Rookie Sharrif Floyd returns from knee injury to mixed results
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd saw 44 snaps in Sunday's loss to the Detroit Lions after sitting out with a knee injury since the second preseason game on Aug. 16.
Floyd registered just one pass deflection on the stat sheet, but was collectively involved in a poor run defense that surrendered 117 yards on the ground -- the most given up to the Lions since Sept. 20, 2009 when the Vikings allowed 129 rushing yards to a group including running back Kevin Smith.
"Not so much tentative, but his technique at times was an issue," Coach Leslie Frazier said. "You have to be a little bit more technically sound in some of the things he was doing. There were times when they were running the football and you could see that he was trying to pass rush."
"That makes it a little bit softer and creates problems for us," Frazier said.
Communication appeared to be an issue along the defensive line as the Vikings subbed in various pairs of defensive tackles, mixing and matching depending on their nickel or base 4-3 sets.
The Vikings rotated Floyd nearly the same amount of reps with defensive tackles Letroy Guion and Fred Evans at both spots on the interior line. Floyd only lined up at nose in nickel situations with Everson Griffen complementing him as the undertackle.
With veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams sidelined from a left knee injury he sustained in the preseason, Floyd & Co. had their work cut out for them in Detroit, especially against the flurry of screen passes and quick dropbacks orchestrated by Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Lions' running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell combined for nine receptions for 168 yards, including a 77-yard catch-and-run for a Bush touchdown.
"Others were maybe a 6-yarder or a 7-yarder, but the 77-yarder, that was a back-breaker," Frazier said. "We've just got to do a better job of fitting it. That play should not end up being a touchdown, a 77-yard touchdown. So we've got to do a better job of fitting up screens."
Floyd had trouble attacking Stafford on the 20 dropbacks he saw, but looked just as capable as his teammates, which is a silver lining considering it was his regular season debut.
"I need to focus on putting my hands in the right place and not just coming out of my hips," Floyd said. "I'll go back, clean up everything, my hands, get them in the right positions to make my play better."