The Seahawks have a road game this week in Minnesota, but at least one Seattle player will almost feel at home while taking the field on Sunday.
Litchfield, MN native John Carlson is a 2nd-year TE for Seattle and he’s having a solid season. Minnesota football fans are familiar with him from his days as a prep star and then also from following his college career at Notre Dame. But Seahawks fans are getting to know him now and they surely like what they see.
Carlson, who stands at 6-5 and weighs 251 pounds, had a solid rookie season in 2008, recording 55 receptions for 627 receiving yards and 5 TDs. Now, he’s following that up with an even better campaign in 2009.
“I think Carlson is a good tight end,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “I know he was a great high school player here and then at Notre Dame. But he’s the kind of guy that can open up and doesn’t necessarily have to play with his hand on the ground next to a tackle. He’s not in that box.”
Through 9 games this season, Carlson has certainly taken advantage of his opportunities outside of the box. He enters this week’s game with 34 receptions and is tied for the team lead with 3 receiving TDs. Carlson began the season on a roll, with 12 receptions and 2 scores in the opening 2 weeks, but then cooled off a bit.
Now, with 7 receptions for 73 yards and 1 TD over the last 2 games, Carlson seems to have re-established his rhythm with QB Matt Hasselbeck.
Opposing TEs have found success against the Vikings periodically in 2009. 49ers TE Vernon Davis and Packers TE Jermichael Finley combined for 13 receptions, 224 yards and 3 TDs in games earlier this season, and Lions TE Will Heller hauled in 4 grabs for 33 yards and a score last week.
So, expect Carlson to try and find similar success in his homecoming. But also expect the Vikings to treat Carlson as a visitor.
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The Vikings and Seahawks have released their initial injury reports for the week.
CB Antoine Winfield (foot) was a limited participant, as were WR Bernard Berrian (hamstring), QB Brett Favre (groin/hip), CB Benny Sapp (groin) and FB Fahu Tahi (ankle). DT Fred Evans (illness) did not participate while LB E.J. Henderson (knee) was a full participant.
For Seattle, RB Julius Jones (chest) has been rule out. DT Craig Terrill (shoulder), CB Marcus Trufant (concussion) and CB Josh Wilson (concussion) did not participate. C Chris Spencer (thumb) participated in full.
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Vikings CB Antoine Winfield continues to battle back from a foot injury he suffered in the 1st half of the team’s Week 6 contest against the Baltimore Ravens. The defense has played well in Winfield’s absence, but there’s no doubt the unit is looking forward to his return.
Winfield practiced last week on a limited basis and was eventually ruled out for Sunday’s game after Friday’s workout.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday morning, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said he expected Winfield would practice again today.
“Part of his rehabilitation is the function stuff,” Childress said. “Getting in lines and going through the defensive back drills and getting out here and going through the one on ones.”
In terms of speculating on what Winfield’s status will be for Sunday’s home game against the Seattle Seahawks, much more will be known once the injury report his released after today’s practice. Childress indicated Winfield will practice without limitation.
“His body will talk to him in terms of what he can and can’t do,” Childress said. “He’s green-lighted here. It remains to be seen whether he can make it to Sunday or not. I know that’s goal. He’s going to push it as hard as he possibly can and we’ll just see.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield
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As a middle LB, E.J. Henderson plays the role of QB for the Vikings defense. And on Tuesday, Henderson appeared on ESPN’s First Take to talk about the play of Brett Favre, the QB of the Vikings offense.
Henderson has been a member of the Purple since 2003, so he is one of the most qualified members of the Vikings roster to speak about Favre’s impact with the Vikings. In the interview, Henderson points out that he played against Favre for 5 years when #4 was in Green Bay, and in that time he never tallied an interception or sack against the QB.
But now they’re on the same team and Henderson is seeing Favre do to others what he did to the Vikings for so many years. Click here to watch the interview.
And then come back to vikings.com for more coverage of Vikings-Seahawks.
Tags: E.J. Henderson
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We mentioned in the previous blog entry that Seattle has been hampered by significant injuries so far in 2009, including season-ending ailments to LT and future Hall of Famer Walter Jones and 3-time Pro Bowl LB Lofa Tatupu.
And then last week starting RB Julius Jones was dinged up and he could miss this week’s game against the Vikings.
But the Seahawks do have one thing going for them – QB Matt Hasselbeck will be in the lineup.
That’s important for Seattle because he’s clearly the straw that stirs the drink. The Seahawks are 3-6 on the season, but Hasselbeck has missed 2.5 games this season due to injury. In the 7 full games in which Hasselbeck has played, Seattle is 3-4, including a 28-0 opening day win against the St. Louis Rams and a 41-0 trouncing of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5 that was paced by the QB’s 4-TD effort.
With Hasselbeck in the lineup, Seattle averages 22.2 points per game, but without him they average just 17.2 points per contest. And because the Vikings defense leads the league in sacks with 34, having the experienced Hasselbeck in the lineup will be important for Seattle’s offense.
The question is, will it be enough?
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With their 27-10 win over Detroit now fully in the rear view mirror, the Vikings will turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks, who will invade Mall of America Field on Sunday afternoon with a 3-6 record and coming off a 31-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Seattle hasn’t visited Minnesota for a regular season game since 2004.
Injuries have taken their toll on the Seahawks this season. Every team must deal with injuries every season. But Seattle has already lost LT Walter Jones and LB Lofa Tatupu, 2 of their best players, and they’ve been without starting QB Matt Hasselbeck for 2.5 games. Now, starting RB Julius Jones is dinged up and might not play this week.
Aside from the injuries, Seattle has struggled this season, ranking 16th in total offense and 20th in total defense. They’ve looked great in a 28-0 Week 1 win over St. Louis and a 41-0 smashing of Jacksonville in Week 5, but then they’ve looked poor in 3 combined losses to Arizona and San Francisco.
In all of the statistical disadvantages that exist for Seattle in this matchup, there are still a couple of positive angles. The Seahawks defense is tied for 6th in the NFL with 27 opponents’ rushes for negative yards and the Vikings offense leads the NFL in total negative yardage plays. Also, the Seattle offense is ranked 7th in the NFL in 2nd down and 7 yards or less situations, which allows them to stay on schedule more frequently through the first 2 plays of a new set of downs.
But Seattle will need to expose the Vikings in more than just those 2 areas to pull off an upset this weekend. The Vikings enter this weekend’s contest at 8-1 and on the hunt for a 2nd consecutive division crown. QB Brett Favre is the league’s highest-rated passer and RB Adrian Peterson is 2nd in rushing and has also tallied 11 rushing TDs.
Minnesota’s defense is tied with Pittsburgh for least rushing TDs allowed with 2 and it’s been 32 games since an opposing RB has rushed for 100 yards against them. Making matters even better for the Vikings is that CB Antoine Winfield is poised to make his return to the lineup after dealing with an injured foot since halftime of Week 6. Winfield was practicing with the team last week and seemed to continue to progress. His return this week isn’t a guarantee but all indications are that #26 is close to coming back.
A couple of other key factors in this game:
– Seattle is -2 in turnover ratio, while the Vikings are +4
– The Vikings are tied for 2nd in the NFL with 42 offensive plays of 20+ yards, while Seattle ranks just 22nd with 26 such plays.
– Seattle’s offense converts 38.5% of their 3rd downs (21st in the NFL) and the defense allows opponents to convert 53.3% of the time (17th in the NFL)
– The Seahawks rank just 29th in red zone TD efficiency (40.7%), while the Vikings offense ranks 12th at 56.4% and their defense ranks 2nd at 37.5%.
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