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Wednesday Injury Report Released

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 6:19 pm

As they were last week, both QB Brett Favre (foot/ankle/knee) and G Steve Hutchinson (back) are on the Vikings injury report. Both the Vikings and Rams released their 1st injury reports of the week on Wednesday, and a total of 14 players appeared on the reports.

For the Vikings, Favre and Hutchinson were joined by DE Ray Edwards (hamstring), CB Cedric Griffin (hand), LB Erin Henderson (calf) and WR Darius Reynaud. Edwards, Hutchinson and Reynaud did not participate in practice, while Favre, Griffin and Henderson were limited participants.

One positive note is that LB E.J. Henderson is not listed on the report after being on there for a shoulder injury in recent weeks.

For the Rams, the following players were listed as limited participants: WRs Donnie Avery (hamstring) and Keenan Burton (hamstring), CB Ron Bartell (thigh), QB Marc Bulger (right shoulder), Ss Craig Dahl (concussion) and Anthony Smith (achilles), and T Jason Smith (knee). S James Butler (knee) did not participate in practice.


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Submit Your vikings.com Mailbag Questions/Comments

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 3:55 pm

Have a question about this week’s game against the Rams? Or how about a comment regarding last week’s victory over the Packers? Send your questions/comments to the vikings.com Mailbag.

You can submit your questions/comments to me by sending an email to wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. I can’t post every question/comment, but I’ll answer them all.

The vikings.com Mailbag is published ever Friday during the regular season.


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Coaching Connections

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 2:46 pm

We’ve got a different schedule than we normally have for a Wednesday, so stay tuned to vikings.com for both head coach Brad Childress and QB Brett Favre press conferences. You can watch those live later today by clicking coming back and clicking this link.

In the meantime, while we’re waiting for Childress to set the table for this week’s Vikings-Rams game, I wanted to share a few interesting notes regarding the connections between the Vikings and Rams coaching staffs.

The Rams hired Steve Spagnuolo as their new head coaching heading into this season. Most recently, Spagnuolo spent 2 seasons as the New York Giants defensive coordinator. He was the architect of the defense that shut down the high-octane New England Patriots in the Giants stunning 17-14 win in Super Bowl XLII. But prior to serving in that role, he and Brad Childress coached together in Philadelphia from 1999-2005.

In addition to that, Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was on staff with both Childress and Spagnuolo in Philadelphia from 1999-2002. Frazier and Spagnuolo coached the Eagles DBs together in 2001 and 2002.

So, as is often the case in today’s NFL, the opposing coaches in Sunday’s game will know each other quite well.

Speaking of knowing each other quite well, many of the Vikings who will suit up on Sunday will be re-acquainted with some familiar faces. Rams LBs coach Paul Ferraro was the Vikings special teams coordinator from 2006-2008 and St. Louis DL coach Brendan Daly was the Vikings assistant DL coach under Karl Dunbar from 2006-2008.

One last connection to mention – Rams OL coach Steve Loney was the Vikings offensive line coach from 2002-2004 and then the Vikings offensive coordinator in 2005 under head coach Mike Tice.


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Vikings Community Tuesday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 12:39 pm

Vikings LBs E.J. Henderson and Erin Henderson, along with several of their teammates, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders and Viktor the Viking, hosted youngsters from the United Way agencies on Tuesday at GameSpeed Academy in Eden Prairie.

The event was part of the United Way “Hometown Huddle” and allowed the group to put the finishing touches on a new Vikings-themed Fitness Zone in the facility. 

The Vikings, through NFL Charities, contributed $10,000 toward the project. The youth workout equipment is equipped with wheels, so the GameSpeed staff will be able to take the equipment to United Way centers to reach youngsters in need.

United Way agencies participating in the event included the Plymouth Christian Youth Center, Fremont Clinics and YWCA of Minneapolis.

In addition to helping with the training of the youngsters, the players helped the youngsters with the painting of a wall. The visit also promoted the NFL’s Play 60 program, which encourages young people to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.


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Childress, Vikings Preparing For Aggressive Rams Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 10:51 am

Coming off an exciting win over division rival Green Bay that improved them to 4-0 and with a trio of intriguing matchups against the Baltimore Ravens (10/18), Pittsburgh Steelers (10/25) and Packers (11/1) coming up in the next few weeks, one might be able to see how this week’s contest against a winless team averaging just 6 points per game might be overlooked.

But Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress clearly indicated on Tuesday that he and the Vikings are not overlooking the St. Louis Rams, who will host the Vikings on Sunday.

“I understand what their record is,” Childress said, “but I know what (Rams Head Coach) Steve (Spagnuolo) is teaching and you have only to go back and look at his defensive scheme against the Packers in the NFC championship game or last year against us against the Giants. He is in the first year of that program but you see similarities in terms of what he is throwing at you, and that’s always been a very aggressive defense. So (your) hands (are) full anytime you go on the road.”

