Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier took the podium after Wednesday's Training Camp walk thru and addressed the latest questions about his team.
The biggest question was about the status of injured tight end John Carlson and how it will impact the amount of reps that other tight ends get in practice. "It'll increase their snaps which is not a bad thing. We'd like to see Mickey Shuler, see how he does. We'd like to see Allen Reisner, see how he does. As well as Rhett [Ellison]. Kyle [Rudolph], we'd like to see how he keeps progressing in his second training camp. So it's not a bad thing that those guys are getting increased reps." Frazier explained how Carlson's injury was indeed a MCL sprain, which is what was originally diagnosed. They learned that Carlson's injury is a grade 2 sprain, and they hope to have him back in about two weeks. The injury was sustained when a player from a pile in blocking drills fell back on Carlson during padded practice yesterday.
With Carlson out, more attention will be paid to rookie Rhett Ellison. Frazier has been impressed with the new guy. "Just seeing the way he approaches the game, he shows a maturity that you don't often see from rookies...his preparation and attention to detail is second to none. We'll see how he continues to progress."
While Carlson won't be seen on the practice field for a while, rookie cornerback Josh Robinson might be back soon. He's been nursing a hamstring injury for the past several days. "We might see if we can take him through a few things today," Frazier said. "We think he's making good progress. We have him back pretty soon depending on how he works out today."
Frazier commented on how veteran CB Antoine Winfield seems to be rejuvenated this year. "He's taking all the reps and doing everything he can to be ready. Now we'll have to monitor that a little bit, he's not 22 years of age anymore, but he's definitely invigorated in a lot of ways. It's good for the young players and the secondary to see the way that he works and how he's approaching things."
While Winfield has one of the corner spots locked up, Frazier explained that the safety position is "wide open". He thinks Jamarca Sanford and Mistral Raymond have done a good job, but he still wants to give players like Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton a chance. Regarding Sanford, Frazier wants to see improvement on plays down the field.
The upcoming scrimmage against Kansas City on Saturday is an exciting situation for Frazier, especially to see how young players respond with a bit more pressure on them. "It'll be good to go back, look at the tape, and determine how those guys handled certain situations."
Yesterday Alan Williams described that he wanted "hockey lines" for his defensive line rotation, and Frazier backed up that sentiment. "Being able to rotate those guys and keep them fresh, particularly Jared [Allen] and Brian Robison, that's a big deal. Kevin [Williams] is getting a little older, we need to make sure he's not playing 80 to 90 percent of the downs. Part of that is what kind of depth do you have? And we think we have good depth, so why not? We thought that [the lack of rotation] really hampered us at times a season ago. We want to learn from that and get a rotation going which should keep us fresher over the course of four quarters."
Part of that rotation won't include Everson Griffen, who is moving to linebacker this year. Frazier said he'll still get a chance to attack the quarterback on third down situations this year, "but if he can help us get better at linebacker, especially the outside linebacker position, it makes us a better defense."
After some praise for how Jerome Simpson has fit in with his new team and how Jasper Brinkley has looked after returning from injury, Frazier addressed the situation with Percy Harvin and the kick returner role. The team has currently been rotating Marcus Sherels, Jarius Wright, and Bryan Walters in along with Harvin on kick returns. "Bryan did a good job on kick returns when he was in San Diego. Jarius is improving, who also may be a candidate on punt return. But Marcus did a good job for us a season ago. We'll continue to take a look at those guys and monitor when is a good time to use Percy and when is not a good time to use Percy." Frazier that doesn't have a set amount of how often he thinks Harvin will return kicks. "It'll be more game to game, situation to situation...you can definitely see a difference when he's the guy versus some of the other guys that we have. You have to weigh what he gives us from an offensive standpoint as well as the way he plays when you're making a decision about putting him back there."
Stay tuned for much more from the Wednesday afternoon practice, which will once again be in full pads.