View Full Version : DAY 2 at Mini-Camp

04-09-2006, 02:46 AM
Finally found some stuff on Day two...a couple of interviews...

Interview with Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell

Q: Talk about how you have a different quarterback now than you did when you were hired. Were you in on those decisions?
A: Coach Childress and the triangle made those decisions, and we're happy with the three guys we have right now.

Q: Talk about the West Coast offense and what type of quarterback you need. Is Brad Johnson someone who can run this offense?
A: Well we're still feeling out all the guys, the offensive line, tight ends, running backs, receivers as well as the quarterbacks. What we're trying to do now is fit the West Coast offense to what our players do the best, and that's what's great about that system. We'll find something that we're able to do, that we're able to hang our hat on and get the best out of all the players.

Q: Running back-wise, what do you have right now? Is it a big enough stable in your mind or do you have to supplement it in the draft?
A: If we had to go to battle tomorrow, we'd be ready. Adding Chester Taylor was a big part for us, to get a running back that we think we can hand the ball off to 20-plus times a game. Mewelde Moore, he's had an opportunity six times, I think, when they've handed him the ball 20 times a game where he's rushed over 100 yards every time, and Minnesota was 6-0 in those games. There are two guys right there that have the ability to carry the ball, and we're still feeling out Ciatrick (Fason) and Joe (Adimchinobe Echemandu). It's a good stable to work with right now.

Q: Is it tough to keep a balance with the right and left side of the line?
A: Like I said, we'll find out what we have as we continue to fit these pieces together. Obviously the left side is the strong side that we have. I think (Steve) Hutchinson and (Bryant) McKinnie are pretty entrenched there on that left side. We'll definitely use that to our advantage. We're still feeling out what we'll be able to do, but we won't do any one thing too much because then you turn the advantage over to the defense. We'll still be able to be balanced.

Q: Is there an adjustment for Matt Birk with being able to run the West Coast offense?
A: Normally you would think so, but we're very fortunate to have a guy from Harvard up there playing center for us. He's picked it up rather easily; he handles all the calls that we're going to make, and he does a great job with that. That's our advantage that we have that smart of a guy there.

Q: Do you think you have as good as a left side of the line as there is in the league?
A: Yeah, we're very happy with the left side. I think those guys are three great players; whether it's the best combination in the league, they haven't played together yet, so we'll reserve our comments on that until we've seen them all play together.

Q: With Nate Burleson moving on to Seattle, how big of a hole does that leave for you at the wide receiver position?
A: Well we look at it as an opportunity for those other guys that are still here. We felt like we had a good stable of wide receivers; that was a strongpoint of this offense, and we still feel that way. It gives an opportunity for guys that maybe were counting numbers that maybe think they actually have a chance now. They've all put forth great effort. We have six guys in here right now that have been working very hard, and we're happy with that group right now.

Interview with Defensive Coordinator Mike Tomlin

Q: What have you seen the last couple of days? What kind of read have you gotten?
A: They're an upbeat group; they're willing. There are some very bright guys in the group. They learn quickly, which is good because time is of the essence, but just generally, they're paying attention to detail if fatigue sets in. Our ability to operate under duress is going to dictate how successful we are. We're creating a little adversity by the tempo of stuff because we want to get to know them, and I think they're doing a nice job of fighting through that.

Q: Based on what you've seen from your linebackers so far, do you think you have tools that will work in this type of defense?
A: Based on what you can see in shorts, yes, and that's not a lot to be quite honest with you. This is a collision game, and that's a collision position. They're doing some nice things from a movement standpoint and an assignment standpoint but those questions probably won't be answered until we start smashing people.

Q: How is Kenechi Udeze coming along? Is he on track with his rehab?
A: The guy that we see here is the only guy that I know, and it doesn't look like he's injured at all to me. I don't have that prior experience with him, but I haven't thought about the injury at all, so he must be 100%.

Q: What are your first impressions of Tank Williams?
A: I'll tell you what, I thought he was cruising a little bit yesterday morning. I made some suggestions to him, and he picked it up big time in the afternoon and took another step this morning. He's understanding the tempo of it in a hurry. Because of the way he was signed in free agency and because he took part in that Harvard business education thing that is going on with the Players' Association, he's missed a little get-better time with the offseason program. But you can tell he's a quick study because basically what he knows is what he's learned this weekend, and he's doing things in a sound nature on the field already.

Q: Who is picking up the defense the quickest?
A: It's tough to identify a guy, particularly because I'm getting used to being in my position of feeling the whole flow of things. It's feeling like it fits, so I know that multiple people are doing the right things. I'm not really watching one specific person. I am in instances, but just in general, the whole puzzle feels like it's fitting so that tells you that people are seeing what they are supposed to see.

