Reynaud Reflects On Henry’s Passing

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 4:40 pm

By now you’ve likely heard of the tragic death of Bengals WR Chris Henry, who passed away on Thursday one day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck during what police said was a domestic dispute with his fiancée.

A tragedy such as Henry’s passing has a wide-ranging impact that begins with family and friends and spreads to teammates and the rest of the NFL, including the Vikings.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress mentioned to reporters on Thursday after practice that both FB Fahu Tahi and S Madieu Williams knew Henry from their time as Bengals players.

Another Vikings player – WR Darius Reynaud – was also connected to the fallen WR. Both Henry and Reynaud attended West Virginia University and the two were even teammates during the 2004 season. On top of that, Henry and Reynaud grew up 30 miles from one another just outside of New Orleans.

Reynaud said he remembers playing against Henry in high school and that once the two were both at West Virginia Henry took Reynaud under his wing and taught him how to be a WR.

“He took me in and showed me how to be a receiver,” Reynaud said on Thursday. “It was devastating to hear what happened yesterday (Wednesday). I’m still shocked to this point. He had just done an interview talking about his life changing around. And you could tell by the way he was talking that he’s changed.

“Just to hear what happened…life is short man. You’ve got to cherish every moment and live every day like it’s your last.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to Henry, his family and friends and the Bengals organization.

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Edwards, Rice Added To Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 3:49 pm

The Vikings long injury report from Wednesday grew even longer on Thursday because both DE Ray Edwards and WR Sidney Rice were added to the list. The Vikings now have 12 players listed on this week’s injury report.

Edwards was limited in practice on Thursday because of a back ailment and Rice did not participate because of an illness. Also, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said WR Percy Harvin remains at home resting.

To view the Vikings Thursday injury report, click here.

For the Panthers, both WR Muhsin Muhammed (knee) and RB Jonathan Stewart (toe) were able to go in full on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. QB Jake Delhomme (finger) and CB Richard Marshall (ankle) both missed practice for the 2nd consecutive day and DE Tyler Brayton (concussion) and LB Na’il Diggs (ribs) were full participants for the 2nd straight day.

RB Tyrell Sutton (thigh) was held out of Thursday’s practice.

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Statement Regarding MSFC Stadium Design Proposal

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 1:34 pm

The Minnesota Vikings appreciate the work by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) to develop a stadium design and cost study for a new multipurpose stadium on the current Metrodome site. This design work makes an important contribution that will assist Minnesota policymakers and the Vikings as we evaluate options to keep the team in Minnesota for the next generation.

While we have had the opportunity to provide some input into the Commission stadium design project, we are not in a position at this time to endorse their proposal. Given the MSFC’s recent attempt to delay a stadium discussion for two years, we are moving forward with those leaders who want to resolve this issue in 2010. There is growing support among elected officials, business leaders, organized labor and Vikings fans to tackle this issue during the 2010 Legislative Session. We are encouraged by the increasing level of awareness that this issue needs to be resolved now in order to secure the long-term future of the team in Minnesota.

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4 Statistics On 1 Play

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 12:34 pm

The Vikings and Carolina Panthers met last year in a Week 3 showdown in Minnesota, a game the Vikings won by a score of 20-10.

In that game, CB Antoine Winfield pulled off an accomplishment that only 2 other players in Vikings history can claim. He recorded 4 different statistics in the same play.

The play happened late in the 1st half with the Vikings trailing 10-3 and negative thoughts of an 0-3 start to the season creeping in. Winfield, in a matter of seconds, turned the game around and perhaps steered the Vikings ship in the right direction.

With Carolina facing a 3rd and 8 from their own 29, QB Jake Delhomme dropped back to pass. Winfield rushed the pocket, sacked Delhomme, stripped the ball from him, recovered the fumble and returned it 19 yards for a TD to eliminate the Panthers lead. That’s 4 statistics – sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, TD – in 1 play.

When asked about that play while meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Winfield remembered it vividly and said he thinks it was one of the plays that propelled him to his 1st career Pro Bowl berth. The other play happened 2 weeks later in New Orleans, when #26 returned a blocked FG 59 yards for a TD on Monday Night Football.

Because of the impact those plays had for the Vikings and because of the high-profile nature of the blocked FG return on Monday Night Football, Winfield is probably correct in asserting that those plays were key to his 1st Pro Bowl appearance.

