The Free Press, Mankato, MN

July 30, 2013

Defense handles offense in live contact

By Chad Courrier
ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com

---- — MANKATO — Adrian Peterson didn't get to participate in the best contact of training camp, but what he saw was the Minnesota Vikings offense get stuffed repeatedly by the defense.

"I really didn't get involved in the full contact, but it was good watching things develop," Peterson said. "The defense kind of handed it to us today, to be honest."

Tuesday's afternoon practice provided the most intense hitting through the first four days of training. The team worked on short-yardage and goal-line situations, and the thuds you could hear were delivered by the defense.

On the first play, linebacker Larry Dean got a clean shot on Toby Gerhart, knocking the running back backward and setting the tone. The defense stuffed the first five plays before running back Joe Banyard was able to bounce one play outside for a big gain.

In eight plays from the 1 or closer, the defense stuffed six of those.

"Maybe they had some built-up frustration from yesterday," Peterson said. "I saw some good things (from the offense), but we have a lot to work on."

Peterson's goals

While not talking about specifics, Peterson said that he'll always set his goals high. In the past, he's predicted a 2,500-yard rushing season, which would be about 400 yards more than he gained last season, and he wants to break the career rushing record some day.

"I always challenge myself," he said. "And people always shoot me down because they don't want to challenge themselves. That's the way I've been successful."

As for what he works on at practice in order to build on his historic season: I believe it's physically impossible to max out your potential. I'm always trying to work on everything."

Patterson gets help

Rookie wide receiver/return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson seems to be having a pretty good training camp, but he's not doing it all by himself.

"Having a guy like Greg (Jennings) around is a big help," he said. "He's like my mentor. It's a great opportunity for me to have someone like him to learn from."

Patterson said reading defenses is a lot tougher in the NFL than it was in college.

"Defenses here disguise everything," he said. "One second you might see something, but then, the next second, when you start running your route, you might see another coverage. You have to adjust to that and you have to do it now."

CBs getting sorted out

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams cracked a big smile at his morning press conference when he was asked about rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes, elaborating on Rhodes' physical traits and practice habits. But he said he's not ready to put any of the cornerbacks into specific roles.

"I expect for all of our corners to play well, and all we have to do is let him go out there and compete, turn on the film, and the film says what it is," Williams said.

Rhodes and Chris Cook have been the first-team cornerbacks, with Josh Robinson in the slot in the nickel defense. Frazier said earlier this week that with all the three- and four-receiver sets, cornerback depth is important.

Williams revisited

On Monday, coach Leslie Frazier said that ideally, defensive tackle Kevin Williams would take 30 to 40 snaps per game, with the rest going to Sharrif Floyd or Christian Ballard. Later, Williams said that number seemed a little low, and he planned to discuss that with Frazier.

It's the same discussion that Frazier had with Jared Allen during last training camp.

"They might tell you, ‘hey I want to play every down,’ " Alan Williams said "They know what is best for us as a whole."

Stats don't lie

Alan Williams said that Frazier passed along a statistic Monday night that when defenses create a turnover and score, the team has a 75 percent chance of winning.

Last season, the Vikings defense caused 22 turnovers, including 10 interceptions, and scored three touchdowns.

"That’s in their minds," Williams said. "Not just turning the ball over, but also scoring with the ball. We say that all the time, we’re going to hustle, we’re going to run to the ball so that when there is a tipped ball, when there is a ball on the ground that we have more purple jerseys around that ball than anyone else."

NOTES: Coordinator Williams had some nice things to say about Minnesota State: "We are loving being down south here in Mankato, the fields have been excellent, the dorms have been outstanding, so we are sleeping well. The food has been good, when you have good food and you sleep well you always know camp starts off right." ... Former Minnesota State receiver LaMark Brown made a nice catch on a deep ball, fighting with cornerback Greg McCoy to score the touchdown. However, he later fumbled after catching a pass across the middle. ... Safety Jamarca Sanford and tight end Chase Ford both were attended to by trainers during the afternoon practice. Sanford resumed practice, but Ford was shaken up late and stayed on the sideline. ... The best interception of the day came as A.J. Jefferson tipped a deep pass into the air, and safety Robert Blanton adjusted to the ball in mid-air for the pick. ...