Bill Musgrave (Leon Halip/Getty)
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave acknowledged the Vikings’ struggles in the red zone, saying they would “double” their efforts there and saying he wasn’t proud of not having Percy Harvin involved enough. Plus, updates on the health status of Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Jerome Simpson and more.
Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was to the point: The team needs to do a better job turning trips into the red zone into touchdowns.
The Vikings have scored touchdowns on 11 of their 22 trips inside the red zone this year, but Sunday against the Washington Redskins they scored on only 2 of 7 possessions that made it inside the 20-yard line and had to settle for field goals on their first three drives, which advanced to the 2-, 9- and 9-yard lines.
“Not good. We don’t feel good about it, especially this last week. We didn’t get enough bang out of our buck,” Musgrave said about the red zone production. “For all the work that takes place to get down in the red area, if it’s seven times we want to come away with sevens. We’re anxious to get back out on the field starting this week and be so much better.”
The Vikings had to settle for a 20-yard field goal on their first possession when a 5-yard Adrian Peterson run was followed by Christian Ponder overthrowing Devin Aromashodu before a 3-yard pass to Toby Gerhart came up short.
The next possession was thwarted when Peterson’s first-down run was stuffed for a 2-yard loss, Ponder overthrew Rhett Ellison on second down and a screen pass to Peterson netted only 7 of the necessary 12 yards.
Their third possession advanced similarly once inside the 20-yard line. Peterson lost a yard on his first-down run, followed by a 7-yard completion to John Carlson and a 1-yard run by Gerhart on third-and-4.
“A lot of things went wrong, both conceptually and also execution-wise,” Musgrave said. “We’ve doubled our efforts. We also like to work and leave no stone unturned, but this week it’s definitely a point of emphasis so we can take advantage of those opportunities. Those take hard work to get there in the first place.”
Musgrave also acknowledged that the Vikings didn’t use Harvin enough in the red zone. He was targeted twice, once for an overthrow and a second time for an 8-yard completion for a first down.
“That’s just the way the personnel groups went. That was part of our plan, which we’re not proud of,” he said.
“… They did a good job. They matched him up on a linebacker one time and we just didn’t have the protection to get it thrown to him there in the first drive. (We’re) hoping to use him down there both (in the) run game and play-action when he’s in the backfield.”
They will have to improve Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who have the fifth-ranked defense in the red zone. The Cardinals have allowed only six touchdowns on 17 red zone appearances by the opponent.
PETERSON, ALLEN HELD OUT
Peterson didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice, the second straight day of non-participation, as he looks to rest his sprained left ankle that has given him consistent pain the last two weeks.
“He’s done a really good job of battling through it,” Musgrave said. “At times, like all backs, he gets dinged or nicked up.”
DE Jared Allen was limited in Wednesday’s practice and didn’t practice Thursday because of a groin injury.
“We held both of them out. We just wanted to be careful with Adrian’s ankle, and Jared’s groin was bothering him a little bit so we wanted to hold him back as well. But we should have both of them out tomorrow,” Frazier said.
“They’ll be ready to go (Sunday).”
WR Jerome Simpson was practicing Thursday for the second straight day after being limited by back and leg issues last week.
“He did well both days. He’s had two good days, back-to-back days, but we’ll finish tomorrow. So far, so good,” Frazier said.
“He looks good. He’s moving good in and out of his breaks, catching all the balls. It’s encouraging. Very encouraging.”
Safety Mistral Raymond continues to make progress in his recovery from a partially dislocated right ankle. Raymond practiced Wednesday on a limited basis for the first time since hurting the ankle Sept. 23 against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Pretty much (Wednesday) was just to see where I was. I kind of felt good about where I was at this stage,” Raymond said before Thursday’s practice. “It was my first time lacing up cleats since it happened. For me to get out there and be able to do the little bit of things I did was encouraging.”
He said he didn’t have any residual soreness on Thursday, but also admitted he didn’t push himself too hard in Wednesday’s practice.
Raymond started the first three games of the season before the injury. An initial timetable wasn’t put on his recovery, and Raymond was following suit by not targeting a date for his return.
“I just can’t do myself like that. I just can’t do it. I think it’s the way I keep myself calm about it and not frustrated,” Raymond said. “I approach each and every day and try to get the best out of each and every day and get better until the point where I can be in (the lineup). When that time comes, I’ll get back out there.”
However, as he has improved, Frazier has said the team is looking at his potential return to a regular game-week practice schedule after the Tampa Bay game next Thursday.
“When he gets 100 percent, when we know he’s completely clear, we want to work him back into the starting lineup eventually,” Frazier said.
While Peterson and Allen didn’t participate in Thursday practice, S Robert Blanton (hamstring), LB Marvin Mitchell (calf), Raymond (ankle) and CB Antoine Winfield (knee) remained limited. RB Matt Asiata was added to the injury report as a limited participant with a knee injury. In addition to Simpson (lower back), Christian Ponder (knee) continued to be a full participant.
For the Cardinals, QB Kevin Kolb (ribs), S Kerry Rhodes (back), FB Anthony Sherman (knee), CB Greg Toler (hamstring) and LB Reggie Walker (head) didn’t practice Thursday. CB Michael Adams (hamstring), LB Quentin Groves (hamstring) and TE Todd Heap (knee) were limited. DT Darnell Dockett (hamstring) and LB O’Brien Schofield (knee) moved from limited on Wednesday to full participants Thursday.
Volunteers from the Vikings and United HealthCare will be collecting food and money donations from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at all entrances to Mall of America Field Sunday. The collections will support Second Harvest Heartland to help in the fight against hunger in the heartland. Donated foods can include non-perishable and non-breakable items such as canned soups, canned vegetables, canned fruits, canned meat, boxed pasta, rice and peanut butter.
The Vikings have dropped to 50/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, according to Bovada.lv, after having their shortest odds of the season at 40/1 before their loss to the Washington Redskins.
Everson Griffen was flying back Thursday evening to Arizona for his mother’s funeral on Saturday and should be available to play Sunday. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman will represent the organization at the funeral.
The Vikings signed OL Tyler Holmes to the practice squad and waived DL Ernest Owusu, marking the third time for those two rotating spots on practice squad.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.