Notes 7/31/07: Defense Flashes Dominance
By Phil Mackey
KFAN dot com
the first time during 2007 training camp the Vikings
held a 20-minute, live scrimmage in the stadium on Tuesday
morning. Chains were in play, field goal units were
on stand-by, and Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell
called plays from a headset. After practice, Brad Childress
talked about the importance of going "live".
days football is so situational that you break it down,
whether you spend all your time on the goal line, or
on third down or regular down," said Childress.
"When you're able to move the football, you really
kind of feel the emotions of football. Defense thinks
they got 'em stopped, offense hits a big play, defense
gets down a little bit, offense should be buoyed up.
So you get to see the ebb and flow of that."
ebb and flow this morning consisted mostly of defensive
dominance. Leslie Frazier's crew mixed in various blitzes
to put pressure on Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger,
forcing interceptions, errant passes and missed blocking
this point in camp you generally see defenses ahead
of offenses, and I would say that's the case right now,"
said Childress. "They're doing a great job of rushing
the passer -- obviously, getting their hands on a bunch
of balls, and that's daunting for a quarterback. They're
getting a nice push in the middle, and very good coverage
on the outside."
Leber and E.J. Henderson each broke through the line
untouched on blitzes, Kenechi Udeze stuffed runs to
the right side, and defensive backs blanketed wide receivers.
Although training camp is only five days old, the offense
clearly still has a mountain to climb, while the defense
is showing flashes of brilliance.
a fast defense, for starters," said Childress.
"You see guys racing to the football, and then
you've got some stoutness on the inside. I think those
guys are rushing the passer as well as I've seen on
the outside. I'll be interested to see them get that
into play. Are they better? I don't know. I just know
they're flying around and I like what I see."
Notes (a.k.a. defense notes):
Chester Taylor injured his right wrist/forearm on the
third play of today's short scrimmage. He walked to
the sidelines clutching his wrist, wincing in pain.
The trainers carted him off the field in order to spare
the long walk. X-Rays were negative. The injury is simply
a bruise. He's considered day-to-day.
Bryant McKinnie remained sidelined, however Childress
expects him to return to practice on Wednesday. This
will force a personnel decision, as Artis Hicks and
Anthony Herrera are both capable of playing RG.
Other players held out of practice: Erasmus James, Todd
Lowber, Billy McMullen, Wendell Mathis.
Darren Sharper returned to practice and continued taking
reps with the first team offense.
The Vikings always spend ten minutes at the beginning
of practice going through calisthenics and team stretches.
If you've ever played junior high football, you have
a good picture of what this looks like.
Team installs began at 9:20. The offense generally installs
running plays first, so the offensive line can do individual
drills during pass installation.
7-on-7 and 11-on-11 on field two:
Ben Leber came around the left side on a blitz and batted
a pass from behind Tarvaris Jackson on the first play
of 11-on-11. Artis Hicks was the left tackle, but Leber
was not necessarily his responsibility.
After just two plays, RT Ryan Cook was pulled for Marcus
Johnson. Cook stood off to the side for six plays while
Johnson played with the first team offense. For the
next half hour, Cook and Johnson rotated in and out
with the first team. This has clearly turned into a
position battle. Although most of Johnson's reps come
against the second team defense, he has played better
than Ryan Cook so far in training camp. However, Cook
is essentially learning a new position, so he'll be
given every opportunity to succeed, within reason.
The offense looked very sluggish and discombobulated.
Jackson fumbled a snap and Kleinsasser jumped early.
To top it off, Jackson was errant on throws due to pressure
from the defensive line and the linebackers. Even when
Jackson was on the money, defensive backs had receivers
covered like blankets.
Tank Williams jumped a route on a pass intended for
Bobby Wade, but couldn't hang on for the interception.
Brad Childress brought the second team defense in to
face the first team offense, likely because the offense
needed a serious breather after being smoked by the
first team defense. (* side note: The offense worked
exclusively on passing plays, which allowed the first
team defense to tee off more than normal.)
