Notebook: Vikings accomplish Frazier's goals

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had a few things he wanted to accomplish with the third preseason game and his team pretty well lived up to them. Plus, injuries thinned two positions on defense, causing some depth concerns, the new turf got used and more notes.

With the most telling game of the preseason behind them, how did the Vikings do in living up to head coach Leslie Frazier's pregame goals?

"One of the things I talked to our team about is our identity moving forward will be establishing our run offense and establishing our run defense. That's one of the things we'd like to continue to improve on," Frazier said last week leading up the Vikings' 23-17 loss. "I think we took a step last week against Seattle in both of those areas."

They were even better against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, even if the final score didn't reflect it.

The run offense improved with solid blocking from the offensive line. Adrian Peterson found running lanes early and continued to work it throughout the first half. His first run was 4 yards, but after the first drive he already had five runs for 27 yards.

"It's all about getting big chunks and moving the chains and doing our jobs," Peterson said. "I feel like our offense has something to clean up, but our passing game was very productive. We took some good steps forward tonight all together with our running game, as well as our play-action. We just have to clean up some things."

Peterson had success throughout the first half, rushing 11 times for 69 yards with a long of 15 yards. While he never broke a long run, the offensive line provided room to run and he ended with 81 yards on 14 carries, the second-most productive preseason game of his career.

"It's not a secret how we want to run our offense," Frazier said. "We want things centered around Adrian Peterson. We want people to have to get eight in the box to stop Adrian."

As for the first-team run defense, that showed well, too. As a team, the Cowboys only had a 2.4-yard rushing average on nine attempts in the first half, with Felix Jones leading the way with 20 yards on five carries. By the end of the game, the numbers looked better for Dallas, but the Vikings' first-team defense didn't return for the second half and the Vikings came out in the third quarter using two linebackers that were signed this week to make up for an injured backup corps.

Following through with another goal of Frazier's, the special-teams coverage units handled their jobs well. Half of the Vikings' kickoffs ended inside the 20-yard line – Dallas returners were dropped at the 13- and 15-yard line – and the other two ended on the 21-yard line.

The coverage units were equally successful on punts. Two of Chris Kluwe's three punts ended inside the 20-yard line and the other return was stopped on the 20.

"We'd like to … be able to have good field position based on what our special teams does, maybe breaking a punt or kick return or doing a great job in coverage," Frazier said. "Those are some of the things we've talked about, and hopefully we can get some of that accomplished."

The punt returns weren't nearly as successful. Jaymar Johnson kept his roster hopes alive with an 18-yard punt return, but Marcus Sherels averaged only two yards on two returns.

SURVIVING THE INJURIES

The Vikings entered the game shorthanded, especially at linebacker, but cornerback ended up being the position that got dinged during the game.

Antoine Winfield left in the first quarter after suffering a stinger to his right shoulder when he made a tackle on tight end Jason Witten.

"Antoine is going to be fine," Frazier said. "If we were in a regular-season game he would have been right back that next series, but we just wanted to be cautious and held him back and he'll be ready when the time comes."

Chris Cook, who is a starter in the Vikings' nickel defense, also left with a hamstring injury. Frazier also said could have returned to the game if necessary, and Cook confirmed that being held out was simply precautionary.

"They didn't want me to pull it and have a more serious injury," he said.

Offensive lineman Chris DeGeare suffered a mild concussion while blocking for a field goal attempt, Frazier said, and running back Lorenzo Booker suffered a back injury. Frazier said he didn't know the extent of Booker's injury.

SECONDARY CONCERNS

Frazier said he was "encouraged" by the play of the cornerbacks when it was the top three – Winfield, Cedric Griffin and Cook – on the field, but Cowboys QB Tony Romo appeared to target Griffin in his comeback from two torn anterior cruciate ligaments over the last two years.

"I would expect that for sure. He does, too," Frazier said. "He knows what happens in the National Football League if you're coming off one ACL, and that's on two … but it was good work for him. He needed that. He wanted that. We had a set number of plays we wanted him to get in this ballgame and once he got to that point, then we took him out. But it was good exposure for him."

Romo finished the night completing 15 of 20 passes for 141 yards and a 94 passer rating.

"You got to have depth in our league," Frazier said. You'd like to have four guys, maybe five guys, that if something happens that fourth guy can come in and give you what you need without a big dropoff and that's what we've got to find, that four or fifth corner."

