Notebook: No question, Fred Pagac will be 'the main guy' coaching LBs
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MOBILE, Ala. -- The Minnesota Vikings won't really have two linebackers coaches after all.
Leslie Frazier made clear on Monday that Fred Pagac will be "the main guy" with that position group, while Mike Singletary will redirect his energy mainly to helping Frazier with other tasks.
"The fact that Fred has been in this system the longest and has the most experience in the system, he'll take the lead on a lot of things," Frazier said after coaching the North team through its first practice at the Senior Bowl.
"Between he and Mike, they'll work out what we need to do from an individual standpoint and we'll divvy up duties when it comes to game-planning opponents. The biggest thing is, on the field, different responsibilities for two different guys, but having a lead guy really makes a difference."
Demoted from defensive coordinator after one tumultuous season, Pagac accepted a return to his old role -- surprising even Frazier, who believed there was a chance Pagac would try to land elsewhere for his 35th season as a college and pro assistant.
The hiring of Alan Williams as defensive coordinator left Frazier with an extra assistant. It appears that'll be fixed by moving Jeff Imamura, who assisted Singletary with the linebackers last season, to a quality control role in the defensive backfield in place of Matt Sheldon, whose contract expired.
"I think it's going to work out fine," Frazier said. "Having a chance to go through this (Senior Bowl) process is almost like having a minicamp in a lot of ways for our staff. But it'll give us a chance to work out some of the kinks with the changes we've made on our staff. So far, so good."
Frazier acknowledged it "takes a lot" to accept a change like Pagac, who deferred questions about the change to head coach. A central goal of Singletary's reassignment, Frazier said, is to enhance his role as special assistant to the head coach.
It's not all that different than the role Frazier played for Tony Dungy in Indianapolis in 2005 and '06 while also helping Williams coach the Colts' defensive backs.
"We didn't have a chance last offseason to do certain things, because there wasn't really an offseason" due to the NFL lockout, Frazier said. "I mentioned to (Singletary) the other day I really want to get him involved in some of the things I have to do in the offseason, which will be a big plus for me, because he's been through some of the same things I'm going through now."
The only member of Frazier's staff not in Alabama is offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, who underwent hip replacement surgery on Friday.
Davidson dealt with hip pain throughout this past season, eventually using a cane and raising discussion among Vikings staff members about whether to get him a motorized cart so he didn't have to climb the ramp to the locker room at the Metrodome.
"What it allows him to do, because this is the year where we're looking at drafting maybe an offensive lineman early, he'll be able to get on the road and go out and work guys out," said Frazier, who initially wanted Davidson to delay surgery until after the Senior Bowl.
"If we had pushed the surgery back beyond this date, it would have put into jeopardy being able to fly from city to city in March, because they're not going to let him fly (for three or four weeks) after having the surgery."
Assistant Ryan Silverfield is coaching the North team's offensive line in Davidson's place.
The upside of coaching in the Senior Bowl is working closely with the roughly 50 players on the North roster. The downside is getting fewer looks at players on the South team -- and trying to get a thorough evaluation on North players while also providing teaching points.
So, where is Frazier gearing his focus?
"Corners, wide receivers -- we're going to take a hard look at those positions," Frazier said. "We really need to get some help in that area, but we're going to also look at the offensive line. There are some offensive linemen here we need to look at that may be able to help us, and even the linebacker position as well."
The North team's quarterbacks didn't exactly measure up to the competition at Monday morning's weigh-in.
Michigan State's Kirk Cousins checked in at 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, but Boise State's Kellen Moore (5-11¾, 191) and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (5-10 5/8, 203) both came in under 6 feet.
"I've always been this tall," said Wilson, who threw for 3,175 yards, 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his lone season with the Badgers.
"The Lord made me this way for a reason. I can make every throw, though. I played behind the fourth-biggest offensive line in the country this past season, averaging 6-5. I think the proof's in the pudding that I can play. It's not a factor in my mind at all."
All three of the South's quarterbacks -- Arizona's Nick Foles, San Diego State's Ryan Lindley and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden -- were measured at 6-3½ or taller.
Taking it slow
Monday's North team practice was light on competitive team drills, which should increase as the week goes on and players readjust to being in pads after in some cases a long layoff.
"You do have to be a little bit conscious of that," Frazier said, "but yet you're still trying to push them and get what you can out of them and just be able to ascertain, can they fit some of the things we have to do at the National Football League level? But you have to be mindful that a lot of them haven't done a whole lot since their last football game in college."
• Though Frazier expects to have a strong hand in the latest incarnation of his Tampa-2 defense, he said he wants Williams "to come in with a clean slate" when it comes to schematic changes. "(H)e has some good ideas about certain things," Frazier said. "I would like to be able to implement some of those."
• The voice of new defensive line coach Brendan Daly could be heard throughout Ladd-Peebles stadium during individual drills -- a striking change from the laid-back approach of predecessor Karl Dunbar, who is looking for a job and was on-hand for practice. "Lot of energy," Frazier said. "Lot of enthusiasm."
• Rookie OL DeMarcus Love had his knees scoped after the season. "Nothing serious there," Frazier said.
• For the first time in recent memory, DT Kevin Williams didn't need any postseason surgery on his problematic knee. "I was teasing (veteran guard) Anthony Herrera -- it's so rare to see him and Kevin not having an offseason surgery." Frazier said. "So, it's a good thing. Neither one of them have to have an offseason surgery."