An “Early Quit” On Day 4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2009 – 5:15 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress ended practice a bit earlier than scheduled on Monday, giving his team an “early quit” as he’s termed it a couple of times recently. The team has been full-go since Friday, including a “live” practice this morning that featured plenty of spirited tackling and jaw-jacking.

But the early quit didn’t send players into the locker room early. Several players stayed on the field following practice to work on individual and position specific skills. TE Jeff Dugan and FB Fahu Tahi stayed to work on blocking, Glenn Holt and Sidney Rice stayed to work with the jugs machine, TE Visanthe Shaincoe worked on a tip drill with TEs coach Jimmie Johnson, both QBs remained on the field for extra work and a handful of DBs worked on catching passes from the QBs and also on form tackling.

Following practice, Childress didn’t have much of an update on injured QB Tarvaris Jackson, who emerged from indoor treatment to join his teammates on the sideline. He did have a comment on rookie CB Asher Allen, saying the former Georgia star has had a “good first impression” so far and also saying he has “nickel skills,” meaning he has the ability to play outside in a traditional CB position and also inside, where the nickel back sets up.

The Vikings are scheduled to practice twice more tomorrow, with the morning session slated for 9:00 and the afternoon session set for 2:10 (special teams practice).

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Childress Confident in Special Teams Improvement

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2009 – 4:59 pm

At 1st glance, there may be only 2 sides to a figurative football – the offensive side and the defensive side. But any football coach worth his salt will tell you there are actually 3 sides to a (figurative) football.

The special teams unit comprises that 3rd side, and Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after Monday’s afternoon practice that he is confident his special teams unit will improve from last year, when the Vikings ranked near the bottom in some statistical categories.

“I am confident that it’s going to be improved,” Childress told reporters. “I think that our guys, throughout the offseason, have spent a lot of time on what we’re doing schematically and the understanding of what we’re trying to do.”

After Paul Ferraro left his post as special teams coordinator to join the St. Louis Rams as LBs coach, Childress decided to promote Brian Murphy, who served under Ferraro, to the position. Other changes to the special teams unit include the return of special teams ace LB Heath Farwell and an influx of young talent battling for a limited number of roster spots.

“I think Murph has done a great job of putting good drill work with it and making them understand and see some things,” Childress explained. “I think there’s some enthusiasm. I also think that younger athletes have all bought in and jumped in at an early age. When you have competition for roster spots like we’re going to have, then that tends to elevate (their special teams play) as well.”

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Going Live On Day 4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2009 – 12:33 pm

The Vikings were in full pads for Monday morning’s practice and the action heated up as the 11-on-11 action was live. After a long offseason of no contact and 3 days of camp with light contact, it was fun to see the guys out there going full speed and full contact.

As you would guess, the intensity usually picks up when the action is live, and today was no different. The Vikings coaching staff had the players working on short yardage, goal line and “move the ball” situations. I didn’t see it, but I’m told E.J. Henderson had the hit of the day when he popped RB Chester Taylor on an outside run play.

A few other highlights from this morning included an impressive and athletic diving interception by CB Marcus McCauley. A couple of other young defenders teamed up to make a nice play when LB David Herron tipped a pass and CB Asher Allen was able to get underneath it and intercept the pass. Two plays later, it looked as if S Husain Abdullah was set to pick off a pass, but TE Visanthe Shiancoe made an incredible leaping catch while completely outstretched down the right seam.

On the majority of snaps today, I would say the defense played a little bit better. But that’s very typical for this time during camp. As E.J. Henderson told me yesterday, the offense has a little more to go over during camp. It’s still good to see the defense playing well, though. They are in great hands with defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier.

From an offensive perspective, it’s a little weird to see just 2 QBs out there taking all the reps. They’re doing a good job, and the extra reps are helpful to both Sage Rosenfels, who is learning this offense, and John David Booty, who is still in the early stages of his development but is looking a lot better. I hope Tarvaris Jackson makes it back soon.

It’s only Day 4, so the depth chart situation is still fluid. Coaches are running guys in and out, mixing up combinations and still trying to determine who should be on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams. At this point, it’s not really worth commenting on who is running with each unit.

It was a busy morning at camp. Aside from the exciting on-field action, there was also plenty going on around the fields. Vikings preseason analyst and NFL Network personality Mike Mayock was in town (he arrived last night), as an NFL Network film crew followed him around practice. Mike is a great friend of and is also a great football mind. You’ll see and hear more from him as camp and the preseason go on. His Vikings play-by-play partner, Ari Wolfe, was also at camp today.

Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman were schedule to speak to the Southeast MN Chamber of Commerce after practice today. Also, today was Vikings Season Ticket Owner Day.

The Vikings will practice again this afternoon at 3:00. We’ll have more updates throughout the day.

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Early Notes From Day 4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2009 – 11:30 am

The Vikings just concluded their morning practice on Day #4 at training camp. The team was in full pads and went live for a good portion of practice. We’ll have a more complete report from this morning’s practice a little later on the Blog.

Here are a few notes to chew on first, though, courtesy of Vikings Assistant Director of Public Relations Tom West.

– Happy Birthday to Vikings LB E.J. Henderson, who turns 29 today. E.J. is joined on the Vikings roster by younger brother, and fellow LB, Erin Henderson. E.J. and Erin were never teammates until the Vikings in 2008. They played in their 1st game together on 9/21/08 vs. Carolina, a game where E.J. set his career high with 17 tackles and had one of the most impressive performances by a defensive player in 2008

– The Vikings feature 4 players from Maryland on the 2009 roster, matching Oklahoma for the most from a single school. Joining the Henderson brothers from Maryland are S Madieu Williams and TE Jeff Dugan.

– The Vikings welcome former QB and one-time NFL MVP Rich Gannon to training camp today. Gannon will broadcast for NFL Sirius Radio this afternoon. Gannon led the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII against Tampa Bay in a showdown of former Vikings QBs when he squared off against Brad Johnson.

– Special Teams Coordinator Brian Murphy and Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier met with the media following the morning practice.

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More Than An Insurance Policy

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2009 – 7:54 am

We had a story yesterday on about the greatness of RB Adrian Peterson. While there’s no denying the invaluable role Peterson plays on the Vikings, there’s another RB on the Vikings roster who is relied upon in a significant manner.

Chester Taylor was acquired via free agency in 2006 and in his 1st season with the Vikings he helped set a tone in the run game that would eventually lead to the Vikings offensive identity. But now with Peterson leading the charge out of the backfield, Taylor’s role has morphed into one where he is the jack of many trades.

The area where Taylor has been the most valuable over the past 2 seasons has been on 3rd downs.

“We’re comfortable with Adrian Peterson, don’t get me wrong. But I would think you would say Chester Taylor did an outstanding job in that role as our third down back,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He scored a lot of touchdowns and converted a lot of third downs and what that does is save Adrian for some of those other downs.”

Taylor has even ventured into the special teams arena, returning 10 kicks in 2008 for a 23.4-yard average.

When you think of the Vikings offensive weapons, Peterson is obviously the 1st name that comes to mind, probably followed by other names such as Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin. But Bevell knows that Taylor is another one of those weapons.

“We have a Chester Taylor. You might as well use him,” Bevell said. “You’re going to have a Percy Harvin, you got (Visanthe) Shiancoe, you got Bernard and you have to find ways to get those playmakers the ball.”

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