Chris DeGeare’s Interesting Story And OTA #2

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 19, 2010 – 6:38 am

The Vikings will hit the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park for OTA #2 today. Today’s action will be open to the media and Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress will meet with reporters following practice. The team is schedule to workout from 11-12:30, so expect player and coach reaction shortly after the conclusion of practice.

In the meantime, we have a couple of things to keep you occupied. If you haven’t already done so, check out video highlights and then scroll down the Blog to read my observations from OTA #1 on Monday.

Also, I spoke with rookie 5th round pick Chris DeGeare after practice on Tuesday. He has an interesting story to tell as OTAs get underway this week, so check it out by clicking here.

And finally, as always, remember to submit your Monday Morning Mailbag comments/questions by emailing me at Remember to include your name and town in the email.

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Observations From OTA #1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 18, 2010 – 1:51 pm

It was a welcome sight to see the Vikings back out on the practice fields at Winter Park Tuesday afternoon, as the disappointing end to the 2009 season fades in the rear view mirror (it will never completely go away) and the upcoming 2010 season continues to approach. The team spent about 90 minutes on the outdoor practice fields and enjoyed weather conditions that yielded a favorable teaching environment.

After warm-up exercises, the team quickly moved into a bevy of special teams drills that focused almost exclusively on fundamentals. Following the special teams work the players were split into offense and defense, which allowed the coaches to work on individual and positional drills as well as group work.

A key component of these OTAs is that there is no contact permitted – by NFL rules – so the activities can at times be slightly different than they are during minicamp, training camp and in-season practices. But plenty of work gets done nonetheless.

Here are a few observations I had from Day 1 of OTAs at Winter Park…

– As I stated above, much of the work on Tuesday focused on fundamentals, such as footwork and positioning. But I also noticed that defensive and special teams coaches were emphasizing attacking the football as well as proper tackling technique. Several of the drills required the players to try and rake the football from the ball carrier’s (tackling dummy’s) possession. Many of the tackling dummies have an apparatus with a football attached to it, so players can practice stripping or swatting the ball as they attack the dummy.

– There were a handful of veteran players participating on the field, but obviously the majority of players are rookies and young players. Essentially, many of the guys are still college players who are now going through their first NFL practices. According to my count, there were 25 players on the field during Tuesday’s workout who were 23 years of age or younger. The Vikings coaching staff has 241 combined seasons of college coaching experience, so they are well-equipped to coach up these young players and help them transition from college players to professional players.

– This is the 5th offseason now that I’ve watched QB Tarvaris Jackson practice and his arm strength continues to stand out. He has a zip on the ball that you just don’t see from 90% of the QB population. When receivers or backs come out of their routes, the ball is on them and it’s on them fast.

– Old habits die hard…I noticed right away while watching the WR group that Darius Reynaud wasn’t on the field. Then I quickly remembered he’s now a RB, so I glanced over at that group and found him. Reynaud of course now wears jersey number 27, so it was an odd site at first to see the shifty Reynaud with a different jersey number.

– There were several impressive plays made by players during the 90-minute practice session, but one that stood out to me was a connection between a pair of rookies – QB R.J. Archer and TE Mickey Shuler. Archer, an undrafted passer out of William & Mary, pump faked to Shuler. The former Penn State TE, drafted in the 7th round last month, then continued his route up the left seam and leaped to catch a floater from Archer. Shuler came down with the ball and sprinted up field.

They Said It

“Come on, let’s go! On the jump!” – Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress barked this out as his team moved from one period of practice to the next.

“Head and shoulders on the bob!” – DL coach Karl Dunbar instructed his players to exaggerate their movements as they practiced swim and rip moves against a tackling dummy.

“Finish! Finish! Finish! Finish!” – RBs coach Eric Bieniemy can be heard screaming this during every practice as he demands his players finish every practice play by sprinting toward the endzone.

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Vikings Wrap Up OTA #1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 18, 2010 – 11:42 am

The Vikings just completed OTA #1 here at Winter Park, practicing for approximately 90 minutes under bright, sunny skies and in warm temperatures. It appears this set of OTAs are designed with rookies and selected veterans in mind, a strategy that Head Coach Brad Childress has used in the past.

In a few minutes I’ll post a more detailed breakdown of what happened on the field today and I’ll also share with you some of rookie OL Chris DeGeare’s thoughts after OTA #1. DeGeare was selected in the 5th round of last month’s draft and he’s already had a busy week. I’ll explain later.

Lunch and meetings are next on the docket for the players. Lunch and then some writing is next on the docket for me. We’ll be back early this afternoon with more details from OTA #1.

