Safety Harrison Smith returned to practice on a limited basis today, another sign that he could play Sunday. Smith sprained his left ankle against the Patriots and was on crutches and in a walking boot six days ago. But he is apparently a fast healer and a tough guy, as Mike Zimmer likes to point out.
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (hip) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (elbow) were also limited. Patterson said earlier today that he’s feeling fine, so no worries about his status for Sunday.
Oh, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater practiced again with full participation. He hasn’t officially been coronated as the starter by Mike Zimmer, who said yesterday that he expects him to play. But it’s not difficult to read between the lines on this one. He will start, barring a setback, of course.
Outside linebacker Chad Greenway (ribs) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (sports hernia surgery) did not practice. Greenway will have to get on the practice field tomorrow morning to have a chance to play against the Lions. If he doesn’t, he will likely be ruled out and miss his third straight game.
Wrapping up the injury report, running backs Jerick McKinnon (ankle) and Matt Asiata (groin) and outside linebacker Michael Mauti (foot) all practiced with full participation for a second straight day.
Part of any NFL team’s youth movement is driving the guy in charge a little crazy with inconsistency.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer elaborated on that a little bit with beat writers after today’s practice.
“At times, we’re like the Bad News Bears,” Zimmer said. “We’ll play so good and then all of a sudden it’s like, `What in the world is going on?’ So that part of trying to correct those things is really what eats at me. When we do it right, we’re pretty darn good. But when we start losing our minds, it starts going south.”
Pick any young, promising player and Zimmer said he probably could use the same words to describe what it’s like trying to teach that player the schemes and concepts of a new coaching staff.
“I’m not saying what we’re doing is the right way or the wrong way,” Zimmer said. “But it’s the way we’re going to do it. It’s all different for these guys. You hope you go through training camp and you get that consistency. But we have some young players that are still learning the game of football.”
Like most young players or even veterans learning a new system, many Vikings players have reverted to more familiar techniques from the past when the pressure of live game action arrives. In other words, old habits are hard to break.
“It’s all about doing the same thing over and over in repetition,” Zimmer said. “If we can continually do that — I think [Matt] Kalil had a little bit of that in that `Oh, I got to fix this, I got to fix that’ — once you get comfortable and you kind of get in rhythm, it happens a lot easier.
“A lot of these younger guys, for me, are I’m trying to teach them about playing football. Understanding what offenses are trying to do and understanding where we’re supposed to be and understanding alignments and formations and motions and splits and sometimes maybe I give them too much information. But I have to do it, otherwise we won’t grow as players.”
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is one of those players. He’s made some flash plays and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with three. But he’s also a guy still falling short of the consistency expected of a former first-round draft pick.
“He needs to be more consistent,” Zimmer said. “He’s a very diligent player. He works really hard, very conscientious, sometimes too conscientious. He’s still a developing player. I think the splash plays kind of show up the ability that he has. We just have to keep working to be more consistent.”
In training camp, Zimmer said Floyd needed to stop over-thinking everything and just play.
So do you see more of that, Mike?
“Some weeks, you do and some weeks, you don’t,” he said. “I could probably say that about a lot of these young guys about the consistency factor. That’s part of growing up.”
Apparently high draft picks who play for the Wolves before fizzling out are destined to play in China.
That’s where Michael Beasley is reportedly headed, following in the footsteps of Stephon Marbury. Per a report from Yahoo.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Michael Beasley has left the Memphis Grizzlies‘ training camp and signed a one-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks of the China Basketball Association, agent Jared Karnes told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. … The opportunity to accept a lucrative one-year deal with Shanghai proved too difficult to pass on.
Marbury has experienced a rebirth of sorts in China, where he is still playing with the Beijing Ducks after helping that team win two of the last three Chinese Basketball Association championships.
Maybe Beasley can find a similar peace?
It’s become a question wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has received weekly, during the week and after a game, since the season opener against the Rams.
“Will you ask offensive coordinator Norv Turner for more carries?”
Well, it happened again on Thursday when Patterson typically speaks to the media. He’s only received one carry, losing seven yards, since the 102-yard rushing performance in Week 1. Patterson had a little fun this week in his response.
“I’m not a drama queen or anything,” Patterson said. “I don’t want to go to the offensive coordinator and try to demand the ball. One day, maybe if I get a couple more Pro Bowls, maybe I can do things like that; but the time is not right now. It’s only my second year, and he’s a new offensive coordinator for this team.”
The questions have become about as redundant as his previous four performances, including just two catches for eight yards against the Packers for the dynamic wide receiver. Patterson has only received eight targets in the last two games, however, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder at quarterback.
“People say they don’t see it but when I was little in junior college, I was a drama queen,” Patterson said. “I just demanded the ball, and it paid off for me. If things keep going like this, I may have to be that drama queen one time.”
