Notebook: Tape caught Vikings slacking on defense, coordinator says
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Defensive coordinator Alan Williams wasn't happy with a few things he saw from the film of the Minnesota Vikings' 30-20 loss last Sunday in Seattle.
Williams said on Thursday that coaches' charted some "loafs" against the Seahawks.
"Those loafs are turning down hits or not running full speed, or not getting up off the ground," Williams said. "We saw some of those, which were uncharacteristic of the defense."
Williams brought up this subject when asked about a lack of turnovers created by the Vikings defense. The team is 26th in the NFL with a minus-6 in turnover differential, having created only 10 turnovers (four interceptions, six fumble recoveries).
"I think turnovers come from a variety of ways," Williams said. "First of all, they usually come in bunches. But also they come from running to the ball and that's one thing we talked to the guys about. We want to make sure that we continue running to the football.
" ... When you hustle to the ball, and you play full speed, and when you get guys in predictable modes where they have to throw the football, that's when those turnovers come. The last couple of weeks teams have been able to be balanced against us, where they could run the ball, throw some safe passes, throw the high percentage things. It's tough to get those turnovers when teams are playing close to the vest."
Williams admitted he was "not quite sure" why he saw some players not going full speed.
"I don't think it was a psychological thing where we were on the field (too long)," Williams said. "Our motto is: It doesn't matter how long we're on the field, or where we are on the field, we still have to run to the ball and we still have to defend our turf. ... Being on the field, that's fine with us."
Doing the job
A.J. Jefferson, who was acquired from Arizona in a trade just before the regular season opened, got the start at cornerback last week in place of the injured Chris Cook. Many had thought Josh Robinson would become the starter, but the Vikings wanted to keep the rookie playing mostly in the nickel defense.
Williams said Thursday that Jefferson had done "more than enough" to keep the starting assignment for Sunday's game agaisnt Detroit at the Metrodome.
"We like what A.J. is doing," Williams said. "It's a good fit for us. ... We like that rotation, we like the way we're bringing Josh along in terms of the defense. Between the combination of A.J. doing well and Josh doing well in the nickel, we like that rotation."
So far, no good
But Carlson suffered a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee early in training camp and did not play in the preseason. He had only three catches for 8 yards in seven games before suffering a concussion on Oct. 21 at Arizona.
that caused him to miss the past two games.
Clearly, the Vikings hopes of utilizing Carlson and Rudolph together hasn't worked out.
"Not yet," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. "Both of those guys had tremendous springs and started out in Mankato (playing well) those first couple of days until John got hurt. ... We had high hopes. I think we can still realize those. I think it's going to come to fruition and we'll get that started this week, if we can get him back out there."
Carlson returned to practice on Wednesday and Musgrave said he expects Carlson to play against the Lions.
Musgrave echoed Frazier's comments from a day earlier, saying the Vikings need to do a better job of getting the ball to Rudolph. Rudolph had 25 receptions in the first six games but has only two in the past three.
"Kyle's been doing a good job," Musgrave said. "We need to do a better job of getting him open. We had some plays dialed up for him the last couple of weeks and whether it be protection or the route it didn't shake out like we wanted it to or someone else was open. We just need those stars to get aligned so we can get him his touches."
Guion misses practice
Letroy Guion missed practice for a second consecutive day Thursday, and although coach Leslie Frazier is hoping the nose tackle will be able to do some work on Friday, there appears a good chance Guion will miss Sunday's game.
That would mean Fred Evans will start at the nose.
Listed on the injury report but not missing any time were Carlson (concussion), punter Chris Kluwe (left knee), safeties Mistral Raymond (ankle) and Jamarca Sanford (knee) and wide receiver Jerome Simpson (calf).
Sitting out for the Lions were defensive end Cliff Avril (back), safeties Louis Delmas (knee) and Amari Spievey (concussion), wide receivers Calvin Johnson (knee) and Titus Young (knee), defensive tackle Corey Williams (knee) and cornerback Chris Houston (illness).
Limited for the Lions were safety Erik Coleman (toe) and tackle Corey Hilliard (knee).
Lions first-round pick Riley Reiff isn't a starter but the tackle did get in for 33 of the Lions' 72 snaps in last Sunday's victory over Jacksonville, according to the Detroit News.
The Lions ran 34 times for 149 yards and four touchdowns and Reiff played a big role in that as an extra lineman.
So how do the Vikings feel about the fact that the 6-foot-6, 313-pound rookie likely will see plenty of time on Sunday?
"We were joking the other day," Williams said. "We said he's a little bit like, and this may be a stretch in some sense, but a little bit like Adrian Peterson in that you can't simulate him in practice.
"Everybody thinks that with Adrian that, hey, these are just designed plays for him and we stop this, but when you get in a live situation, Adrian Peterson is a different deal. That's the same thing with the extra lineman coming in, he does a great job, he's athletic, he gets his pads down and he's going to be a handful."
Running back Adrian Peterson left the Vikings facility early Thursday and did not practice because of stomach flu.
Frazier said his meeting this week with the Vikings' veteran leadership group focused on the "bigger picture" and not a two-game losing streak. "For us, we're not in dire straits, we still control our own destiny," Frazier said. "We just have to make sure we play better football when we line up at home on Sunday."
The Vikings launched a survey Wednesday to season-ticket holders and past ticket buyers to gauge their interest in seating options and Personal Seat Licenses in the new stadium. That's part of the design process. The team is doing a lot of work to gather information and potential revenue from PSLs is part of the conversation. The Vikings are scheduled to move into their new stadium, which will sit on the Metrodome site, in 2016.
Johnson told the Detroit Free Press he suffered nerve damage from hits he took against the Vikings in Week 4. The Free Press pointed to a hit by safety Harrison Smith that broke up a potential touchdown pass to Johnson, and a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Chad Greenway that ended up with Greenway being fined $21,000. Johnson said Thursday that hit resulted in a concussion. Johnson sat out practice last week and is sitting out again this week because of a knee injury. He did play last Sunday against Jacksonville and had seven catches for 129 yards.
The Vikings-Lions game will be dedicated to all branches of the United States Armed Forces and current and former military personnel serving our country. Each player's helmet will contain a decal representing one branch of the military. Players will wear camouflage gloves and use camouflage towels, while coaches and staff will don "Salute to Service" ribbons. Game officials will use footballs with the military-themed ribbon decal as well as a special "Salute to Service" coin for the coin toss.
Tom Pelisssero contributed