It might be the slowest time of the NFL calendar, but that doesn’t mean NFL fans have nothing to do. With the dawn of the 2010 season on the horizon, NFL Network is using a lull in the calendar to look back at the 10 greatest games of the 2009 regular season.
The league-owned TV network will unveil its countdown, but it’s up to the fans to decide the order of the 5 best games from the season. And Vikings fans should be sufficiently motivated to vote because 2 Vikings games from the 2009 season are among the nominees.
Check out the nominations and cast your vote(s) by clicking here. Then tune in to NFL Total Access on Monday, June 28 for the complete countdown.
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Don’t forget to submit your comments/questions to the Monday Morning Mailbag.
To submit a comment/question, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that we can’t post every comment/question, but I’ll try to respond to every question.
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According to a report by the Associated Press, the recent surgery that Vikings QB Brett Favre had on his left ankle was a success, but the veteran QB has still not decided whether or not he’ll return to the Vikings in 2010 or beyond.
“It went fine,” Dr. James Andrews, the physician that performed the surgery last month, said to the AP after speaking at the Charlotte Touchdown Club luncheon. “He’s rehabbing and trying to decide what he’s going to do. I talked to him yesterday.
“We’ve got a few more weeks of rehabbing. I think he hasn’t decided yet what he wants to do.”
Favre is under contract for the 2010 season with the Vikings, and of course is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. He threw for over 4,200 yards, 33 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. He also posted a quarterback rating of 107.2, the highest of his 19 years as a pro.
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Although Vikings coaches and players have wrapped up their on-field activities until training camp begins later this summer, there is still work to be done on the practice fields at Winter Park. Vikings Turf Manager Grant Davisson is heading up a project on the outdoor practice fields and he’ll be using the vikings.com Blog to keep us updated on the progress.
Here is Grant’s first blog entry (including photos) regarding the turf project:
Starting on Monday, the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park are being renovated – 110,000 square feet of practice fields and workout areas are being reworked and re-sodded. This is a very exciting time for the team, the coaches and the Vikings Turf Management Department.
In total, 495 tons of sod and soil will be recycled at an offsite facility and fresh sod and soil will be brought in from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado. A state-of-the-art Toro irrigation system will be installed, helping to control over-watering issues and general performance of the turf.
Also, new Turfguard sensors will be installed in the fields to monitor water amounts, temperature and salinity (even though salinity isn’t that big of a deal in Minnesota, it comes with the system).
Check back here often, as we’ll be back with updates and in-depth reports.
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The Vikings have bolstered their RB stable by signing free agent Ryan Moats, a 6th-year player out of Louisiana Tech who was recently released by the Houston Texans. Moats adds a veteran presence to a position group that includes Toby Gerhart, Ian Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Darius Reynaud and Albert Young.
“I watched them last year get so close to achieving the ultimate goal,” Moats said of the Vikings. “I’m honored to be a part of the team. I look forward to being a member of the team and working hard to help us get to the Super Bowl.”
Moats began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was selected in the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator at the time and he saw Moats score 3 rushing TDs during his rookie season, including 2 TDs against the NY Giants on December 11 and another the following week against the Rams. During his rookie season, Moats flashed with long scoring runs of 40 yards against the Giants and 59 yards against the Rams.
After limited action for the Eagles in 2006, Moats was injured in 2007 and was eventually waived in August of 2008. He then signed with the Cardinals for a few weeks before the Houston Texans signed him to their practice squad in October of 2008.
Moats, who stands at 5-8, 210 pounds, was eventually elevated to Houston’s 53-man roster and he actually got his 1st carry of the ’08 season against the Vikings in Week 8. An injury to Ahman Green gave Moats more playing time and he broke through with a 3-TD game in place of regular starter Steve Slaton; Moats’ 3-TDs tied for the most single-game TDs by an NFL RB in ‘09. Moats also had 126 yards on 23 carries during that game.
In 2009, Moats led the Texans in rushing TDs with 4 and he was 2nd – behind Slaton – in carries (101) and rushing yards (390). For his career, Moats has averaged 4.1 yards per attempt on 201 career caries and also has 9 TDs (8 rushing, 1 receiving).
