Notebook: The Peterson plan; vets return

The Vikings have been working through various scenarios with Adrian Peterson's return timeline, but they got several other key veterans back on the practice field.

While technically in his third year as the Vikings head coach, Tuesday marked a first in Leslie Frazier's tenure as the top dog in the Vikings coaching staff. It was his first minicamp.

Named interim head coach 10 games into the 2010 season after the firing of Brad Childress – the interim tag would be removed in January 2011 – Frazier and his coaching staff didn't have the opportunity to mesh together because of the lockout. They could do a ton of film study and talent evaluation, but, without players to have organized team activities and minicamps, it was all theory with the chance to put their plans into practice until the lockout ended days before the start of training camp.

This time around, Frazier said the offseason program hasn't just been beneficial for the many young players on the 2012 Vikings, but also for him and his coaching staff, which has been working almost non-stop since the end of the 2011 season.

"Going back from the Senior Bowl, having a chance to work there and then coming back to the offseason program, it's been great for our staff, just to get a chance to get to know each other a little bit better in a different environment, where you're not preparing for Week 1 of the season," Frazier said. "It just helps us to be able to plan, work together and then have a chance to work with our players brings it all together. I can't underestimate the importance of a first-time staff having a chance to work together, especially when you don't know very much about your players other than what you've seen on tape. It's been great for us as a staff."

Overseeing his first full-team mandatory minicamp of his head coaching career, Frazier was asked his thoughts about several of the team's key veterans – from a dissatisfied Percy Harvin, to a concerned Chad Greenway to a returning Jared Allen to a promising Phil Loadholt. Here are some of the things Frazier had to say about the veterans that will be so critical to the advancement of one the league's youngest teams.

  • All eyes were on Adrian Peterson, who continues to recover from a devastating knee injury suffered against the Redskins in December. Frazier said the team continues to discuss potential recovery outcomes – ranging from sitting him out all of training camp, working him in slowly or proceeding on the timeline that will have him 100 percent and ready to go Sept. 9 for the regular-season opener.

    "We've talked about some different scenarios and going through some what ifs," Frazier said. "But so far, he's on pace with everything that the doctors have asked him to do. In talking with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman, even yesterday in his examination, they were pleased with some of the things they saw. We're optimistic that things are still on course for him to play in the home opener. What we do in training camp? We'll wait and see when we get to that point, but we have talked about different options."

  • Frazier wasn't sure if Greenway was going to attend the minicamp due to health concerns with Greenway's father. Frazier remained in contact with his veteran linebacker and said that he was happy to see him and glad that he was able to pull himself away from his family to join his teammates.

    "He had mentioned to me last Friday that, unless some emergency came up, he would be here," Frazier said. "When I didn't hear from him last night, I had a sense he would make it."

  • Another veteran returnee was Jared Allen. The defensive end's infectious personality was on display Tuesday and something that Frazier said he has missed during the OTAs. A vocal leader who is always having fun while working, Allen's return from private workouts in Arizona was a welcome sight to Frazier.

    "When I came in my office yesterday afternoon, I gave him a big hug," Frazier said. "It's exciting to see him around his teammates and participating. He's a guy with a lot of energy. He's a leader on our team and I'm glad to have him back in the building."

    Frazier added that Allen keeps his body in excellent shape and, while not at Winter Park for most of the offseason, his training regimen is top-notch. He surely would have preferred to have Allen in-house, but players can't be forced into attending the OTAs and Allen has never been a conditioning problem.

    "These are voluntary sessions," Frazier said. "You can't get around that. Guys have the option to attend those OTAs or not attend them. The fact that he's at the mandatory minicamp, that's a positive for our team and having him around is a big plus. We bank on the fact that he's here."

  • Cornerback Chris Cook has a new look, a new number and a new outlook on his NFL life after being welcomed back to the team following his acquittal on domestic abuse charges earlier this year. Frazier said he is expecting big things from Cook, who is looking for career redemption and a return to the Vikings' starting lineup.

    "I like the approach he's taken, his attitude, the way he's working, the way he's interacting with his teammates," Frazier added. "So far so good."

  • Frazier has also been impressed by the rapport that has developed between tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. Rudolph, a second-round draft pick a year ago, and Carlson, the biggest free-agent signing the Vikings made in the offseason, both played their college ball at Notre Dame and Frazier credits that familiarity with the ease in which they have blended their talents on the 2012 Vikings roster.

