Notebook: Passing game struggling early

Christian Ponder (Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY)

Vikings quarterbacks struggled with accuracy in Saturday's practice, as each of the top three threw interceptions. Plus, Leslie Frazier has a talk with Greg Jennings about his comments regarding Aaron Rodgers.

On the first day of camp, windy conditions were part of the reason for struggles in the passing game. On Saturday, there were plenty of other issues.

As the Vikings look to improve on their 31st-ranked passing offense from last year, many of the highlights went the defense's way.

"We just talked about turning the ball over last night as well as taking the ball away, so it's something that when we watch tape (Saturday) night, we'll talk about what we did well and what we didn't do well and try to make those corrections," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "You don't gloss over it, even if it's just the second day of training camp."

In the first session of full-team work, two of the first three passes thrown by starter Christian Ponder were batted down at the line of scrimmage by defensive linemen and another pass was caught and then fumbled.

Enter Matt Cassel, who overthrew rookie receiver Cordarralle Patterson on the quarterback's first turn and had another pass dropped by Joe Webb one play later.

The best catch of the day came from tight end Colin Anderson, who made an over-the-shoulder grab on a throw 25 yards downfield by McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Anderson maintained possession despite the defensive back also having a grasp on the ball.

But it only seemed to get worse as the full-team sessions continued. During full-team "special categories" work, Ponder forced a pass to Kyle Rudolph and Erin Henderson stepped in the path for an interception, saying he essentially baited Ponder by disguising coverage.

In the next seven-on-seven session, Cassel threw for Patterson on a crossing route, a pass that deflected off the receiver and into the opportunistic arms of safety Mistral Raymond.

At the end of practice during third-down work, Bethel-Thompson threw for Webb and CB Bobby Felder was the beneficiary of what looked to be a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver.

"You don't want to write those turnovers off. You want try to dissect it and try to figure out why did it happen and what can we do to correct that," Frazier said.

JENNINGS GETS FRAZIER'S MESSAGE

Receiver Greg Jennings has made a habit of veiled and not-so-veiled comments about his former quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, this offseason since Jennings left the Green Bay Packers and joined the Vikings.

In his most pointed comments, Jennings told the Star Tribune that he thought Rodgers began putting himself above the team.

Frazier didn't like the message that sent.

"We're the Vikings. We want to talk about us and what we're trying to get done here and he understands that and that's where our focus has to be," Frazier said of Jennings. "We've got so much work that has to be done that we don't really want to be looking at other teams or other teams' players. It's us. We've got to focus on us."

Frazier said Jennings understood his message and accepted it. He expects things to be good going forward.

"Hopefully there will not be any more reporting regarding that from Greg Jennings," Frazier said.

NOTES

  • NT Letroy Guion hurt an elbow during practice and will have an X-ray to determine the extent of the injury.

  • Jennings' route-running was on full display during a one-on-one drill in which he gave CB Chris Cook a few moves that left Cook slipping to the ground and Jennings wide open.

  • Webb had a great leaping catch across the middle during full-team work.

  • The quarterbacks weren't the only ones to blame for a struggling passing game. Several times when they were on point, a receiver dropped what should have been an easy catch. The most damaging among those was a long pass that Cassel put right on the spot to Rodney Smith, but the rookie receiver dropped it.

  • The Vikings have Sunday off but will be back in session for a morning walk-through and full afternoon practice on Monday. It should be the first day of full pads. The full training camp schedule is here.


    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.
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