Marcus Sherels batted down one third-down pass and is an option in the nickel, and Brandon Burton has looked like he's worth keeping as a cornerback on the outside.

Asher Allen has been inactive the last two games with a toe injury.

INACTIVES APLENTY

The Vikings had a number of injuries that caused players to be sidelined for Thursday's game. DT Kevin Williams (foot) and TE Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) headlined that group.

Asher Allen (toe), RB Toby Gerhart (ankle/Achilles) and a trio of linebackers –Kenny Onatolu (foot), Ross Homan (concussion) and Heath Farwell (hamstring) – were also held out. The shortage at linebacker led to the Vikings signing David Herron on Friday and he was active for Saturday's game.

Beyond the starting three of E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway, the Vikings had backups David Herron, Larry Dean, Kyle O'Donnell and Jonathan Gilmore active. Jasper Brinkley was active but didn't play because of a hip flexor.

NEW TURF IN

The unveiling of the Metrodome's new features drew positive reviews.

For the players, what matters most after having their final two home games away from home last year was the quality of the turf. After the collapse of the Metrodome's roof in December, the turf was exposed to the elements while repairs were made. With snow making it on the field and three layers of plywood acting as a temporary sealant, bacteria in the old SportExe turf was a concern and it was replaced with UBU Speed Series turf.

The second layer of the fabric on the roof was taken away in the middle, allowing more natural light into the stadium when the Vikings play afternoon games. In place of the second layer, sound panels were hung in an attempt to improve the acoustics.

NOTES

  • Frazier said no decision has been made on the Vikings' starting strong safety. Jamarca Sanford started in the first and third preseason games, and Tyrell Johnson started last week in Seattle.

  • Frazier also hasn't made a decision on his starting quarterback for the fourth preseason game. He said last week that he is considering keeping Donovan McNabb on the sideline for the preseason finale.

  • The Vikings are working all the angles on their stadium drive. Rich Frahm, who reps the Union Iron Workers Local 512 and Birdair, was an honorary captain.

  • Rookie Christian Ballard played with the first-team defense as a third-down pass rusher at the spot Kevin Williams would normally occupy. Ballard had one tackle for loss, a sack of Romo and a quarterback hurry.

    "We think that's going to be his home, but he does have position flexibility," Frazier said. "He can play defensive end – he did that in college – and he can play the nose position as well. He's a tremendous athlete and we think he's going to be able to help us here in his rookie year."


