VIKINGS NOTEBOOK - How Childress Motivates
Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com
There are different ways coaches motivate their players and there are different ways players get motivated. The trick for either a coach or a player is discovering which form of motivation works best. Sometimes, situations dictate which form of motivation to employ just as much as the type of athlete or coach needing or giving the motivation.
On Thursday, Head Coach Brad Childress discovered a way to motivate his players during the full contact-team drill. Apparently wanting the physicality to increase, coach Childress yelled "I haven't heard a pad pop yet!" in a way that encouraged the team to pick up the intensity.
And boy did they pick up the intensity.
The physical play that defined Wednesday's afternoon practice returned to Thursday morning's - and the pads were popping.
Just after coach Childress' motivational shout, running back Mewelde Moore stunned a blitzing linebacker who had assumed he would just walk past the protection. He wound up falling prey to the protection, and Moore was standing over him as a reminder.
Seconds later, safety Tank Williams made perhaps the biggest hit of camp so far, leveling Kevin Kasper and inducing a large "oh" from the crowd and cheers from his defensive mates. Kasper caught a pass from J.T. O'Sullivan as he was dragging across the middle. His drag pattern came to a violent and sudden halt thanks to Williams.
Safety Greg Blue, known for his hard-hitting style in college, got his turn just a bit later. This time the victim was tight end Richard Owens. On the play, Owens caught a pass along the right seem, turned up field and ran into a moving brick wall called Greg Blue. He came to a sudden stop and was slow to arise. Even after getting up, Owens needed a second to regroup and figure out where he was. But the third-year tight end ran off the field and was back in action during his normal rotation.
"That's the way football is played," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after this morning's morning practice session. "It's a physical game, and those guys are going to get hit. When they get hit, they have to hold onto the ball and our guys have been doing that."
Coach Childress called for more physical play and his team responded. After the motivational outcry from their head coach, the defense answered the bell - and then rang a few.
Kicking it long
Over the recent seasons, the Vikings production on kick-offs has been inconsistent, at best. A number of players have been charged with the responsibility, proven to be unproductive and then replaced. With the signing of veteran kicker Ryan Longwell, however, the kick-off duties seem to be in good hands, or rather, good feet.
During segments of training camp practices, Longwell has been booming kicks off the tea toward the end of the field. The ball comes off his foot with force, falling end-over-end to the opposite endzone almost every time.
"He's certainly looking forward to having the Metrodome as his home field, being able to get perfect conditions in those eight home games," special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro said this morning. "He's looking forward to that. Right now, we are in good shape with what we are doing right here."
Field position is one of the game's most important aspects and having a dependable kicker for kick-offs is a valuable commodity.
Referees in camp
Veteran NFL official Larry Nemmers and members of his crew were in Mankato today. Nemmers led a meeting with local media outlining some of the rules changes that will go into affect this season. Also, the crew was a part of the team's two practices today and will be involved with tomorrow night's practice as the Kansas City Chiefs come to Mankato to take part in activities with the Vikings.
"It gives you a barometer for where you are at," Bevell said. "With the offensive line, they throw some flags out there, but they are coming up and telling the coaches, Ã¢â‚¬ËœHey that guy needs to get his hands inside.' They threw some flags at the back end of the defense, they threw some on us as wide receivers. It just makes you detail your performance."
Some of the topics Nemmers and the video covered regarding the rules changes include:
Protecting the quarterback, especially with hits at the knees and below. Also, defenders aren't allowed to drive the quarterback to the ground or cause helmet-to-helmet contact.
Last season, two or more player celebrations that were orchestrated or pre-meditated were prohibited. Now, any celebration, regardless of number of players involved, that seems pre-meditated or orchestrated is prohibited.
Holding rules were re-emphasized and reinforced.
Offensive centers will not be allowed as much movement as in the past. Flicking of fingers, forward movement of the ball before the snap and head fakes will now be watched more closely.
Officials will now have 60 seconds to review plays, whereas last season they had 90 seconds.
Lastly, during onside kicks, the kicking team must have four players on the opposite side of the kicker. The holder does count as one.
There were plenty more highlights during Thursday's practice sessions, including Longwell's seven for eight on field performance on field goal tries toward the end of the morning practice.
Receivers Travis Taylor and Chris Jones dazzled those in attendance, making outstanding diving catches. Jones ran an intermediate slant route, turned his head and dove to catch a J.T. O'Sullivan pass. When Jones got his hand on the ball he was completely parallel to the ground.
Taylor showed off some of his own acrobatics. In similar fashion, Taylor leaped for a Brad Johnson pass that looked to wide for him to grab. It looked as if he would only get a finger on it, but as we should know by now, if Taylor can touch it he will catch it. The former Florida Gator snatched the ball just before it flew by him and he fell to the ground. The catch garnered catcalls and shouting from his teammates, and applause from the crowd.
Johnson and receiver Troy Williamson also hooked up during the morning session. Williamson sped down the left sideline as Johnson heaved a pass downfield. Defensive back Fred Smoot, applying blanket coverage, was on top of Williamson, but the second-year receiver was able to haul the ball in.
The defense also registered a few highlights, including a couple of interceptions by a couple of veterans. A J.T. O'Sullivan pass intended for Kevin Kasper was picked off by E.J. Henderson. On the play, Henderson dropped into coverage in front of O'Sullivan, as soon as Kasper came into his vision, Henderson jumped the pass route and grabbed the pass, taking it into the endzone for a score.
Darren Sharper and Napoleon Harris teamed up to make another interception later in the same activity. Johnson was attempting to hit receiver Koren Robinson in the flats. The pass was deflected by Sharper and Harris was in the right place to grab the ball.
After the play, coach Childress let it be known how he felt about tipped balls, saying "Good job defense! Get your hands on the ball, a tipped ball is good. Bad for the offense, good for the defense."
It wouldn't be a highlight reel without Cedric Griffin contributing - and he did on Thursday. Receiver Troy Williamson ran a curl route and Johnson lasered a pass in his direction. Griffin, covering Williamson on the play, jumped the route and made a diving swat at the ball.
Pat Williams continues to work on the side during practices with strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy.
Dez White returned to practice today after sitting out the previous four sessions with a leg injury.
Rookie defensive back Charles Gordon suffered a leg injury and was carted off the field.
Re: VIKINGS NOTEBOOK - How Childress Motivates
Sounds like Greg Blue is havin a helluva camp. I thought he'd be a steal in the 5th rd and so far it seems so. With his speed and bone-crunching hits, I expect him to contribute a lot on special teams this year, and maybe start into a rotation at safety in a year or two.
And for the kickoffs, that was one of my big problems with Paul Edinger last year - every kickoff seemed to fall between the 5 and 10 yard lines. Losing 5 or 10 yards of field position every kickoff can end up turning into a big deal! So hopefully Longwell can kick it long and well! :lol:
Re: VIKINGS NOTEBOOK - How Childress Motivates
man im excited for tomorrow .. cant wait to see our defense against the chiefs..
unfortunatly they're having vikings offense vs cheifs defense at the same time as our defense vs their offense.. so i'll have to run back and forth from the fields if i want to get a good look at both!
but im loving reading and seeing these big hits