Conference Call: Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and RB Adrian Peterson

Posted Dec 12, 2012

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier – Conference Call – December 12, 2012
(On the team’s improvement from last season)
“I think, for us, it goes back to our offseason. Went back to April 23rd when our guys came back in the building and really began to work on the 2012 season and being around our coaches. That’s where things began to turn for us. We had a tremendous turnout throughout the offseason, where we could lay a strong foundation for this season, and any success we’ve had this year can be directly attributed to what we did this offseason.”
(On if the offseason work was different from previous seasons)
“You’ve got to remember: the year before, we didn’t have an offseason, so the thing was all new. It gave me a chance -- and our coaches a chance -- to really instill what we thought were the necessary ingredients to have success here in Minnesota, unlike the year before. That, without question, has been the difference in our season.”
(On if it made it easier or harder to integrate rookies into the new system)
“I don’t know if it was either easier or harder. I just know it was different having so many new guys in the building and guys you were going to be counting on to help improve the football team. There were definitely a lot of fresh faces. I know (DE) Jared Allen commented a few different times when we got to training camp. There were so many guys. He goes, ‘Who are these guys? I’ve got to introduce myself to them, they’ve got to introduce themselves to me.’ It was different, but the guys that we did draft and some of the ones that we did sign, they bought into our philosophy and they’re playing good football for us.”
(On the ups and downs of starting rookies)
“You know there are going to be some moments where things don’t quite go the way you would like for them to, even though you practice things a certain way, and you have to be able to live with that, to a degree. But, to the young guys’ credit -- and we’ve got a bunch of first- and second-year guys that are playing for us -- to their credit, they’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. We actually talked on Saturday night, before the Chicago game, about really growing up at this point of the season. The fact they had 12 games under their belt… don’t look at yourself as just a rookie anymore. We need you to really step up and play well down the stretch in December. To our young players’ credit, they really played well for us on Sunday and they had a lot to do with our success.”
(On how T Matt Kalil is playing)
“Very well. He’s had a very good season for us. He’s been everything we had hoped for at the left tackle position -- which is a very difficult position to master as a rookie -- but he’s done very well.”
(On how RB Adrian Peterson’s comeback from injury has impressed him)
“You’re right: ordinarily, with that injury, it’s going to take a while, and even if you come back that next season, you’re probably not going to be the player that you were the year before the injury. But, Adrian has been amazing from the time he started the game against Jacksonville and throughout the season. He’s just gotten better and better and I don’t think there’s anybody who thought, going into the season, that we’d be talking about Adrian with 1,600 yards, leading the league in rushing, MVP candidate, Comeback Player of the Year candidate. It’s just mind-boggling in a lot of ways. A lot of credit to Adrian -- his hard work, his determination. What our training staff did, (Head Athletic Trainer) Eric Sugarman and his guys. Just an amazing story.”
(On not remembering a running back coming back from an ACL injury as strongly as he has)
“No. There are so many stories about guys not coming back, and to have Adrian come back and play the way he’s playing so soon after the ACL injury… actually, when we started the season, he was only seven and a half, maybe eight months out. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of it goes back to his hard work, his determination. And I tease him all the time: I think his genetics have a little bit to do with it as well. There’s something a little bit different about him in the way he recovers and the way he prepares. He’s been fun to watch.”
(On the challenges that the team faced without WR Percy Harvin)
“Well you know, Percy’s a big time player, there’s no question about that. The numbers he was putting up, he was on pace to have an MVP-type season as well, but we’ve got some young guys who have filled that role and are trying to make some plays for us. Jarius Wright, young man we drafted out of Arkansas this season, he’s stepped up a little bit for us. Stephen Burton, another young player that we’re counting on who’s in his second season, made some plays for us, along with veterans like Michael Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu. So we have some other guys who’ve kind of stepped up and are trying to help us fill that role. But, Percy’s a hard guy to replace.”
(On if he spoke to the team about reaching the playoffs and on how difficult it will be)
“We actually talked with them about it this morning in our team meeting. We know where we are. We know the task that’s ahead of us. We need to get a win on the road on Sunday in order for us to reach our goals as a team. They’re well aware of the situation.”
(On the challenges the Rams present on offense and defense)
“I think offensively, they’re really beginning to find their groove. In that game, in that stretch at the end of the Buffalo game, that was pretty impressive the way they marched down the field and the command that (QB) Sam Bradford showed of their offense means that they’re really clicking and having confidence in what they’re doing. On the defensive side, it seems like they’re getting better and better as the season goes on. They’ve become very aggressive. Guys are in their spots more than they were earlier in the season. They’re really improving and their special teams are sound. They play hard. They’re a physical group. So all in all, I mean, I can see why they’ve kind of come on here as of late.”
(On RB Steven Jackson closing in on 10,000 yards and his eighth-straight season with 1,000 yards and what that says about his play over the years)
“Well he’s a great back. He’s been very good for a long time, evidenced by those numbers you just mentioned. To achieve the 10,000-yard plateau in our league, I mean, that’s pretty heavy stuff. He’s had a great career. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a tough back. He’s still a very good back. Even though he’s had a lot of carries and gotten a lot of yards, he’s still a guy when you’re putting together a game plan for St. Louis, you better make sure you’re aware of where he lines up at, what types of runs they’re using with him. We have a lot of respect for him and we’ll have to play well against him. But, he’s been very consistent and he’s very good.”
(On the Rams’ receiving core and their performance without having WR Danny Amendola)
“Collectively, they do some good things, so even though they may not have the big name-receiver, they’re finding ways to make some plays as a group. You can’t discount them. That was evidenced by what happened in the Buffalo game. They’re finding a way. Because of their running game, it creates some situations where they get some one-on-one coverage and they’ve shown that they can win in some of those situations. So, we’ll have to play good in our secondary in order to not let one of those guys have a big day, hopefully.”
(On how Vikings QB Christian Ponder is doing this year and if he’s progressed or regressed)
“I think he’s still improving although there’s been some moments along the way where, I’m sure he’d say the same thing, he can play better and we can play better around him. He’s in his second season. It’s a process with him, but he’s making some progress in a lot of areas. There’s still a lot of room for improvement and we’re counting on him to continue to improve.”