    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"With the most telling game of the preseason behind them, how did the Vikings do in living up to head coach Leslie Frazier's pregame goals? \"One of the things I talked to our team about is our identity moving forward will be establishing our run offense and establishing our run defense. That's one of the things we'd like to continue to improve on,\" Frazier said last week leading up the Vikings' 23-17 loss. \"I think we took a step last week against Seattle in both of those areas.\" They were even better against the Dallas Cowboys Saturday, even if the final score didn't reflect it. The run offense improved with solid blocking from the offensive line. Adrian Peterson found running lanes early and continued to work it throughout the first half. His first run was 4 yards, but after the first drive he already had five runs for 27 yards. \"It's all about getting big chunks and moving the chains and doing our jobs,\" Peterson said. \"I feel like our offense has something to clean up, but our passing game was very productive. We took some good steps forward tonight all together with our running game, as well as our play-action. We just have to clean up some things.\" Peterson had success throughout the first half, rushing 11 times for 69 yards with a long of 15 yards. While he never broke a long run, the offensive line provided room to run and he ended with 81 yards on 14 carries, the second-most productive preseason game of his career. \"It's not a secret how we want to run our offense,\" Frazier said. \"We want things centered around Adrian Peterson. We want people to have to get eight in the box to stop Adrian.\" As for the first-team run defense, that showed well, too. As a team, the Cowboys only had a 2.4-yard rushing average on nine attempts in the first half, with Felix Jones leading the way with 20 yards on five carries. By the end of the game, the numbers looked better for Dallas, but the Vikings' first-team defense didn't return for the second half and the Vikings came out in the third quarter using two linebackers that were signed this week to make up for an injured backup corps. Following through with another goal of Frazier's, the special-teams coverage units handled their jobs well. Half of the Vikings' kickoffs ended inside the 20-yard line – Dallas returners were dropped at the 13- and 15-yard line – and the other two ended on the 21-yard line. The coverage units were equally successful on punts. Two of Chris Kluwe's three punts ended inside the 20-yard line and the other return was stopped on the 20. \"We'd like to … be able to have good field position based on what our special teams does, maybe breaking a punt or kick return or doing a great job in coverage,\" Frazier said. \"Those are some of the things we've talked about, and hopefully we can get some of that accomplished.\" The punt returns weren't nearly as successful. Jaymar Johnson kept his roster hopes alive with an 18-yard punt return, but Marcus Sherels averaged only two yards on two returns. The Vikings entered the game shorthanded, especially at linebacker, but cornerback ended up being the position that got dinged during the game. Antoine Winfield left in the first quarter after suffering a stinger to his right shoulder when he made a tackle on tight end Jason Witten. \"Antoine is going to be fine,\" Frazier said. \"If we were in a regular-season game he would have been right back that next series, but we just wanted to be cautious and held him back and he'll be ready when the time comes.\" Chris Cook, who is a starter in the Vikings' nickel defense, also left with a hamstring injury. Frazier also said could have returned to the game if necessary, and Cook confirmed that being held out was simply precautionary. \"They didn't want me to pull it and have a more serious injury,\" he said. Offensive lineman Chris DeGeare suffered a mild concussion while blocking for a field goal attempt, Frazier said, and running back Lorenzo Booker suffered a back injury. Frazier said he didn't know the extent of Booker's injury. Frazier said he was \"encouraged\" by the play of the cornerbacks when it was the top three – Winfield, Cedric Griffin and Cook – on the field, but Cowboys QB Tony Romo appeared to target Griffin in his comeback from two torn anterior cruciate ligaments over the last two years. \"I would expect that for sure. He does, too,\" Frazier said. \"He knows what happens in the National Football League if you're coming off one ACL, and that's on two … but it was good work for him. He needed that. He wanted that. We had a set number of plays we wanted him to get in this ballgame and once he got to that point, then we took him out. But it was good exposure for him.\" Romo finished the night completing 15 of 20 passes for 141 yards and a 94 passer rating. \"You got to have depth in our league,\" Frazier said. You'd like to have four guys, maybe five guys, that if something happens that fourth guy can come in and give you what you need without a big dropoff and that's what we've got to find, that four or fifth corner.\" Marcus Sherels batted down one third-down pass and is an option in the nickel, and Brandon Burton has looked like he's worth keeping as a cornerback on the outside. Asher Allen has been inactive the last two games with a toe injury. INACTIVES APLENTY The Vikings had a number of injuries that caused players to be sidelined for Thursday's game. DT Kevin Williams (foot) and TE Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) headlined that group. Asher Allen (toe), RB Toby Gerhart (ankle/Achilles) and a trio of linebackers –Kenny Onatolu (foot), Ross Homan (concussion) and Heath Farwell (hamstring) – were also held out. The shortage at linebacker led to the Vikings signing David Herron on Friday and he was active for Saturday's game. Beyond the starting three of E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson and Chad Greenway, the Vikings had backups David Herron, Larry Dean, Kyle O'Donnell and Jonathan Gilmore active. Jasper Brinkley was active but didn't play because of a hip flexor. The unveiling of the Metrodome's new features drew positive reviews. For the players, what matters most after having their final two home games away from home last year was the quality of the turf. After the collapse of the Metrodome's roof in December, the turf was exposed to the elements while repairs were made. With snow making it on the field and three layers of plywood acting as a temporary sealant, bacteria in the old SportExe turf was a concern and it was replaced with UBU Speed Series turf. The second layer of the fabric on the roof was taken away in the middle, allowing more natural light into the stadium when the Vikings play afternoon games. In place of the second layer, sound panels were hung in an attempt to improve the acoustics.
  • Frazier said no decision has been made on the Vikings' starting strong safety. Jamarca Sanford started in the first and third preseason games, and Tyrell Johnson started last week in Seattle.
  • Frazier also hasn't made a decision on his starting quarterback for the fourth preseason game. He said last week that he is considering keeping Donovan McNabb on the sideline for the preseason finale.
  • The Vikings are working all the angles on their stadium drive. Rich Frahm, who reps the Union Iron Workers Local 512 and Birdair, was an honorary captain.
  • Rookie Christian Ballard played with the first-team defense as a third-down pass rusher at the spot Kevin Williams would normally occupy. Ballard had one tackle for loss, a sack of Romo and a quarterback hurry. \"We think that's going to be his home, but he does have position flexibility,\" Frazier said. \"He can play defensive end – he did that in college – and he can play the nose position as well. He's a tremendous athlete and we think he's going to be able to help us here in his rookie year.\"
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