Carr getting used to Vikings' zone scheme

The Vikings added a veteran presence when they signed CB Chris Carr, but the 29-year-old is getting used to Minnesota's zone coverages after playing primarily man with the Baltimore Ravens. See what Carr had to say about the differences, working with the Vikings' young CBs and more.

Despite some major differences between the defensive schemes of the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings, cornerback Chris Carr believes he can adapt and contribute in a primarily zone scheme in Minnesota.

Carr, at 29 one of the few veterans the Vikings acquired in free agency that wasn't in his first few years in the NFL, was used to playing mostly man defense in his last three years with the Ravens. That will change, as the Vikings employ a version of the Cover-2 zone defense that will require Carr to change his defensive mindset.

"Your eyes are on the quarterback and you're not breaking. Usually my eyes would be on the receiver the whole time. So it's a little bit different that way when it comes to just true zone and you have to trust your guys," Carr said. "You have to trust your linebackers getting their drops and people have to trust you that you're going to be in your correct spot.

"So, at first coming here it was difficult initially because I wasn't used to playing that style. But when you come to that style where you have to study and you have to be on your cues because if you're playing man-to-man and you don't know what you're doing, you're going to give up a lot of touchdowns. So coming to a system when they do give me more help and mix it up a lot more, it is a more corner-friendly system."

The Vikings can use his experience. Last year, Minnesota finished 26th in pass defense and 21st overall and ended the season with a host of relatively inexperienced cornerbacks after injuries (to Antoine Winfield) and legal issues (with Chris Cook) took their top options out of action.

Carr has seven years of experience in the NFL and starting 27 regular-season games, including 16 with the Ravens in 2010. Winfield is the only other cornerback on the roster that has more than three years of NFL experience, leaving Carr to contemplate a leadership role even if it is only his first year in Minnesota.

"I feel like I have a very extensive football knowledge. It's not only knowing the plays and how to run them, it's how do offenses try to attack you," he said. "When you're younger, you really don't know that. You really don't understand how to watch film. So, I think when it comes to that, and I'm already talking to a lot of the young guys, I feel like as we get going, and they've been here for a little while now, I just think it's going to be a tremendous improvement going on to this year than last season. Because last season, watching the tape, it wasn't so much talent, you could just tell sometimes they didn't exactly know how they were trying to attack us."

At 5-foot-10, Carr is also one of the shorter cornerbacks on the roster, but he has been getting a lot of action with the first- and second-team defense. When Winfield has attended organized team activities, Carr was part of the Vikings' nickel defensive scheme, with Cook the other cornerback. When Winfield hasn't been there, Carr took his spot in the base defense.

With less than a month of OTAs, Carr has already impressed head coach Leslie Frazier, a former NFL cornerback, with his intelligence.

"His smarts, that's the thing that jumps out at you," Frazier said. "You know getting a veteran, he's going to be a guy who has a real good feel for the NFL game, but the way he has picked up some of the things that we're trying to incorporate with our defense and his leadership as well has been a real plus in the meeting room. He's provided something for us that we didn't know we would quite get – his leadership, along with his smarts. We were kind of hoping that was the case and we felt like physically he would help us. He's done some good things in his career but he's brought some leadership to us as well, which was sorely needed in our secondary."

While Carr's leadership in the offseason can help the Vikings, during the season they may need to rely on his playing abilities, too, while the younger cornerbacks continue to develop in the background. Frazier said there are some similarities between the Vikings' defensive scheme and what Carr became accustomed to in Baltimore.

Carr, however, pointed to the differences.

"It's a lot different. In Baltimore, it's pretty much man-to-man a lot of the time," Carr said. "… Here, you have man-to-man and other stuff, but you have a lot of true zone coverages. I have to get really accustomed to doing that because I wasn't used to just playing true zone. But when you come from a system where you play a lot of man-to-man, I think when you come from a system like that it really helps you out because you're used to having to play really good technique and being on your keys to play that type of defense. So, I feel comfortable in this type of defense because it gives the corners a little bit more help here. And I think just me being used to playing man-to-man so much, I think I'm going to play well here."


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":"Despite some major differences between the defensive schemes of the Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings, cornerback Chris Carr believes he can adapt and contribute in a primarily zone scheme in Minnesota. Carr, at 29 one of the few veterans the Vikings acquired in free agency that wasn't in his first few years in the NFL, was used to playing mostly man defense in his last three years with the Ravens. That will change, as the Vikings employ a version of the Cover-2 zone defense that will require Carr to change his defensive mindset. \"Your eyes are on the quarterback and you're not breaking. Usually my eyes would be on the receiver the whole time. So it's a little bit different that way when it comes to just true zone and you have to trust your guys,\" Carr said. \"You have to trust your linebackers getting their drops and people have to trust you that you're going to be in your correct spot. \"So, at first coming here it was difficult initially because I wasn't used to playing that style. But when you come to that style where you have to study and you have to be on your cues because if you're playing man-to-man and you don't know what you're doing, you're going to give up a lot of touchdowns. So coming to a system when they do give me more help and mix it up a lot more, it is a more corner-friendly system.\" The Vikings can use his experience. Last year, Minnesota finished 26th in pass defense and 21st overall and ended the season with a host of relatively inexperienced cornerbacks after injuries (to Antoine Winfield) and legal issues (with Chris Cook) took their top options out of action. Carr has seven years of experience in the NFL and starting 27 regular-season games, including 16 with the Ravens in 2010. Winfield is the only other cornerback on the roster that has more than three years of NFL experience, leaving Carr to contemplate a leadership role even if it is only his first year in Minnesota. \"I feel like I have a very extensive football knowledge. It's not only knowing the plays and how to run them, it's how do offenses try to attack you,\" he said. \"When you're younger, you really don't know that. You really don't understand how to watch film. So, I think when it comes to that, and I'm already talking to a lot of the young guys, I feel like as we get going, and they've been here for a little while now, I just think it's going to be a tremendous improvement going on to this year than last season. Because last season, watching the tape, it wasn't so much talent, you could just tell sometimes they didn't exactly know how they were trying to attack us.\" At 5-foot-10, Carr is also one of the shorter cornerbacks on the roster, but he has been getting a lot of action with the first- and second-team defense. When Winfield has attended organized team activities, Carr was part of the Vikings' nickel defensive scheme, with Cook the other cornerback. When Winfield hasn't been there, Carr took his spot in the base defense. With less than a month of OTAs, Carr has already impressed head coach Leslie Frazier, a former NFL cornerback, with his intelligence. \"His smarts, that's the thing that jumps out at you,\" Frazier said. \"You know getting a veteran, he's going to be a guy who has a real good feel for the NFL game, but the way he has picked up some of the things that we're trying to incorporate with our defense and his leadership as well has been a real plus in the meeting room. 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