Coaches Q&A: Talking Udeze, Williamses

Assistant defensive line coach Jim Panagos talks about the ways Kenechi Udeze has improved and the progress of the Williams-Williams duo inside on the defensive line.

Jim Panagos enters his fourth season in Minnesota. He is in his first season as assistant defensive line/assistant special teams coach, where he assists coach Brian Baker with the line and coach Rusty Tillman with special teams.

Prior to joining the Vikings in 2002, Panagos spent four years teaching math and coaching football, as well as several other sports at C.R. James High School in Tampa, Fla.

From 1994-97, Panagos worked in sales for Safelite, an auto glass company based in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to four years at Safelite, Panagos served for one year as the assistant defensive line coach at his alma matter, Maryland.

Panagos was a defensive lineman for the Terrapins at Maryland from 1989-92. He holds the school record for blocked kicks (field goals and PATs) in a season with five, in 1992. That same season, he led the Terps in sacks (five) and tackles for loss (12).

Q: Prior to his surgery, Kenechi Udeze was off to a solid start. What had you seen from Kenechi in the first three games of the season?

Kenechi really played well the first three games. It was unfortunate with the injury. The rookie season is a tough year for a player. Last year Kenechi wore down as a rookie and got beat up and that's a tough adjustment for a first-year player. We're really excited about him and the progress he made from minicamps on.

Q: What was the biggest difference you saw in Kenechi from year 1 to year 2?

He got stronger and quicker in the offseason. He trained his body to be a football player. He knew that and he's a much more explosive and quicker player of the ball. He has a lot more positives. After his first year, he sat down and realized what he needed to do.

Q: What have you seen from Kenechi that you didn't see when scouting him?

He has good football awareness. Sometimes smart players can't take it to the field, but his awareness has really come along. With him he experienced everything for the first time last year and he got more and more comfortable the more he played.

Q: After four games Kevin Williams has just 11 tackles and no quarterback sacks. Would you consider this a slow start for Kevin?

I have no concern whatsoever about Kevin. Kevin is playing good football regardless what the stats say. Kevin's an elite player.

Q: Did it hurt Kevin when he reported to training camp a little heavier than expected?

He had offseason knee surgery and the knee he was rehabbing is coming back. I think Kevin will be fine. Kevin Williams has enough pride in himself to continue to get better, and he's playing good football. The fans say they don't have sacks but nobody knows what they bring to he table.

Q: For Pat Williams' size he can move around better than anticipated, can't he?

Pat has an amazing first step of the ball. He has amazing quickness for the big man. He can do a lot of things well. Pat's one of the smartest football players I've been around and he brings great veteran leadership to us.

Q: Are you waiting for the Kevin Williams-Pat Williams combination on the interior defensive line to take off?

They're still learning how to play with each other. It takes time to learn things off certain players. You'll see them in the next couple of weeks feel better and play better off themselves.

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