So what, exactly, did Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards mean?
After Thursday’s practice at Winter Park, Edwards said the teams is still “aiming” to have rookie corner Trae Waynes start by opening day.
Did he mean start as in pass veteran Terence Newman to start at left cornerback on opening day? Not likely. Perhaps he meant having Waynes as the top extra cornerback in nickel situations. That’s more likely. Waynes has been getting most of those opportunities lately, with Newman moving into the slot in those situations. That playing time, by the way, has come at the expense of veteran Captain Munnerlyn.
But not even that is a lock. Especially with two preseason games left to play.
Still, when asked if Waynes — the No. 11 pick in the NFL draft — had a chance to start on opening day, Edwards said: “That’s what we’re aiming for. That’s what we’re working for.”
The decision will be made by coach Mike Zimmer.
But Edwards did say that Waynes, who struggled badly at times early in the preseason, has shown improvement.
“I think he’s gotten better week to week,” Edwards said. “First week to second he got better at some things we asked him to get better at. And, in the third game, we thought he got better. Hopefully this week we’ll see some improvement with things we worked on in practice.”
Ultimately, Edwards said, a rookie learns the most when given chances in games.
“There is no substitute for experience,’ he said. “Doing it in practice is one thing, but transferring it to the game is another. So we just look for [Waynes] to make the most of the opportunities we’re giving him.”
Getting it straight
When it comes to kicker Blair Walsh, special teams coach Mike Priefer is not going to panic and he’s not going to try to change too many things.
Coming off an up-and-down 2014, Walsh has struggled this preseason, going 2-for-6 on field goal attempts. Saturday against Oakland in the swirling winds of TCF Bank Stadium, Walsh was 0-for-3 on field goals — two of those coming inside 40 yards — and missed an extra point as well.
“He’s owned up to it,” Priefer said. “He came in early on Sunday morning and we watched the tape. Some of the mistakes he made were uncommon for him. He’s worked real hard this week to tweak his technique. There are no overhaul changes. We’re not overly concerned about it. I just think he needs to get his confidence back.”
Those tweaks? Priefer said they had mainly to do with Walsh’s angle on the ball and some of his footwork.
This week the Vikings play Dallas at AT&T Stadium, a controlled environment that should be good for Walsh to bounce back in.
“It was a crazy night [Saturday],” Priefer said. “Not to make excuses. But going into an environment with no wind, that will help him.”
There was a Teddy Bridgewater-Mike Wallace connection in practice Thursday. It came during a passing drill when Wallace ran down the left sideline and hauled in a long Bridgewater pass with one hand.
The next step: seeing it in a game.
Wallace, brought in to add a deep threat to the Vikings’ attack, has one preseason catch.
Don’t worry, Bridgewater says.
“We do want to get Mike going heading into the regular season,” Bridgewater said. “And he’s a guy who is going to be huge for us in the pass game. He’s going to force teams to give us different looks this year. So we definitely want to get him going, whether it’s this week or definitely going into Week 1.”
Center John Sullivan (back spasms) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) are still sidelined. Rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt (ankle) was able to do some early work in drills.