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Minnesota National Guard Troop Visit – Blog Entry No. 5/6

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 10, 2009 – 10:52 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 vikings.com Blog on their trip about the experience.

Below is the duo’s fifth and sixth entries, sent via BlackBerry from Kuwait.

Preparing for the trip in. Watching the Steelers losing to the Browns 13-3 in the 4th quarter while eating breakfast. Rained hard last night but quality tents kept us dry. Brushed teeth and washed face this morning – feel so much better. I’m sure it will be short lived.

Morris: where’s my gun?

Harper/Morris: on our way into Iraq. In full kevlar strapped into what has to be the safest vehicle out there. Went thru IED training. Our troops are very thorough and do their jobs well. Over the next few days, we just hope we can give you a glimpse of what they do for us. Tons of photos coming. Its early AM here. Sleep well tonight Minnesota. Tune into Power Trip morning show on KFAN tomorrow 6-9 am as Mike Morris will be Live from Camp Basra with a listening audience of our Minnesota National Guard troops.


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Minnesota National Guard Troop Visit – Blog Entry No. 4

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 10, 2009 – 4:42 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 vikings.com Blog on their trip about the experience.

Below is the duo’s fourth entry, sent via BlackBerry from Kuwait.

Morris/Harper: Finally to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. Dinner was KFC on the base. Troops everywhere obviously. This is a 24/7 big time operation. Glow sticks light the tent. Turning in now as we have to be up in about 4 hours. Big day tomorrow. Just amazing this place half the world away.


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Loadholt, Peterson Return To Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 4:00 pm

The Vikings and Bengals have released their Thursday injury reports and little has changed from the week’s initial report.

There was some good news for the Vikings, though. Both RT Phil Loadholt (shoulder) and RB Adrian Peterson (foot/ankle) were limited participants on Thursday after sitting out last week.

There were no other changes to the Vikings injury report.

For the Bengals, the only change is that CB Morgan Trent (knee) was limited today after sitting out Wednesday.


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Minnesota National Guard Troop Visit – Blog Entry No. 3

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 10, 2009 – 3:11 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 vikings.com Blog on their trip about the experience.

Below is the duo’s third entry, sent via BlackBerry from the Kuwait airport.

Morris/Harper: Well we made it into Kuwait. Leaving the airport… think LAX or O’Hare x 10. “Busy airport” wouldn’t do it justice. Temp is about 60 degrees but seems warmer.

Caribou Coffee and McDonald’s first two places we came across. 22 hours from arrival at MSP til we got here. Not too bad.  Its almost midnight here though and we feel like its 3:00 in the afternoon.

Every sign is in both Arabic and English. Photos to come at some point.

Morris: This place reminds me of Texas as far as terrain. Rainy season is in effect now so there is decent greenery. It isn’t raining now and since we are sleeping in a tent tonight I hope it doesn’t rain anytime soon.

A lot more American cars than expected too.


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Will the Trend Be A Mirage On Sunday?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 2:13 pm

As I continue digging for information and statistics regarding Sunday’s Vikings-Bengals matchup, I uncovered an interesting trend – Cincinnati runs the ball 59.9% of the time on 1st down. Only the NY Jets have a heavier run % on 1st down.

Considering the Bengals are 2nd in the league in rushing attempts this season, it probably comes as no surprise that the Bengals play selection on 1st down is so lopsided. But there are a few factors in this weekend’s game that make the Bengals 1st down-tendency intriguing.

This whole bit got me thinking even more this morning after I concluded my weekly segment on Paul Allen’s 9-noon show on KFAN. He brought up some interesting points, such as the fact that LB Jasper Brinkley will be filling in for the injured E.J. Henderson at middle LB. Perhaps, as PA suggested, the Bengals will elect to challenge Brinkley by throwing down the middle of the field on 1st down rather than challenge him by running at him. Brinkley is a physical player whom head coach Brad Childress described as one of the hardest hitting players coming out of last year’s draft.

In addition to that, the Bengals will have to contend with the Williams Wall on Sunday. That alone is enough to cause some teams to adjust their play-calling tendencies to favor the pass.

With all of that said, there’s one more statistic to use in arguing that Cincinnati will pass more on 1st down this week. When the Bengals have passed on 1st down this season, they’ve gained 4+ yards 55.8% of the time, which is 9th best in the NFL.

