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Mike Priefer, Alan Williams: Still Time To Improve

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer and Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams took the podium on Monday. Their messages were very similar.


Another Minnesota Vikings Training Camp walk-thru is in the books. And like most walk-thrus, they were incredibly funnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnlaejkfaepoja;sdlkj

Oops, sorry about that. I fell asleep on my keyboard just thinking about how "exciting" the morning walk-thrus are. There weren't many newsworthy items from the half-speed practice this morning. No noticeable changes to speak of in the depth charts of any of the three phases. No crazy formations like yesterday, although they were running a lot of 2 TE sets today. Audie Cole and Sharrif Floyd did return to the practice field and I was able to snag a video of Floyd working on his technique:

And oh yeah, Peter King and his MMQB crew are in town today. Other than that, the most exciting thing I heard was the discussion of Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, and the other quarterbacks discussing TV and movies. (Ponder is definitely the TV/movie buff of the group. He had opinions on all sorts of shows.)

Thankfully these things last only an hour and coaches take the podium afterward. Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer addressed the media first. When asked about long snapper Cullen Loeffler, Priefer pointed out how he's a team leader among the specialists.

I think his personality is such that people look up to him a little bit. He's only going to give advice when asked; he's not one of those pushy type of guys. He leads by example. He's got a great work ethic, great attitude.

Priefer said that Loeffler has had a few "less than perfect" snaps in his career but for the most part he has been spot on.

As for his new punter Jeff Locke, Priefer had mixed reviews about his performance Friday night. He praised the first two punts that pinned the Texans deep in their own territory and his first "field punt", a 48-yarder with a 4.6 hang time. However, "his last two punts were not very good". Priefer said that all of Locke's holds on Blair Walsh's kicks were just fine.

Priefer stressed that he's using this time to try out as many people as he can. He explained how 41 different players saw the field on special teams. "A lot of guys know that special teams is their ticket to make this football team," Priefer explained. He noted that Zach Line, Stephen Burton, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Joe Webb were all doing well when asked about them specifically but didn't want to address other standout players in fear of inadvertently leaving someone out. "We're trying to give as many guys a shot as possible."

Next up was Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams. His message mirrored Priefer's: he's using this time to evaluate as many players as possible. "Time is on our side," Williams stated a few times throughout the Q&A. He's taking that approach with injuries as well--he explained that Floyd and Cole should be back at practice today but he's not sure in what capacity yet. He stressed that he wants his young players to "get to know your body so that you know how you feel rather than someone telling you how you feel and what you should do. The other thing is as you become a professional, know how to perform when your body isn't 100%. So if you're tight or not feeling great one day you don't go out and pull something and hurt yourself."

One of Williams' new players, Desmond Bishop, knows all too well about injuries. Williams said that the veteran linebacker is picking up like he hasn't missed a beat, which is expected of someone with Bishop's experience. Williams pointed out that Bishop is under no more scrutiny than any other player even with his injury-riddled past.

Williams saw a lot of positive takeaways from his defense's play on Friday against Houston. He thought they tackled well throughout the game and defended very well against the rush in the first half. Williams also praised his team's discipline with the lack of penalties called and the overall organization of getting so many different units on and off the field.

There were still plenty of areas for improvement that Williams noted. He stressed building upon chemistry and communication but really emphasized turning the ball over more. And not just getting turnovers either--Williams wants to score on defense. "When a defense scores, you're likely to win about 75% of the time. I like those odds. We want to make sure we get ourselves in the end zone."

We're getting closer closer to football that actually counts, but both Priefer and Williams realize that there is still time to evaluate and fine-tune their respective units. For now, time is indeed on their side.