McNabb Says Offense Is Coming Along; Practice Observations

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 24, 2011 – 3:41 pm

Vikings QB Donovan McNabb met with reporters after practice on Wednesday, just three days before the Vikings suit up for preseason game #3. Typically the third preseason game is when starters see the most playing time, so Saturday night’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys should give us a pretty good glimpse into just how much progress the Vikings offense has made.

Remember, coming off a lockout that canceled all Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps in addition to a new Offensive Coordinator and starting QB has the Vikings a bit behind the 8 ball. But the Vikings won’t use that as an excuse for poor play, largely because many other teams are enduring the same or similar disadvantages and also because there’s a sense among many on this team that the offense is making strides.

“We’re getting very close, we’re getting very close,” McNabb said about the chemistry developing between himself and the receivers. “I’m excited with where we’re at right now and those guys kind of have a feel of where I may place the ball [when] they come out of their routes. I have a feel of how they’re going to come out of their routes.

“But again, each game is different and it’s a learning process for all of us and hopefully once the whistle blows come Game One we’re right where we want to be.”

That’s the goal – to be ready to go once Week 1 rolls around and then to continue getting better from that point forward. It seemed as if the Vikings offense made a step forward in that effort on Wednesday. During one full team period of practice, I was standing just behind Musgrave and I heard him complement the Vikings offense a number of times on their spacing and timing.

“We had a good day today,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after practice, speaking about his entire team. “I really believe we got better in some areas. We worked a little bit of short yardage, some goal line and some two-minute. Great weather again for us to practice in, which really helps a lot as you’re trying to mold the team and get the team ready for our third preseason game.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Frazier continued. “This game on [Thursday] night will give us a better indication of where we are and how far we have to go to be ready for our first regular season game.”

Here are a few observations from practice…

– The Vikings worked for roughly two hours on Wednesday in full pads and in warm, breezy conditions.

– Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe, who returned to practice from a hamstring injury on Tuesday, was not out on the field taking part in practice on Wednesday. Frazier said Shiancoe incurred a setback, but said it was not a major setback. The Vikings ultimately decided to hold him back on Wednesday rather than risk further injury.

– With Shiancoe on the sidelines, rookie TE Kyle Rudolph saw a few more reps. He’s had a tremendous training camp so far and he was very good on Wednesday. The one aspect of Rudolph’s game that I notice the most is how sure-handed he is; you rarely, if ever, see him take his eye off the ball before he secures it and moves upfield. He also rarely traps the football against his body to catch it.

– There was some pretty good action in the goal line portion of Wednesday’s practice. On three straight plays, the Vikings defense made stops against the scout team. On the first play, DT Letroy Guion penetrated and stopped a run in the backfield. On the second play, the offense used a play-action fake to try and fool the defense but LB Erin Henderson did not bite and was able to tip the pass and cause an incompletion. On the third and final play of the series, DT Christian Ballard and CB Cedric Griffin combined to stop a run short of the goal line.

– WR Percy Harvin made the play of the day on a pass from rookie QB Christian Ponder. Harvin was flying down the left sideline and was able to catch up to and dive under a pass that Ponder had launched downfield. Harvin came up with the ball, secured it all the way to the ground and then quickly got to his feet and completed the play by dashing to the endzone. This was one of the plays when Musgrave complemented Ponder and Harvin on “great timing.” In fact, Musgrave made the “great timing” comment as Ponder’s pass was in the air and about 75% of the way to where Harvin ended up making the catch.

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Frazier, McNabb Excited To Play In Front Of Home Crowd

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 24, 2011 – 3:20 pm

The Vikings return to play a game in front of their home crowd at Mall of America Field this Saturday night when they host the Dallas Cowboys for preseason game #3. The Vikings last played a game at their home stadium on December 5, 2010 and after opening the preseason with consecutive road games, both Head Coach Leslie Frazier and new QB Donovan McNabb are looking forward to having the home crowd behind them.

“Excited,” Frazier said when asked for his thoughts on playing in front of Vikings fans again. “Excited to be back with our fans. Mall of America Field has been a good place for us to play our home games and our fans give us so much energy as a football team. It’s something I’m looking forward to, just lining up at our home stadium after being on the road these first two preseason games. Just to hear the roar of our crowd, I’m excited about it. I’m sure our players are also.”

Frazier is right, Mall of America Field has been kind to the Vikings. The Vikings are 18-4 at Mall of America Field since the start of the 2008 season, including an 8-0 finish in 2009 (4-2 in 2010, missing two games due to the roof collapse). The team now has a combined record of 156-81-0 (.657) all-time at Mall of America Field, which includes a 7-5 mark in postseason games.

As a 13-year veteran with NFC foes Philadelphia and Washington, Saturday certainly won’t be McNabb’s first experience at Mall of America Field. So he knows the environment that exists there because of the passionate fan base.

“I’m looking forward to coming out of a different locker room,” McNabb said. “I’m just looking forward to the fans’ reaction and for us going out and making plays and hearing them roar a little bit. The anticipation I’m sure is growing for the fans as well as for us.”

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