Cordarrelle Patterson (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY)
Cordarrelle Patterson played only five offensive snaps on Sunday, but Leslie Frazier said it wasn’t due to injury. Frazier defended the playing time allotted to some of his rookies.
Despite some questionable player usage, Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was questioning the amount of plays some of his complementary players received in Sunday’s 34-24 season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions.
Undrafted rookie fullback Zach Line played in 16 of the Vikings’ 50 offensive plays, but first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson played in only five snaps.
Patterson was limited in Wednesday and Thursday’s practices last week with a back injury, but he was a full participant on Friday. Frazier said injury had nothing to with Patterson’s limited playing time on offense.
Patterson was targeted only one time – a bubble screen in the third quarter that gained 10 yards.
“He’s healthy. We’re going to try and get him a few more snaps, but we need to get a few more first downs and stay on the field longer with our offense,” Frazier said. “But we want to get him more snaps.”
Frazier said Patterson is up to speed with the offense and called his playing time a “coach’s decision.”
Line, meanwhile, making the transition from running back at SMU to fullback with the Vikings, played in 16 snaps, but he didn’t start the game. Instead, it was tight end/H-back Rhett Ellison who got the key lead block on the team’s first play from scrimmage that sent Adrian Peterson 78 yards for a touchdown.
Despite making the start, Ellison played 10 snaps on offense.
“We felt like we had enough snaps with him, along with splitting what we did with Zach, and we even let Rhett line up at tight end as well. So no second-guessing on the number of snaps he had at fullback,” Frazier said.
The Vikings did try to get their big free-agent acquisition of the offseason, Greg Jennings, involved in the passing game. He played in 85 percent of the snaps and was targeted seven times, catching three passes for 33 yards.
“There are some things we can do to try to uncover him, if people want to cover him the way they did yesterday – sometimes bracketing him, but also playing some man to man,” Frazier said.
The star of the passing game, however, was Jerome Simpson, who was targeted eight times, catching seven passes for 140 yards, including a diving, over-the-shoulder, 47-yard catch down the middle of the field.
“He played some really good football for us. That catch he made on the stutter-go, that was a spectacular play,” Frazier said. “That’s the stuff we saw a year ago, when we got him in training camp, and we’ve seen it this offseason, as well. He has that bounce, that spring, back in his legs, and it showed up on Sunday. He made some great plays for us, he created an interference situation for us. It’s good to have him back at top speed; those big plays make a difference.”
Center John Sullivan has a left knee contusion from the low block he took from Ndamukong Suh, but Sullivan is expected to be able to practice at some point this week.
The Vikings are also hoping to get DT Kevin Williams (knee) back on the practice field this week. He has been out with injury since the third preseason game.
The Vikings will work out DT Andre Fluellen on Tuesday, according to the National Football Post.
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.