Slightly blurry photo of Leslie Frazier courtesy of...Eric J. Thompson. Because I was there.
After the Monday morning session with his team, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier took some time with the media--which Daily Norseman is totally a part of this week, we asked some of the questions and everything--and addressed some questions about his team.
This afternoon's heat (believe me, it feels much warmer than 92 outside in Mankato right now) is on everyone's mind. "It's gonna be warm for sure," Frazier said about the heat. "We're going to have to make sure we stay hydrated...we'll be monitoring that heat."
After explaining Chris Stroud will replace the injured Nick Taylor, he addressed rookie Josh Robinson, who's nursing a sore hamstring. "He's making progress...we're still taking it day to day to find out where he is, but he's not quite ready to get back."
With veteran linebacker E.J. Henderson out of the picture this year, Frazier knows that the middle linebacker position is a place he needs to focus on. "We'll know a lot more after we get some padded practices in," Frazier explained.
(More after the jump.)
Frazier stressed that the physical nature of the offensive line is a point of emphasis during training camp. "We have to have a better offensive line," Fraizer explained. He believes that moving Charlie Johnson back to left guard, his natural position, and adding Matt Kalil should shore up some of the problems the team had at O-line last year. The right guard position still seems totally up for grabs at the moment. Frazier is looking for three main features in his eventual starter: toughness, smarts, and the ability to execute assignments. If a player steps up above the rest in Training Camp, Frazier doesn't see the need for that person to split time starting during the preseason.
Of course, coaching that physicality is a little tougher this year thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement limiting the number of padded practices. "It's a problem every team in the league is facing. You have to adjust and get the work in that you need to get in." Frazier explained that there will be more emphasis on how younger players perform in the preseason games due to the limited contact in practice.
As for whether he thinks that those young guys will be targeted by some veterans during the first padded practice today: "I think some of the veterans will go after some of the young guys and indoctrinate them into the National Football League...I'm sure some of the younger players are a little bit nervous. It'll be their first time putting pads on and going up against guys they've been watching on TV for a number of years. It should be a good experience for all those rookies."
Finally, Frazier talked about what he's looking for with some of the depth on the team, specifically at third string running back. "Special teams is definitely a factor when you're talking about the third running back on your team. But we're also looking for someone that can play on every down." It sounds like the most versatile player among the backup RBs in camp will have the inside track on winning that job.
The full video is available on the Vikings website here. We'll be sure to post full audio of future press conferences here--we had a little formatting issue with the audio today, but it's fixed going forward.