On if he has any thoughts about the unnamed GM's comments directed towards C Dominic Raiola in Pro Football Weekly: "No. Our concentration is on the Vikings. This League gets a lot of scrutiny. Players are used to dealing with scrutiny and stuff like that. It's all part of the game."
On C Dominic Raiola starting for 11 straight years: "You need to be durable in this League. Dom has done that. He's been consistent. It's a tough job playing center. You're in the middle of all the action. You're the quarterback of the offensive line. Have to be on the same page, get your guys in the right position. Particularly the last three games, four games, when we got ourselves going a little bit; it really started with the Philadelphia game- our offensive line's really key to us. We've run the ball better, we've protected and we played with a little bit of a finishing attitude upfront. It hasn't just been our offensive line, it's been our tight ends, it's been our running backs, it's been our wide receivers blocking like you saw this last game. But that kind of attitude has taken a long way and Dom has a lot to do with that."
On Raiola winning over so many different coaching personnel in his career: "When you're a good, consistent player, then that's what happens."
On the offensive line being together for three years and if any have missed a practice: "Yeah, Dom was limited in one earlier this year. But offensive linemen are like that in general. They're not going to miss very much stuff. They go out and play with bumps and bruises. It's how the whole group operates together. They have a lot of pride in that group and, like I said, it's been a big thing for our offense. Keeping the quarterback clean-that one sack we took last week was a scramble that was zero yards so we did a good job of protecting our quarterback. We're efficient in the pass game. Converting third downs, red zone, running, sealing the game at the end, using six minutes and we're going to have to do a lot of the same kind of things against a tough Minnesota team. It's a very, very talented front and that's a big match-up in this game."
On teams having to adjust to T Riley Reiff: "I don't think anybody has been surprised by it, we've been using it for a while now. We have a lot of things that we do within that package, and we're not the only people in the NFL that use it so it's not like it's a surprise to anybody. We're used to dealing with that. Minnesota uses an offensive lineman at tight end a few times, so I think it's just a matter of how he's doing rather than what we're doing. He's blocking well both run and pass. He's a good player and it gets another good player on the field for us."
On Reiff and the other young players like RB Mikel Leshoure and WR Ryan Broyles: "They're all young players. Titus (Young) played a lot last year, so he's a second-year guy even though he missed a bunch of time in the offseason and he's missed a lot of practice time this year. He's still a young player. The rest of those guys are basically rookies. Ryan Broyles, Mikel Leshoure, obviously Riley Reiff is a rookie. Joique Bell, you could throw him in there too. Even though he's been around for a few years, this is really his first extended period playing. Those guys have taken advantage of the opportunity. That's what this League is about. There are good players all the way across. When you get an opportunity, you need to prove it. There's a lot of circumstances, whether it's injuries or whatever, that you get your chance to get on the field. It's not just limited to offense. We've had a lot of injuries in the secondary. I think that we've found ways to be consistent back there. Guys like Jonté Green, there's another rookie. Ricardo Silva, second year player. We get contributions out of a lot of guys. Ashlee Palmer started the last two weeks, did a nice job in there. Just the name of the game."
On the competitive state of the NFC North right now: "Yeah, I think if you look at the number of wins in our division it's the most in the NFL of any division. You know, everybody's .500 or above. It's going to be a great second half of the season. It's going to be very competitive, and most of the division games are going to be played in the second half of the season. You know, we play two, I think Minnesota's played one and it's back-loaded with a lot of NFC North games and everybody's close enough that you get on a good hot streak you not only put games in your victory column, but you can put losses in your division opponents' column. That's what division games are all about."
On how the special teams unit has changed since the last game against Minnesota: "Well, number one I would hope so because we were at a low point. But, you know, a lot of it's been the same players. I think some young guys have gotten more experience. We've kept the same schemes, but a couple guys have moved around here and there. The one play that we gave up, you know, Kassim Osgood missed a tackle really uncontested. A couple other guys missed tackles. That's not going to happen a lot in the NFL. You know, we fit the return wrong that Percy Harvin broke on the first play of the game. But we have a lot of guys where we were learning how to do things and what to do. There is a learning curve in the NFL. I think we've seen improvement from some young players we've put some other guys in a few different positions, and we've stuck with our scheme. I think the consistency there's made a difference."
On Vikings WR Percy Harvin: "Well, first, that guy's a tough, tough, tough player. We're expecting to see him on the field on Sunday. Particularly players like that. I mean, Adrian Peterson's coming off an ACL in the last game of the year. Percy Harvin, you know, even a guy like Calvin (Johnson) last week, you know, those superior players find a way to get out there on Sunday. We're going to be prepared for Percy Harvin. He's a big part of their offense-62 catches, runs the ball, returns kicks. He's just an explosive playmaker. We have a lot of respect for him. I think one of the ways we were able to keep the score down last game was we limited his offensive opportunities. We did a good job of tackling him and limiting his run after the catch. We're going to do the same thing if he's out there on Sunday and we expect him to be."
On if he's surprised RB Adrian Peterson is leading the League in rushing after coming back from his injury: "Yeah, it's unusual for a guy coming off an ACL. You know, we have a player coming off an ACL in Ryan Broyles, and I think everybody here saw how he was limited in training camp and seeing him get better and better every week. But he's still about a year off of his, and he still has improvements that he's going to make and things like that. With Adrian Peterson, from the very first game it looked like he was back to 100 percent. You've seen none of the effects of that ACL with anything. He's better than he's ever been. He's strong, he's fast, he's got great instincts. He's been extremely productive for them making big plays. Again, a little bit like (Percy) Harvin the first game, our defense was able to hold them to six points mainly because we defended big plays. Didn't let Harvin break one on offense, and I think Adrian Peterson's long play was 14 yards. You see last week how he can just change the course of the game in particularly that first half. It'll be a team effort. One person doesn't stop a run game like that. One person doesn't tackle him. It's got to be 11 guys doing their jobs, staying in their gaps and making sure tackles. That'll be a big key to it. He's a great player. He's been able to be productive in number one coming off an injury, and number two when people's game plan is to stop him, he's still able to be effective."
On how good of a job secondary coach Tim Walton has done: "Fantastic. Tim Walton's an excellent secondary coach. Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, we all recognize that. You can always talk about depth and talk about next man up. It's a lot easier said than done especially with all the different combinations of guys we've had out there. We talked a little bit before about our offensive line having consistency and hardly ever even missing a practice. We haven't had that in the secondary. Safeties, corners, nickels, we've had a lot of different combinations. Tim Walton, Marcus Robertson, Gunther Cunningham, they've all done a really good job of plugging those guys in and the players have responded well. You see a guy like Jonté Green improving every single week, gets his first interception last week. Erik Coleman goes in, (he's a) very sure tackler, and has two interceptions, one of them gets called back, a couple pass breakups. Ricardo Silva, you know, we've mentioned all the different guys we've plugged in and certainly you don't get any prizes for getting that done. It's our job to get it done every week but it's certainly been a good job so far by those guys."
On DT Ndamukong Suh's play this season: "Yeah, I think he's been very consistent this year. He's had sacks, affected the passer and obviously been a good-run defender for us. I think that you look at our defense early in the season we had given up a lot of big plays. Recently, last couple games particularly we haven't given up big plays. A lot of that's from our pass rush and guys like Ndamukong Suh. It doesn't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but when the ball comes out quick and our defense is able to play balls in front of them and tackle. That's the only thing that's important. Defensively, we can talk about MVPs and everything else after 16 games. We're just working hard to get back and put a good game plan together and have a good week of practice against the Vikings."