    "The good thing about both Kyle and John is that they have a history," Frazier said. "They kind of knew each other from their days at Notre Dame. Even when we drafted Kyle, we talked a little bit about John. There's a relationship that was already there and now that's really growing. We like for those guys to be an outstanding pair and we fully expect that. But the fact that there was a foundation before we even signed John kind of helps us."

  • One of the smallest Vikings may have one of the biggest roles in 2012 – cornerback Antoine Winfield. With a completely new group of safeties expected to compete for roster spots and several new young cornerbacks on the roster, having a veteran like Winfield is a thankful bonus for Frazier.

    "It's big," Frazier said. "His leadership is a big deal for us, obviously, with the new faces we have (in the secondary). He's an extremely talented guy and so well-respected by not only other players around the league, but the players on our team. To have him around, participate and really be a coach on the field is a big deal for us."

  • Matt Kalil was the talk of April and will likely be one of the focuses during training camp in July, but Frazier said there are some big expectations for the other bookend offensive tackle – Phil Loadholt. Entering a contract year, Loadholt has shown flashes of being both a dominant pass protector and run blocker, but the key for his success in 2012 will be putting together the same type of performance from one game to the next, something that has been missing from his game at times.

    "Phil and I talked when we began Phase One of the offensive program about just the point – the consistency in his game," Frazier said. "That's what he wants. That's what we want to see – more consistency in his play. We need him to really be an anchor for us on the offensive line and take more of a leadership role for us at this point in his career. We think he can, but he has to play at a consistent high level throughout the year. If that's the case, our offensive line will (show) dramatic improvement. But we really need him to take the reigns for us from a consistency standpoint along with leadership."

    There is no question that the Vikings have a lot of work to do and numerous tough decisions that will need to be made over the next three months leading up to the regular-season opener against Jacksonville. Frazier said he likes where the team is at right now and believes that progress has already been made, but added that it's still early in the process – as players and coaches – and that the impressions being made, while valuable, won't be the be-all and end-all. That won't come until the hitting starts for real in training camp.

    "Until we get the pads on Mankato, you have to be careful about passing judgment," Frazier said. "We're trying to do some things to get a feel for where they are mentally and how they work. That helps us as we prepare for Mankato."


