Bevell preaches proper technique
One thing that stands out quickly when you see a roster of 80 players on the field in training camp battling to make the team is how much of the game in mental.
There are a handful of players with obvious and rare athletic talent – players like Adrian Peterson, Troy Williamson and Tarvaris Jackson to name a few. But what you quickly see separating the rest of the pack from one another is an individual player’s ability to learn.
The key for all these guys who are competing for a starting spot, a role on the team, or simply a roster spot is to learn the technical execution being asked of them so that they’re natural ability can do the rest.
“I think you can say it across the board at all positions is that they need to do the techniques that we are asking them to do, and then they have to let their athletic ability take over,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “We need to see them doing it the way that we're asking them to do it, whether it is if they have an outside release, that they outside release. If we tell them to step with their right foot, then they need to step with their right foot. They are all talented players, but we need to see them doing it the way that we are asking them to do it.”
Until then, it is that hesitation in their game that puts them behind the more experienced guy ahead of him who is able to do his job instinctively.
Miami connections key to Evans signing
While the Vikings decision to sign a player with the off-field history of Fred Evans seems to go against the grain on the surface, you can be assured the team has done their homework.
Part of agreeing to sign Evans included reportedly meeting face-to-face with head coach Brad Childress. But it is likely that George Paton initiated the team’s interest in the young player. Paton spent six seasons (2001-06) with the Dolphins and was the Dolphins’ director of pro scouting when Evans was drafted by Miami. Paton is now the Vikings’ director of player personnel, being hired by vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman this past offseason.
“From everyone I talked to, he’s a guy that made a mistake and is paying for it,” Childress said. “Somewhere, you make a decision based on what you see and what you know and people you talk to in this business, our coaches spending time with him and talking to people that have interacted with him and our scouts. I think I’ve talked to as many people about this guy as anybody.”
The Vikings spent time last Thursday with Evans after brining him in for a workout and will put him behind Kevin Williams as a backup at the ‘under’ tackle position.
Although Evans will likely face some sort of disciplinary action from the league for his earlier problems, he is receiving a golden opportunity to get his NFL career back on track in Minnesota.
“They did their homework, and it's a good situation for Fred,” agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN. “He gives them depth at a position where they needed it. It's great for him to be back in the league.”
Robison more than just a pass-rush specialist
Rookie defensive end Brian Robison continued his strong training camp performance into the team’s first preseason game, showing terrific intensity, speed and hustle, including a quarterback sack. But the Vikings do not see Robison as just a one-trick pony, who only rushes the passer. They think he can also play the run effectively.
“He plays the run very well,” head coach Brad Childress said. “If you look at our defensive line there are very few guys that play every down. We do play those guys in waves. But I have no reluctance at all to play him on a run down because he has strength, he has speed, he has quickness, he can stand up to that. He can give those bigger tackles some fits in terms of his quickness.”
Defensive end Erasmus James has been activated from the “Physically Unable-to-Perform” list and joined the team on the practice field on Sunday.
James is entering what could be a very critical three-week span in his career. His absence has enabled second-year pro Ray Edwards to lay claim at the starting right defensive end position, showing non-stop intensity and elite pass-rush potential. Rookie Brian Robison has also shown flashes as a pass rusher.
The pressure will be on James to stay healthy and begin living up to his first-round draft status potential. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t be just fine as long as his knee is healthy, but he is clearly behind some others in the rotation at this point.
Pepp still struggling to protect the rock
Ex-Viking Daunte Culpepper saw his first action as an Oakland Raider this weekend. While you can never read too much into preseason performances with the mixture of first-team, second-team, third-team players, etc., Culpepper completed 5-of-12 passes (41.7%) for 78 yards. He was sacked once and fumbled twice.
>James cleared to start ‘catching up’
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