Musgrave targets area for passing improvement

Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has a lot of new faces in his receiving corps this year. The size and speed increased, but Musgrave is still learning the strengths of players like Jerome Simpson, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright. There is one statistical area where Musgrave would like to improve.

Last year, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had a depleted group of receivers by the end of the season.

Bernard Berrian had long since been released, Michael Jenkins went on injured reserve after 11 games and even intriguing rookie Stephen Burton landed on injured reserve after a late-season promotion to the active roster that lasted only two games.

Percy Harvin was the only receiver with starting capabilities to last the entire season. By the end of the carnage, he was joined by Greg Camarillo, Devin Aromashodu and Emmanuel Arceneaux as the receivers available on game day.

It was hardly an intimidating crew, and Harvin might be the only one among last year's late-season survivors to make the team this year. All the injuries and relative ineffectiveness in the passing game led to an offseason of changes.

While most of last year's crew returns – Camarillo hasn't been re-signed – there are plenty of new faces joining the battle for roster spots. As they enter the middle of their second week of organized team activities, the Vikings have 12 receivers on the roster.

"This week has been good for the entire skill position group to get a rapport with one another and work on timing and depth of routes and anticipation throwing so we can be more precise," Musgrave said after last week's practices.

"It's an exciting time of year because we as coaches get to use the teaching component of our job, instruct the players and work on technique – try to build the team from the ground up."

There is plenty of teaching going around. Only five of the 12 receivers have ever played a game for the Vikings and only Harvin has been around since before last year.

They have added height – free-agent signee Jerome Simpson is 6-foot-2 and Greg Childs is 6-foot-3 – as well as speed. In addition to Harvin and Devin Aromashodu, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Simpson could all give the Vikings a downfield threat that wasn't prevalent last year.

While he isn't attaching any projections to players that he is seeing for the first time over the last couple weeks, Musgrave does know one area he wants to see improvement.

"We're hoping that we can throw for a higher yards-per-attempt, that's for sure," he said. "A lot of that comes from completing at a higher percentage, not having so many incompletes."

The Vikings' 6.4 yards per pass attempt ranked 27th in the league in 2011. Some of that could improve with greater understanding by the players of Musgrave's offense, but having receivers that offer a greater threat down the field could be another factor in their hope to improve the receiving corps.

So far, Simpson has stood out as the man most likely to add an immediate deep threat.

"He's got a lot of speed and I think he's pretty good after the catch from what he's shown at Cincinnati, so we're hoping to get some chunks from that position," Musgrave said.

Childs is also ultra-confident he can provide that option to the offense, but he wasn't practicing last week because of a calf strain and Musgrave is reserving judgment on the angular rookie's abilities until he sees him in action extensively.

"We expect him to be a big target," Musgrave said. "He's a big guy that has good speed, which is a good combination. We're hoping he's another guy that can help us in the passing game."

And, despite Wright's participation in the three practices last week, the offensive coordinator isn't making any projections with him either.

"We don't know what Jarius' strength are yet, but Jarius had a great college career and he's working to learn our system right now," Musgrave said. "I don't know whether we can put him in that Percy Harvin category box yet. I don't know if he has the explosion and the run-after-the-catch that Percy has. We'll just have to see."

With so many new receivers added to the roster over the last year – half of them were either in college or with another NFL team in 2011 – Musgrave is still learning about them. Fortunately for him, he has offseason practices to get to know them and for them to get acclimated to his offense.

"We've had a lot of good periods that Coach (Leslie) Frazier has orchestrated for us that make it very competitive between the offense and defense," he said.


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



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\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" Last year, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had a depleted group of receivers by the end of the season. Bernard Berrian had long since been released, Michael Jenkins went on injured reserve after 11 games and even intriguing rookie Stephen Burton landed on injured reserve after a late-season promotion to the active roster that lasted only two games. Percy Harvin was the only receiver with starting capabilities to last the entire season. By the end of the carnage, he was joined by Greg Camarillo, Devin Aromashodu and Emmanuel Arceneaux as the receivers available on game day. It was hardly an intimidating crew, and Harvin might be the only one among last year's late-season survivors to make the team this year. All the injuries and relative ineffectiveness in the passing game led to an offseason of changes. While most of last year's crew returns – Camarillo hasn't been re-signed – there are plenty of new faces joining the battle for roster spots. As they enter the middle of their second week of organized team activities, the Vikings have 12 receivers on the roster. \"This week has been good for the entire skill position group to get a rapport with one another and work on timing and depth of routes and anticipation throwing so we can be more precise,\" Musgrave said after last week's practices. \"It's an exciting time of year because we as coaches get to use the teaching component of our job, instruct the players and work on technique – try to build the team from the ground up.\" There is plenty of teaching going around. Only five of the 12 receivers have ever played a game for the Vikings and only Harvin has been around since before last year. They have added height – free-agent signee Jerome Simpson is 6-foot-2 and Greg Childs is 6-foot-3 – as well as speed. In addition to Harvin and Devin Aromashodu, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Simpson could all give the Vikings a downfield threat that wasn't prevalent last year. While he isn't attaching any projections to players that he is seeing for the first time over the last couple weeks, Musgrave does know one area he wants to see improvement. \"We're hoping that we can throw for a higher yards-per-attempt, that's for sure,\" he said. \"A lot of that comes from completing at a higher percentage, not having so many incompletes.\" The Vikings' 6.4 yards per pass attempt ranked 27th in the league in 2011. Some of that could improve with greater understanding by the players of Musgrave's offense, but having receivers that offer a greater threat down the field could be another factor in their hope to improve the receiving corps. So far, Simpson has stood out as the man most likely to add an immediate deep threat. \"He's got a lot of speed and I think he's pretty good after the catch from what he's shown at Cincinnati, so we're hoping to get some chunks from that position,\" Musgrave said. Childs is also ultra-confident he can provide that option to the offense, but he wasn't practicing last week because of a calf strain and Musgrave is reserving judgment on the angular rookie's abilities until he sees him in action extensively. \"We expect him to be a big target,\" Musgrave said. \"He's a big guy that has good speed, which is a good combination. We're hoping he's another guy that can help us in the passing game.\" And, despite Wright's participation in the three practices last week, the offensive coordinator isn't making any projections with him either. \"We don't know what Jarius' strength are yet, but Jarius had a great college career and he's working to learn our system right now,\" Musgrave said. \"I don't know whether we can put him in that Percy Harvin category box yet. I don't know if he has the explosion and the run-after-the-catch that Percy has. We'll just have to see.\" With so many new receivers added to the roster over the last year – half of them were either in college or with another NFL team in 2011 – Musgrave is still learning about them. Fortunately for him, he has offseason practices to get to know them and for them to get acclimated to his offense. \"We've had a lot of good periods that Coach (Leslie) Frazier has orchestrated for us that make it very competitive between the offense and defense,\" he said. 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