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Getting To Know Lito Sheppard

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 18, 2010 – 8:29 am

The Vikings will hit the practice fields later this morning at Winter Park as they kickoff OTA #1, so there’s not much to report right now. In the meantime, though, we can get to know one of the newest Vikings a little bit better.

CB Lito Sheppard signed with the Vikings earlier this offseason and has been around Winter Park the last couple of weeks. And although the Vikings are a new team for him, Sheppard’s transition has been eased by something.

Click here to read more about it…

More About Lito
Favorite food:
I love steak, seafood and pasta. Those are my top 3 and I can’t go wrong with any of those.
Last song downloaded: I’m pretty much a rap guy, but lately I’ve liked Usher. So I’d say something from Usher’s new album.
Last movie: Iron Man 2. I’m a big super hero fanatic in terms of action and suspense.
If not football, what would you be doing: Something to do with cars. I love cars and I’ve always wanted to build an engine.
Other sports: Before dedicating myself to football, basketball was my A+ game in middle school and high school. In 10th grade I had to switch to football because of my size.
NBA Finals pick: Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe is the man and his team is great
Hero growing up: That’s a no brainer – my Grandfather. He was strict on us growing up but I appreciate it now. It taught me a lot of disciple and organization. I tip my hat to him.

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Vikings Sign 7th Rounder D’Imperio

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 17, 2010 – 1:47 pm

In today’s Monday Morning Mailbag I said it might take until June for us to see draft picks signing contracts. As it turns out, one Vikings draft pick signed his contract today.

Converted FB Ryan D’Imperio (he played LB in college) has signed with the Vikings. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

D’Imperio played LB at Rutgers but the Vikings worked him out as a FB before the draft and liked what they saw. So they selected him with the 30th pick of the 7th round – #237 overall – and will see what he can do on the offensive side of the ball.

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Versatility Key For 2010 Draft Picks

Posted by cjsiewert on May 17, 2010 – 10:45 am

One of the Vikings strong points during the 2009 season was that many of their star offensive players could fill more than just one specific role.  WR Percy Harvin posed a threat as a runner, receiver and return specialist, RB Chester Taylor was a complete RB with his blocking, running and pass catching abilities, WR Sidney Rice could run deep routes and catch quick crossing patterns and TE Visanthe Shiancoe emerged as one of the league’s premier TEs with 11 TD receptions.

This versatility doesn’t look to be fading for the 2010 season and it may become even stronger with the addition of a few draft picks.

It is evident that the Purple lost a versatile RB in Taylor, but with his loss comes the addition of former Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart.

Gerhart, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft, will look to fill the void left by Taylor’s departure by adding more of a bruising style of running game that the Vikings haven’t seen since the days Leroy Hoard ran through and over defenders during the 1998 and 1999 campaigns.  Versatility will be key to Gerhart’s production as the Vikings will likely ask him to pass block, run the rock and catch the ball out of the backfield.

Another player that just may as well define versatility may turn out to be the steal of the draft’s later rounds.

QB/WR Joe Webb, selected in the 6th round (199th overall), was drafted by the Vikings with the intention of converting to WR.  Webb showcased his receiving abilities during the Vikings 3-day rookie minicamp a couple of weeks ago, but according to this Star Tribune report, Webb was also given the chance to throw the ball around.

With the addition of Gerhart and Webb to the Purple’s offense, it is clear that there will be no shortage of versatility, but this strength runs deep on the defensive side of the ball as well.

The 4th round selection in April’s draft of DE Everson Griffen will be sure to add depth and a great resource to the Vikings defensive front.  Griffen will have the opportunity to showcase his versatility with his great hand use and impressive speed.  Although it’s been over 4 years, Griffen has already proven his versatility by toting the ball as a high school RB, which has given him a greater understanding of what’s happening on both sides of the football.  Griffen knows that his versatility will be helpful to the Vikings defense but he also understands the way in which he can contribute.

“I’m going to bring enthusiasm, excitement and try to make big plays and just play my role,” Griffen told reporters on Day 1 of the Vikings 3-day rookie minicamp. “That’s the biggest thing, coming in on your rookie year you just got to play your role.  That’s what I’m going to do.  Play my role.”

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Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 9 Comments »

Busy Weeks Ahead At Winter Park As OTAs Begin Tuesday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 17, 2010 – 9:52 am

The last 2 weeks have been a bit slow in terms of Vikings news, but that’s about to change beginning tomorrow because Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are set to begin. The Vikings have 14 days of OTAs scheduled over the coming weeks and will wrap it all up with a mandatory 4-day minicamp in June before taking a break until the commencement of training camp later this summer.

