Minnesota National Guard Troop Visit – Blog Entry No. 1

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 9, 2009 – 7:43 pm

Vikings Entertainment Network’s Bryan Harper and KFAN’s Mike Morris, the former Vikings longsnapper and current host of “The Power Trip Morning Show,” will be traveling to Iraq to visit Minnesota National Guard Troops over the next week or so.  Both men will be updating fans via the Blog on their trip about the experience.

Below is the duo’s first entry, sent via BlackBerry from the plane as the duo prepares for the long journey overseas.

Departing Minneapolis for the long trip overseas. Ran into Rich Gannon at the airport. He is headed to Tampa to do the Jets game for CBS.

We are already planning the Friday Power Trip morning show which is planned to be with a LIVE audience overseas. Its going to be tough to adjust to the time difference (9 hrs).

We will definitely be tired as the show starts just hour after our arrival. But can’t wait to see our troops.

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Vikings, Bengals Release Injury Reports

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 3:48 pm

It wasn’t that long ago that the Vikings were considered to be in good shape from an injury standpoint.

Things have changed.

A total of 14 players, not including LB E.J. Henderson (he’s on injured reserve), were listed on Wednesday’s injury report. Four of the Vikings 5 starting offensive linemen are on the report and both of the team’s starting CBs were limited in practice.

The Bengals appear to be in much better shape. They have 5 non-IR players listed on the report. DT Domata Peko and RB Bernard Scott have already been ruled out of Sunday’s game. CB Morgan Trent (knee) and Ss Chris Crocker (ankle) and Kyries Hebert (knee) were held out of practice.

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Submit Your Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 3:27 pm

Do you have a question or comment about the Vikings-Bengals game coming up on Sunday? Or a question about the Vikings in general? Send them to the Mailbag.

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

The Mailbag is published ever Friday during the regular season.

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Greenway In Position To Produce

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 3:17 pm

When a player of E.J. Henderson’s caliber is taken from a defense, the trickle down effect is expansive. Already on the Blog we’ve mentioned the impact E.J.’s injury will have on Jasper Brinkley (the new starting middle LB), Erin Henderson (he’ll be active on game days now) and Ben Leber (he’ll play in more nickel situations).

But we haven’t yet mentioned how Chad Greenway’s role will change, until now.

From a pure production standpoint, Greenway’s role moving forward might be the most significant for Minnesota. He plays the strongside LB position in the Vikings defense, a position that benefits from dominant DTs such as the Williams Wall covering up offensive linemen.

Both Greenway and Henderson have been productive LBs in the Vikings scheme over the past few seasons. In 16 games over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Henderson averaged 8.7 tackles per game. During those same 16 games, Greenway tallied an average of 7.3 tackles per game.

This isn’t the first time Greenway has been forced to play without his starting middle LB, though. And when he’s been in this situation in the past, Greenway has responded.

Last year after Henderson was lost for the season with a foot injury in Week 4, Greenway stepped up and averaged 9.3 tackles per contest, a full 2 tackles more per game than when Henderson was in the lineup. When all was said and done, Greenway finished 2008 with a career-high 160 tackles, including 10 tackles in a playoff loss to Philadelphia.

You can never replace a player of Henderson’s caliber. But with Leber taking over in nickel situations and Greenway playing behind the Williams Wall, the Vikings still look to have a productive LB corps that can keep the Vikings defense clicking.

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Vikings Make Roster Moves

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 2:32 pm

The Vikings on Wednesday made a series of roster moves in light of E.J. Henderson’s season-ending injury.

First off, Henderson was placed on injured reserve, which officially ends his season after 12 games. To fill the open roster spot, the Vikings terminated the practice squad contract of TE Garrett Mills and then signed him to the 53-man roster.

In addition to those moves, the Vikings also signed LB Jeremy Lehman and OT Drew Radovich to the practice squad. The Vikings had room to add 2 players to the practice squad because they also terminated the practice squad contract of DeAndre Wright on Tuesday.

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This Time, RB Benson Is A Threat

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 11:43 am

The Vikings are playing an unfamiliar opponent this Sunday at Mall of America Field – it’ll be just the 11th time the Vikings and Bengals have hooked up. But the starting RB for Cincinnati is one with whom the Vikings are familiar.

Cedric Benson was a 1st round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 2005. At that time, it looked as if the Vikings would be contending with one of the league’s elite backs for many years to come.

