Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


New defensive coordinator Alan Williams will take a field-level view

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Vikings training camp Updated: August 7, 2012 - 5:25 PM

By Kent Youngblood -- @BloodStrib

Greetings. Kent Youngblood here with an update following Tuesday's walkthrough. The Vikings will return to the practice field at 2:45 p.m. with the offense looking to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing Monday practice. On to the notes ...

Friday’s preseason opener in San Francisco will mark the first time a number of players will have to see how they operate in a game-like situation. And they won’t be alone. This will also be Alan Williams’ first game as the team’s defensive coordinator.

“I’m looking forward to working with the staff in game mode,” Williams said. “It’s not just a first-time run-through for the players, it will be a first-time run-through for our staff in terms of communicating.”

Williams said he would work the game from the field rather than the press box. He has done both in his career. But in his first go as a coordinator in the NFL, he wanted to start out on the field to make sure the lines of communication were clear and the staff was adept at making in-game adjustments.

“If it works fine, I think I’ll stay (on the field),” Williams said. “If it’s working, why try to fix it? I’ll start there, see what happens, and then adjust.”

Playing time?

Both offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and Williams said a final decision on how much time their starters will play against San Francisco has not been made. Both will take their lead from head coach Leslie Frazier. But Musgrave said he wanted to take his starters as deep as he can in the first quarter while still trying to get sufficient tape on everybody.

Williams, meanwhile, said being new wouldn’t alter his approach to playing his starters. It remains to be seen how much veterans like Antoine Winfield, Kevin Williams and Jared Allen would play. It would be a surprise if any of them played much; Allen has already jokingly asked out of the action.

One thing is clear: The Vikings are still in camp mode, in the sense that they are not game-planning for the 49ers at all. And, given the fact that the two teams meet again in Week 3 of the regular season, you can bet the schemes will be vanilla.

“That’s definitely a factor when you talk about what you’re going to show, what we want to work on and what we could care less about,’’ Musgrave said.

Musgrave said he hoped his offense would bounce back this afternoon after struggles Monday in move-the-ball and goal-line drills.

"Yesterday we took a step backwards in a couple periods," Musgrave said. "We're looking to make those corrections and be better the next time.

A complete corner

Williams went out of his way this morning to praise third-year cornerback Chris Cook for his play in camp so far, referencing a handful of impressive interceptions he has made, both in team work and in one-on-one drills.

“There was one play when he really broke downhill and made a nice interception,” Williams said of a play last week. “Then, in one-on-ones they tried to throw a deep ball on him, and he intercepted that one, too. And if you were here (Monday), you saw on goal line he stuck it up in there and made a tackle and stopped [Toby Gerhart] short of the goal line. I’m seeing a complete football player, which is what you want to have.”

Williams playing well

Alan Williams said defensive tackle Kevin Williams is having a strong camp. In analyzing the players after being hired, Alan Williams said the veteran defensive tackle played better at the end of the season compared to the beginning, when he was battling plantar fasciitis. “He’s playing at a high level,” Alan Williams said.

Griffen gets opportunity

Williams said linebacker Everson Griffen would get looks both as an outside linebacker in the normal defense and as a pass rusher against San Francisco. On Monday, Griffen took a number of snaps as a stand-up rusher in certain sets.

“We’re trying to evaluate him, see what he does best,” Williams said. “We like his playmaking ability, his athleticism. We want to see, in a game-like situation, see how he functions with the lights on, see if he can operate within the scope of the defense.”

Etc.

Musgrave said running back Jordan Todman (ankle) would try to practice this afternoon. The young tailback tried to practice Monday, but couldn’t. There is a spirited competition between Todman and Lex Hilliard for a backup spot in the rotation, a rather big issue considering Adrian Peterson is coming back from knee surgery and remains on the camp PUP list. Hilliard is a more bruising runner, Todman more elusive. Musgrave said he might go easy on Toby Gerhart on Friday in San Francisco, so Todman (if healthy) and Hilliard could see a lot of action. Derrick Coleman will also get a share of the workload.

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