If you go beyond the surface level of the Rams points for/against ratio, which is 24-108, you’ll see that the Rams defense is not playing as poorly as that statistic would indicate. The offense has struggled this season, ranking last in scoring, 30th in passing yards per game and 27th in total yards per game. That means the Rams opponents are getting lots of possessions and their opponents are also benefiting from good field position – Rams opponents’ average staring field position is the 31-yardline, which ranks them just 24th in the NFL.

So the Vikings offensive coaching staff will be challenged this week to scheme against a defense that is playing better than the statistics indicate.

Aside from the head coach knowing his hands will be full this week, Vikings fans can also take solace in the fact that the players realize no team can be taken lightly, either.

“We’ve got a good bunch of veteran leaders in there that understand that dynamic that anybody beats anybody,” Childress explained. “Particularly when you travel and go to someone else’s house, in this case a domed environment. That team is dangerous from the standpoint that they are scrapping. They have a new coach. They are trying to do things the right way. They are playing with younger guys, so all those things are dynamics.”


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Play the Pick and Win Contest on WeAreVikingsFans.com

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 7, 2009 – 9:41 am

Just a reminder that Vikings fans are encouraged to head over to WeAreVikingsFans.com, the official social networking site of the Vikings, to play the Miller Lite Pick and Win Contest.

The Pick and Win Contest challenges your football familiarity. All you have to do is pick each week’s winners across the NFL using the drop down menus provided.  If your picks are right, you’ll be rewarded points.

Every week one lucky winner will receive a Miller Lite Vikings Prize Package containing a cooler bag and baseball cap. Plus, the top five winners at the end of the year will receive exclusive Miller Lite and Vikings merchandise.

The Grand Prize winner wins a Miller Lite Vikings Tailgate Package containing a Portable Grill, 10×10 Canopy Tent, Tailgate Toss Game, Cooler Bag and Hooded Jacket!

Must be 21 years of age or older to play.

Make your picks for week five today!


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Emptying Out The Monday Night Notebook

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 7:56 am

Just wanted to empty out the notebook from Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers before we begin to look ahead at this week’s game in St. Louis…

 
– Great job by the Vikings of cleaning up the penalties. You’ll remember that this was a problem area for the Vikings during the preseason. In 4 preseason games, the Vikings had 40 penalties enforced against them for a total of 286 yards, which averaged out to 10 penalties a game for losses of 71.5 yards a game, which looks like a nice scoring drive. Against the Packers on Monday night, the only 2 penalties were enforced against the Vikings. Credit goes to both the coaches and players for cleaning that up.

– I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that WR Sidney Rice was one of the hardest-working players during this past offseason. Well so was WR Jaymar Johnson, and it paid off for him on Monday night. Johnson, who saw his 1st regular season action because of the injury to WR Darius Reynaud, returned 2 punts for a total of 42 yards. His 1st return was an 18-yarder that advanced the ball from the Vikings 26-yardline to the 44. The 2nd return was even better, as Johnson advanced the ball 24 yards from his own 25-yardline to the 49-yardline.

– It’s more than appropriate that we give kudos to the Vikings offensive line for a great job of pass protection on Monday night. The unit was receiving criticism after 3 games for how many times QB Brett Favre was being sacked and hit, but against the Packers they kept Favre completely clean, allowing zero sacks and giving Favre enough time to complete 24 passes for 271 yards and 3 TDs.

“Chester (Taylor) had a great blitz pick up on the pass that Brett had to Sidney (Rice) in the end zone, with the guy coming off the edge,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said. “I thought the inside three guys did a nice job as well as the guys with the speed rushers and the tight ends and the backs are involved in that. They were just all on the same page and nobody got beat.”

– Jared Allen was the Vikings DE who had the best game on Monday night, tallying 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble while making QB Aaron Rodgers’ life completely miserable. But another DE had a good game also – Brian Robison got in there for 1.5 sacks and had a tackle for a loss. He’s a high-motor guy who has played in a few spots along the line. He can play inside on passing downs and he has also played both DE spots. And Childress says Robison is contributing to other areas of the team as well.

“Not just spot rushing, having that sack and jumping inside, but he’s doing a tremendous job and really has embraced what he does on the special teams,” the coach said. “In that return that Percy (Harvin) had last week he was running stride-for-stride with (Nate) Clemens down the field blocking him. So he’s doing nice things all the way around; in our return game, our coverage game.”

– The Vikings outscored their opponent once again in the 3rd quarter, besting Green Bay on Monday night 7-0. That runs the Vikings positive 3rd quarter scoring margin to 38-3. The Vikings 38 points in the 3rd quarter is the most of any team, and the Vikings rank 4th in overall scoring with 29.5 PPG.

I don’t know how what’s led to the positive 3rd quarter scoring margin, but I’ll give the coaching staff the credit for making good adjustments at halftime. After all, if the Vikings were being outscored 38-3 in the 3rd quarter, the coaching staff would be getting killed for it.