    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for 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":" While technically in his third year as the Vikings head coach, Tuesday marked a first in Leslie Frazier's tenure as the top dog in the Vikings coaching staff. It was his first minicamp. Named interim head coach 10 games into the 2010 season after the firing of Brad Childress – the interim tag would be removed in January 2011 – Frazier and his coaching staff didn't have the opportunity to mesh together because of the lockout. They could do a ton of film study and talent evaluation, but, without players to have organized team activities and minicamps, it was all theory with the chance to put their plans into practice until the lockout ended days before the start of training camp. This time around, Frazier said the offseason program hasn't just been beneficial for the many young players on the 2012 Vikings, but also for him and his coaching staff, which has been working almost non-stop since the end of the 2011 season. \"Going back from the Senior Bowl, having a chance to work there and then coming back to the offseason program, it's been great for our staff, just to get a chance to get to know each other a little bit better in a different environment, where you're not preparing for Week 1 of the season,\" Frazier said. \"It just helps us to be able to plan, work together and then have a chance to work with our players brings it all together. I can't underestimate the importance of a first-time staff having a chance to work together, especially when you don't know very much about your players other than what you've seen on tape. It's been great for us as a staff.\" Overseeing his first full-team mandatory minicamp of his head coaching career, Frazier was asked his thoughts about several of the team's key veterans – from a dissatisfied Percy Harvin, to a concerned Chad Greenway to a returning Jared Allen to a promising Phil Loadholt. Here are some of the things Frazier had to say about the veterans that will be so critical to the advancement of one the league's youngest teams.
  • All eyes were on Adrian Peterson, who continues to recover from a devastating knee injury suffered against the Redskins in December. Frazier said the team continues to discuss potential recovery outcomes – ranging from sitting him out all of training camp, working him in slowly or proceeding on the timeline that will have him 100 percent and ready to go Sept. 9 for the regular-season opener. \"We've talked about some different scenarios and going through some what ifs,\" Frazier said. \"But so far, he's on pace with everything that the doctors have asked him to do. In talking with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman, even yesterday in his examination, they were pleased with some of the things they saw. We're optimistic that things are still on course for him to play in the home opener. What we do in training camp? We'll wait and see when we get to that point, but we have talked about different options.\"
  • Frazier wasn't sure if Greenway was going to attend the minicamp due to health concerns with Greenway's father. Frazier remained in contact with his veteran linebacker and said that he was happy to see him and glad that he was able to pull himself away from his family to join his teammates. \"He had mentioned to me last Friday that, unless some emergency came up, he would be here,\" Frazier said. \"When I didn't hear from him last night, I had a sense he would make it.\"
  • Another veteran returnee was Jared Allen. The defensive end's infectious personality was on display Tuesday and something that Frazier said he has missed during the OTAs. A vocal leader who is always having fun while working, Allen's return from private workouts in Arizona was a welcome sight to Frazier. \"When I came in my office yesterday afternoon, I gave him a big hug,\" Frazier said. \"It's exciting to see him around his teammates and participating. He's a guy with a lot of energy. He's a leader on our team and I'm glad to have him back in the building.\" Frazier added that Allen keeps his body in excellent shape and, while not at Winter Park for most of the offseason, his training regimen is top-notch. He surely would have preferred to have Allen in-house, but players can't be forced into attending the OTAs and Allen has never been a conditioning problem. \"These are voluntary sessions,\" Frazier said. \"You can't get around that. Guys have the option to attend those OTAs or not attend them. The fact that he's at the mandatory minicamp, that's a positive for our team and having him around is a big plus. We bank on the fact that he's here.\"
  • Cornerback Chris Cook has a new look, a new number and a new outlook on his NFL life after being welcomed back to the team following his acquittal on domestic abuse charges earlier this year. Frazier said he is expecting big things from Cook, who is looking for career redemption and a return to the Vikings' starting lineup. \"I like the approach he's taken, his attitude, the way he's working, the way he's interacting with his teammates,\" Frazier added. \"So far so good.\"
  • Frazier has also been impressed by the rapport that has developed between tight ends Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson. Rudolph, a second-round draft pick a year ago, and Carlson, the biggest free-agent signing the Vikings made in the offseason, both played their college ball at Notre Dame and Frazier credits that familiarity with the ease in which they have blended their talents on the 2012 Vikings roster. \"The good thing about both Kyle and John is that they have a history,\" Frazier said. \"They kind of knew each other from their days at Notre Dame. Even when we drafted Kyle, we talked a little bit about John. There's a relationship that was already there and now that's really growing. We like for those guys to be an outstanding pair and we fully expect that. But the fact that there was a foundation before we even signed John kind of helps us.\"
  • One of the smallest Vikings may have one of the biggest roles in 2012 – cornerback Antoine Winfield. With a completely new group of safeties expected to compete for roster spots and several new young cornerbacks on the roster, having a veteran like Winfield is a thankful bonus for Frazier. \"It's big,\" Frazier said. \"His leadership is a big deal for us, obviously, with the new faces we have (in the secondary). He's an extremely talented guy and so well-respected by not only other players around the league, but the players on our team. To have him around, participate and really be a coach on the field is a big deal for us.\"
  • Matt Kalil was the talk of April and will likely be one of the focuses during training camp in July, but Frazier said there are some big expectations for the other bookend offensive tackle – Phil Loadholt. Entering a contract year, Loadholt has shown flashes of being both a dominant pass protector and run blocker, but the key for his success in 2012 will be putting together the same type of performance from one game to the next, something that has been missing from his game at times. \"Phil and I talked when we began Phase One of the offensive program about just the point – the consistency in his game,\" Frazier said. \"That's what he wants. That's what we want to see – more consistency in his play. We need him to really be an anchor for us on the offensive line and take more of a leadership role for us at this point in his career. We think he can, but he has to play at a consistent high level throughout the year. If that's the case, our offensive line will (show) dramatic improvement. But we really need him to take the reigns for us from a consistency standpoint along with leadership.\" There is no question that the Vikings have a lot of work to do and numerous tough decisions that will need to be made over the next three months leading up to the regular-season opener against Jacksonville. Frazier said he likes where the team is at right now and believes that progress has already been made, but added that it's still early in the process – as players and coaches – and that the impressions being made, while valuable, won't be the be-all and end-all. That won't come until the hitting starts for real in training camp. \"Until we get the pads on Mankato, you have to be careful about passing judgment,\" Frazier said. \"We're trying to do some things to get a feel for where they are mentally and how they work. That helps us as we prepare for Mankato.\"
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