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Vikings, Cardinals Release Injury Reports

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 4:13 pm

The Vikings and Cardinals have released their initial injury reports for the week.

CB Antoine Winfield (foot) was limited in practice and both Anthony Herrera (concussion) and Benny Sapp (thumb/ribs) were held out. S Eric Frampton was also listed with a concussion and was limited.

The full Vikings injury report can be found by clicking here.

For the Cardinals, LB Will Davis (knee) has already been ruled out. Both TE Stephen Spach (knee) and T Mike Gandy (pelvis) did not practice. Limited participants in practice were RB Tim Hightower (thumb), CB Bryant McFadden (knee), DE Kenny Iwebema (thumb), K Neil Rackers (groin) and LB Karlos Dansby (shoulder).

QB Kurt Warner (head) is listed as a full participant.


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Report: Leinart, Warner Split Reps

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 3:41 pm

We mentioned in an earlier blog today that Arizona QB Kurt Warner’s status for Sunday’s Vikings-Cardinals game is in question after the veteran signal-caller was knocked out of a Week 11 game and missed last week’s contest with a concussion.

Warner had practiced all last week leading up to the Tennessee game but then he woke up with stiffness in his neck on Sunday morning and the Cardinals held him out of action.

Adding to the notion that Warner’s status is in question is this report from azcardinals.com, which says that Warner and Leinart split reps during practice on Wednesday.

Considering the Cardinals had planned on Warner playing last week just 7 days after his concussion, and given his extra week of recovery since he wound up not playing, it would be surprising to see Warner on the bench again this upcoming Sunday against the Vikings.

While meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said he expects that Warner will play.

And I agree. Although Warner’s availability won’t ultimately be known until 90 minutes prior to kickoff when teams are required to submit their list of inactive players, expect Warner to be the starter when the teams lineup for a rematch of last year’s 35-14 Vikings victory.


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Facing The Champs On The Road

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 3:23 pm

The Vikings are on a mission to win championships – the NFC North championship, the NFC championship and then the NFL championship (a.k.a the Super Bowl).

And if the Vikings ultimately accomplish those goals, they’ll have become the champions after facing the champions – both of them.

For the 8th time in franchise history, the Vikings will play both teams from the previous year’s Super Bowl – they played at defending AFC champion Pittsburgh on October 25 and they are slated to play at defending NFC champion Arizona this Sunday. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals in last year’s Super Bowl.

But while this year marks the 8th time the Vikings have taken on the previous Super Bowl participants, it’s only the 2nd time they will take on both of the previous Super Bowl participants on the road.

As if playing both defending conference champions wasn’t enough, the Vikings must do so while playing both games on the road. The Green Bay Packers are the only other team who has the same task of taking on both teams on the road this year.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, speaking with reporters Wednesday at Winter Park, is clearly aware of this scheduling circumstance and it’s clear he’s also made his team aware of it.

“I think it’s important for us to understand you’re going on the road to play the NFC champions,” Childress explained. “They are the champions until somebody unseats them. We have one experience that’s akin to that so far this year; we went on the road and played the AFC champions, who are the Super Bowl champions. And we didn’t do so well.”

The Vikings lost to Pittsburgh by a count of 27-17 in October. In order to avoid a similar fate at the home of another conference champion, Childress insists his team must prepare well during the week and be in the proper mindset come game day.

“That’s a hostile environment down there,” the coach acknowledged. “We need to be about our business, heading down on a three-hour trip to the West Coast.”


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Favre Wins NFC Offensive Player Of The Month Award

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 1:42 pm

It hasn’t been formally announced yet, but Vikings QB Brett Favre has been selected as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.

In games at Green Bay and at home against Detroit, Seattle and Chicago, Favre completed 91 of 130 (70.0%) passes for 1,193 yards, 12 TDs and 0 INTs with a passer rating of 129.4. Favre led the Vikings to a 4-0 record in those games and has the Vikings at 10-1 overall heading into the important month of December.

Favre has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice in 2009 (Weeks 4,8) and is currently 3rd in Pro Bowl voting behind QBs Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

Click the links below to view highlight videos of Favre from the Vikings four November games.

Win at Green Bay

Win vs. Detroit

Win vs. Seattle

Win vs. Chicago


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Submit Your vikings.com Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 11:38 am

Do you have a question or comment about the Vikings-Cardinals game coming up on Sunday? Or a question about the Vikings in general? Send them 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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Watch Today’s Press Conferences Live

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 11:20 am

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and QB Brett Favre will address the media today at Winter Park and you can watch it live on vikings.com by clicking here.

