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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Gameplanning For Colin Kaepernick

By: Sam Ekstrom |

With the preseason’s “dress rehearsal” on the horizon, the Vikings will be gameplanning in earnest for the first time.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams may be facing one of his toughest tests of the year in preparing for mobile San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The fleet-footed QB rushed for five touchdowns last season as he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.

“As we all know, the quarterback is going to be a challenge; getting him on the ground and defending him in the pass,” said Williams before Thursday’s practice. “It’ll be a very good challenge for us all the way across the board.”

San Francisco routinely employs the read option, a play where the quarterback takes a shotgun snap, then makes a split-second decision on whether to hand the ball off or tuck it and run. You may remember the Vikings falling victim to this play last season at Washington.

However, in a league where the read option is surging in popularity, Williams thinks Sunday’s test will be a good “dry run” for the season ahead, which includes matchups against read-option specialists Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson.

“A lot of teams that we play have [the read-option] in some shape or fashion in their offense,” said Williams, “so it’s good for us to test run, test some ideas out, test some things out that we’d like to do and kind of see how they fare without [the game] counting.”

Because the Vikings don’t typically utilize a read option, their goal will instead be to help buck the growing trend. Some believe the read option will just be a temporary fixture in the NFL, much like the “Wildcat” gimmick several years back.

“If the defenses don’t [stop it], then they prove it as a proven weapon,” said Williams. “Until you shut something down, it’s here to stay.”

The biggest hurdle in facing Kaepernick may not rest solely on the threat of the read option, but rather, focusing too much on it. Kaepernick, who touts one of the strongest arms in the league, completed over 62 percent of passes last season with 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Simply put, he is a dual-threat.

“You don’t want to fall into the trap,” said Williams. “When you count the number of times that play comes up, it isn’t as much as you’d like to think. At the same token, if they run it four times, you don’t want it to be four touchdowns.”

“You do need to make sure you shut it down, but not at the expense of a team’s bread-and-butter-type plays.”

In order to shut it down, Williams says his squad needs to stay disciplined. Read option sets often force defenses to abandon their personnel assignments in pursuit of stopping the run.

“Guys [must be] taking care of their assignment – whatever that is, within the zone read – and then running to the football,” said Williams.

“You still want to get 11 hats to ball, but after you take care of your assignment.”

Williams’ first-team defense will likely get two to three quarters of game action as they take the field Sunday night in San Francisco.

NOTE: The Vikings will be without run-stopper Sharrif Floyd as he continues to rehab from a minor knee procedure.

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