Vikings cornerback Rhodes gaining confidence

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2014 - 6:56 AM

Tentative at times as a rookie, Xavier Rhodes is showing the development to match his promise.

The play took just a couple of seconds, but Xavier Rhodes had been waiting awhile to pounce.

During a rookie season in which he showed steady progress, the cornerback was tentative at times and could not come up with an interception. Now in his second season with the Vikings, Rhodes is learning to rely on his instincts in order to take the next step in his development.

Those instincts served him well early in Wednesday’s organized team activity workout when he read that his man was running a quick hitch route and jumped in front of a Matt Cassel pass.

It was only one play in a voluntary spring practice, but the encouraging words defensive backs coach Jerry Gray yelled out — “It’s about time!” — as Rhodes returned the interception for a touchdown were both a reminder of the expectations for Rhodes and an indication that he is heading in the right direction.

“He said basically it’s about time I trusted myself and break on the route and stop second-guessing,” Rhodes said.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is pleased with the progress he has seen from his secondary, especially Rhodes, during spring workouts and the 23-year-old cornerback has become a topic of conversation both at Winter Park and nationally. Rhodes is aware of that chatter from NFL analysts that he is a popular breakout pick in 2014, but he is trying to focus on the little things that he can control.

The coaching staff, particularly Zimmer and Gray, often can be spotted giving Rhodes pointers or words of encouragement during these sunny days on the practice fields. Veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn has been in his ear, too. There has been an emphasis on his technique in the hopes he can become a more consistent cover man and make more plays like he did Wednesday.

Rhodes also appears to be a little bigger, having benefited from a year in an NFL strength program.

“I feel good,” the former first-round pick from Florida State said. “I feel stronger, powerful, faster.”

Rhodes started the 2013 season as the team’s third cornerback but earned a starting spot in the base defense by the middle of the season. Like many rookie corners, he had growing pains. But Rhodes had started to settle in when he was lost for the season because of an ankle injury suffered in a Week 14 loss to the Ravens.

He finished his rookie year with 48 tackles and 10 passes defended but no interceptions.

Healthy now and feeling more comfortable, Rhodes has taken well to Zimmer’s instruction. If the coach points out something during meetings that Rhodes needs to improve, Zimmer will see him working on it the next day in practice. That has Zimmer, who helped get the most out of Bengals defensive backs during his six years as their defensive coordinator, excited about what Rhodes can become.

“He’s working very, very hard. He’s a good kid. We’ve been working on his technique quite a bit,” Zimmer said. “He wants to be really good.”

And the expectation in both the Twin Cities and beyond is that he ultimately will become that, perhaps as soon as this season. At least one prominent national website predicted that he will be “making the leap” to stardom in 2014. But instead of dwelling on that, Rhodes is focused on preparing himself to stick to established stars such as Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall this season.

“Just working on what I need to work on — my craft,” Rhodes said. “I’m not worrying what’s out there in the media. I hear about it a lot, but I just need to focus on me and not what everybody else thinks.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: D. Holland 4
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 2
LA Angels 1 Top 4th Inning
Oakland 6
San Francisco 2 Bottom 5th Inning
Los Angeles 1
Colorado 0 Bottom 5th Inning
San Diego 1
Chicago 27 4th Qtr 2:09
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 20:00
Philadelphia 0
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Dallas 4
Anaheim 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 2nd Prd 3:29
Anaheim 3
Los Angeles 3 2nd Prd 3:56
Arizona 3
Arizona 0 2nd Prd 18:42
Los Angeles 1
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close