Although it's always difficult to analyze the individual play of offensive linemen, Matt Kalil gave a pretty fair self-assessment of his preseason.
In a nutshell, the Minnesota Vikings' Pro Bowl left tackle said his preseason could have been better and he's hoping (maybe even confident) it's not a portent of his performance in the regular season.
"I started off a little slow and got progressively better at the end. That's what preseason is about. Things I probably wouldn't try during the regular season I'll try in a (preseason) game, different techniques. If those things don't work, you kind of erase those and work on the things that do work for the regular season," Kalil said. "Preseason is just a time or learning and getting back into the game, going against a different jersey for the first time after going through OTAs and going through camps. I guess it kind of portrays how you are going to play, but I wouldn't like it because I only did OK in the preseason. I'm not too worried about it. I learned from the mistakes that I made and I'm ready to get after it this preseason."
His preseason certainly didn't start OK. He played only two snaps in the first preseason game. It was a series that ended prematurely because of an interception on the second play. On his first snap of the second preseason game, Kalil gave up a sack to the Buffalo Bills' Jerry Hughes when Hughes beat him on an inside move.
He took full responsibility for that mistake.
"I think it's my fault for not taking that game that seriously. I think I can honestly say that," Kalil said Friday. "I wasn't in tune like a regular-season game. I was a little lackadaisical that first snap and gave up a sack. It's like alright, now let's get into it. I think when I played San Francisco I wanted to pick the tempo up a little bit – maybe a little too aggressive with those personal fouls. You learn from those things and I've got my mind ready for this season and ready to go and start up where I left off last season."
As he referenced, Kalil's most extensive action of the preseason, the third game against the San Francisco 49ers, was marred by two personal foul penalties on the same drive. They ended up costing the Vikings 30 yards.
Last year, Kalil had the fifth-most penalties on the team with six, but only two of those were unnecessary roughness.
"I had a couple last year that were clearly after the (play), which I understand. These were pretty close," he said. "That first one in San Francisco, some of the refs even said they wouldn't have called that, so I don't think it was that big of a deal where they would have to fine me."
But the normally low-key Kalil admitted that his attitude changes a bit when he takes the field. Naturally, as an accomplished starting left tackle, he is protective of his quarterback, running back and teammates.
"I try to get after it. I just take the mindset that those guys are out there to get after Adrian (Peterson) or get after my quarterback, so you've kind of got to take that personally and protect your teammates," he said. "I just get out there, I just get in defense mode and don't let anyone mess with my teammates. Sometimes it's maybe a little too aggressive and you get a personal foul. The thing you can do about that is be smarter about those plays, but as far as changing my personality and how I approach that, it's always going to be the same – I'm going to be aggressive.
"But you can be aggressive and be smart at the same time. I made some dumb decisions in the preseason, but I learned from those and I'm ready to go this season."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Kalil says he learned from preseason mistakes
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