3rd CB Spot Still Up in the Air

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 5:45 pm

Heading into training camp, one position battle receiving a fair amount of attention was the 3rd CB/nickel back position. It’s a position battle with several dynamics and, according to Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, it’s a position battle still up in the air.

“It’s still a very competitive spot,” Frazier responded when asked about the nickel back position. “We have familiarity with Antoine Winfield because he’s done it before and had a lot of success. The fact that Benny (Sapp) has also played the nickel position gives us some leeway there. But we’re still trying to ascertain where Asher Allen and Karl Paymah are. The fact that Marcus McCauley wasn’t able to play this past week threw a wrench in things, so now we get him back to become part of the evaluation process. It’s still up in the air to a degree.”

As Frazier mentioned, the extra dynamic at play in the nickel back competition is that the veteran Winfield has shown he has the skill set to excel in that role.

“He has made a ton of plays in that nickel spot, a la Ronde Barber in Tampa,” Frazier explained when asked if he would consider moving Winfield inside to play the nickel. “Just because of how effective he is in the run and the pass and matching up against some of the other teams third wide receiver. Either way he has been so effective for us both outside and inside. So we can handle it either way.”

When Winfield is positioned as the nickel back (covering the slot receiver on the inside), it opens up a spot at an outside CB position. As a result, the winner of the 3rd CB position needs to show an ability to play both inside (as a possible nickel back) and outside (as a possible CB while Winfield plays the nickel).

“Ben Sapp is doing a good job for us,” Frazier said. “Asher Allen has come in and done a great job. We know Antoine Winfield can do it if he has to and Karl Paymah made some good plays the other day as a third corner. We’re still in the position where we’re evaluating and deciding who’s going to be that third corner. The way it’s going right now is great for us. They’re all playing so well that whoever wins that spot should make us better.”

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Defending “a Blade of Grass”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 3:24 pm

We mentioned earlier today, and linked to a video of, the Vikings late-game goal line stand against the Chiefs last Friday night that preserved a 17-13 victory. Kansas City had driven down to the Vikings 1-yardline with 55 seconds to play, but the Vikings stood firm thereafter and denied the Chiefs on 4 consecutive plays from only 3 feet away.

Following today’s practice, Vikings assistant coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was asked about the way his defensive reserves performed in those final 55 seconds last Friday.

“It’s huge,” Frazier said. “As a defense, we talk about defending a blade of grass. Just give us a chance to defend a blade of grass. For the young guys to buy into that this early and go out and do what they did gets you excited and makes you feel good about those guys.”

Immediately after the 4th-down play, a pass that was ruled incomplete after Karl Paymah pushed a Chiefs WR out of the endzone, several Vikings defenders rushed onto the field to celebrate the victory with their teammates. But prior to that snap, Frazier said it was good to see plenty of other starters rooting their teammates on in the game’s most crucial moment.

“It was awesome to see Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and all those guys cheering for them and rooting them on,” Frazier said. “We’ve seen our number ones do that before and now to get the young guys winning as well is great for our defense and our team.”

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A Replay of the Vikings 4th Quarter Goal Line Stand

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 7:16 am

So what was the key to last Friday night’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs? While Tarvaris Jackson’s 12-15 for 202 yards and 2 TD performance certainly played a large factor, perhaps even more significant was the staunch goal line stand the Vikings defense had to end the game.

After a nice drive orchestrated by Chiefs QB Matt Gutierrez and then a pass interference penalty on DB Derrick Roberson, Kansas City had the ball 1st and goal from the Vikings 1-yardline with 55 seconds to play. And they didn’t get in.

You can re-live that goal line stand by clicking here to watch a sideline view of all 4 plays.

On 1st down, with the Metrodome crowd in mid-season form, DE Martail Burnett and DT Jimmy Kennedy teamed to stuff RB Javarris Williams. Rookie S Jamarca Sanford forced an incomplete pass on 2nd down. On 3rd down, with Vikings defenders trying to pump the crowd up even more, Burnett and the middle of the Vikings defensive line stuffed another rushing attempt, this one by Kolby Smith. And then on 4th down, Gutierrez saw another pass fall incomplete when CB Karl Paymah pushed a receiver out of bounds, and the Vikings defense had completed its goal line stand to cap the team’s come-from-behind 17-13 win.

On the field immediately after the game, several Vikings starters, including DE Jared Allen and LB E.J. Henderson, rushed the field to congratulate their teammates on what was an impressive final 4 plays.

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