Good morning. We're preparing this week for a very talented Minnesota Vikings football team, a team that Leslie Frazier has taken over. In the last two games that they played, they're 2-0 under him, they've averaged, I believe, 39 carries per game, they are a talented outfit, whether you look at special teams with Harvin as the return man. On defense, I believe they are fourth in the league against the run, they are eighth in the league with the run. They are playing at home, so it is an exciting week and a really thorough and necessary preparation for this very good team.
Q: Are you surprised how well teams like the Cowboys and the Vikings have responded to an interim head coach?
A: I don't know if that's the word. I've obviously seen one first-hand and I'm studying the other one. You know off the bat they're talented, whatever the reasons are. The Vikings are minus-11; that does have something to do with the situation that they're in.
Q: What's the difficulty not knowing Favre's status?
A: Well, you have similar preparations in some ways and in others you have to have special preparation. Jackson is an outstanding athlete. We played against him a couple of years ago. He does and has demonstrated the ability to pull the ball down. I believe he had 55 yards rushing the other day himself. He has a very strong arm, the ability to throw the ball up the field, which accommodates some of what they do - whether it be Rice or Harvin or however they go about their business. There is a little bit of that. You do know the history of Brett Favre and the fact that based on that alone, you think that he will play.
Q: Do you expect to see both guys?
A: We'll see.
Q: You guys let the Dolphins use your facility this weekend. Any comment on that?
A: I really don't have any comment, but I do know that the idea or I think the idea, the understanding I had was that in granting permission, the hope was that if we're ever in that situation someone would accommodate us.
Q: Do you credit Eli's durability to his toughness or his smarts on the field?
A: Both. His ability to sidestep, his ability to recognize, to point out changes in protection, his ability to get up after a hit. He's had those as well. I think it's a combination.
Q: Status on Diehl and Smith this week?
A: Diehl is practicing and I'm trying not to even consider any kind of limit. We'll see how he does. Hopefully he is in a position conditioning-wise where he can just practice and go. Steve Smith is going to practice. We'll see how that is. He does have a limitation on his practice, but that could easily change if we see that he is doing well.
Q: O'Hara and Nicks?
A: O'Hara is going to try. He's going to go. He expects to start out and move gradually because this would be his first week. We'd like to see where he is and then hopefully we can go from there. Nicks is going to go through individual. If that works out, he may take a couple of snaps. The doctor comes this afternoon for an update on all of these.
Q: Is it difficult for a coach to prepare when the opponent's quarterback is a question mark?
A: Well, you obviously have to be very aware of what each quarterback is capable of doing. The one thing that does strike you though is that to me, because of the emphasis on the run, there have been a number of bootlegs involved. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I guess against Washington they went into a four-minute drive, Brett Favre pulled the ball down and ran with it and made the first down, which allowed them to kneel with it. They were putting Brett on the corner, he was running nakeds, he was doing a lot of that kind of thing that they would do the same kinds of things with Jackson, so there are similarities in that way.
Q: Would it be difficult to be the coach who might not start him and have to end the streak?
A: I think it was explained very well, that if he can play he will play.
Q: So it's not an emotional thing?
A: I don't think so. Leslie said that would not enter into it. The streak would not enter into it. If he can and he's ready and he himself thinks he's ready, then he would go.
Q: Is that how you would approach it?
Q: Can you talk about the progress of Justin Tuck on the field and his leadership off the field?
A: I think that the progress, to me, is very obvious. It's very good. His intensity level is very consistent. He's taken very seriously his leadership role and the fact that his teammates have elected him captain. I think that resonates in the way he plays and I think that he has set a very good example.
Q: How much does the dynamic of the offense change with Sidney Rice?
A: Well, Sidney Rice has always been a ‘here we go, downtown' guy. He made a great play the other day stealing the ball away over the top of the Buffalo defenders, so that is a big factor and you have some very talented people in their receiving corps and their running back corps with Peterson and so on and so forth, so I think that you creep up close to the line of scrimmage and think that you're going to be okay against the run and then the ball is going to go up over the top.
Q: Shawn Andrews?
A: He feels better, he's doing better, he's going to come out and run, work on the side.
A: Blackmon does have some limitations, but he's going to go.
Q: Have you thought about Devin Thomas as a kick returner?
A: Yes. The other guy didn't do too bad.
Q: Eli has never beaten the Vikings. Does he have a little extra fire then?
A: Well, this year, one factor, this game - how important this game is to us, facing a championship quality team, that environment - all of those things, I hadn't really thought about the history of all of this, but the competitor that he is, even if he hasn't thought about it, if you mention it to him, he'll have some inner thoughts anyway.
Q: Are they not committing to Peterson as much recently?
A: 39 carries a game. 39 rushes the last two games. Over 100 last weekend coming off an ankle. I think they're committing.
Q: Is your running back rotation still the same?
A: At this point, yes.
Q: How valuable has Richie Seubert been by being able to slide over?
A: You said it - very, very valuable. What he's done by sliding over and doing the job he's done. Again, another example of veteran leadership and the willingness to do whatever is necessary.
Q: He downplayed it. Is it really that easy?
A: No. It's not that easy, but the fact that we have any number of guys that are able and capable of doing that - the versatility there is what you're always looking for. You can't always get it.