Q: Are all three linebacker spots wide open?
A: We are of the philosophy that all 11 spots are open. We know there are some strong candidates at some of those spots and the likelihood of them losing those spots is minimal. You've got to be open competition. That's part of football. That's what makes us all better.

Q: In a perfect world, would Ben Leber be a SLB or a WLB?
A: Just getting to know him, he's proving right now at this point that he's capable of doing both. We're going to let those things sort themselves out.

Q: What can fans expect from this defense?
A: Quite simply, we want to do what it takes to win. What they can expect to see, we're going to create a frenzy. We've defined that by big guys running and little guys willing to hit. That's what we're focused on right now. Of course with what we are doing the little guys don't have an opportunity to hit, but it will come in due time. But the big guys are hustling, so we're getting an element of it going right now. We just want to create a frenzy. We think that regardless of scheme, historically the great defenses throughout the history of the league have played in a frenzy, so that's what we want to do.

Q: How much is the defense able to install in a camp like this and what are your goals for the weekend?
A: We want to be execution-oriented, to be honest with you. What we've installed and what we are capable of installing are two different things. We're trying to keep a tight menu because we are trying to create that frenzy. It's tough to play fast when you don't know what you're doing, so we're installing bit by bit. We've got a small menu right now because we don't want to lose anything in terms of the tempo in which we play.

Interview with Special Teams Coordinator Paul Ferraro

Q: What have you seen so far in three practices?
A: Having gone through three practices already, you get a good feel for some things. We're not putting in a lot in this weekend from a special teams standpoint. We're really working on protection as we come out of the box here in this first mini-camp. For me the first and most important thing is to protect our punter and our kicker. Those are the two phases that we're working on, working on the punt game and working on the field goal protection.

Q: Ryan Longwell has a great track record but he said there were some other circumstances that contributed to some of his struggles last year. Did you see it that way as well?
A: Yeah. There were some issues in terms of some holds and some bad snaps and things like that that put him in a tough situation.

Q: Do you see him returning to form?
A: Yeah, absolutely. When you look at him over his career, 81% field goal percentage, a tremendous job kicking the ball off and getting it down the field, I'm really excited that he's with us. It's a great opportunity for him and for us.

Q: Do you want to see the team improve on kickoff coverage and the distance on kickoffs?
A: The bottom line is it's a combination of both, as you're saying. It's a combination of the kick getting down the field and then having the proper coverage that goes along with it. Especially when you are indoors and you're not dealing with the elements, you'd like to see that ball get down to the 5-yard line or inside the 5-yard line with a good hang time. But also it's not just about that. It's about the kickoff team hitting the line right as Ryan is hitting the ball and timing it up. Some teams in this league you'll see a kicker kick the ball and there are three or four yards that separate some of those players from the line. That adds up as you get down the field. Sometimes that gets missed as you evaluate kickoff coverage. It is both issues. It's the kick, along with the hang time, but also the unit that is covering that kick, we want them within a yard as they hit that line so we're in good shape as they get down the field.

Q: Do you have any preference on using starters on special teams or just backups?
A: I don't think there is any question that you need to have some of your starters helping you on special teams. We talk about a three-phase or a four-phase player. That would be when we talk about the four phases, we talk punt, punt return, kickoff, and kickoff return. We kind of keep field goal and field goal block out of it, because for the most part that's your offensive line and your defensive unit. So as you talk about those four phases, you're going to have a core of maybe five or six guys that are going to make up maybe three or four of those phases, but then you are going to have to fill in with some starters. They are going to give you an edge, and they're not going to be in as many phases. Some will be in one phase, some will be in two phases. Again, if you want to be at the top of your game in this league in special teams, you need to have some of your starters helping you within the special teams. Again, it's going to be a limited role. It's not going to be the same as a backup. If you look at the teams in this league that are at the top, regardless of the category, whether it is covering kicks or returning kicks, there are some starters that are involved.

Q: Do you ask for volunteers or do you recruit guys for that?
A: It's a combination of all of that. Everybody wants to win. I was at Carolina a year ago, I've come here and as I've gotten to know the players, these players want to win. I don't get any feeling that there is going to be a situation where as long as the head football coach and the offensive and defensive coordinators agree, where if a starter wants to get involved in a team where they won't be able to do that. But again, that's up to Brad Childress and obviously a combination of what's going on with the offense and the defense and what we might be doing in a certain game plan.

Q: How is Chris Kluwe looking as he recovers from the knee injury?
A: He's doing well. He's right on track with his rehab. It's really an eight or nine-month process, but he's right on track and we're looking forward and anxious to get him back.

04-09-2006, 02:49 AM
And some more information from Mike Wobschall (whoever that is...)

