Wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett this year made the transition from former head coach Dennis Green and offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis to current head coach Mike Tice and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. He has also seen an infusion of young wide receivers on the field.
Baggett has been coaching football in college and the pros since 1977. His college résumé includes Bowling Green (1977-80), Minnesota ('81-82) and Michigan State ('83-92, '95-98).
In the NFL, he also has coached at Houston (1993-94) and with the Packers in 1999. His core group of receivers with Houston was Webster Slaughter, Ernest Givins and Haywood Jeffires; with the Packers it was Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder. Now it is Randy Moss and a supporting cast.
Q: Did you get what you expected from rookie free agent Kelly Campbell, who saw his first NFL action against Green Bay.
A: We felt good that he was ready to play. With training camp and minicamp and halfway through his season this year, he has had a lot of work. He knows the offense, so we felt really comfortable that he would come in and do a good job. We were really happy that he came through for us. There are a lot of things he can still improve on and do better. He saw that after looking at the game film, but we were happy with the way he played, and we think he is going to do nothing but get better.
Q: Where can he make the biggest strides at this point?
A: He still has a ways to go in his route running, going against man-to-man coverages and reading defenses, just the little things like that. The Packers played a coverage on him where they played man under and zone over the top, and if he had run a little better technique on one route he would have had a touchdown catch. There was another one that was barely out of his reach that he had a chance to catch. There are little things he is still going to work on, and we are excited about helping him get to that point.
Q: At 5-10, 171 pounds, does Campbell need to get bigger?
A: We would like for him to be a little bit bigger, and he's working on it. He's gained some weight since he has been here. With the strength and conditioning program, he's going to even be better. The weight deal is not a big deal, but he could gain a few pounds.
Q: How about the progress of D'Wayne Bates?
A: We are really pleased with D'Wayne. He can do a lot of things well. He's a guy that can play all three positions, he's a big target, he has big hands, he's a strong kid. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but he has enough speed that he can get behind the secondary, as he proved (against the Packers) when he caught a touchdown behind Tyrone Williams. We are pleased with his progress, and I think the more he gets acclimated and comfortable in the system he's going to get better, too.
Q: How key is it that Michael Bennett's improved play at running back means defenses have to concentrate on the run as well as the pass?
A: I think it's very important. Anytime you can run the football it helps your passing game. When we had Robert Smith it presented so many problems for the other team, with Cris Carter and Randy Moss outside and Daunte (Culpepper) being able to run the ball. Our offense was very multidimensional. I think that's what we are getting to now. That's what we are striving for. Michael has come along really well running the ball. I think the Green Bay defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) made a statement to the press that he was worried about our run game. They had to drop a guy down in the box to help out the front seven with the run. So, anytime you can run the football it helps.
Q: Is it important that the coaching staff and team seems to have gone away from the much-talked-about "Randy Ratio" when it comes to Moss?
A: I think too much was made of it. I don't think we focused on one player when we were talking about the ‘Randy Ratio.' I think what we were talking about doing is trying to get the ball in his hands a certain number of times. You are going to do that anyway, without even saying you are going to do it. I think too much was made of it. If you look at the kind of year he's having, I think in the end everybody is going to say, ‘We thought Randy Moss had a down year, but he ended up high in all these categories.' I think Randy's ability speaks for itself, and his production also is going to speak for itself. We are pleased with where he is right now.
Q: How good of season is Moss having as a blocker?
A: If you study the film like I do — and I grade it every Sunday so I get a chance to see each individual play — not only Randy but the receivers as a whole have been blocking very well this year. Randy had a big block against the Giants on Michael's (78-yard touchdown) run, and then he had a block in the Tampa game on Michael's (85-yard touchdown) run. Randy has really been trying to be a complete football player, and we are pleased with the way things have been going.
Q: Is blocking one of the things he learned from Cris Carter?
A: We used to have a little competition going as to who would get the best block in a game, and so I think he understands that blocking is important. I often stress to the guys that if you block downfield you can spring the backs on big runs. We have been a little bit more conscious of it. I'm not sure Cris taught him that. I'm sure that he learned that when he came in the league, the fact you have to block as well as be a receiver.
Q: How much progress has Moss made as a player in the time you have coached him?
A: I think he has come a long way. There were things that I could see when I first got here three years ago that Randy needed improvement on. I think you can always improve, no matter how good you are. There are things we talk about and pick out points that we want to get better at each day. Randy is very open to getting better and improving and taking his game to the next level, if there is such a thing for him. I think he will even get better. He understands that.
Q: Derrick Alexander is obviously done for this season because of a knee injury. Have there been any discussions about his future with the Vikings?
A: We haven't had any yet. I'm sure that is something that will be addressed probably after the season. There is no sense in talking about it now because we can't do anything about it now.
Q&A: With WRs Coach Charlie Baggett
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