Veteran CB Sheppard Ready To Take Vikings Secondary To Next Level

Posted by cjsiewert on August 1, 2010 – 8:19 pm

Coming off a season that had the Vikings defense ranked 19th in passing yards allowed and just 26th in INTs, the new-look secondary for the Purple seems to be making strides in improving those rankings for the Vikings 50th season.

During the offseason, the Vikings acquired a pair of CBs to infuse competition and a promising future to a bolstered secondary unit – 9-year veteran Lito Sheppard and rookie Chris Cook.

Throughout the first 3 days of training camp, Sheppard has been involved with the 1st and 2nd-team defenses by rotating with 2nd-year CB Asher Allen. This weekend’s practices saw Allen taking reps with the 1st-team base package while Sheppard worked in the 2nd-team nickel package with both CBs rotating with each other often. This rotation between the pair of CBs may or may not be an indication of how playing time will be distributed during the season, but for the time being both players are seeing significant time with each defensive package.

“I think it’s more of counting reps and keeping them to a minimum,” Sheppard said when asked about the rotation. “I don’t know what they [coaching staff] got planned, I just go out there and do the best I can and be out there on day one.”

Even with Sheppard coming into his 1st-year with the Vikings, the 2-time Pro Bowler feels confident in his ability to contribute to the team’s defense to help improve off of last season. When asked about what is important when joining a new team, Sheppard was focused on the team aspect.

“I think it’s getting my teammates getting to believe in what I can do,” Sheppard said. “Me getting the feel of everybody and vice versa. I’m pretty familiar with the system. I’ve been in this type of system for seven years of my career so I got a real good feel about that but it’s just getting the other guy’s confidence in me and I can get the job done.”

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress praised Sheppard’s ability to adapt to a new defensive scheme early in training camp and feels that he’ll be able to pick up the system quickly.

“I think the biggest thing he’s doing is getting back up to our kind of defense,” Childress said of Sheppard. “He has some familiarity with Les’ defense. He’s just learning some of the nuances. He’s another quick study guy, he’s played in a couple of different systems now. He’s got man-cape abilities and there’s another guy who’s got instincts.”

Sheppard joins another seasoned veteran on the Vikings secondary unit with 12-year veteran Antoine Winfield, who is coming off an ankle injury that plagued him throughout the 2009 campaign. The opportunity to play with another experienced CB had #29 excited about what the pair can bring to the table in 2010.

“It’s good to have a chance to play with him,” Sheppard spoke of Winfield. “I think with both of our experience we can definitely take this secondary to the next level.”

As Mike mentioned earlier, rookie CB Chris Cook had a monster day on the practice fields Sunday afternoon and with that in mind I’ll have a few more words from Sheppard on his impressions of the rookie CB as well as Childress’ comments on the matter.

But for now I’m off to Grandma’s house where I’ve got a slab of ribs waiting for me on the dinner table.

Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Veteran CB Sheppard Ready To Take Vikings Secondary To Next Level”

  1. By RJ Sane on Aug 2, 2010 | Reply

    i am excited to see what our pass defense brings to the field this season. but what we need is safeties back there helping our corners. i think we need to put jamarca sanford in there. idk just a suggestion. i’ve always liked winfield cuz that man can tackle! lito is a great corner as well. we need to shut em down this year…every team. lets go vikes!!!

  2. By lisa marie. on Aug 2, 2010 | Reply

    you dont know what your talking about. c:

  3. By David on Aug 2, 2010 | Reply

    Winfield should be moved into Williams spot at safety, and keep Johnson at the other spot, he wasn’t a liability as much as williams was and is young.. should improve in his 2nd full year as a starter. Winfield has the ability to play up on the line and make big plays in the backfield, and also play coverage roles alot better then Williams who gave up a TON of big plays last year. Not to mention it will extend the career of winfield who is starting to show age with his injuries. With the addition of Sheppard who is a very good , 2 time probowler and given time I think he will get back to that form injurys plagued him last year, it gives us a solid #1. Cook and Asher Allen are going to be contending for nickel back baring no setbacks for Griffin who sits as the 2nd CB. And we still have Benny Sapp for some rotation along with the loser of the battle for starting nickle back. Our secondary has alot of potential if the cordinators can get it right.

    Cook and Asher have the most potential in our secondary, they are both studs and given proper coaching could potentially be our starting 2 CBs within 2-3 seasons. Very Interested to see Allen in his second season.

  4. By rawmeat296 on Aug 2, 2010 | Reply

    yeah i think sheppard and cook will help bolster are defense and passing d

  5. By marcus on Aug 3, 2010 | Reply

    i think the vikings or much improved in the secondary! the vikes have a young draft in skinner that’s 6’2 FS that can dish out punishing hits and 215lbs and got great cover speed for the spot..leave winfield at the nickel and let lito,allen and cook to cover the i think t,johnson will be much better this year-Cut williams he the weak link in the secondary ! sandford will be better to keep in my thought of choice! but will see in pre-season! numbers don’t lie.

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