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Goal Line Stand and WR Berrian Combine Again

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 7:29 am

 Last year against the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome, the Vikings defense made a dramatic goal line stand and the offense immediately answered with a 99-yard TD pass from QB Gus Frerotte to WR Bernard Berrian. On Monday night against another division rival – Green Bay – the Vikings defense and offense once again teamed up for a nice combo platter.

This time, however, it was a Berrian TD reception that set the table.

The Vikings began the 3rd quarter with the ball and QB Brett Favre marched the troops on an 8-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a 31-yard scoring strike to Berrian, giving the Vikings a 28-14 lead and control of the game.

On the ensuing drive, Green Bay drove the field as well and got down to the Vikings 1-yardline after 11 plays. And that’s where the Vikings defense bowed up, executing a series of impressive plays that ended with a dropped pass in the endzone and a turnover on downs.

“Well it (the goal line stand) is impressive because it was from a variety of different looks,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress pointed out. “They dove the fullback one time and (Chad) Greenway makes a tremendous play to stop him one-on-one and not let him get the ball in the endzone. (Ben) Leber makes a great play, just a pursuit with a guy dragging underneath and actually causes a loss there. But they (Green Bay) were (in) everything from three tight ends to empty (sets) and they defended it all. So hats off to those guys.

“As long as you give us a little bit of ground to defend we are going to defend it. We are not going to concede.”

Following that chain of events, the Vikings and Packers exchanged a few punts, with Minnesota P Chris Kluwe eventually pinning Green Bay on their own 1-yardline. It was thereafter that DE Jared Allen sacked QB Aaron Rodgers in the endzone and increased the lead to 30-14.


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Berrian Comes Through For The vikings.com Blog

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 7:15 am

Remember this blog entry? If you don’t feel like clicking on the link and then hitting the “back” button at the top of your internet browser, just know that the blog entry suggested that WR Bernard Berrian was due for a big game against the Green Bay Packers.

Berrian had little success against the Packers in the first 5 seasons of his career – 4 with the Chicago Bears and then last year as a member of the Vikings. So with that in mind, and with all of the pregame attention being focused on QB Brett Favre playing his former team of 16 years, I thought the Berrian angle was a sneaky little subplot that actually had a chance to come to fruition because Green Bay would be so focused on stopping RB Adrian Peterson.

And what do you know? It unfolded in just that manner. Berrian broke out of his shell and had the best game of his 2009 season, hauling in 6 receptions for 75 yards and 1 TD, a 31-yarder in the 3rd quarter that gave the Vikings a 28-14 lead and control of the game.

Berrian led all Vikings receivers in both receptions and yards, and he led a WR group that combined for 13 receptions, 184 receiving yards and 2 TDs.

So, thanks Bernard. We get enough things wrong around here, so it’s nice to be on the money for a change.


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Rice Realizing His Potential?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 7, 2009 – 6:35 am

Sidney Rice had 31 receptions and 4 TDs in his rookie season (2007). Those 4 TDs led the team and all NFC rookies and ranked him 2nd among all NFL rookies. Heading into his sophomore season, the 6-4 Rice looked like an emerging young talent at WR.

Then in his 2nd season, Rice battled an injury and even though he caught 4 more TDs, he saw his reception total fall from 31 to 15. That resulted in the perception of Rice going from an emerging talent to a player trying to regain his form.

After 4 games in 2009, and 4 games with veteran QB Brett Favre, Rice looks more like a player who is on the verge of realizing his true potential.

“Sidney grows in leaps and bounds and I think there is great confidence between him and Brett,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Monday night.

Rice was one of the hardest-working players on the team this offseason, spending much of his time at Winter Park and even working with former Viking great Cris Carter and  Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.

So far this season, the hard work is paying off. In 4 games, Rice has 172 yards and 4 TDs on 14 catches. One of his TDs came in Monday night’s win over the Green Bay Packers, a team he’s now found the endzone against in 4 games.

“It was great finding the endzone,” Rice said in the locker room after the game. “I didn’t think he (Favre) saw me at first when I came out of my break but I looked back around and he let the ball go and I was going to get inside my defender and caught the ball right there at the goal line.”

You can’t help but wonder if part of Rice’s emergence this season, beyond the hard work he put in this offseason, is due to the presence of Favre, an 18-year veteran who surely realizes the advantages of a WR with Rice’s frame and physical gifts.

Rice himself said on Monday night that he’s noticed Favre mastering the intricacies of the passing game during practice.

“We see it all the time at practice,” Rice explained. “The different things he does to try and take the coverage off of certain guys and then come back to them sometimes while he’s not even looking at that guy.”

Rice is correct. On both of his TDs this season, Favre was able to look off the defender covering Rice and hit him in stride for a score.

Another key to Rice’s emergence and the developing chemistry between QB and WR, Rice says, is simple communication.

“Coaches talk about communication all the time and that’s one thing we try to do throughout the week in practice,” Rice explained. “Just staying in Brett’s ear and letting him know what we see there on the outside in certain coverages.”


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