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Spielman on Walsh, Cordarrelle, AP, Bridgewater and more

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman dropped the news of the Gerald Hodges trade to San Francisco at the outset of his annual bye-week media session with local reporters.

He spoke for about half an hour. Here are some of the other highlights:

— On whether he would consider bringing in kickers to compete with the struggling Blair Walsh doesn’t improve: “Blair is going through a little bit of a slump here now, but I think there’s no question that he’s our kicker. … Blair is working extremely hard to get through this. We’re doing everything we can with [special teams coordinator Mike] Priefer to get through this. People forget Blair a couple years ago was a young kicker who was in the Pro Bowl. Sometimes these guys go through issues. All of a sudden, [punter] Jeff Locke had some struggles last year and this year he’s punting lights out right now. Part of having young players is sometimes you’re going to have to get them through that adversity. Blair Walsh is our kicker.”

— On how Adrian Peterson has re-adjusted to the the Vikings’ offense and the NFL: “We didn’t have him last year, so that’s part of the process our coaches are going through. It’s, ‘OK, what do we do well?’ I think what Adrian has shown through these first four games is he looks like Adrian Peterson. That [48-yard touchdown] run he had in the Denver game, once he hit that crease, I didn’t see him with less speed that I saw before.”

— On Cordarrelle Patterson’s progress or lack thereof: “He’s made so many strides since a year ago and he continues to make strides. As these coaches evaluated our personnel, the one thing Zim always preaches is team comes first before any stats. As our guys are learning these players, they have a pretty good feel but they’re still, you know, ‘What are we?’ because now you have an Adrian Peterson in your backfield. With Cordarrelle, you can’t ask for a kid that’s working as hard as he can. And there are specific packages that he may be involved with. These guys are trying to put personnel together with specific packages.”

— On why rookie Stefon Diggs can come in and be targeted 10 times and be such a big part of the offense in his first game while Patterson continues to be such a small part or no part of the offense: “The coaches are really trying to identify strengths. Diggs had a productive days, but there are a lot of things he can improve on as well.”

— On receiver Mike Wallace, who didn’t practice today: “He was here. Is there an injury report this week?” Spielman didn’t reveal what kind of injury Wallace has.

— On his impressions on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater through his first 16 NFL games: “He’s continuing to progress. The [Denver] game, especially in the second half, when we had to throw the ball, I think he went 13 for 15 for 131 yards and no turnovers. That’s a sign of a young guy maturing. Like I said, if we can just push it over the edge a little more. And Teddy is probably the most unselfish football player on this team. If he’s only going to throw the ball 18 times, he could care less as long as we win the game.”

— On what’s next for Bridgewater: “Just continuing on the direction he’s going. He’s just going to get more and more comfortable as we go forward. The thing he’s really doing a good job on is, I think, two third-and-10 situations in this last game, he made plays with his legs to keep drives alive. He’s been very good with his decisions. … We’re very excited about the direction he’s been going, and he’s only going to get better with the more experience and the more games he’s going to get.”

— On rookie first-round draft pick Trae Waynes: “To see these young guys getting their feet wet as they go through special teams and then Trae , when he had to step in for that San Diego game [for the injured Xavier Rhodes]. From where he was in that Hall of Fame game to where he is now, it’s night and day. But that’s the normal progression you see in a lot of these rookies, especially at certain positions.”

Vikings trade Hodges to 49ers; rookie Kendricks to start

The 49ers needed a linebacker. The Vikings had depth at the position and trust that rookie Eric Kendricks can step up as a starter. So Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman pulled the trigger today on a trade that sends starting middle linebacker Gerald Hodges to San Francisco for a sixth-round draft pick next year and rookie center Nick Easton.

The sixth-rounder replaces the sixth-round pick the team traded to San Diego for backup offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles. And the opening at middle linebacker clears the way for Kendricks to step forward as the nickel linebacker to a three-down starter. Audie Cole, another player Spielman voiced confidence in, moves up to the backup role.

“I know [Kendricks] is a very instinctive football player,” Spielman said. “Each week, you see the more reps he’s getting the more comfortable he’s getting with the speed of this game. And he makes plays when he’s out there. We drafted him because of how strong we felt about him coming out. When we evaluated him in college, you’re starting to see all that come as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL. He’s a very instinctive linebacker who makes a lot of plays.”

So the trade made a lot of sense to Spielman.

“This was an opportunity where a team had a need and we had added depth at that position,” Spielman said. “It was something we went ahead and pulled the trigger on.”

A fourth round pick in 2013 out of Penn State, Hodges moved to middle linebacker for the start of the season – saying it was the first time in his life he played the position. He played in 25 games over his first two seasons for the Vikings, starting seven at outside linebacker.

Easton, 6-3 and 300 pounds, was an undrafted free agent out of Harvard who signed with the Ravens following this year’s NFL draft. He was traded to the 49ers before the season started for a conditional draft pick on Sept. 5.

Vikings starting center John Sullivan will miss at least half the season after back surgery, and the Vikings offensive line struggled in Sunday’s loss at Denver.


Final, 10/4 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 2-2 0 10 0 10 20
Denver 4-0 3 10 7 3 23

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