Although the Vikings are playing Carolina this weekend, Winfield’s mind is not focused on making another splash play so he can begin accumulating Pro Bowl votes again.

“I’m really not even thinking about the Pro Bowl,” Winfield acknowledged. “I’ve missed so much time. If I make it, that’s great. If I don’t, I won’t be too sad.

“The only thing I’m thinking about is getting to the playoffs, getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. Right now my focus is on Carolina and going out there and having a great performance.”

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Do What You Do

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 11:08 am

You know the old adage “Stick with what got you here.” It’s a philosophy that’s often used in the NFL, but it wasn’t used last week against the Vikings. As a result, I’m wondering if the Panthers, who host the Vikings this Sunday night, have taken note.

Let me explain.

In preparing for last week’s game against the Bengals, I noticed that Cincinnati was rushing the ball at a 60% clip on 1st down, the 2nd-highest mark in the league. But I wondered to myself if perhaps Cincinnati’s offensive staff would alter their play calling on 1st down, largely because they were facing one of the NFL’s most dominant run defense and because they could try and expose rookie LB Jasper Brinkley – who was starting his 1st career game – in pass coverage.

So I asked 2 Vikings coaches – one on the offensive staff and another on the defensive staff – if they thought the Bengals would alter their approach on 1st down. Both coaches told me they didn’t expect Cincinnati to change. Basically, they were of the opinion that at this point in the season you are who you are, and that most teams choose to stick with what they do best.

That explanation made sense to me. As it turns out, the Bengals would’ve been wise to stick with what works. But they didn’t.

Cincinnati ran just 9 times on 19 first down plays, not counting the 4th quarter – when Cincinnati was behind and had to throw most of the time – and also not counting QB scrambles on 1st down. That’s just 47.3% of the time compared to their season-long rate of 60%. Even more puzzling, when the Bengals DID run on 1st down against the Vikings, they were +47 yards, which is 4.66 yards per attempt.

For some reason, though, the Bengals didn’t stick with their trend of running on 1st down.

That brings us to the Panthers. Carolina enters this weekend’s game against the Vikings running 58.4% of the time on 1st down. Will Carolina stick with their trend? Or will they deviate away from it?

Given the fact that they boast the league’s 4th-best rushing attack and given how much Cincinnati struggled when they went away from their 1st-down running trend, I expect Carolina to stick closer to their approach of running on 1st down.

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Fresh Winfield Wants To Be The Difference-Maker

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 8:03 am

The Vikings last Sunday had Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield back in the lineup after he missed 6 games because of a foot injury he suffered in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens. Winfield made an immediate impact for the Vikings by leading the team in tackles with 9 and also forcing a fumble late in the 2nd quarter that resulted in a FG as time expired in the 1st half.

It’s that type of play-making ability and impact that the Vikings were missing for a large stretch of the season. The Vikings went 4-2 in Winfield’s absence, but the defense clearly had a different edge to it with Winfield on the field last Sunday.

While the Vikings obviously would’ve been better off with Winfield in the lineup over the last 6 weeks, the team will now benefit not only from his return but also from how fresh he’ll be for the most important part of the season – the home stretch and the playoffs.

Everyone else on the team and on opposing teams has gone through a rigorous season and 13 games, but Winfield will play just his 8th game this Sunday night and he says because of his time away with the injury it feels as if the season is just starting.

“My body feels good,” Winfield said. “I’m ready to go. It feels like the season just started for me. This is the fourteenth game and a lot of guys are banged up. Some of them feel like they’ve hit the wall. But for me it’s a fresh start.”

Asked if this was the freshest he’s been at this point in a season during his career, Winfield was clear.

“Without a doubt this is the freshest I’ve been in my career and you will see that,” Winfield said with conviction. “You’ll see me every Sunday flying around making plays.”

Flying around and making plays is exactly what Winfield did last week against Cincinnati. He was in usual form, coming up from nowhere to break up screen passes and collapsing on the line of scrimmage from the edge to put an abrupt end to running plays.

While it was rejuvenating for the Vikings and Vikings fans to see Winfield back at work last Sunday, that type of effort is what Winfield expects from himself.

“I want to be the difference-maker,” the Pro Bowl CB said. “I want to go out there each week and make a play that changes the game. My teammates count on me to do that and I expect that of myself.”

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