If you’ve watched or read transcriptions of Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress’ press conferences, you know that he’s a guy who prefers to live in the now.
He hesitates – actually refuses – to speculate or engage in conjecture and during his regular day-after-the-game press conferences, he is usually good for at least one reference to the NFL being a “forward-looking business.”
None of this is meant as a dig on Childress, it’s an accurate characterization of how he handles himself while speaking with his team and with reporters, and it’s a sound philosophy for a leader to embrace. Such a philosophy fosters an environment that is conducive to learning from both mistakes and success and also conducive to remaining level-headed.
On Wednesday, Vikings QB Brett Favre was of the same mindset while meeting with reporters at Winter Park.
When asked about his past playoff experiences, he was instead focused on this weekend’s game with the Cowboys.
“It’s not to say I don’t know what’s at stake and the fact that you win, you go on, you lose, you go home,” Favre said when asked about his previous playoff experience. “Every situation, although very similar, is different in itself. I’ve been in the playoffs before. I’ve been in first-round games, second-round games, against Dallas, against this team, against that, where you’re favored, whatever. But none of that will help this week.”
Then, when asked if he’s entertained the thought of retirement after this season, Favre was again more interested in discussing Sunday’s game against the Cowboys.
“You know what? All I want to do is beat Dallas,” Favre said. “To even think about next year is doing myself an injustice and this team (an injustice). I came in here for one reason, and that’s to hopefully lead this team to the Super Bowl this year, not next year. We have that opportunity, so I’m not good enough to focus on this game (as well as) what may happen the next few weeks and then next year. So I’m going to devote every ounce of energy to this game.”
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Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome has a reputation for being one of the league’s toughest places to play for opposing offenses. The Vikings will have that advantage working in their favor this weekend when they host the Dallas Cowboys for the right to play in the NFC Championship Game next weekend.
The Cowboys would obviously prefer to play this weekend’s game in their home stadium and realize the benefits of playing at home. But there is one player, more than any other on the Cowboys roster, who won’t mind the trip to Minnesota this weekend.
That player is RB Marion Barber III, a native of Wayzata, Minnesota and a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher star. At the University of Minnesota, Barber teamed for 2 seasons with Laurence Maroney to form a dynamic and productive RB tandem. Barber finished his career with the Gophers #2 on the school’s all-time rushing TD list, 1 TD ahead of his father, Marion Barber, Jr.
This weekend he’ll return to his college home field to try and take down the #2-seeded Vikings, a team with the NFL’s 2nd-ranked rushing defense. When Barber takes a handoff from QB Tony Romo, it will be power versus power, and something’s gotta give. A physical back, Barber is the Cowboys grinder and he takes on tacklers with relentless aggression.
Barber is dealing with a knee injury that caused him to miss the final 3 quarters of last week’s Wild Card win over the Philadelphia Eagles, but Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips sounded optimistic that his star RB would be able to play on Sunday.
“Marion Barber of course is really excited about playing in this game and looking forward to it,” Phillips told Minnesota reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think anybody is more excited about playing up there than he is. He got mad at me the past two years when I wouldn’t play him in the preseason game.”
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According to Mn/DOT, all lanes of southbound I-35W are scheduled to close at the western junction of Hwy 62 starting at 10:00 p.m., Friday, January 15. Southbound 35W will re-open by 5:00 a.m. on Monday, January 18. The closure is needed for bridge work in the western junction. Highway 62 (East and West) and northbound I-35W will remain open during the closure.
The detour route for the closure is as follows: I-35W South to Hwy 62 West – Hwy 62 West to Hwy 100 South – Hwy 100 South to Hwy 62 East – Hwy 62 East back to I-35W South.
For more information, click here to visit Mn/DOT’s website.
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Former Giants DE Michael Strahan, the NFL’s all-time single-season sack leader, was at Winter Park today taping a segment with the 4 starting Vikings defensive linemen for a FOX pregame segment that will air this weekend.
But before he sat down with Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and the Williams Wall, Strahan found a moment to grab a microphone, get in front of the camera and find buddy and former teammate Visanthe Shiancoe.
Shiancoe was drafted by the Giants in 2003 and played in New York with Strahan from ’03 to 2006.
We’ll have the video posted on vikings.com tomorrow morning, so be on the lookout.
Tags: Visanthe Shiancoe
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The Vikings and Cowboys have released their initial injury reports for this week and there isn’t much bad news to speak of.
No Vikings missed practice, though 6 were limited. Check out the full Vikings injury report by clicking here.
For the Cowboys, only RB Marion Barber (knee) missed Wednesday’s practice. Four other Cowboys were listed on the injury report but all 4 participated fully. Those players are: T Mark Colombo (ankle), S Gerald Sensabaugh (thumb), LB DeMarcus Ware (wrist/back) and S Patrick Watkins (knee).
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Are you following the Vikings on Twitter? If not, you should because just like the vikings.com Blog, it’s a great way to stay on top of Vikings news.
