September looms as offense still seeks its way

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2011 - 11:39 PM

Coach Leslie Frazier remains patient while symptoms of growing pains show up in errant passes and dropped balls.

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Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave knows he has plenty of work to do. "We're not anywhere close where we need to be in terms of precision in the passing game,'' he said.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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MANKATO - The Vikings offense had plenty of ragged moments again in Tuesday's practice, causing one to wonder when Leslie Frazier wants to see the unit begin functioning at a higher level. As often is the case with the cool, calm and collected head coach, he showed zero signs of anxiousness or impatience.

"We'd like for it to come together on Sept. 11 at 4 o'clock Central or whatever time we're playing that game," Frazier said of the Vikings' 3:15 p.m. regular-season opener at San Diego. "We'd be very pleased if it happened on that day. Doesn't have to happen any sooner than that and I'll be satisfied. I think we all would be satisfied."

Whether Frazier will get his wish remains to be seen. The Vikings are one month and one day away from opening the season, and the installation of the offense remains in its somewhat early stages. The NFL lockout gave new coordinator Bill Musgrave no chance to get a head start on things, and the Vikings did not start practicing until Aug. 1.

On Tuesday, recently acquired quarterback Donovan McNabb threw one interception in seven-on-seven drills and nearly threw another. And it's not only McNabb who is learning. There have been far too many dropped passes, in part because players are thinking about what they should be doing and not reacting, and the offensive linemen also are being asked to get up to speed on a new blocking scheme under line coach Jeff Davidson.

But Frazier and Musgrave refuse to panic. Musgrave admits he's dealing in "uncharted territory" and said installation of the playbook would continue through August.

"We're not anywhere close to where we need to be in terms of precision in the passing game," he said. "I think guys know what they're doing. But in terms of having enough turns that it takes to be good at it ... fortunately we have the rest of August and up to Sept. 11 to get good at those things. They stayed out after practice today, did extra work just to get that rapport ... to be precise against NFL secondaries."

The Vikings open the preseason Saturday at Tennessee, and plenty will be curious to see what happens when the pace quickens a bit. "We're just scratching the surface in terms of having enough turns at our plays, so that we're real precise and good at it," Musgrave said. "That's what preseason is for -- we want to get more and more turns at our plays so that by the time Sept. 11 gets here in San Diego, we have some skill at those techniques."

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