Rice-Jarrett Comparison

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 29, 2009 – 12:55 pm

On its website, Pro Football Weekly currently has an entry about Panthers WR Dwayne Jarrett, with a title of “Third year could be the charm for Jarrett”. In the story, PFW author Dan Parr says Jarrett has been “a major disappointment thus far, as he has made just 16 catches in the two seasons since Carolina drafted him in the second round.”

But after including a quote from Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams, who supports Jarrett, Parr goes on to say that Jarrett “has a firm grasp on the No. 3 receiver spot” and that “he may take snaps away from veteran starter Muhsin Muhammad if he shows signs of breaking out in training camp.”

So what does this have to do with the Vikings, you ask? Well it’s a relatively slow time, so I found it appropriate to show you the link between this story on Jarrett and the Vikings.

When it was the Vikings turn to make their 2nd-round selection during the 2007 NFL draft, both Jarrett and Sidney Rice were available. And WR just happened to be a position the team could easily justify addressing.

Jarrett, the 6-4, 219-pound record-breaking WR from powerhouse Southern California, was a widely-known prospect who surprisingly dropped to the 2nd round. In college, Jarrett was a 2-time All-American who left school as the all-time receptions leader with 216 and the Pac-10’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 41. He played many of his games on national TV and had the athletic ability and large frame that is so often coveted by pro scouts and fans alike.

The Vikings selected Rice, however, a younger player who was similar in height to Jarrett, but wasn’t nearly as big and didn’t come with nearly as much fanfare. He played collegiately at South Carolina, of course, and didn’t spend as much time on national TV or on SportsCenter highlight reels.

Because so many thought Jarrett should’ve been the Vikings pick, Rice began his career with A) a Vikings fan base tentative of his potential and B) the reality that he might always be compared to Jarrett.

Neither player has come close to their potential, so the Jarrett-Rice comparison doesn’t rank up there with the Ryan Leaf-Peyton Manning or Eli Manning-Phillip Rivers comparisons.

But now that they’re each entering their 3rd seasons, this might be an appropriate time to re-engage that comparison. Rice had the better rookie season, hauling in 31 receptions and 4 TDs compared to Jarrett’s meager totals of 6 receptions and 0 TDs. And he also fared better last year despite missing several games due to injury.

So Rice, who many thought should’ve been picked behind Jarrett, has clearly had the better career to this point. And Jarrett, who has drastically underperformed to this point, seems poised to resurrect his football career in Carolina after a disappointing start to his pro career.

It’s just 1 more interesting storyline for Vikings fans to follow in the 2009 season.

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Berrian Chat

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 26, 2009 – 11:05 am

Vikings WR Bernard Berrian stopped by to chat with NFL Nation on Thursday, June 25, discussing the Brett Favre situation, the best NFL cornerback and the addition of rookie Percy Harvin.

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Hutchinson Makes All-Decade Squad

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 24, 2009 – 10:30 am

Vikings G Steve Hutchinson has been named among the elite NFL players over the past decade by As the NFL enters the second-to-last season of the first decade of 2000, ESPN is compiling a list of superlatives to honor the top performers in the league over the past 10 seasons.

Hutchinson was 1 of 11 players named to the All-Decade Offense, along with other superstars such as QB Tom Brady, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and TE Tony Gonzalez. The other G on the roster with Hutchinson is Alan Faneca, while the C is Olin Kreutz of Chicago and the OTs are Seattle’s Walter Jones and Baltimore’s Jonathan Ogden.

Tomlinson’s full-time blocker, FB Lorenzo Neal, was also named to the team. The WRs on the team are Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt.

On Monday, unveiled its defensive team and today (Wednesday) the all sports website will highlight the top moments of the decade. Later in the week, the decade’s top coach, MVP and team will be named.

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Vikings in the Community

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 22, 2009 – 9:30 am

Even though OTAs have concluded and Sunday was Father’s Day, a couple of Vikings stayed busy this weekend by helping out the local community.

Rookie OT Phil Loadholt joined a large group of local boy scouts in the Winter Park field house on Friday to reward them for popcorn sales. The scouts were able to take part in football drills, with Loadholt and fellow rookie Ian Johnson guiding them.

Then on Sunday, Chad Greenway and his wife Jenni hosted their annual fun run/walk at Lake Nokomis. Teammates, Vikings Cheerleaders, Viktor the Viking and members of the Vikings Women’s Organization helped put on the 3rd annual Greenway’s Gridiron Gallop 5K fun run/walk.

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“State of the Vikings” Hightlights

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 18, 2009 – 7:30 am

The Vikings held their 1st-ever “State of the Vikings” event last night at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis. The event was emceed by radio voice of the Vikings Paul Allen, and allowed season ticket owners to get an up-close and personal look at select members of the Vikings organization in a “town hall” type of atmosphere.