Overall, the offense is simply not clicking yet, and
the defense is almost never fooled.
The second team offensive line (LT Chase Johnson, LG
Brian Daniels, C Norm Katnik, RG Dan Mozes, RT Marcus
Johnson) protected Bollinger very well during this portion
of practice. The only meltdown was a play where DEs
Khreem Smith and Jayme Mitchell came around from opposite
sides to sack Bollinger.
- When the first team offense came back, Ben Leber sprinted
through the offensive line, untouched, between Steve
Hutchinson and Matt Birk for a sack. Peterson was the
Despite having troubles with blitz pick-ups right now,
Adrian Peterson is a natural when it comes to finding
the hole and darting through. He's very smooth and very
11-on-11 in the stadium:
On the first play, Tarvaris Jackson and Troy Williamson
had miscommunication, resulting in a Dwight Smith interception.
A screen pass to Adrian Peterson was swallowed up by
Darrion Scott. The Williams' were also in the vicinity,
ready to pounce.
Peterson fumbled on the very next play. Coaches yelled,
"Clean it up!" A couple plays later, Peterson
dropped a pass in the flat. This is ugly.
Tarvaris Jackson was wildly inaccurate, mostly because
he was playing under heavy pressure. Even when he wasn't
being pressured, he played as if pressure was coming.
7-on-7 in the stadium:
Dwight Smith with another pass breakup. He played extremely
well this morning.
Chad Greenway deflected a pass from Peterson. All five
receivers were completely blanketed on this play, so
Jackson basically shrugged his shoulders and attempted
to dump one to AP.
Tank Williams and Ben Leber converged to knock a ball
away from Martin Nance.
Brooks Bollinger hit Justin Surrency on a beautiful
fade pass down the right sideline against the second
Tarvaris Jackson attempted to thread the needle to Visanthe
Shiancoe, but Greenway jumped in front and nearly had
an interception. Shiancoe made a couple catches this
morning as he continues to flash his abilities as a
pass-catching tight end. But Greenway is really starting
to "get it".
E.J. Henderson knocked a pass away from Adrian Peterson
on a ball thrown by Jackson.
11-on-11 live scrimmage in the stadium. Darrell Bevell
straps on the headset:
The first team offense finally recorded a first down
against the first team defense. On 2nd and 9, Tarvaris
Jackson found Troy Williamson over the middle for a
10 yard gain. They would later be stopped on 3rd and
Special teams coach Paul Ferraro marched up and down
the sideline yelling, "Second team field goal on
alert! Second team field goal on alert! If we cross
the 50, second team field goal on alert!"
The offense only made it to field goal range once during
the 20 minute scrimmage.
Tyler Thigpen threw the worst interception of training
camp. Chandler Williams ran a stop route 10 yards down
the right side. Charles Gordon was standing in front
of him, pinning Williams against the sideline. Thigpen
threw the ball anyways. Gordon didn't even have to move.
Tarvaris Jackson tried Troy Williamson deep down the
right side, but Marcus McCauley ran stride for stride
and knocked the ball away.
The offense gained some yardage over the middle (enough
to move the chains a couple times), but anything outside
the numbers was shut down.
Jackson tried Williamson again, this time on a slant,
but the ball bounced off Williamson's chest, high in
the air and rattled around a few defenders before falling
E.J. Henderson broke free up the middle, untouched,
to sack Jackson
Marcus McCauley took an interception 40 yards to the
house. On 3rd and 16, McCauley jumped in front of Bobby
Wade on a pass thrown by Jackson, and he never stopped
Mewelde Moore has been fantastic. Childress said the
same in his press conference. Moore took screen passes
for 15 and 25 yards respectively with the second team
offense against the second team defense. He also ran
the ball through the left side for 15 yards, thanks
to a giant hole created by Chase Johnson and Dan Mozes.
Vikes will hold special teams practice for an hour on
Tuesday afternoon. Full squad practice resumes on Wednesday
Phil @ firstname.lastname@example.org