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No Changes For Vikings On Thursday Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 3:33 pm

There were no changes on the injury report submitted by the Vikings on Thursday. CB Antoine Winfield remained a non-participant in practice because of his foot injury. All other players listed on the report were limited.

S Husain Abdullah (back), S Eric Frampton (ankle), WR Percy Harvin (shoulder), T Phil Loadholt (ankle), RB Adrian Peterson (ankle), WR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) and S Madieu Williams (quadricep) were all listed as limited.

The Steelers did have some changes, however. DE Travis Kirschke and WR Hines Ward came off the report after being on it yesterday for a non-injury related issues. RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) was limited yesterday but was a full participant today. LB Andre Frazier (thigh) was not on the report yesterday but he appeared on it today and was listed as a non-participant.

The biggest news on the Steelers front in terms of injuries, though, was that S Troy Polamalu didn’t practice for a 2nd straight day. Polamalu missed Weeks 2-5 because of a knee injury he suffered in Week 1, but returned last week. But he was held out of practice yesterday because of the knee and was also held out today.


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Adrian The Standup Comedian

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 2:32 pm

Every Thursday, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson stands in front of the podium and an assembled group of reporters and cameras. It’s a routine that can at times become redundant. But Peterson’s sense of humor can at times shake things up, and this week he was at it again.

Asked if this game was special because they’re playing the defending Super Bowl champs, Peterson gave a sincere answer, saying “We know what type of team they have and what type of mindset they have. Just going against the defending champs, no matter what their record is, it’s a big game, especially on their own turf.”

But he continued by making a play on words relating to the name of the Steelers home stadium – Heinz Field – which is named after the popular ketchup and American food company based in Pittsburgh.

“So we’ve got to make sure we come out to a fast start because it’s going to be real hard playing catch-up (hint: ketchup) at Heinz Field.”


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Field Condition In Pittsburgh Could Get Tricky

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 1:54 pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers enjoy a great home field advantage in Heinz Field. But what isn’t great at Heinz Field, for the Steelers and any team that plays there, is the condition of the field.

And a number of circumstances could combine in the next few days to do anything but improve the field conditions for Sunday’s Steelers-Vikings game. Although the forecast does not currently call for rain on Sunday, rain is in the forecast for tomorrow and then the University of Pittsburgh has a game scheduled at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon.

“It’ll certainly be a test,” Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said of kicking at Heinz Field. “You really don’t know until you get there. They’re going to replace the sod in between the hashes, which is always an adventure.

“It’s not supposed to be bad during our game, but the field may be torn up before we even get there. So it’ll be something that we just have to adjust to.”

Because of Longwell’s experience in the NFL, Murphy didn’t sound too concerned about making the appropriate adjustments.

“Ryan’s performed at a high level in a lot of tough places to play,” Murphy explained. “He spent his career in Lambeau and kicked in Soldier Field; I think he’ll be able to adjust.”


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Patience The Key In Peterson’s Receiving Game, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 1:28 pm

One of the early critiques Adrian Peterson was offered by his coaches during the 1st couple seasons of his career was patience. Often times he would be so anxious to hit a hole that he would burst through the line of scrimmage before his offensive linemen could set up their blocks.

Peterson worked on that aspect of his game and he’s shown improvement.

Another area in which he’s improved has been his receiving skills. In his rookie season, Peterson had 19 receptions and last year he had 21. But this year the Vikings 2-time Pro Bowl RB already has 14 and he’s on pace for 37.

Being able to get the ball in his hands as a receiver is valuable for the Vikings because teams continue to stack the box in anticipation of him being handed the ball. The more diverse Peterson’s skill set, the harder it will be for teams to defend him.

So what’s been the key to Peterson’s improvement as a receiver out of the backfield? Just as he had to work on patience with his running, Peterson says the key to his improvement as a receiver has been patience.

“I would say just being more patient when I’m running my routes and understanding that the quarterback has different reads before he checks down to [me],” the RB explained. “That’s one thing that I look back on…how it wasn’t necessarily that I wasn’t running good routes. I was just being too fast. Now that I’m more patient, I’m able to work the guy and really break on the guy and get open.”


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Submit Your vikings.com Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 11:50 am

Have a question or comment about last Sunday’s victory over the Ravens? Or how about a question regarding this week’s game against the Steelers? 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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Childress: Rice Had “Exceptional” Offseason

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 10:48 am

Vikings WR Sidney Rice’s offseason workout regiment this offseason has been well-chronicled. In case you’re unaware, we’ve mentioned in this blog that Rice was at Winter Park every day he was in Minnesota during the offseason and on the days he wasn’t in Minnesota, Rice was training in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

While training in Minnesota, Rice spent time working with All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Vikings legend Cris Carter on the University of Minnesota campus, too.