Tags: Ryan Moats
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Vikings DE Ray Edwards has signed his restricted free agent (RFA) tender and is now under contract for the 2010 season. Edwards notched a career-high 8.5 sacks during the 2009 regular season and then came up huge in the playoffs with 4.0 more sacks, including 3.0 more in the Divisional Round against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Vikings also signed 5th round draft pick (#167 overall) LB Nate Triplett; terms of his contract were not disclosed. Triplett joins FB Ryan D’Imperio as Vikings draft selections who’ve signed contracts.
Lastly, the Vikings waived the following undrafted rookie free agents: C Eddie Adamski, OT Matt Hanson, RB James Johnson, WR Aaron Rhea (injured), CB Angelo Williams and OT Marlon Winn.
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The Vikings opened up their only mandatory minicamp of the offseason on Friday and a large media contingent was on-hand to take in the action. One national media member roaming Winter Park that day was NFL.com senior columnist Vic Carucci, who has covered the sport for 30 years and is a past president of the Professional Football Writers of America.
Carucci touches on several topics in the piece he penned for NFL.com following his visit to the Vikings facility, but he leads with an interesting storyline that we’ve also addressed from time-to-time here on vikings.com: the atmosphere surrounding the Vikings as they come off a heart-breaking loss in last year’s NFC Championship Game.
“Frustration and anger over falling short of the only goal that matters can go a long way toward driving everyone to achieving it the next time around,” Carucci wrote in his article.
I spoke with TE Visanthe Shiancoe about this very topic over the weekend and he insisted this Vikings team is motivated to succeed again in 2010. CB Lito Sheppard told reporters on Sunday that he clearly senses the high expectations this Vikings team places on itself. And when meeting with reporters on Saturday, Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier also spoke about how the NFC title game loss from last season will impact the team this season.
“Just to get back into the football frame of mind and to be able to divorce yourself from the past, that is all a part of the (minicamp) process as well,” Frazier explained. “That is one of the things we talked about yesterday (Friday) in our first meeting; 2009 is behind us and let’s look more toward 2010 and really having a great season.”
Tags: Leslie Frazier, Lito Sheppard, Pat Williams, Visanthe Shiancoe
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The Vikings concluded their mandatory minicamp this weekend with a 4th and final practice on Sunday morning, working out for just over an hour under cloudy skies and moderate temperatures.
Practice format for Sunday looked similar to that of Friday and Saturday, though I did notice some red zone work being done. As has been widely-reported, Tarvaris Jackson took reps with the 1st team and rookie Joe Webb took many of the 2nd team reps. But following practice, Head Coach Brad Childress said not to read too much into the QB rotation at this point because the team is trying to split up reps to expose young players to as much as possible as they try to immerse themselves in the Vikings offense.
Speaking of Childress, he addressed the media following practice and vikings.com was there to cover it. We’ll have video of that press conference available in on-demand format later today so be sure to check back.
Also important to note was that RBs Toby Gerhart and Adrian Peterson were not at practice today.
Several players were stopped by reporters following practice and I tried to poke my head into as many interviews as I could. Here’s what I heard…
– Jackson was asked about his improvement from the 2009 season and he explained that the biggest improvement he’s made has been a mental standpoint and a focus standpoint. Perhaps Jackson learned from fellow QB Brett Favre during last season, but I also think Jackson is naturally progressing as a QB in this league. He has the desire to succeed and I characterize him as a player who works at improving his craft.
Jackson also said he thinks he’s grown more during this offseason than he has during any other point in his career.
– LB Jasper Brinkley spoke with reporters about his progress through the offseason as well. Brinkley was a solid contributor to the Vikings special teams unit for the first 12 weeks of last season and then was inserted into the starting lineup when middle LB E.J. Henderson went down with a season-ending leg injury. Brinkley performed admirably in Henderson’s stead and it appears the Vikings will be comfortable with the 2nd year player in Henderson’s spot until the defensive captain can return to the lineup. One particular area Brinkley acknowledged he was focusing on was pass coverage, where he is concentrating on rotating his hips better and matching up route combinations with splits between receivers.