Tempo important during practices
Various Vikings coaches throughout this weekend have spoken about the importance of tempo during practice. They want the players to practice quickly and always hustle to the ball and in and out of the huddle. After each play during team drills, the offensive line is moving quickly upfield, offensive position players are running after the ball-carrier, and every single defender is pursuing the ball. Every time the ball hits the ground, each defender chases after it and the nearest player picks it up and runs the other way.

I anticipate screen plays being very successful for the Vikings this season. Center Matt Birk does an exceptional job pulling and blocking on the move, guard Steve Hutchinson is one of the best at his position, and tackle Bryant McKinnie looks to be as dominant as he was last season. The left side of the Vikings line is clearly the strongest, while the right side is a bit unsettled but does look to have some great potential. Second-year player Marcus Johnson is working primarily as the right tackle, while others are working in and out of the right guard spot.

More west coast offense
You may want to get used to it, because everyone will be talking about the west coast offense before, during and after the season. As I noted in yesterday's observations, quarterback Brad Johnson seems to be doing very well in this scheme. The plays require the quarterback to be accurate and quick, and it requires receivers to react timely to passes. Route-running also needs to be detailed.

Another observation is that the running back plays a very pivotal role in this scheme. I noticed the backs often times lining up or motioning out to a flanker spot. Chester Taylor and Ciatrick Fason spent a significant amount of time running pass routes out of the wide receiver position. Additionally, fullback Tony Richardson was seen frequently hauling in passes and taking them upfield.

If you are somewhat familiar with the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive scheme, you know what the west coast offense looks like. It seems Eagles running back Bryant Westbrook is the prototypical running back for this system. He lines up as a flanker quite often, and is an excellent receiver. The Vikings are hoping [Chester] Taylor can fill this role for the squad this season.

This role is somewhat different for Taylor coming from Baltimore, where he served as Jamal Lewis' backup.

"In Baltimore, with [Jamal] Lewis we were more of a power running system," Taylor said after Saturday's morning session. "Here, the backs catch the ball a little more out of the backfield and it's a little more all-inclusive. But I don't mind it, whatever it takes to give me that chance to make some plays."

Another noticeable difference from last year's offensive system is in regard to the quarterback's movements. Johnson is using a lot of play-action and moving pockets to compliment the short-passing attack. This adds an element of deception to the scheme.

Depth at fullback and tight end
Last season the Vikings had as many as four or five tight ends on the roster at a given time. That number is all but assured to decrease this season. However, there are a lot of players in camp this weekend that play either the fullback or tight end position. Two recent acquisitions, Richardson and fullback Joey Goodspeed have only added to the depth of the fullback position.

Currently, the Vikings have six tight ends in camp. They are: Richard Angulo, T.J. Cottrell, Jeff Dugan, Jim Kleinsasser, Richard Owens and Jermaine Wiggins. Additionally, there are three players you could categorize as fullbacks. They are: Adimchinobe Echemandu, Goodspeed and Richardson.

Logical reasoning would say that Goodspeed, Kleinsasser, Richardson and Wiggins will all make the squad. The others are all competing for a few spots that will be allocated to either the tight end or fullback position. It's likely that the most versatile players will stand the best chance of making the roster. It is important to note that roster decisions really won't be made here at camp, and that most of this is just speculation.

Corner shuffle
Coming into this weekend I was interested in seeing who the team had at the cornerback position. Obviously, Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot are solid favorites to start at each corner. However, the third corner, an important position on every team, looks to be up for grabs. Currently, Devonte Edwards and Dustin Fox are seeing most of the time there. Fox, drafted out of Ohio State in last year's NFL Draft actually played corner in college, but was moved to safety going into last season. However, a fluke injury cost Fox the season and he didn't see much of the field after training camp.

This season, the coaching staff has moved Fox to corner.

"Mike [Tomlin] said that in Tampa last year they had me as a corner on their draft board, so they moved me to corner when they first got here," Fox said after the morning's practice session. "And I'm totally comfortable with that. It's nice to be back home."

Longwell looks sharp
Place-kicker Ryan Longwell looked very sharp at practice this morning. He displayed his accuracy while kicking on the side during team practice. At one point, he kicked a ball into the indoor practice facility's insulation, and would later knock it down by hitting the very same spot again. Later, when the entire team came together for field goal drills, Longwell hit all seven of his attempts. The attempts started at 28 yards, and moved in increments of three all the way up to 46 yards.

Tomorrow we will look at some of the second-year players and assess the progress they've made from the end of the 2005 season. That's it for now, check back tomorrow!

04-09-2006, 02:53 AM
I don't suppose anyone has any pictures of today's activities yet?