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Defense Exclusive OTA Observations

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 20, 2010 – 1:19 pm

OTA #3 is in the books after another 90-minute or so workout on the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park. The weather was more of the same – sunny and warm – as the Vikings coaching staff worked with young players and selected veterans for the 3rd consecutive day.

As noted earlier, today’s OTA observations will focus exclusively on defense (tomorrow’s will focus exclusively on offense). Also, CJ will be chiming in a bit later after observing the Vikings WRs for most of practice. He also spoke with WR Greg Lewis after the Vikings concluded their on-field work.

A few (defensive) observations from today’s work…

– After opening up with some special teams drill work – a staple of Brad Childress’ practices – the Vikings defense focused on turnovers. Players were split up into groups by position and the defensive coaches conducted drills that condition players to be aggressive in forcing fumbles and also recovering those fumbles. One drill had DBs chopping their feet and moving laterally across obstacles for 10 yards and then sprinting forward to scoop up a fumble and return it to the endzone. Another drill required DL and LBs to execute a pass rush move (swim, rip, bull rush) and then rake the ball from a tackling dummy. Yet another drill asked DBs and LBs to punch the ball out of a ball-carriers possession and the recover the fumble.

Standouts in those drills included CBs Chris Cook and Lito Sheppard (lateral shuffle and fumble recovery) and DE Brian Robison (pass rush and stripping the ball).

– Of course there is no contact permitted during OTAs – per NFL rules – and that alters somewhat how teams practice, or at least what the focus may be during parts of practice. I’ve noted this in previous observations, but one emphasis Vikings coaches preach during these OTAs is pre-snap and after-the-snap positioning.

Coaches are teaching the players – most of whom are new to the team or in their 1st or 2nd year – how to read and react to certain situations and formations. DL coach Karl Dunbar spent almost 2 periods of practice explaining to his players how important it is to pay attention to how an OL was lined up.

“Whether we have pads or not, or whether there is contact allowed or not, we want to work on our positioning,” Dunbar told me after practice. “It’s situational football. We want them to know how to read and react to splits (along the offensive line), depths, motion by a receiver and shifts in the formation. Why is that running back lined up 5 steps deep instead of 7? Why is the split wider between the guard and tackle? Those are things we need to understand so we can react to certain situations.”

– Although because of the no contact rule the 1-on-1 drills aren’t quite as intense and realistic, there is still a lot of valuable work that can be accomplished. In today’s 1-on-1 DB/WR drill, rookie CB Chris Cook – selected with the 34th overall pick in last month’s draft – came up with an INT. On the very next play, former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher CB Marcus Sherels had blanket coverage against WR Taye Biddle as QB Tarvaris Jackson launched a deep pass down the field.

– LBs and Ss went up against RBs and FBs in a passing drill, where the offensive players came from out of the backfield to run pass routes as the defenders dropped into coverages to cover them. The highlight of the drill came when newly-converted RB Darius Reynaud bolted from the backfield, used an inside move to get past a LB, and then straightened out his route to catch a pass down the middle of the field. S Madieu Williams, however, was right there and would’ve applied a crushing hit to Reynaud as he made the catch had they been in a game situation. RBs coach Eric Bieniemy, who coaches as hard and as well as anyone, was all over the play. He first acknowledged the inside move Reynaud used to get past the LB, but then corrected Reynaud by pointing out the inside move brought him to the middle of the field where the S could break up the play. Bieniemy explained the proper route would’ve had Reynaud making the catch near the numbers instead of down the middle of the field.

– The last observation from today’s practice actually has nothing to do with defense. I wanted to compliment the Vikings turf management crew on the job they’ve done with the practice fields. They look great, even after 3 consecutive days of on-field work. I’m sure Minnesota weather – the winters especially – aren’t easy on the turn and the Vikings staff does a nice job of grooming the surface.


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Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 7 Comments »


7 Responses to “Defense Exclusive OTA Observations”

  1. By Ryan on May 20, 2010 | Reply

    In training camp childress should tell the defense to try and strip the ball away from ap. If ap fumbles make him do 100 pushups everytime .

  2. By tradjety on May 20, 2010 | Reply

    lol he would be doing 10,000 push ups a day

  3. By CA Norwegian on May 20, 2010 | Reply

    Make him carrry a cast iron football around, instead of push-ups. That will work better toward the goal. I hate to say it but he will conquer this or watch Toby from the sideline. If not he may end up being our Chester for the future, despite his greatness.

  4. By Pat the Viking on May 20, 2010 | Reply

    I seen a lot of fumble last year when the defense ” punch the ball out of a ball-carriers possession” This punching the ball CAUSES ANY ball-carrier to lose control of the ball – if it is punch CORRECTLY

  5. By vikings012 on May 21, 2010 | Reply

    ya i think he only fumbles soo much is because thats all defenders go for if u watch other running backs they dont go for the ball they go for the tackle but for peterson hes soo big and strong that guys knew they couldnt bring him down so they jus tried to strip him and once they did they used that all the time since they can tackle him. if defenders tried to knock out the ball on other RBs then they would all fumble just as much the only thing is peterson gets it every play other RBs dont get it that much thats why it seems like he fumbles soo much if they did the same to tomlison, or turner, or c. johnson, or gore or any of them they would fumble it just as much

  6. By Lito on May 22, 2010 | Reply

    Opposing teams will after APs arms and the football. They have a hard time tackling the guy. AP should gear exercises on handling the ball, strenthening his hand and upper extremities as well. Good luck Adrian. I would love to watch the Adrian-Toby tandem. Go Vikings!

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