Bobby Felder (John Emms/Viking Update)
Bobby Felder will continue to get his opportunities to impress on defense and special teams, Vikings coaches said Wednesday. Plus, injury updates and more.
Bobby Felder’s ascent continues, and he’s getting much more than the “one opportunity” he tweets about repeatedly.
Felder is getting every opportunity on both defense and special teams as the preseason progresses and he continues to intrigue.
“This will be a big week for Bobby. He’s going to get some extended snaps in the nickel situations, as well as special teams,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “He did some good things in that Buffalo game. Those (punt) returns were very good and he was very good in covering kicks as well. So we need to get some views of him this week and next week, and try to see where he is.”
Felder played in 36 percent of the defensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills and had 10 reps on special teams. In the preseason opener, he played in 49 percent of the defensive snaps and an additional seven snaps on special teams.
In the opener, Felder was in the right position on a touchdown pass to Houston Texans rookie DeAndre Hopkins, but Hopkins out-jumped Felder for the ball.
“He’s a pretty instinctive guy,” said Frazier, a former cornerback himself. “He can kind of feel things and it doesn’t have to be just like you drew it up on the board because rarely does it happen that way when people start moving around on the football field. You need some guys who can have instincts to make plays and recognize things as they occur, and he’s one of those guys.
“He’s a very instinctive player who has very good awareness when it comes to football. That was one of the things that struck us when he was on the scout team. He did a good job for us then, so we were anxious to see how he would play once we got him into some game situations.”
So far, so good for one of the team’s undrafted rookies in 2012 that spent his first season on the practice squad.
He had 12 interceptions during college, ranking fourth in Nicholls State history, but his ticket to the Vikings’ 53-man roster may also lie in his ability on special teams.
He returned three punts for 62 yards Friday, including a 37-yard return. It was his first time doing that in a game situation, but special teams coordinator Mike Priefer already has him as the biggest challenge to incumbent punt returner Marcus Sherels, who also plays cornerback.
“He’s getting a shot. He got a shot the other night. And he’ll get another shot on Sunday,” Priefer said. “Yep, I feel comfortable with him getting a shot, sure. And Marcus knows. Marcus is great about it. He knows he has to win the job.”
Felder is also contributing on the coverage units on special teams. He downed two punts inside the 5-yard line Friday night at Buffalo.
“He’s a very hard worker. A great athlete, intelligent. He plays bigger than he is. He’s about 200 pounds, but he plays like a bigger guy, in terms of being physical in the return game especially,” Priefer said. “The plays he made the other day were exciting for him and for us. He did a great job downing the punts down inside the five, and just releasing and getting downfield and understanding where he was. That’s not an easy thing to do; that’s why we work on it a lot. And, of course, his returns were great. Coach Frazier has been on me about giving him an opportunity to be our punt returner, and he responded to the challenge.”
LB Desmond Bishop will see some time with the first team so the coaching staff gets a better evaluation of him before the start of the regular season.
“We’ve explained to our players what the plan is. They know we want to be able to get some views of Desmond with the first group,” Frazier said. “They understand that, they understand why. So no slight against them, we need to be able to evaluate Desmond along with some other guys.”
To date, Marvin Mitchell has started both preseason games at weakside linebacker.
FB Jerome Felton (appendectomy), DT Sharrif Floyd (knee), WR Jarius Wright (concussion), OL Tyler Holmes (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday.
Floyd had a “minor procedure” on his knee earlier this week but isn’t expected to miss any regular season games.
LT Matt Kalil returned to practice Wednesday afternoon and should play Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers after sitting out of Sunday and Monday’s practices with a sore knee.
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