Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell threatens to bench players over turnover issues

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EAGAN, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell delivered an uncharacteristically direct and public ultimatum Monday with his team leading the NFL in turnovers amid an 0-3 start.

“I think that’s something we’re going to fix one way or the other,” O’Connell said in an afternoon news conference. “Either guys are going to [fix] it or we’re going to have to put other guys in the game that have ball security.”

The Vikings have lost seven fumbles, tied for the second most through three games since 2000, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown two interceptions, one at the goal line and a second in the end zone that halted the Vikings’ final possession with seven seconds remaining in Sunday’s 28-24 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

O’Connell reorganized practice last week to address the problem, installing new drills and, he said, acquiring new equipment “off the internet” to simulate contact for ball carriers.

But tight end T.J. Hockenson was stripped of the ball to end the Vikings’ first possession against the Chargers. Tailback Alexander Mattison, meanwhile, had one lost fumble reversed because officials ruled his forward progress had stopped. He lost the ball after another run as well but was determined to be down by contact first. Mattison lost two fumbles in a Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, although one was reversed because of an Eagles penalty.

Those rulings have done little to quell O’Connell’s concerns, and the Vikings are planning to get newly acquired tailback Cam Akers involved in at least part of their game plan for their next game Sunday at the Carolina Panthers.

“We need to end every snap with the football in our hands,” O’Connell said. “And that’s going to be continued urgency and emphasis like it was last week and we’re going to continue to do it, and do it differently, and emphasize in different ways until that value is received, because that is a losing formula as we’ve seen where we’re at in the turnover differential.”



Source : ESPN