Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier
It looks like the heat is finally here. It is going to be a warm practice; it is warm here, inside in our indoor facility. We are looking forward to this afternoon’s practice as we are in preparation for our final preseason game. We went through our cuts yesterday and we have a cut coming up; our final cut. This game is very important for our players and very important for our team as we are trying to shape our roster and make sure that the final 53 (players) really fit what we need to have success this season. Important time, an important practice today, and the next few days will really help shape who we are going to be for this 2013 season. Most of you got that information regarding
Q: With Jerome, did you guys enter into the season knowing that a suspension for him would be a possibility?
A: Going into training camp we had an idea that this could possibly happen. We didn’t know the extent, but we knew it was a possibility.
Q: How rare is it for the process to take as long as 14 months for a suspension to occur?
A: I am not sure what the historical data might say, typically what happens, and how soon they make a judgment. But that is the way things are, and we have to deal with it.
Q: Have you seen the hit on Kevin Williams, and have you talked to the NFL, as well as what are your initial thoughts on that hit?
A: I have talked to the league about it. They concur that this is not the type of play we want in a game for player safety reasons. There is a big emphasis, as you guys know, regarding player safety. That play really endangers our player’s safety. It is not something that the league wants, and it is not something that any of us want as we are trying to make the game safer for our players.
Q: Is that textbook to block that low with the new rule on the peel back block?
A: I understand the rule, but I know it is going to be looked into farther. That is not the type of play that any of us want to see.
Q: What is your assessment of
A: I really liked what he did coming out of the half leading our team on a 12-play drive to a touchdown. That was encouraging. It was a good way for him to finish that ballgame. We have some things that we need to work on prior to Detroit, when we open the season, and we just have to continue to work. But he has done some good things; there is definitely some things that he will have to improve on for our preseason opener, but I like the way that he finished on Sunday night.
Q: Do you want to see Sharrif in that fourth preseason game or will you wait till week 1 in the opener for Detroit?
A: I think in light of what is going on with Kevin, it probably would not be wise to get him out there. He is close enough to where he could probably get a few snaps (in the game Thursday), but it probably would not be the smart thing to do.
Q: Do you think, from what you have seen from Sharrif in the preseason and practice, that he is ready to start the first game of the season with the time he has missed?
A: There are so many variables when it comes to playing as a rookie in the National Football League in comparison to the preseason. The fact that he has missed some time is going to be a challenge for sure. We will talk to him about it and some of the veterans will, and some of the coaches will, about what is going to occur in the speed of the game and how different things will be on opening day. But there is nothing like experiencing it, and he will have to go through that process, and learn from it and grow over that time. The time that he has missed will definitely affect some of the things he will have to get done on that day.
Q: After watching the play with Kevin Williams, were you surprised he didn’t have any ligament damage?
A: Just extremely happy that things are where they are and it definitely could have been worse. The fact that we have the chance to have him back for Detroit is big for our football team.
A: He is not quite ready for us to lift that yet. He will continue to be on PUP for now, and we will continue to evaluate his progress.
Q: How do you plan to replace Jerome Felton for the first three games?
A: We have some personnel on our team; a season ago we had some guys who did it for us, in particular Rhett (Ellison). He was the guy, but sometimes we would put John (Carlson) back there, but it was more Rhett. We could still do that this season. We do have
Q: With his work ethic, could Rhett step in and play a lot of snaps for you right now?
A: We think so. He is one of the hardest working players on our team. It is hard to outwork Rhett. He comes prepared every single day. Seeing his work ethic his rookie year, I was so impressed. You do not see many rookies with his maturity and just understanding the time you have to put in to be good at your craft. He has not let up from his rookie season. He is still an extremely hard worker, and is always prepared, always understands what his role is and what the situations are. I don’t think we can overwork him. He is going to be prepared to work, so he will be ready when we line up against Detroit. But yes, we could add more to his plate, and we probably will have to now.
Q: Obviously you signed Felton, but would you have been comfortable going into the season with Ellison as your fullback and Felton had gone elsewhere?
A: Well, we made a concerted effort to get Jerome signed. He was a priority for us, like a few other guys that we re-signed that were part of our roster. We did not want to lose Jerome (Felton). He was a Pro Bowl player for us, and he really helped our run game. So to answer your question, we did not want to lose Jerome and were fortunate to get him re-signed.
Q: Did you know of the suspension possibility before you resigned him or did that come up later?
A: You always knew that there was potential to know if it would happen. His incident, as referenced earlier, was some time ago, but it was always looming that this could possibly happen.
Q: In some ways did it work out well that the suspension took as long as it did, as it gave him the ability to establish himself with a good season?
A: Probably so. If something had happened sooner, maybe we would have not had the chance to get the returns we had a season ago. So hypothetically, and potentially, yes.
Q: What are your thoughts on
A: Josh is making some progress. There are definitely some things he will need to get better at prior to that Detroit game, but like some of the other young guys that we have on our team, he is playing a new position, and there are going to be some moments where he has to learn from some of the mistakes that he might make. But he is making progress. We need to keep putting him in positions to get him up to speed at that position, but we think that he is more than capable of getting it done.
Q: Where is
A: He was much better in this ballgame than he was in the previous week against Buffalo, which you would expect him to be a little bit better. We are going to play him again on Thursday night, and we are hoping that he will get better again, just continue to improve. But he has showed some things; but we have to just continue to put him out there, put him in situations, and see how he does. But I was impressed with some of the things he did in that ballgame.
Q: How important was it for him to get in there with the first team defense?
A: Very important for us to properly evaluate where he is and his understanding of our defense, also was a good chance for him to go against some good competition; their first team offense. That was important in this process where we will try to determine if he is a good fit for what we are trying to get done.
Q: How concerned are you with the depth along the interior of the defensive line a week away from the regular season?
A: Well, when you have a question mark regarding a potential Hall of Famer like Kevin Williams, that creates some concern. He is one of the best to ever play the game at his position. We are all hoping that he will be ready to go, but it definitely creates some concern, from a depth standpoint.
Q: With the Ballard situation and the injuries does this “tie your hands” a little bit with the situation?
A: Well nothing other than what was just mentioned; the depth issue. With Sharrif coming off an injury, and Kevin a little banged up, now you enter your depth quite a bit. So with Christian’s situation, nothing has changed, so we have some other guys on our roster that we will try and give an opportunity and see how they progress, but we are all hoping Sharrif will play well and continue to improve and that we will get Kevin on opening day.
Q: What is your assessment of
A: With Stephen, he has had a good training camp, he has done well in the preseason games. There are some moments on Sunday night he would love to have back, for sure. But that is a part of where he is in his maturation as well. But he has done a lot of good things, and you can’t discount that. We just have to continue to give him opportunities and let him grow as a receiver. He has flashed on kickoffs, he has done a good job on kickoff return, he has done a good job at wide receiver in the moments that we have given him, and he will get some more opportunities as we progress.
Q: Does it make it tougher to evaluate the fifth receiver spot when
A: Well, it was encouraging to see Joe make that play that he made. That was a heck of catch; great job by him. He will get some more of those opportunities on Thursday night. You want guys to continue to impress. We are hoping with Stephen that the same will be true- he will continue to get better, we want Joe to get better. We want that decision to be a tough decision because that is better for our football team.
Q: Is the plan for Thursday night to probably sit most of the first string guys?
A: Probably so. We have to think it through a little bit, but probably so. We wont play most of those games, or too many of them in that ballgame.