The first set of OTAs will begin tomorrow and will run through Friday and I suspect they will involve primarily rookies and selected veterans (this is how it’s been done in the past under Head Coach Brad Childress). Wednesday’s OTA is open to the media and Childress will have a press conference at some point that day. Every other day of these OTAs will be closed to the media, but will have coverage of those days so be sure to stick here to keep up with all the action.

OTAs 5-14 will happen between May 24 and June 10, with media availability and press conference schedules to be determined.

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Monday Morning Mailbag

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 17, 2010 – 7:25 am

This week’s Monday Morning Mailbag is posted and you can read it by clicking here.

Do you have a comment or question for the Monday Morning Mailbag? If so, send an email to Mike at Remember to include your name and town with the email.

We can’t publish every comment/question, but we’ll respond to every question.

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Randle Chooses Teerlinck As HOF Presenter

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 12, 2010 – 12:27 pm

John Randle is a Hall of Famer now, but he was far from that status when he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1990. With a love for the game and work ethic rarely seen, Randle transformed himself from an undersized longshot to perhaps the best pass-rushing DT in NFL history.

But Randle would be the first person to tell you it took more than just a passion for the game and hard work. He would also credit his development and progression to excellent coaching, which is why he’s chosen former Vikings DL coach John Teerlinck as his presenter at the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2010 enshrinement ceremony in Canton, Ohio this August.

Randle was with the Vikings from 1990-2000 and Teerlinck was his position coach from 1992-1994, pivotal years in the young career of Randle and years that eventually proved to be building blocks to what was a Hall of Fame career.

“I’ve been an assistant coach for 22 years,” remarked Teerlinck, now with the Indianapolis Colts. “I’ve coached in 31 playoff games, six championships, and four Super Bowls. This tops them all. This is the biggest honor for an assistant coach.”

Click here to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website to learn more about the Class of 2010.

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Fan Poll: Who Will Lead Vikings In Receptions For 2010?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 12, 2010 – 11:26 am

The current fan poll on the home page of asks “Who is most likely to lead the Vikings in catches in 2010?” As you’ve surely noticed, it’s been a very slow news week for the Vikings…so let’s examine the poll question.

Last year, Rice led the team in receptions with 83, while Harvin was 2nd with 60. Both of those players are among the 5 choices in the poll, as are Bernard Berrian, Adrian Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe. All 5 options are legitimate choices, even Peterson when you consider A) he had a career-high 43 last year and B) he has a chance to haul in more receptions in 2010 because of Chester Taylor’s defection to the Chicago Bears. Also, consider that Peterson had just 1 fewer reception than Taylor in 2009.

Here’s a brief look at each of the 5 candidates:

Berrian – Although he played in all 16 games last year, I would suggest that Berrian was bothered periodically by nagging injuries. If you remember, he injured his leg in the preseason against Indianapolis and I’m not quite sure he completely recovered and I’m also wondering if the practice time he missed because of that injury affected his ability to develop chemistry with QB Brett Favre. If we assume Berrian makes it through training camp and the preseason injury free, perhaps Berrian will regain his 2008 form, when he led the Vikings in receiving yards, led the NFL in yards per reception and had four 100-yard receiving games.

Harvin – The 2009 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year should be considered one of the favorites to lead the team in receptions in 2010. He had 60 catches last year as a rookie and with another year under his belt you’d think his comfort in the offensive system will only grow. Also, the Vikings coaching staff now has a better idea of his skill set and how it translates to this offense, so they’ll be even better at putting him in positions to succeed. Harvin showed great hands and of course great explosion last year, but one aspect of his game that caught me by surprise was his toughness. He made catches across the middle and played with pain; those are attributes that will yield lots of production in the years ahead.

Peterson – You might be quick to dismiss Peterson’s chances of leading the team in receptions, but remember that he had only 1 fewer reception that Taylor last year and he also had a career-high 43 catches. I expect he’ll play more on 3rd downs in 2010, which means he could have more opportunities for receptions. While I’m not predicting Peterson will actually lead the team in receptions, I do think his inclusion in the poll is worthy.

Rice – Because of his catch radius and knack for making big plays, Rice quickly became a favorite target of Favre’s in 2009. Operating under the assumption that Favre returns, we must also assume Rice will remain a favorite target until opposing teams take him away. And taking Rice away is something that’s much easier said than done. Rice is my choice in this poll.

Shiancoe – If Favre returns and if opposing teams are successful at neutralizing Rice, I think Shiancoe is the next best bet to lead the Vikings in receptions. Favre loves throwing to TEs and Shiancoe has developed into a reliable and productive target in the passing game. He’s become especially lethal in the red zone, which is where he caught 80% of his receptions and 100% of his receiving TDs (11).

So what do you think – who is most likely to lead the Vikings in receptions in 2010? Go to the home page and cast your vote.

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