Along with Allen, Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf, head coach Brad Childress, VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and LB Chad Greenway were seated in chairs on the stage. Allen went through a bevy of questions, many submitted by the fans and then several others that he came up with either before the show or in the middle of conversation on stage.

We’ll have more coverage on this event throughout the rest of today, including an “on-demand” video of the event that will allow you to replay “State of the Vikings.” Last night’s event was streamed live right here on

You can also read the updates posted by Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune last night by reading the “Access Vikings” blog on the Strib’s website.

We’ll be back later today with more coverage of this event, but here are just a few highlights…

– The first topic was of course QB Brett Favre. Wilf said he didn’t see the HBO interview of Favre by Joe Buck in person, but that from what he heard Favre came off as a guy who loves the game of football. Wilf also said, in more general terms, “We will do the most we can to get the players we need to be a better team. If that means Brett Favre or means somebody else, we’ll go after them. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Childress added that Favre “said everything he needed to say” and that it was up to the QB as to whether he would play again or not.

– Allen got to nearly every topic relevant to the Vikings in the 90-minute program, including a general discussion about DE Jared Allen. When talking about the All-Pro DE, Wilf pointed out that Allen played much of last season in pain after sustaining injuries. He even said that what Allen was going through would’ve sidelined 9 out of 10 players. Wilf illustrated his point perfectly and with humor by comparing Allen in 2008 to a “wounded bear.”

– The atmosphere was light in the State Theater, with Allen inserting plenty of humor and jokes into the program and with the audience staying involved by yelling out comments. At one point, 1 member of the Vikings organization on stage challenged Allen to do a play-by-play call of WR Percy Harvin scoring a touchdown…and Allen obliged.

Childress had high praise for the 2009 1st-round draft pick and compared seeing him on the field for the 1st time to seeing Adrian Peterson on the field for the 1st time. Allen then asked Greenway what about Harvin would give a good defensive football player headaches. Greenway responded by saying that Harvin can “line up anywhere on the field.”

– The crowd was very gracious and supportive, and would give ovations to players when Allen mentioned them on stage. But it was interesting that the 2 players who received perhaps the loudest ovations were Jim Kleinsasser and Antoine Winfield.

That’s it for now, but we’ll have more coverage of the 1st ever “State of the Vikings” event right here on later today.

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Great Returns?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 16, 2009 – 7:45 am

Since the Vikings drafted explosive and dynamic WR Percy Harvin in April’s draft, everyone has had visions of gadget plays, bubble screens and the Wildcat formation dancing in their heads. And this is rightfully so, perhaps, because there’s no denying that a player of Harvin’s design has the potential to improve an offense by making it more dynamic.

But it doesn’t look like Harvin and the Vikings are going to focus entirely on offense. In order to maximize their return on the investment of drafting Harvin, the Vikings are going to use Harvin the kick return game.

During recent minicamps and OTAs, Harvin has been among several players in both the kick return and punt return rotations. But it’s not as easy as just finding the fastest or quickest guys and throwing out on the field to return kicks. Although it’s easy to take catching kickoffs and punts for granted, it’s actually not as easy as one might think. And it’s the most important part of the return. Tremendous skill at dodging defenders and speeding down the sideline can be negated by an inability to secure the ball.

“I think naturally catching kickoffs is easier for guys in general,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said. “He (Harvin) has done a good job with that. Tracking the football; he’s got a good innate feel for that.”

Catching punts, however, has been a little bit different of a story for the 1st-year pro. He’s had a few drops here and there, but during recent workouts it’s been evident that once he gets the ball in his hands, look out.

“He’s going to need to field a bunch of punts as we go to training camp for us to feel comfortable and for him to feel completely comfortable, because all it takes is one on the ground (to cost you),” Childress explained. “You want to field every one of them. He certainly has the skills and ability. I just think he’ll take some work during training camp.”

Harvin says he’s received feedback from the coaching staff and the former Florida Gator playmaker seems insistent on improving between now and training camp.

“Of course the punts our more difficult with them being so high; I’m not used to them being kicked that high,” Harvin said. “But the coaches have said I’ve made big strides and that my biggest problem is the last couple of feet when the ball is coming down and being able to judge it.”

OTAs concluded late last week, but rookies will be in town for a few more days before they head to the rookie symposium and then enjoy a break until training camp. And while Harvin plans to unwind a little bit between now and camp, he also said he plans to bring a bag of NFL footballs with him to Gainesville to he can work on fielding punts and kickoffs.

“I’ll practice it over the break and come back a little better than when I left,” Harvin says.

Sounds like the Vikings will have great returns on their 1st-round investment.

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