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson – Conference Call – December 12, 2012
(On how fun the season has been so far)
“It’s been fun, man. It’s been a roller coaster. It’s been up and down, but the fun thing about it is we still have opportunities to make it into the postseason.”
(On if there was a time when he was down as a result of his injury)
“Not really. I really didn’t beat myself up about it. I was able just to accept it for what it was, make my game plan and then go after it. In the midst of that recovery, there were times where I struggled, but I was able just to get my mind right mentally. I felt like that’s the key when you’re trying to bounce back from an injury or you’re going through whatever situation you might be going through mentally … can really change the course of that situation.”
(On if he has any secrets to his comeback from injury)
“A lot of prayer. I prayed a lot. That was definitely key. That’s my secret.”
(On if he’s surprised himself with how well he’s played this season after his injury)
“Not surprised at all. If you can get a hold of the group that was around me, small group that was around me during this process, they’ll tell you the same thing. I really took advantage of every opportunity, every process and really going all in as far as my effort. With the mindset that, ‘Hey, I want to be back for the first game and I want to come back better than I was before.’”
(On what it would mean to him to break Eric Dickerson’s record of rushing yards in a season)
“Man, it would be … I don’t know. It would mean a lot. I can tell you that because that’s a landmark. It’s been there for a long time and as a running back, you definitely want to break all the records. That’s how I look at it. It would mean a lot to me, but first things first: I’d rather get in the playoffs first than break any records. It feels good to be in a position to even go after it.”
(On if defenses have to focus on him more with WR Percy Harvin injured)
“I guess you can say that on the outside looking in. As a defense, without Percy Harvin, that’s the best thing a defensive coordinator can hear. Take away one of our explosive players, one of our best players offensively. So, you go down. Now, let’s focus more on the other running back and trying to stop that attack since Percy Harvin is out. With that, you get a little more attention from the defense, but offensively, we know that here in Minnesota, we run the ball. That’s what we do. So, guys are going to come in trying to stop the run regardless.”
(On the last time he’s seen a seven-man box)
“I can’t even remember. It’s been a long time. But you know what, though? I like that. I love seeing the eight- and nine-man box because once you break through the interior, you’ve got a lot of space out in front of you. It’s a bittersweet feeling at times.”
(On if Eric Dickerson is a guy that he knows a lot about and if he’s watched film and highlights of his career)
“Just knowing he’s from East Texas, I didn’t really get to really watch much growing up of Eric Dickerson. But, definitely YouTube takes me back to the past, so I’m able to watch him and see how he played. A great back like him, you always see different shows and stuff on ESPN or NFL Network where they’re showing what kind of back he was. I’ve actually ran into Eric Dickerson a couple times in LA at different events. Just looking at his body structure now as an older guy retired from football, I see why he was able to do the things that he did out there on the field. Once again, I’m just blessed to be mentioned as a same caliber type of player, in the same sentence and to be going after his record.”
(On if he’s seen Eric Dickerson recently and told him that he was going to get his record)
“No, I haven’t. But if I did encounter him that would be something I’m sure I would say to him.”
(On if he overlapped with QB Sam Bradford at Oklahoma)
“Yes. I didn’t get to play with him, but he was there. So, I was able to see him kind of get shaped and formed or what not. He’s a heck of a quarterback. I knew when I was at Oklahoma that he was going to be a good player.”
(On what he thinks of RB Steven Jackson)
“Steven Jackson, I love that guy, just what he brings to the game. He’s a big back, tall – 6-3, I don’t know he might be 6-4 – 260 pounds and to be able to run the way he does. He’s got good speed, got incredible feet, great vision. He’s a guy before I got in the league that I used to love watching, watching him play. It’s going to be fun to share the field with him this week.”
(On if runs into Jackson off the field at different functions)
“Not really. I ran into him a couple times during the offseason the past couple years. But, not that often.”
(On what he sees from the Rams’ defense and how well they’ve done against the run in the past couple weeks)
“A sound defense, indeed. Their front four, outstanding group of guys and some young guys, too – young, hungry guys. You see (DE Chris) Long at the end, he’s that guy that’s going to go all out each play, every play. It’s some young linebackers. They’re playing some good ball right now. I know they’re hungry. They’re trying to get into the playoffs as well. So, it’s another challenge that we’re going to have to just accept and go out and execute.”
(On what he senses to be the change this season with the Vikings)
“The guys here, there’s a lot of these young guys that have come in and a lot veteran guys here that don’t like the feeling of losing, don’t like being at home and watching a postseason. So that alone will definitely change your mentality in your approach when it comes to the game. That’s something that, I think, during OTAs and that transition over to training camp, guys are definitely hungry and have a goal in mind. We’ve put ourselves now in the position to accomplish that.”
(On if he feels like the Vikings have to win the rest of their games in order to reach the playoffs)
“Well, that’s the mindset. I know there’s possibly other scenarios, but the way we’re looking at it, hey we want to go 4-0 these last four games and control our own destiny. So, right now we’re 1-0 and we’ve got three more to go.”
(On if he likes playing indoors)
“Yes. I do, but I prefer outside on the grass. Indoors, wherever we can play football, we can play on a basketball court, I’ll play.”