But that’s not how it panned out. Benson would up playing in just 4 games against the Vikings as a Bear and he registered only 164 yards and 1 TD on 39 attempts – an average of 41 yards per game.

Benson was a bust with the Bears, but he’s booming with the Bengals.

He signed with the Bengals last season before Week 5 and had moderate success. This season, however, Benson has come into form and is now averaging 4.0 yards per carry and has 6 TDs on the season.

Benson is closing in on his first career 1,000-yard season – he is currently just 31 yards away. And that makes for an intriguing matchup this weekend. He’ll face a Vikings defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 35 games.

In years past, it’d be a safe bet that Benson would struggle to reach the career milestone this weekend against the Vikings. This year, however, is a different story. Benson is a threat and the Vikings must be at their best to challenge the 2005 first round pick.

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With E.J.’s Injury, Erin’s Role Increases

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 10:15 am

The image of Erin Henderson riding on the cart last Sunday night clutching the hands of his brother, who had just fractured his femur, is one that remains vivid in the minds of everyone associated with the Vikings.

Erin was inactive for the game, the 11th time in 12 games he hasn’t suited up this season, but it was obvious that his emotions were anything but inactive as he saw his older brother, the heart and soul of the Vikings defense and a team captain, suffer a serious injury.

But in what is a fitting development, Erin’s days of being inactive this season will likely end in light of his brother’s injury. Jasper Brinkley, a 5th round pick of the Vikings last April, will take E.J.’s spot as the starting middle LB. And Erin will see his playing time spike because he’ll fill the role Brinkley previously had as a special teams contributor and reserve LB.

With E.J. leading the pack, the Vikings LB corps represented perhaps the deepest position on the Vikings roster. The team decided to keep 7 LBs as they broke camp and 6 of those 7 have been active every week; in Week 8 at Green Bay all 7 LBs were active.

The depth at LB will now come into play for the Vikings defense, but previously it was strengthening the special teams unit and is probably a primary reason why the kick coverage units have undergone such a dramatic turnaround from last season.

In 2008, the Vikings ranked last in the NFL in both punt return average allowed (14.9) and punt return TDs allowed (4). This season, the Vikings have allowed 0 just 1 punt return TD and they’re giving up 9.6 yards per return. Also, their kickoff return average allowed has dropped from 21st in the NFL during 2008 to 15th this season.

With Brinkley special teams reps likely to dramatically be reduced, there’s no reason to think the unit will see a drop in reliability with Erin in the mix. In his only game played this season, Erin recorded 2 special teams tackles.

While riding off the field with his brother last Sunday night, Erin would’ve done anything to help his brother. When suits up to play on the field this Sunday, he’ll have a chance to help the Vikings.

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Bengals Without A Key Defensive Component, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 8:31 am

When the Vikings and Bengals line up against one another this Sunday at Mall of America Field, the home team will be without a key component in the middle of its defense – LB E.J. Henderson.

But Cincinnati will also be missing a key cog in the middle of its defense – DT Domata Peko.

Peko is a 6-3, 318-pound run-stuffing DT who, like Pat Williams for the Vikings, often contributes in a manner that isn’t reflected in box scores. He often commands double teams, which in turn opens things up for his defensive teammates. On Sunday, however, his teammates will be without him because Peko had arthroscopic knee surgery and may not return until January.

Peko sprained his MCL against Oakland on November 22, played the following week versus Cleveland but then sat out last week against Detroit.

Although Peko might not be a household name around Minnesota, his absence won’t go unnoticed by the Bengals. He was a 4th round choice back in 2006 but has quickly developed into a mainstay along the defensive line. Last season he started all 16 games for the 2nd consecutive year and he led all Bengals defensive linemen with 108 tackles; he also led the team in tackles for losses.

Backup DT Orien Harris will likely start in Peko’s place on Sunday. Harris has been in the league since 2006 but doesn’t have much playing experience.

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Vikings Tweaking Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 7:42 am

With the injury to LB E.J. Henderson on Sunday night, the Vikings will make adjustments to their roster in the coming days.

The first adjustment came yesterday when the team terminated the contract of practice squad DB DeAndre Wright. There will likely be at least one other roster move coming today and/or later this week, but we won’t list it here until it becomes official.

Stay tuned for updates.

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