Vikings new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a reputation for developing quarterbacks, and he said he is looking forward to the three-day minicamp this week so he can get an idea about how Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel fit into the offensive scheme he will run this season.
Turner was asked what conclusions he has come to after studying a lot film of Ponder’s performances with the Vikings.
“He’s really bright and really into what we’re doing,” Turner said last week. “I know he’s physically talented so I’m anxious to do that minicamp next week and get an opportunity to work with him. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
As for his feelings on Cassel, Turner said: “Matt brings a real calming effect on our players and he is experienced. He’s obviously been in New England, been in Kansas City, played well here last year.
“Same thing I said about Ponder, I’m anxious to get on the field with these guys. Under the system of rules right now we haven’t been on the field, we’ve been in meetings. But I’m anxious to get out and coach these guys, teach them our system, make sure they understand the things we’re trying to get done. I think he’s a talented player, though.”
With the Vikings more apt to take a quarterback in the second or third round after taking a pass rusher such as UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr in the first round, Turner talked about the number of talented QBs in this draft.
“It’s an interesting draft because there’s usually one or two that is everyone’s favorite, and in this draft there are seven or eight quarterbacks, and everyone seems like they have a different guy they kind of like and everyone has a different guy they have an opinion on,” Turner said. “We finished a lot of our draft meetings offensively, and I think we’re pretty well zeroed in on the guys who are rated the highest. It’s a great opportunity for our organization and our football team. It’s going to be fun over the next couple of weeks.”
Turner, a former NFL head coach with Washington, Oakland and San Diego, said that if you look at the history of the draft over the past 10 years, there’s a lot of good quarterbacks who have come in middle-to-later rounds. He believes you can get one at any spot, though the team has to get the one they like the best and then hope they are right.
Happy with roster
On another subject, Turner said after breaking down film from last season that he expects the current Vikings offensive players on the team to fit into his scheme.
“I really like this group. I think we have a lot of options and a lot of opportunities,” he said. “It certainly starts with Adrian [Peterson], but we have a lot of guys that can complement his abilities, and hopefully we can take some pressure off so he has a little bit more room to run. But you know, we’ve got tight ends, we’ve got wide receivers, and we have some really good young football players.
“We have a lot of work to do. We have the nucleus as far as the offensive line, talked about the other positions, you know you just have to get everyone on the same page and go play. My starting point is you eliminate negative plays. That starts with turnovers and those negative plays that kill you, the sacks, if you can eliminate those, we have people who can make big plays. We have to put them in the position to do that.”
One player Turner said he’s looking forward to exploring offensive options with is receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.
“I’m excited about Cordarelle because he’s an untapped talent,” Turner said. “He has great running ability. He runs, when he has the ball under his arm, he runs like a halfback, a big halfback. We have to find ways to get him the ball where he has space and can run, rather it’s short passes or hand him the ball or toss him the ball. He obviously can run so if we can get him on some of those deep crossing routes where he has room to run after the catch, I think it’ll be very exciting.”
Turner also said that while his offense will be different from the Vikings system in recent years under Bill Musgrave, that doesn’t mean that he can’t use last year as a building block for his offense.
“I think the first thing I would say is this group is a year further than last year,” Turner said. “So we have to build on what they did last year and we have to create more explosive plays. If you want to score points you have to make explosive plays and in my mind that’s run over 15 yards and passes over 20 yards, passes over 40 yards. I think we have the guys who can do it, so hopefully we can generate more explosive plays than they did a year ago.”
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