– CB Lito Sheppard said he noticed a sense of high expectation amongst the Vikings as they come off a season in which they advanced to the NFC Championship Game. It was an interesting observation from Sheppard because the Vikings new CB is also coming off a loss in a conference championship game. He was with the Jets in 2009 and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Jets in the AFC title game.
– Many Vikings players and both Childress and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier spent several minutes after practice visiting with and signing autographs for members of the 932nd Medical Squadron out of Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois. The squadron was lead by Master Sergeant Mike Taylor and also includes TSgt Gilmore, SSgt Jackson and Sr. Airman Wissman. The 932nd is in town on a 2-week tour at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
Tags: Jasper Brinkley, Leslie Frazier, Lito Sheppard
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Adrian Peterson’s absence from this weekend’s mandatory minicamp and 2nd round pick Toby Gerhart’s hectic travel schedule and immersion into the Vikings offense over the past several days have been hot topics of conversation over the weekend.
They are the team’s 2 highest-profile RBs but neither of them will be at Winter Park as the team wraps up minicamp with a Sunday morning practice. Peterson’s absence is due to the 4th annual “Adrian Peterson Day” in the superstar’s hometown of Palestine, TX and Gerhart left town on Saturday evening to attend commencement ceremonies at Stanford (he’ll be back to Winter Park for next week).
One of the RBs who will be at Winter Park for the final practice of minicamp is Darius Reynaud, who joined the Vikings 3 years ago as an undrafted college free agent WR but is transitioning to RB for the 2010 season. In previous seasons with the Vikings, Reynaud has contributed primarily as a punt returner and occasionally as a WR. But moving Reynaud to RB may give the shifty playmaker a better opportunity to contribute more frequently on offense.
Reynaud played RB in high school and at West Virginia University, so the idea isn’t foreign to him. But there are still some natural and sizable hurdles for him to overcome.
“You know he is taking a good look at things back there,” Childress said when asked about Reynaud’s transition. “I don’t know if that is surprising because he was a running back at West Virginia. But he is doing a pretty good job.”
Childress also mentioned that the next step in evaluating Reynaud’s transition is seeing how he carries his pads as a RB. The Vikings have worked without pads during OTAs and minicamp.
Another factor in the transition will be pass protection. Reynaud, who switched from jersey #82 to #27, looks natural with the ball in his hands and has a penchant for making defenders whiff on tackles. But playing RB in the NFL is more about breaking tackles and picking up yardage.
“That is going to be a big thing to be able to see if you can master that in a short time,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Reynaud learning pass protection. “Again, not his willingness to block but just all the nuances of where we are protecting and how we are getting that done and where he fits in will be his biggest challenge probably.”
Tags: Darius Reynaud, Darrell Bevell
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His name likely won’t ring a bell for many NFL fans, but Minnesota football fans may be familiar with him – CB Marcus Sherels. And now he should be sounding familiar to readers of the vikings.com Blog because he’s received mention in consecutive days.
In Friday’s minicamp observations, I mentioned that Sherels made the defensive play of the day during 1-on-1 drills by intercepting a pass intended for WR Percy Harvin. In the morning practice on Saturday, Sherels flashed a couple of times and even earned an acknowledgment from Head Coach Brad Childress.
Sherels’ first standout play came when he broke up a pass that Harvin had nearly secured along the right sideline. Harvin jumped to make the catch and as he was coming back to the ground Sherels got his hands on the football and ripped it away. Just minutes later, Sherels, who wears #35 for the Vikings, stepped in front of WR Jaymar Johnson and picked off a Joe Webb pass. That’s when Childress came over to tap him and extend a compliment on the play.
Sherels has been returning kicks for the Vikings during OTAs and minicamp as well, which will enhance his skill set and perhaps afford him a roster spot for training camp. The Vikings currently have 16 DBs on the roster and Sherels is a longshot to make the 53-man roster, but his performance during minicamp so far is doing nothing but helping his chances.
The 5-10, 175-pound speedster played college football for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent earlier this offseason.
Tags: Marcus Sherels
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