Coaches Q&A, Part II: Talking Secondary

Assistant secondary coach Kevin Ross probably has more talented depth in the defensive backfield than at any time in the last five years. See what Ross has to say about Corey Chavous and some of the second-tier players.

Kevin Ross joined the Vikings coaching staff as the assistant secondary coach two years ago and assists Vikings coverage coordinator Chuck Knox Jr. with the team's defensive backfield. Ross spent the 2002 training camp with Minnesota as part of the NFL's Coaching Fellowship Program.

Ross played college football for Temple from 1980-83, then played 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1984-93, the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-95, the San Diego Chargers in 1996 and the Chiefs in 1997.

Following his retirement from the NFL after the 1997 season, Ross spent one season as a scout with the Kansas City Chiefs. He also spent four years coaching in the high school ranks in his hometown of Camden, N.J. Ross coached two seasons each at Camden High and Woodrow Wilson High.

Q: It's early in the season, but Corey Chavous seems to be flying around like he hasn't before.

He seems to be to me more focused and more physical than I ever have seen him before. He's more focused, he's throwing his body around a whole lot and he's proven that he can catch the ball.

Q: Did safety/cornerback Ken Irvin's experience come into play when coaches were making decisions on the final roster spots?

I believe so. You get a guy that goes down. You want to know about the guy if the he has to go in, how he'll react in certain situations. Young guys — you see them in practice but you don't know how they'll react in the game. Kenny knows what he can do and can't do, so he doesn't put himself in a risk like that. That's important.

Q: How difficult was it for Brian Williams in the offseason when the Vikings signed Smoot, thus relegating Williams to a reduced role at nickel?

It's not a matter of losing your starting spot, once Brian realizes people come out in three wide receiver sets all the time and we'll be in nickel, but it's about production. You have to make plays when you're afforded the opportunity. If not, it's the nature of this business you will be replaced. You have to make plays when it's time to make plays.

Q: Already this season we have seen Ralph Brown play nickel. What did he show in training camp that made the Vikings keep him?

Ralph probably came in as the most improved guy. His confidence soared. He seems to be more confident as a player. And studying is key. He realizes those guys in front of him are not bad players.

Q: Willie Offord has excelled on special teams. Where is his role on this defense?

Don't call him a special teams guy cause he'll get upset. He'd like to be on the field starting, but Chavous has made the Pro Bowl and (Offord's) in a tough spot. Offord has two safeties ahead of him who've been in the Pro Bowl. Willie, when he has been on the field, has been productive.

Q: What did Laroni Gallishaw show you this summer to make the team?

I saw him on tape and I thought if he stayed healthy he could show us some things. He's probably a ruby for the future. He's working really well and hopefully we can keep him learning how to study and how to play the game. It's not like college where you play against a good guy one week and the next week you don't. He's doing well.

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