Lurtsema's Reaction: Reviewing the OTA

A couple of intriguing Vikings draft picks were making position switches or switching back to their college positions. What did former defensive lineman Bob Lurtsema think of their performances? See his thoughts inside.

VU: There were a couple of guys making position transitions that I wanted to get your impressions on. The first is Joe Webb, who was actually making the move back to QB after working the Senior Bowl at receiver. Your thoughts on his play at practice?

BL: Watching him throw the ball, his hands are supposed to be one of the biggest paws in the NFL. He has a very easy motion. He doesn't struggle with the way he throws the ball. They were going to try him at receiver and his frame is a little like Sidney Rice's. Then they saw what he did at quarterback. In the situation they're in, they must feel he's bright enough that he can handle the position. Once again, you've got to find somebody to be on the practice squad or learn something from Brett Favre, who I personally think is coming back.

VU: Do you see possibilities with Webb as a receiver as well or do you think they'll work him strictly at quarterback. And, if so, how long do you think that will go?

BL: I think they'll work him strictly at quarterback. They might throw some of those quarterback throwbacks to him. They might come up with some of those gimmick plays, which are always fun and always good to have in any offensive game plan. It's going to be how fast he can grasp it and how well he can read defenses. They'll be able to spot that rather quickly in the first three weeks of training camp.

VU: Let's take this a step further. Let's say he does impress them and he does have an NFL future, and we both think Brett Favre is coming back. What does that mean for guys like Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels? Look to trade one?

BL: The thing to do is, if you can, is trade Jackson. I personally think Rosenfels should be the main man to back up Favre. I feel more comfortable in that.

VU: Obviously the Vikings disagree with you since they had Jackson as the No. 2 guy all of last year while Rosenfels was inactive. Do you think that's just a matter of time before Rosenfels overtakes him?

BL: I don't have to go along with what the depth chart says or what the coaches think. I've watched different things from the defensive side of the football. We don't always agree. In 1975, they drafted defensive linemen No. 1 and No. 2 (in the first and second rounds) and I disagreed with them there, saying ‘Wait a minute, you've got me.' That was the year they drafted Mark Mullaney and Art Riley and they cut Art Riley. I just look for different things and I've watched enough football and I would feel more comfortable, and having talked to some of the players, some either are afraid to disagree with me or nod their head and say, ‘Yeah, Bob. Yeah, Bob.'

VU: How about Ryan D'Imperio's switch from linebacker to fullback?

BL: He was going through the dummy drill and a lot of times when you're looking at the different drills you can tell things about a player, like with the feet on Everson Griffen. This D'Imperio, his first three or four steps, I swear he doesn't raise up another two inches. It's like he can run straight from his stance and have his finger an inch off the ground. A lot of times, the first move for a fullback is they come up. There is nothing better for a defensive lineman coming in than having a fullback standing up. It's so much easier than having him coming at me low and under control. I would much prefer a guy that is standing up. I can do more things with him. It's such a small thing to pick out, but yet it's a tremendous plus, especially with him switching positions like that. Maybe there are certain things that scouts see that we haven't had enough time yet to see.

VU: Most of the starters were not at the practice that was open to the media last week, but Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams were. Is that telling to you about the team's level of confidence in that position?

BL: The starters don't have anything to do with that. It's a matter of the players themselves and how comfortable they are if they want to work out – if they want to work out with the group and be with your buddies. Way back in the old days, we never had these camps. We'd get together, a few of us, and we didn't have a weight gym so we were over at Richfield High School and we worked out that way. Here they have an opportunity to stay in shape and stay abreast of everything that's going on. I think it's a great opportunity for the players to work out like that. We even had basketball games where you could work out and have fun, yet you'd get in shape. When you're a veteran and you're around long enough, you'd do anything to be able to work out and still make it enjoyable. These are just fun sessions for the veterans. When you see T-Jack, give him credit, he's a hard-working kid.

VU: What about some of the younger guys on the offensive or defensive line that made an impression on you?

BL: I watched Everson Griffen and noticed that Brian Robison was talking to him after practice about the difference between college and the NFL. He was talking about the hand movement or hand contact – where the offensive linemen are trying to work on the defensive player's body. I thought that was really classy. If you watch those different bag drills, Griffen has great feet and sometimes he'll get a little off-balance, but he recovers fast. But once you control your hands, you'll get a little more control of your body. If you don't have the quick feet, then you're just going to be a plug-along type of guy or an average guy. He's got the quickness. You can see that.

That Michael Montgomery that they picked up from Green Bay, he's going to be a plugger. He's going to just keep coming over and over and over. He's going to be a very consistent player that won't really give up. If you knock him down, he'll get up twice as fast as you knocked him down. I kind of like the attitude he brings.

Bob Lurtsema registered 57 regular-season sacks and three in the playoffs during his 12-year career as a defensive lineman in the NFL, playing with the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, and was the longtime publisher of Viking Update. He joins VikingUpdate.com for a weekly Q & A session, and his monthly column appears in the magazine.


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