Notebook: Frazier calls on leaders to be 'spokespeople' in locker room
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The crowd gathered around Leslie Frazier was a Minnesota Vikings who's-who.
Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Steve Hutchinson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Ryan Longwell, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, E.J. Henderson and Antoine Winfield all were asked to stick around after Wednesday morning's walkthrough practice and received a message from their new interim coach.
"Just to reiterate some of the things that I'm saying to the entire team," Frazier told reporters shortly after the meeting. "I need them to really be my spokespersons, spokespeople in that locker room, and they will, and they're solid leaders for us."
Taking over a 3-7 team with 21 pending free agents and only the dimmest of playoff hopes, Frazier knows he has to lean on the existing leadership in his veteran-laden leadership -- regardless of how those same players failed to rally the team in the final weeks under deposed coach Brad Childress.
To a man, Vikings players have expressed respect and support for Frazier, whose credentials include six seasons as an NFL player and two Super Bowl rings. But that doesn't mean it'll by easy to right a rapidly sinking ship with only six games remaining and no clear team goal attainable beyond winning on Sunday against Washington.
"To say that we have a lot more energy now because Leslie is the coach, that'd be a bunch of BS," Favre said. "I think, again, it goes back to us individually. But Leslie is a soft-spoken, matter-of-fact guy. I knew that when I first got here, and one of the good things that I think that he said is he's not really beating us about the Xs and Os. It's more -- do the little things, things that maybe we have kind of forgotten about, because as you know, the little things lead to big things."
Several players concurred Frazier's message is, in short, back to the basics in everything from execution to eliminating presnap penalties.
"It is very self-explanatory," Harvin said, "so we're all looking forward to his leadership and ready to get going."
Calling the shots
Frazier confirmed linebackers coach Fred Pagac will call the defensive signals on Sunday at Washington.
However, Pagac won't formally receive the title of defensive coordinator, and he'll have help from defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and defensive backs coach Joe Woods.
"They're going to see things and say, 'Hey, Fred, think about this,'" Frazier said. "But it'll probably be a little bit more inclusive than it was when I was doing it on game day."
Frazier, who plans to focus primarily on overall game management, said he doesn't anticipate any other changes to the responsibilities of his staff.
Back by camp?
Done for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee early in Sunday's loss to Green Bay, veteran right guard Anthony Herrera vowed to be back by training camp.
"Never dealt with anything where it's going to be six to eight months," said Herrera, who has missed only two games since becoming a starter in 2007.
"That's pretty much a whole year. So, you've just got to stay positive, and talking to teammates, talking to other people that's been through it, a major part of the rehab is mentally -- mentally being able to trust the doctor that's doing the surgery, the people that's helping you rehab and just you staying positive yourself."
Herrera indicated he hurt the knee on the game's fourth play but stayed in for three more snaps before it gave out altogether. He'll likely have surgery in the next week or so, as soon as swelling goes down and he regains his range of motion.
According to Frazier, the Vikings will take the week to decide whether to replace Herrera with Ryan Cook, who finished Sunday's game, or rookie Chris DeGeare. Patrick Brown was promoted from the practice squad on Wednesday but is a long shot to play.
Allen (neck) and safety Husain Abdullah (ankle) made surprise appearances on Wednesday's injury report with previously undisclosed injuries.
Favre also said he's battling the flu. Berrian missed most of the Vikings' past two games but is "getting better," Frazier said.
Backup safety Jamarca Sanford (hamstring) was the only player who didn't participate in practice. Linebacker Chad Greenway (eye), receiver Sidney Rice (hip) and center John Sullivan (calf) were full participants.
Cast your ballots
Four Vikings lead NFC vote-getters at their respective positions in Pro Bowl fan balloting, the NFL announced.
With a little less than a month remaining -- online voting wraps Dec. 20 -- Adrian Peterson ranks No. 3 overall and tops among running backs with 400,921 votes. Steve Hutchinson (89,699) leads guards, punter Chris Kluwe (48,591) and Heath Farwell (80,993) leads special teamers.
Votes from fans, coaches and players each count for one-third of the total used to determine Pro Bowl selections. Results will be announced on Dec. 28.
• Keeping with precedent, Favre declined to comment when asked about the NFL's investigation into allegations he sent racy voicemails and photos to former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger when he played for the team in 2008. Most recent, Favre's agent, Bus Cook and Sterger's manager, Phil Reese, had provided conflicting accounts to The Associated Press about who raised the possibility of a settlement that would keep Sterger quiet. "The statements that Bus made, that came out this morning, we'll leave it at that," Favre said. "Again, I'm focused on Washington and it'll be resolved when it's resolved. I'm just trying to somehow lead these guys to victory and beat Washington so we'll let that take its course."
The Redskins ruled out RB Clinton Portis (abdomen/groin) and listed five other players as nonparticipants: LB Lorenzo Alexander (hamstring), DE Jeremy Jarmon (hamstring), S LaRon Landry (Achilles), LB Rocky McIntosh (thigh) and RB Ryan Torain (hamstring). Seven other players were limited, and QB Donovan McNabb (hamstring) was a full participant.
• Greenway only missed five snaps after getting poked in the eye on the Packers' second series on Sunday. But he said he didn't regain vision in the eye for about a half-hour. "It was painful," Greenway said, "but obviously, that happens in every football game, something that happens to a lot of people. But just the fact that I lost the vision in the eye was the scary part." He finished the game wearing a visor that he'll continue wearing this week as a precaution.
• Frazier said he's made no decision about who will start at cornerback opposite Antoine Winfield. Rookie Chris Cook and Asher Allen both struggled mightily on Sunday. "I have to be more conscious of that," Frazier said. "We don't have the same guys out there right now. We don't have Cedric (Griffin) or Antoine playing the corner in our nickel package. We have to do some things a little bit differently. And we will, starting this weekend. We've got to address that."