket this week."

No one would describe Brees as a mobile quarterback in the escape-the-pocket-to-pick-up-yards kind of sense. And most of the time you want to flush a quarterback from the pocket to throw off the rhythm of the passing game. But Edwards is correct – Brees is mobile within the pocket and he's adept at sensing pressure and moving subtly to buy time. Key for the Vikings will be crashing Brees passing lanes in the pocket.

Greenway Banged Up But Not Ruled OutYou don't play in every game since 2007 and lead the team in tackles for six consecutive seasons without being tough. Chad Greenway, who has accomplished the aforementioned feats, is running on pure grit and determination this week as he deals with hand and rib injuries sustained in last week's game. The injuries caused him to miss some practice time this week.

Despite the injuries and the missed practice time, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer did not rule Greenway out on Friday.

"I don't know. We will see more on Sunday," was Zimmer's response when asked if he expected his star linebacker to play.

Greenway is listed as questionable on the Friday injury report.

Floyd, Loadholt Expected to PlayThere were a few other starters on the injury report, including DT Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and RT Phil Loadholt (ankle). It sounds as if they will both be able to play on Sunday, though, giving the Vikings a pair of key starters in the trenches for this week's game.

Saints Starting LB Ruled OutIt was announced via the Friday injury report that Saints starting inside linebacker David Hawthorne, a seven-year veteran and a tackling machine, will not play on Sunday because of an ankle injury. Kyle Knox is listed behind Hawthorne on the depth chart and Ramon Humber is the other backup inside linebacker on the depth chart – he's listed behind starter Curtis Lofton.

Other Saints already ruled out are: RB Mark Ingram, S Marcus Ball and FB Erik Lorig.

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