It’s an especially great way to follow the Vikings on game day. We’ll have the active/inactive players prior to the game, score and injury updates during the game and any breaking news after the game.
Remember, you don’t need a Twitter account yourself to follow the Vikings on Twitter. Just go to Twitter.com and follow @VikingsFootball.
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One of the main subplots in this weekend’s Vikings-Cowboys Divisional Round playoff game on Sunday is the matchup between Dallas’ pair of outstanding edge rushers – LBs DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer – and the Vikings bookend OTs – Bryant McKinnie and Phil Loadholt.
And that matchup shouldn’t be ignored. Ware and Spencer combined this regular season for 17.0 sacks and they already have 3.0 in the playoffs. Although McKinnie has played well this season and earned his 1st Pro Bowl appearance, he did struggle against Panthers DE Julius Peppers last month and Loadholt will be making his 1st playoff start on Sunday.
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress acknowledged on Wednesday while meeting with reporters that the Cowboys ability to pressure from the edge is something the Vikings will need to address.
But he also indicated he and his offensive staff will be mindful of Dallas’ ability to bring pressure from the middle of the defense, too.
“With that said, a guy like (Keith) Brooking – they feature him blitzing,” Childress explained. “He does a great job of timing up his A-gap blitzes. And then I look at the nose guard (Jay Ratliff) can bring pressure any way you want it. He can walk the center back, he can make a quick move and beat you with quickness in there, and then they wave people in and have some pretty good people they can bring in the game in their nickel situations.”
There’s no denying that Dallas possesses the talent and scheme to pressure QBs and disrupt offenses. They ranked 7th in the NFL in QB sacks with 42 and they also boast the league’s 4th-ranked rushing defense, a bad statistical combination for opposing offenses.
But there are ways the Vikings can try to deny the Cowboys attempt to bring that pressure. Childress mentioned several tactics, including chipping with RBs and TEs. More important than figuring out one form of effective protection, though, is being sure to use several different tactics to keep the Cowboys defense off-balance.
“You have to mix it,” Childress said, “because people are too good if you’re only showing one kind of protection…typically they’re going to break a protection down.”
Tags: Phil Loadholt
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Both DE Jared Allen and DT Kevin Williams were named to the Pro Bowl last month, and now both of them have been named to the Sporting News All-Pro Defense team.
Allen and Williams join 3 offensive teammates- Percy Harvin, Steve Hutchinson and Adrian Peterson – as Vikings players named to the Sporting News’ All-Pro teams.
Only the Vikings and Denver Broncos had multiple players selected by Sporting News as All-Pros. Allen became just the 2nd player with at least 14.5 sacks in 3 consecutive seasons and Williams added 6.0 sacks of his own while also teaming with DT Pat Williams to form the Williams Wall and anchor the NFL’s 2nd-best run-stopping unit.
The complete NFL awards package can be found in the new Sporting News Magazine, which arrives later this week at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets. SN will announce other award winners throughout the week.
Tags: Jared Allen, Kevin Williams
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Do you have a question or comment about the Vikings Divisional Round matchup with the Dallas Cowboys? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t post every question/comment, but I’ll answer them all.
The vikings.com Mailbag will be published on Fridays during the postseason.
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Earlier in the week on vikings.com, RB Adrian Peterson said this weekend’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys will be the biggest game of his 3-year NFL career, primarily because it’s the deepest the Vikings have been in the playoffs with Peterson on the roster but also because Peterson is a native of Palestine, Texas and grew up rooting for the Cowboys.
Another Vikings player with strong ties to Texas has also chimed in regarding the significance of this game on a personal level.
“It’s important for me, being from Texas, to have a good showing for myself,” CB Cedric Griffin, a native of San Antonio and product of the University of Texas, said. “Lots of friends, family and teammates are going to be watching this game.”
But while this Sunday’s game has added personal meaning for Griffin, the importance of the game from a team perspective is Griffin’s primary focus.
“We’ve got to play well, this is the time of the year when every play counts,” he said. “It’s going to be a big challenge, another challenge, for the season…We have a chance to take the next step to our team goals and Dallas is going to be a tough test. As a defense, we pride ourselves on stepping up.”
It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with Griffin as they defend the Cowboys passing attack. In addition to TE Jason Witten, the Cowboys have a talented receiving corps that features players with different skill sets. For example, leading receiver Miles Austin is a speedy receiver who can burn the edges of a defense and is terrific at gaining yards after the catch. WR Patrick Crayton is similar. But then there’s Roy Williams, who isn’t the speedster that Austin is, but has great size at 6-3, 215 pounds.
Griffin, a 6-0, 203-pound CB, matches up better from a size perspective with Williams, also a former Texas Longhorn, than does Antoine Winfield. But, do the Vikings feel confident enough in Winfield’s foot to put him on Austin?
These are all questions that might be answered today by Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress at his press conference, which you can watch live on vikings.com. And if Childress isn’t asked about the matchups, perhaps assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will address those issues on Thursday when he meets with reporters.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Cedric Griffin, Leslie Frazier
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