Childress’ press conference is scheduled for 11:45 p.m. CT and Favre’s will begin shortly thereafter. We’ll have reaction to what Childress and Favre have to say right here on the vikings.com Blog.

The Vikings are preparing to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.


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Will Warner Play?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 10:10 am

When we set the table for Arizona in an earlier blog entry today, a large part of the Arizona discussion centered on QB Kurt Warner, who has the league’s 9th-best passer rating (94.4) and ranks 6th in both passing TDs (20) and completion percentage (67.5%).

But we must also mention that, for now at least, Warner’s status for Sunday night’s game against the Vikings remains unknown because of a concussion he suffered in Week 11 against St. Louis.

According to the official Cardinals-Rams game book on NFL.com, Warner was replaced by Matt Leinart at the end of the 1st half. Leinart played the entire 2nd half of the Rams game and also started the Cardinals game last week against the Tennessee Titans, a 20-17 loss.

Warner was in line to start last week but woke up with neck pain on Sunday and the team decided to sit him. Now Warner is in line to start against the Vikings on Sunday night, but as was the case last week in Tennessee, those plans could change at any moment.

“The easy thing to do is just play,” Warner told the team’s official website. “The hard thing is to make that decision where you feel like you could be hurting your team, but you don’t know whether you’re putting yourself at risk or not. You’re always wondering if your teammates second-guess you or if you could have made an impact on the game.”

The Vikings dealt with a similar situation last week with starting RG Anthony Herrera, who was listed on the injury report with a concussion. Herrera did not practice at all leading up to last week’s Bears game and he of course did not suit up on Sunday, either.

The question of whether Warner will play or not will linger all week and probably even into Sunday morning. Even if the Cardinals, head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Warner or any of the QBs teammates say unequivocally that Warner will play, it’s never a sure thing until the team’s release their list of active/inactive players 90 minutes prior to kickoff.


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Vikings Bowl For Charity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 8:00 am

Pat Williams and the Vikings Children’s Fund teamed up on Monday evening for their annual bowling event to benefit the VCF. This year the event was held at PINZ Entertainment Center in Oakdale.

Click here to read more about the event.

Williams was joined by the following teammates: Sidney Rice, Albert Young, Kevin Williams, Ray Edwards, Tremaine Johnson, Letroy Guion, Fred Evans, Fahu Tahi, Anthony Herrera, Jamarca Sanford, Benny Sapp, Tyrell Johnson, Brian Robison, Bernard Berrian and Jimmy Kennedy.

The bowling event, which was held for the 15th consecutive year, was sold out and fans packed the nearly brand-new PINZ Entertainment Center to get a chance to bowl with the pros and support the VCF. During the event, numerous prizes were given away, including tickets to an upcoming Vikings game and various Vikings merchandise.


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Setting The Table For Arizona

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 7:35 am

Coming off a bye and then 3 consecutive home games, the Vikings have fattened up their record to 10-1. But now they enter a tough final stretch of the season that begins with a road contest against the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals on Sunday evening.

Sunday’s contest at University of Phoenix Stadium will be the Vikings first road game since November 1 when they played at Green Bay. The Vikings will get used to life on the road quickly because 3 of their next 4 contests require them to travel, including back-to-back prime time road games against the Carolina Panthers on December 20 and Chicago Bears on December 28.

But let’s focus in on Arizona, a team sitting at 7-4 and atop the NFC West, battling for NFC playoff position along with the Vikings. The last 3 weeks we’ve set the table for a Vikings opponent, there’s been a significant statistical advantage for the Vikings. Matchups against the Lions, Seahawks and Bears have been lopsided, but that changes this week.

While the Cardinals don’t have an elite-level rushing attack, they do have a couple of talented RBs in Tim Hightower and Chris “Beanie” Wells. Together they pace a running game that ranks just 27th in the NFL at 92.4 yards per game, but the Cardinals offensive bread is buttered with the passing attack, where QB Kurt Warner leads a unit that ranks 5th in the NFL at 265.2 yards per game.

Warner currently ranks tied for 6th in TD passes with 20 and has the NFL’s 6th-highest completion percentage at 67.5%. He’s also only been sacked 16 times – as a comparison, Vikings QB Brett Favre has been sacked 22 times. Warner’s high completion percentage and low sack totals are a function of the Cardinals quick-strike passing attack as well as Warner’s awareness in the pocket and ability to deliver the ball on time.

