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Frazier: Defense Heading In The Right Direction

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 26, 2010 – 3:09 pm

A strength of the Vikings in recent seasons has been the defense. Under assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, the Vikings defense climbed from 20th in the NFL in 2007 to 6th in both 2008 and 2009. Also, the Vikings ranked #1 against the run for 3 consecutive years from 2006-2008 and finished the 2009 season as the 2nd best team against the run.

But recent success isn’t going to lull the Vikings defense to sleep this offseason. Many veteran starters have been in attendance of the Vikings offseason program and many of them have also participated in OTAs this offseason. Also, Frazier and his defensive staff are working with a big group of rookies – including 2nd round pick CB Chris Cook and 4th round selection DE Everson Griffen – to try and get them up to speed on the scheme.

“I think we’re making some progress,” Frazier told me after OTA #7 on Wednesday. “We’re introducing the young guys to our defense and getting the veteran guys back into the swing of things from a football standpoint. So we’re heading in the right direction.”

During practice on Wednesday a few Vikings defenders got their hands on the football and headed to the endzone. Cook intercepted a pass during a 1-on-1 drill and sprinted toward the goal line, LB Erin Henderson snared an INT during 7-on-7 activities and S Tyrell Johnson scooped up an incomplete pass and sprinted toward the end zone. The practice of picking any loose ball up – from an incompletion to a fumble to an INT – is not something new, but it’s something that Frazier and his staff preach to their players.

“It’s something we’re really emphasizing in these OTAs and we’ll do the same thing in training camp,” Frazier explained. “We’re trying to get more turnovers going forward and to see our guys begin to do that, yeah, it’s really encouraging.”


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OTA #7 Highlights

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 26, 2010 – 12:11 pm

The Vikings just came off the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park after completing OTA #7. Weather conditions were ideal once again today – sunny skies and warm temperatures – and the coaching staff continues to enjoy a productive teaching environment as they get younger players up to speed and veterans back in the swing of things.

I had a moment to speak with both assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and 2nd round draft pick Chris Cook after practice, so be sure to check back a bit later to read what they had to say about OTAs so far.

For now, though, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from Wednesday’s action at OTAs…

– Speaking of Cook, the 6-2, 212 CB had a great day on the field. During 1 on 1 drills with the WRs, Cook forced a fumble and then on his next turn he registered an INT. On his 3rd go-round, Cook tipped a pass and forced an incompletion.

– Impact plays on defense, such as Cook’s INTs and tipped passes, are emphasized by the Vikings defensive staff during practices. So far during OTAs, and especially the last 2 days, I’ve noticed a lot of tipped passes and forced fumbles. I’ll have more on this with coach Frazier later today, but it’s been good to see the Vikings defense active in attacking the ball and forcing turnovers. CB Asher Allen also had an INT in today’s workout.

– In group installation the offense was working on the 2-minute drill. Tarvaris Jackson looks the most comfortable of the Vikings QBs in this situation and did a nice job in leading the team down the field, both in the group install portion and also in the offense vs. defense portion. During the offense vs. defense portion, Jackson capped the 2-minute drill by hitting a WR in the back corner of the endzone. The WR caught and secured the ball over his head, tapped both feet in bounds and then fell out of bounds as time expired. Sound familiar? It was very similar to the play that won the San Francisco game last year in Week 3. The player on the receiving end of this particular last-second play? Greg Lewis.

– I watched several individual drills during the early part of practice on Wednesday, but the most interesting drill was run by WRs coach George Stewart. I know I’ve raved about Stewart on the blog before this, but he does a great job working with his players and this drill was no exception. The drill is designed to make the WRs react to certain types of coverage on the fly. The QB takes a snap and the WR goes into his route. After a few steps, Stewart yells either “man” or “zone” to indicate the type of coverage the WR is seeing. If it’s man coverage, the WR continues running his route. If it’s zone coverage, the WR makes one more burst and then sits down in an open spot in the zone.

– LB Erin Henderson got in on the INT party, picking off a pass from QB R.J. Archer during 7-on-7 drills; Henderson returned the pick for a score. But on the next play, Archer bounced back and hit WR Jaymar Johnson along the left sideline for what would’ve been a 1st down.

I’ll have more from Wednesday’s OTAs on the blog this afternoon, including some thoughts from both coach Frazier and Cook. So stay tuned…


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Overtime, Super Bowl And Other News From Owners’ Meeting

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 26, 2010 – 7:11 am

NFL owners gathered in the Dallas area earlier this week for their annual Spring Meeting and several important topics were discussed, including the site of the 2014 Super Bowl, new overtime rules and collective bargaining issues. It all brought about headlines on Tuesday and early today, so let’s briefly address them here.

First off, the biggest news from Tuesday was that NFL owners voted to put the 2014 Super Bowl in the new $1.6 billion Meadowlands Stadium that this season will become home to the NY Giants and NY Jets. The news is notable because it’s the first time the league has gone to a cold-weather site that doesn’t have a dome.

There’s no doubt about the risk involved with playing a Super Bowl in a cold-weather city such as New York. According to NFL.com, the coldest kickoff temperature in Super Bowl history was 39 degrees. In East Rutherford, N.J., where the Giants and Jets new stadium will reside, average February temperatures range from 24 to 40 degrees, not to mention the chance for precipitation and also the fact that the game will be played after the sun sets (which will drop temperatures further).

With that risk, though, comes potential reward. The NFL is known as a league that refuses to stand still and is always trying to find ways to improve its product. Trying out the idea of a Super Bowl in a cold-weather city is another example of the NFL’s fearless philosophy and it has every bit the chance of being a smashing success as it does of being a Super disappointment.

Perhaps the second biggest development from the 2 days of owners meetings in the Dallas area was that the new overtime rule for the postseason will not be applied to regular season games. The discussion to make that move was tabled and will be addressed at a later time because the Commissioner and team owners want to discuss the idea with players before making a final decision.

The new rule, you’ll remember, says that a team that loses the coin toss and immediately gives up a FG will have a chance to either tie or win the game. In the regular season format, the overtime structure remains as a true sudden death scenario.

Other issues the owners discussed included talks on the on-going CBA negotiations; the current deal expires after the 2010 season. Part of a new CBA could include a provision that allows the NFL to test for human growth hormone (HGH). Also, there’s talk of expanding the regular season to 18 games and possibly eliminating 2 preseason games.


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