Sunday, August 10, 2014
Vikings wake-up call: Day 12
By Ben Goessling
MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings training camp:
Today's schedule: After a day off on Saturday, the Vikings reconvene at Minnesota State for their final few days of work in Mankato. They'll begin a special-teams-only walk-through at 11:20 a.m. CT and come back for practice at 3 p.m. Coach Mike Zimmer will address the media, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph -- who was released from the hospital Saturday after he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet in a nightclub early Saturday morning -- is expected to discuss his situation as well.
More observations from Friday's preseason game:
What I'm watching: With Joseph expected to miss a couple weeks while he recovers from what's being described as a minor bullet wound to his calf, the Vikings will get an early look at their defensive line depth this week. Fred Evans figures to play with the first-team defense at nose tackle, but Johnson also saw some snaps in Joseph's spot later in Friday's game and undrafted free agent Isame Faciane was impressive in pass-rushing situations later in the game, batting down a pass and grading out as the Vikings' top defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Defensive tackle depth could be an issue for the Vikings, but the next week or two could provide a sense for how it stacks up.
- Zimmer talked about how the Vikings would be "very, very basic" in their defense, but on the first third down they unveiled a blitz package that had Anthony Barr rushing from an inside lineman position, Harrison Smith coming off the edge and left end Brian Robison dropping into coverage. We've seen the Vikings use Barr as a lineman in pass-rushing situations already in training camp, and the fact they were blitzing him while dropping Robison early on Friday night suggests such a blitz package as a key part of their repertoire. The sack Barr split with Tom Johnson also came on third down when he rushed off the right side from a linebacker position.
- Those hoping to see some maturation from Cordarrelle Patterson as a receiver got it on the first drive of the game Friday, when Matt Cassel connected with Patterson on his first two completions of the game -- an in-breaking route against good man coverage and a third-down back-shoulder throw that Patterson had to haul in with one hand. On the back-shoulder throw, Patterson had to fight off a jam from Raiders cornerback Tarell Brown and work back to the ball just in time. It was a precise play that would have been easier if Patterson had broken contact a split-second earlier, but the fact he came up with a couple catches early -- against good coverage from a veteran cornerback -- showed some reasons for encouragement.
- The Vikings' two fullbacks -- Jerome Felton and Zach Line -- played just 10 and 16 snaps, respectively, as the team came out in "12" personnel (one running back, two tight ends) early and often Friday. Tight ends Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison, Mike Higgins and Allen Reisner all played at least 20 snaps. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner doesn't seem to favor two-back sets as much as predecessor Bill Musgrave did, and Felton and Line will have to continue trying to carve out a role in the Vikings' offense.
They said it: "Well, the backup quarterback is always the favorite guy, right? They should be excited about Teddy. They are going to be cheering for him for a long, long time." -- Zimmer, on fans chanting Teddy Bridgewater's name before he had thrown a pass on Friday night.