Defenses have concentrated on Patterson over the last four week, which has contributed to his slump. That has opened up opportunities for other players, like running back Matt Asiata and wide receiver Jarius Wright, to make big plays on offense.
“It’s fun being a decoy sometimes because you just open everything else for other people,” Patterson said. “My decoy time, it’s probably up. Everybody is going to start worrying about everybody else and then they’re going to forget about me. I hope it’s this week. I hope I get a couple of touchdowns this week.”
Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said he’s anxious to get Patterson involved in the offense. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he saw improvement in Patterson against the Packers that won’t appear in the box score. Turner said that likely had to deal with the way Patterson ran his routes, especially the depth of his routes.
“There are times you’re open and the ball doesn’t come to you; no one sees that, but we do,” Turner said. “There were some times where we had a lot pressure in that game. The ball didn’t come out the way we’d like it to or didn’t have an opportunity to get it out.”
There are 18 teams in the NFL currently at either 3-2, 2-2 or 2-3 heading into Week 6. Four of those teams reside in the NFC North, which is about as jumbled of a division as you’ll currently find.
The Lions and Packers currently lead the division at 3-2, while the Bears and Vikings sit in the bottom half at 2-3. Each with a fair share of faults, which could make for an interesting race down the stretch, without one team appearing to be more inferior than the next.
“I think everybody’s division is still pretty wide open but, yeah, ours is definitely bunched up there,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said.
It’s looking more and more like a division where 9-7 could be enough for first place. Obviously a lot can change over the few months, but here’s some surprising, and not so surprising, elements of each team through five weeks:
Packers: Did anyone predict the Packers would be 25th in rushing at any point this season? Running back Eddie Lacy was projected to have a monster season, but he didn’t have his first 100-yard game until last week against the Vikings. His previous rushing totals from the first four games look like lottery numbers: 34, 43, 36, 48. The Packers are still probably the favorite to win the division, reeling off consecutive wins against the Bears and Vikings to dig themselves out of a 1-2 hole, but their run defense will hurt them down the stretch and into the playoffs if it doesn’t improve.
Lions: Did anyone think the Lions would have the best defense in the league? Yes, they’ve always had a great front four, but they’ve never been able to put it all together as a defense. That’s not the case in the secondary so far, which is ranked sixth in pass defense allowing 208 yards a game. Even with their kicking woes in the 17-14 loss against the Bills, the Lions are off to a good start under head coach Jim Caldwell in his first year. That defense should keep Detroit in the running, though it needs to get wide receiver Calvin Johnson involved more on offense.
Vikings: Did anyone have running back Adrian Peterson playing just one game this season? The Vikings have somehow won two games without their best player that likely won’t play this season due to an injury to a child charge. Beyond Peterson’s absence, the offense has lost tight end Kyle Rudolph, right guard Brandon Fusco and still managed to beat the Falcons. We’ll know if the Vikings are legitimate contenders with the three opponents coming off their Week 10 bye when they travel to Chicago, then host the Packers and Panthers at home. Until then, they could be hovering at .500 with their next four games against the Lions, Bills, Bucs and Washington.
Bears: Did anyone expect that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler would have eight turnovers after five games? Ok, well maybe not everything in this division is a surprise. In the last two games, both losses to the Packers and Panthers, the Bears offense scored three points in the second half. That’s inexcusable with the amount of weapons they have, which brings up the annual question of whether Cutler can ever lead a team to a Super Bowl. As average as this defense has this season, while carrying has some good young pieces like rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, Cutler has to take care of the ball.
The list of Twins’ managerial candidates seems to be growing rather quickly. Whether it’s all just a polite smokescreen before the Twins hire someone in-house like Paul Molitor or Doug Mientkiewicz … or Terry Ryan is legitimately casting a wide net … the latest name to emerge per a report Thursday morning is rather intriguing.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sorts says Sandy Alomar Jr. will get an interview with the Twins.
So add Alomar to the growing list of names linked to the job.
Alomar, 48, is well-known from his successful MLB career as a catcher, which spanned an incredible 20 seasons (1988-2007).
He’s been the bench coach with Cleveland the past three seasons, staying in that role despite a managerial change during that time from Manny Acta to Terry Francona. He has also been said to be on the short list of candidates for other managerial openings but has yet to get his shot.
Our guy Reusse has been leading the charge in saying the Twins should hire more coaches who can speak Spanish, since much of the Twins’ promising core of young players have Spanish as their native language. Alomar certainly fits that bill. He is said to be well-respected around the game and also interviewed recently for the Arizona vacancy.
Would he succeed here? We have no idea. But of the names mentioned so far, Alomar is high on the list of intriguing candidates to manage the Twins.