Rosenfels still learning intricacies

Sage Rosenfels is still learning the nuances of Minnesota's offense as the first-year Viking prepares for the team's preseason opener on Friday night. See what portions are new to Rosenfels and the witty lines he had for the press and teammates after the Tuesday morning practice. Plus, other notes from the morning session.

Sage Rosenfels is looking more comfortable with the Vikings offense by the day, but there is a growing period for him. Some of the issues he's learning aren't even his responsibility, but they still affect him.

One of those is dealing with the way the Vikings change protections between the offensive line and the running backs.

"Protections is an ever-changing game, the way we're protecting and the way the backs pick things up, the way the line picks things up, knowing all their calls," Rosenfels said. "That's been new to me. We didn't do much change of protections in Houston at all and now we change them all the time. It's always an ever-evolving experience."

There is a lot changing for Rosenfels, and he said that getting more looks from different defenses will help him as well. The Vikings open the preseason on Friday night at Indianapolis, a team that Rosenfels has struggled with at times while a member of the Houston Texans.

But even the Colts defense is changing, leaving Rosenfels to wonder what he'll see from a new defensive coordinator.

"It's a defense that I know really well and they're usually not too confusing. They've gotten more confusing over the years. It's a preseason game, we all know that. We expect it to be a little bit different," Rosenfels said. "Larry Coyer is the new defensive coordinator so it's not going to be the old Indianapolis defense, I would assume. Still, they play with a lot of speed. You usually try to execute as best you can and there is little to no film or preparation for it, so you just have to go through your reads and through your rules."

Rosenfels said after Tuesday's morning practice that he still hasn't been told if he will be starting or how much he'll play. Vikings coach Brad Childress said he doesn't want to give away a game plan, but he reiterated his stance of the last few years – he's looking for consistent play and a standard of performance from them while he plans to keep the game plan basic.

Rosenfels wants to win the game and score points, but execution is the most important, he said. He knows all too well from experience that the Colts can make teams pay for mistakes – especially turnovers.

"That's a very fundamentally sound, fast football team. They aren't big – that's probably been their biggest issue stopping the run the last couple of years. But they really fly around and they cause you to make mistakes," he said. "You make one mistake and it's a turnover and now Peyton Manning has got the ball and he's tough to stop on that side. You have to be so efficient and not turn the ball over. Usually teams that beat the Colts have no turnovers and very few penalties and play just clean, clean football and then run the ball well."

The Vikings can already do that with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. What they really need to see is an improving pass game. After saying last week that the passing game had a long ways to go, on Tuesday Childress called it a "work in progress."

The same could probably be said of Rosenfels' transition to the Vikings offense.

"I think he has gotten more comfortable with the more reps that he has been given. When someone first comes in, it's one thing to just pick it up and get it in your mind. These guys have very good memories. They know when they're supposed to do what. When things start moving out there it really shows exactly what you know," offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell said.

"… I think it was not as seamless as (Rosenfels) thought it was going to be or even as we thought it would be for him. He has worked in this system before and I think he has been in other systems longer than he has been in the West Coast, but then there is verbiage that is different no matter what West Coast system you're in. You have to make sure you pick that up and be able to register that in your mind. Being able to react the way we are asking him to. He could be somewhere else and they could have it read just a little differently. We are making sure he is doing it our way.

SAGE ADVICE?

Rosenfels was on his game during his session with the press after practice. When one reporter said he needed to get to the other side of the quarterback because his arm was tired from holding the audio recorder in the same position during a previous interview, Rosenfels shot him a look, smiled and asked, "Where's your purse?"

Later, when asked about his role in the Vikings' Wildcat offense, where the quarterback often lines up as a wide receiver, Rosenfels poked at his teammates.

"I'm probably the best athlete on the team. That should be the quote of the day in one of those newspapers you guys do," he said with a smile.

But he did admit that having a quarterback line up wide and be a potential target of a pass is a fun concept.

"Yeah, it just changes it up a little bit and it gives defenses a different look a little bit. It's always nice to say, ‘Are we going to give it to Adrian (Peterson) or Chester (Taylor) or Percy (Harvin)?' You can't really key on that one tailback in the backfield," he said.

"If one of those guys can throw it decent enough, I'd love to go down the field and catch one. But we'll see what we can do."

Rosenfels said he didn't want to give away "trade secrets" about which non-quarterback can throw the ball best, but he said it would be a "scary sight" to see John David Booty trying to run down the field to catch a pass. For his part, Booty agreed with that assessment.

The point is to keep the opposing defenses guessing with the different possibilities for using the offensive weapons.

"We have all types of tricks up our sleeve. I think the possibilities are endless when you have 11 guys on offense and six of them can touch the ball. We'll see what happens as time progresses," Rosenfels said.

TUESDAY MORNING PRACTICE NOTES

  • Pro Bowl guard didn't participate in practice after suffering what appeared to be a minor injury on Monday. Hutchinson walked off the field on his own power and later returned to Monday's practice, but he was relegated to the role of interested bystander in Tuesday's morning practice. Childress said that Hutchinson is OK and was getting the morning off.

  • With Hutchinson out, Artis Hicks replaced him at left guard with the first-team offense. Hicks also got work at left tackle with the second-team offense.

  • The Vikings spent some more time working on their Wildcat offense on Tuesday, but for one play Adrian Peterson dropped a handoff from Percy Harvin.

  • Booty's best throw of the day may have been a sideline route to Glenn Holt that split the coverage down the left sideline during full-team work.

  • Jackson was getting a lot of velocity on his passes, connecting on a long gain with TE Visanthe Shiancoe a couple of times, as well as WR Bernard Berrian. Berrian was Jackson's target on a series of plays, two that were solid gains and another that Berrian simply dropped.

  • The offense worked on the two-minute drill, but neither of the kickers could capitalize on last-second field goal attempts. Taylor Mehlhaff's 58-yard attempt missed badly right and would have been short as well. Ryan Longwell's 49-yard attempt ended up just outside the left upright.

  • TE Jeff Dugan had the long gain of the two-minute session, catching a pass from Booty that covered 25 yards and set up Longwell's attempt.

  • Safety Eric Frampton intercepted a Jackson pass intended for Shiancoe. LB David Herron tipped the ball and Frampton made a diving interception following the deflection.

  • Childress said one of the things he wants to see out of Friday's game is how Harvin performs in the return game.

  • Punter Chris Kluwe will donate $1,000 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association for every punt he has downed inside the 20-yard line this season.

  • The Vikings hosted 50 kids from the Mankato Salvation Army at training camp on Tuesday and provided them with a healthy meal and advice from some of the players on good eating habits. The Vikings' involvement with the Second Harvest Heartland, USDA and Hunger Solutions Minnesota is expected to provide an additional 200,000 meals for kids who received assistance during the school year. Joan Wadkins, the marketing director for Second Harvest, said the Vikings' help this summer has enabled the program to provide 56 percent more food than last year. Only 20 percent of the kids who receive free meals during the school year continue those healthy habits in the summertime, according to Wadkins.


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