Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters at the conclusion of this afternoon’s training camp practice in Mankato and had plenty to share. Here are four notable items from that exchange.
Frazier understands it will take an awful lot of effort to keep star defensive end Jared Allen off the field.
What’s the story?: New defensive coordinator Alan Williams said during mini-camp and again this week that he plans to use a hockey-style philosophy with his defensive line, looking to establish a bit of a line change rotation to keep his guys fresh. Allen responded Wednesday by claiming he hadn’t heard anything about that plan, also saying he’d put up a fight if the coaching staff tried to keep him off the field for significant stretches of regular season game action. Frazier laughed when asked about Allen’s claimed ignorance on the subject.
What Frazier said: “Believe me, we’ve talked about this a number of times. So contrary to what Mr. Allen had to say, we’ve talked about this subject. We’re going to try to keep our guys fresh. We want him fresh. He knows. We talked about it even this morning. We always go into it every season talking about we’re going to try to cut his reps down. And then lo-and-behold, it doesn’t always work that way ... We’re going to play him but we are going to try to get him off the field when we can and make sure he’s fresh in those key moments. It does a disservice to him and our team if we play him every snap. And then when we need him in key situations, he’s fatigued. That’s just not smart. We’re going to try to manage that. We did a pretty good job of it at times a season ago. We need to do more of it and we’re going to make a concerted effort to try to get him off the field at times. Without hurting the team. We don’t want to hurt the team. He’s our best pass rusher, one of the best in the NFL.”
Allen isn’t the only Vikings superstar fighting to play as much as possible.
What's the story: Running back Adrian Peterson remains on the Physicall Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he continues working to rehab the left knee he injured on Christmas Eve. Now, just a little more than seven months after having surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, Peterson is showing incredible progress. He's running sprints, making curs and looking very Adrian Peterson-like as he does his work off to the side. But it's still not yet time to remove the PUP tag and clear Peterson for practice.
What Frazier said: “He’s making good progress. We cross paths a couple times a day and he’s reminding me that he’s making good progress. But we’re still not quite ready to put him out there yet. But we’re getting closer. He’s doing some good things.”
Allen and Peterson may need to be put in straitjackets and tied to the goalposts at times to be kept off the field. But cornerback Antoine Winfield is OK taking the occasional day off.
What’s the story?: Winfield didn’t do a whole lot during this afternoon’s practice. He’s 35, entering his 14th season and has been told by Frazier and Williams that he will be “on a pitch count” this season. The Vikings’ hope is to take advantage of Winfield’s talents and veteran savvy while being realistic about the workload he can take on. At some point this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Winfield wound up in a lesser role, used primarily as a slot corner in nickel packages. To preserve fuel in the former Pro Bowler’s tank, Frazier will give Winfield a break at points throughout training camp. Today was one of those days.
What Frazier said: “A little R and R. We’re taking care of him a little bit. We’ve got a long ways to go. We have [done that in the past]. It’s worked out well for us. And it’s the best thing to do in his case. It works out well for us. We tell him early on how we want to do it. And he understands why we do it. It’s worked in the past and we’re doing it again this year.
Reggie Jones may just play his way onto this team.
What’s the story?: Jones, 26, spent the final eight weeks of 2011 on the Vikings’ practice squad and came to camp as a bit of a longshot to make the team. After all, in the cornerback stable, he showed up in Mankato behind Chris Cook, Winfield, Chris Carr, Zack Bowman, Josh Robinson and Brandon Burton. Now, it might not be surprising if Jones’ standout play allows him to edge up the pecking order. He’s playing with great energy here and seems to make plays pretty consistently.
What Frazier said: “Reggie’s flashed. He’s made some plays in practice. He was doing the same thing during OTAs. He’s been a quiet guy, doesn’t say a whole lot. But he’s made some plays to make the coaches pay more attention to him. I think if he keeps making plays like he’s doing in practice and then does the same thing when we start playing preseason games, that might very well be enough. It’s one thing to do it in practice. You want to see him do it in preseason games. But he’s getting his hands on a lot of balls. He seems to understand the system and what we’re trying to ask him to do. He’s aggressive. He’s playing smart. Now we just need to see him continue to progress.”