All of his hard work in the offseason is paying off. Rice had a monster game last week against the Ravens, hauling in 6 grabs for 176 yards, and he leads the team in both receptions (23) and receiving yards (409).

“He really pushed himself in terms of physical conditioning, leg strength, stamina, and those kinds of things before he even got back here and worked with us and worked with Larry,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “But he did have an exceptional offseason. He wanted to come in and stay healthy and make it right. He’s managed to do so, so far.”

Along with the good fortune of good health, Rice’s tireless work ethic has allowed him to transcend from a physically gifted athlete to a productive NFL wideout. When he entered the league as a 2nd round draft pick of the Vikings at the age of just 20 years old in 2007, Rice was raw. But now even 19-year veteran Brett Favre has taken note of Rice’s progression.

“There are a lot of guys at that position who are big guys and physically gifted but don’t use it to their advantage,” Favre said. “Sidney uses his physical skills to his advantage.”


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TEs Scoring Lots Of TDs For Vikings and Steelers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 8:58 am

The Vikings and Steelers are getting similiar production out of their QBs so far in the 2009 season. And, by extension, they are also getting similar production out of their starting TEs.

Both the Vikings and Steelers are led by QBs who rank in the top 10 in TDs and passer rating. Brett Favre is currently 3rd in TDs (12) and passer rating (109.5) while Ben Roethlisberger is 8th in TDs (10) and 4th in passer rating (104.5). This type of play from perhaps the most important position on the field as each team off to good starts, with the Vikings sitting at 6-0 and the Steelers at a sound 4-2.

Because both QBs tend to rely on the TE position in crucial passing situations, both the Vikings and Steelers are also getting top-of-the-line production from their starting TEs. Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe is tied with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald for the NFL lead in TD receptions with 5, and Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller is just one behind with 4 receiving scores.

Shiancoe’s surge in production doesn’t come as a surprise to folks who’ve been following the Vikings. After a disappointing 1st year with the team a couple seasons back, when he was still learning the offense and thinking before acting, Shiancoe came into his own last season and has clearly taken another step forward this season. But it’s also no surprise to see Shiancoe’s production rise because he’s playing with a QB who has historically relied upon his TE in the passing game.

“Well, if you look at my career, or maybe in this offense in general, it’s kind of the crutch to go to the tight end,” Favre said to reporters on Wednesday.”

Last year Shiancoe finished with 7 TDs, which paired with his 5 scores this years gives him the 2nd most receiving TDs among all NFL TEs, with only Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez higher on the list.

Favre, who has given the Vikings aerial attack a lift since joining the club during the preseason, isn’t surprised at all by Shiancoe’s success.

“He’s a big, physical target,” Favre said. “I think the sky is the limit for a guy like him.

“I even wonder sometimes if Shank has any idea of how good he can be. That catch he made the first drive (against Baltimore) was unbelievable. I don’t know how he caught it. It was a great catch. When I threw it I thought it was too far but then I go ‘ok you make me look good.’ That is the type of player he can be and then some.”


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Steelers S Polamalu Presents Familiar Challenge

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 22, 2009 – 8:11 am

NFL defenses spend hours upon hours of the week preparing for and scheming against their opponent’s offense. One step in their preparation is to identify individual offensive players and dissect exactly how the offense plans to use that player, and then figure out a way to stop that plan.

Offenses across the league use this same tactic, however. Often times there are defenders that are so adept at making plays and busting apart offensive schemes that they must be accounted for on every play by the opposing team.

Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Vikings had their hands full of such players, and S Ed Reed might have been at the top of the list. Reed’s penchant for making big plays, and his nose for the ball, makes him one of the league’s most lethal defenders.

This week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Vikings have a similar challenge in S Troy Polamalu, perhaps the Steelers best defensive player and one of the NFL’s most gifted defenders.

A 7-year veteran and 1st round pick of the Steelers in 2003, Polamalu has been a Pro Bowler in the past 5 seasons and he was named to the Steelers 75th season All-Time Team a few years back. He has excellent speed, good ball skills, is a ferocious tackler and is as good against the run as any secondary player in the NFL.

There is no questioning the importance of Polamalu to the Steelers defense. He missed 4 games earlier this season with a knee injury, and the Steelers went 2-2 in those contests. In the 2 games he has played in this season, Polamalu has a pair of INTs and his team has a pair of wins.

The Vikings were successful in their attempts to neutralize and navigate away from Reed last week. The perennial All-Pro defender had just 6 tackles and didn’t register a pass defensed, sack or forced fumble. The Vikings need to do just as good a job this week against Polamalu.

“That’s probably as good an analogy as there is in the AFC,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said when asked to compare Polamalu with Reed. “Even though they play in different schemes of defense, they both have great instincts and skills – not just instinct, but you can see there is a bunch of film study and there is some deception involved as well.

“They are trying to give you a tell that they are doing one thing and then do something quite different. So you need to be mindful of where they are.”


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