The flip side to this discussion is that teams have established who they are and how they operate by this point in the season. In the Bengals case, they’re a 9-3 team that boasts the league’s 6th-ranked rushing offense. Why would they change how they operate? And that’s an argument I’ll listen to, especially considering I respect immensely the opinions of the people who brought that argument to my attention.

But I’m on the other side of this one. I will be surprised if the Bengals run the ball on 60% or more of their 1st downs through the first 3 quarters on Sunday.

What do you think?


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Minnesota National Guard Troop Visit – Blog Entry No. 2

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 10, 2009 – 9:06 am

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 vikings.com Blog on their trip about the experience.

Below is the duo’s second entry, sent via BlackBerry from the Amsterdam airport.

Short stop in Amsterdam. Comfortable plane ride – props to Delta Airlines. Morris will be calling into his morning show for a few minutes before we take off again so tune in. Lots of sheep-filled green fields all around the city (you could see so much green from the plane).   Photos coming soon…


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Bengals Keeping Teams Off-Balance

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 8:57 am

The Vikings last week were preparing to face a team – the Arizona Cardinals – that was known for its passing proficiency but had recently placed an emphasis on the rushing attack. This week, as the Vikings prepare to face the Cincinnati Bengals, the Vikings are seeing a team with the same kind of approach.

In Arizona’s 4 games before playing the Vikings, they had increased their rushing attempts per game by 8 compared to their average number of attempts over the first 7 games of the season. The Bengals, meanwhile, have also shown a commitment to the run. Over their last 3 games, Cincinnati has averaged 44 rushing attempts per game, and only the NY Jets have more rushing attempts on the season than the Bengals.

This offensive approach is quite different from the last division-winning Cincinnati team. In 2005, the Bengals attacked primarily through the air, with QB Carson Palmer pacing the aerial assault and averaging 31.8 passing attempts per game.

“They are winning differently now than I remember them three or four years ago when it was a throw up the field,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “Not that they can’t throw it up the field, because they have more than enough with Chad (Ochocinco) and Laveranues (Coles). Those guys are weapons as well.

“They are really keeping you off balance. They are being very patient with the run and they are trying to whip on you.”

Teams that typically find success by just turning around and handing it to a productive RB don’t scare the Vikings – they have the league’s 3rd-ranked run defense and have boasted the top-ranked run defense for the past 3 seasons. But that’s not what Cincinnati does. Yes, they are 2nd in the NFL in rushing attempts, but as Childress also noted on Wednesday, they have an elite QB under center in Palmer and a dangerous pass-catcher in Ochocinco (formerly known as Chad Johnson).

So what’s one thing a defense has to worry about when the opposing team features a grinding rushing attack but also the ability to throw the ball?

“Obviously that sets up the play-action,” Childress said. “I do have a lot of respect for that kind of football and additionally a lot of respect for the fact that you are not putting a round peg in a square hole. They have kind of evolved from the pass all the time to being able to knock you around with the football and I think that behooves you in elements in Cincinnati and playoff time being able to run the football. I think it’s a huge deal to do that as you come through December.”


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Vikings FB Familiar With Bengals

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 6:55 am

Though certainly not enough to lend any game-planning advantage, FB Fahu Tahi has some familiarity with the Vikings opponent this Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Tahi was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of BYU in 2006 but didn’t make the final roster cut coming out of training camp. He was signed to the practice squad but was later released, which prompted him to sign with the Vikings in November of 2006.

Tahi played mostly special teams and some spot duty on offense in 2007, but in 2008 he won a starting job for the Vikings. This past offseason the Bengals signed Tahi to an offer sheet, but the Vikings matched it and the 6-0, 254-pound battering ram remained in purple as RB Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker.

Now Tahi is just a few days away from facing his former team – the same team that pursued him this past offseason and the same team on which his cousin, FB Fui Vakapuna, plays. The Vikings FB said there were still a few players left from his time in Cincinnati but that for the most part there are a lot of new faces.

Tahi said that in his short time with the Bengals in 2006 most of the players he got to know were on offense. But now that he’s on the Vikings offense, Tahi is familiarizing himself with the Bengals defense.

“Their whole front seven is playing really good football right now,” the physical FB said on Wednesday. “My buddy Jonathan Fanene, we were roommates in Cincinnati, he’s playing really well. He’s stepped in and played really good football.”

“I think a big difference in their defense is Rey Maualuga. He’s doing a great job for their linebackers. As I said, their whole front seven is playing very well right now.”


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