Making Arizona’s offense even more dangerous is their talent at WR, where Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. is a standout and is tied for the league lead in TD receptions with 9. He’s complemented by Anquan Boldin, who is terrific after the catch, and the young Steve Breaston, who has established himself as one of the league’s best 3rd-option receivers.

A few more impressive aspects of Arizona’s offense:
— The Cardinals are 2nd in the NFL in points on their 1st possession of the game with 35. This presents us with a good matchup for Sunday because the Vikings rank tied for 2nd in the NFL for fewest points allowed on an opponent’s 1st possession with 6.
— Only the Chicago Bears pass more than the Cardinals. Arizona passes the ball 64.2% of the time and this high number is largely the function of Arizona’s passing tendency on 1st down, where Warner drops back 53% of the time. But it works, as Arizona boasts a 59.2% rate of 4 or more yards gained on 1st down passes.
— The Vikings have the NFL’s highest passer rating in the red zone with a 114.8 mark, but Arizona is close behind in 3rd place with a 110.3 rating and the Cardinals have the NFL’s best TD% in the red zone, where they score a TD 71.1% of the time.

Let’s move on to the Cardinals defense, a unit that doesn’t rate too well statistically but manages to get the job done anyway. They are one of the league’s worst against the pass, ranking 29th in passing yards allowed, but they balance that out with their rushing defense, which is ranked 14th in the NFL. Arizona also ranks 13th in scoring defense.

While those rankings aren’t going to make you shake in your boots, Arizona is the most impressive in the most important situations – 3rd down and the red zone. Arizona is 3rd in 3rd down defense, giving up 1st downs just 33.1% of the time, and they are tied for 9th in red zone defense, where they allow a TD just 45.5% of the time.

From a personnel standpoint, the Cardinals feature an athletic defensive line that is highlighted by Karlos Dansby, who leads the team in tackles with 82, Darnell Dockett, who leads the team in sacks with 7.0. Also adding firepower to this unit is Calais Campbell, a 2nd-year DE who has 35 tackles and 4.0 sacks.

In the secondary, watch out for S Adrian Wilson (53 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 FF), S Antrel Rolle (56 tackles, 4 INTs) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (16 passes defensed, 3 INTs and 2 FF).


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Clearing Out The Vikings-Bears Notebook

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 2, 2009 – 7:01 am

Before we set the table for Arizona, I wanted to empty out my notebook from last Sunday’s 36-10 victory over Chicago…

– QB Brett Favre connected with WR Percy Harvin in the 2nd quarter for a 15-yard TD, giving the Vikings a 7-0 lead and giving Harvin his 5th receiving TD of the season. It’s impressive that Harvin has 5 receiving TDs already in his career, but it’s clearly much more impressive that the 2nd-quarter TD marked the 500th career combined TD for Favre. He now has 488 career TD passes and 14 career rushing TDs, giving him 502 career combined TDs.

– Speaking of TD records, one of Favre’s passing TDs on Sunday went to TE Visanthe Shiancoe, giving the athletic TE his 8th of the season. Shiancoe’s 8 TDs this season match the Vikings single-season TD record for TEs, which was set by Joe Senser in 1981.

– The Vikings got to Bears QB Jay Cutler for 4.0 sacks on Sunday and DE Jared Allen owned 2.0 of them, bringing his season-long total to 12.5. Allen is now 1.5 sacks behind Denver DE Elvis Dumervil. But Allen’s contribution on Sunday wasn’t limited to calf-roping Cutler; he also notched an INT, his 1st of the season. For the season, Allen has 4 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries (1 for a TD) and 1 INT to go along with his 12.5 sacks.

– RB Adrian Peterson toted the ball 25 times on Sunday for 85 yards, putting him over the 1,000-yard mark for the 3rd time in his career. Even more impressive, Peterson’s status this season as a 1,000-yard rusher gives G Steve Hutchinson his 9th consecutive season blocking for a 1,000-yard rusher.

– New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees was impressive on Monday night against the New England Patriots, tossing 5 TDs on the night and registering a 158.3 passer rating. That performance vaults Brees ahead of Favre for the lead in NFL passer rating. For the season, Brees has a 112.6 rating and Favre is right on his heals with a 112.1 rating.

– When the Vikings and Bears get together again later this month on December 28, the Vikings will have to account for a LB who wasn’t in the lineup last Sunday. On Tuesday Chicago signed LB Cato June to a free agent contract. With starting middle LB Brian Urlacher out for the season since Week 1 and starting strongside LB Pisa Tinoisamoa also out with an injury, the Bears needed some reinforcement at the position and that’s exactly what June can provide. Remember, he was a part of the Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts a few seasons back.


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