Blogs

NFL Network Begins “32-In-32″ Series; Vikings Ranked 3rd

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 8, 2010 – 8:30 am

NFL Network and NFL.com asked fans to rank all 32 teams and the masses have spoken – more than 100,000 ballots were cast.

Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints came in ranked #1, with the Indianapolis Colts ranked 2nd and the Vikings ranked 3rd.

Now that all 32 teams have been ranked by the fans, NFL Network has begun it’s “32 teams in 32 days” series where each NFL team will be profiled according to the fan’s offseason voting, with highlights from last year and NFL Network experts sharing their predictions for the 2010 season.

The series kicked off Monday night on the NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” with a profile of the St. Louis Rams (ranked #32) and it will continue all the way through the Vikings, Colts and Saints. The Detroit Lions – ranked #31 – are up next and the other NFC North teams are ranked as follows: Chicago Bears #22 and the Green Bay Packers #6.


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Studwell Stars At Vikings Playground Build

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 7, 2010 – 10:39 am

As a LB for the Vikings from 1977-1990, Scott Studwell was tremendously productive and earned a reputation as a leader with a tireless work ethic. Since his playing days, Studwell has carried those traits with him to the Vikings front office, where he currently works as the franchise’s Director of College Scouting.

In honor of his long and distinguished (and on-going) career, the organization inducted Studwell into the Vikings Ring of Honor during the 2009 season. Inclusion in the Ring of Honor is the highest individual honor one can receive from the club.

With that background in mind, it’s impressive to note that Studwell was once again a leader during the Vikings annual playground build event this past Friday. Each of the last 5 years, the entire Vikings organization and a large group of volunteers from KaBoom! and Toro have built a playground for a local school. And in each of those events, Studwell’s leadership and work ethic has been obvious.

“I am the first person on the site for the Vikings each year with set-up and prep duties and each year, the first person to get to the site is Scott Studwell and he hits it hard from start to finish,” said Brad Madson, Vikings Executive Director of Community Relations/Youth Football. “I remember when we were at the American Indian Magnet School in St. Paul a few years back and we hadn’t even set up for morning registration yet and here comes Stud with broom in hand and he proceeded to start to clear the sidewalk and steps in preparation for landscaping.  With that type of work ethic, it’s easy to understand why he is the Vikings all-time leading tackler!”

Although he prefers to remain out of the spotlight and probably wishes this blog entry never existed, Studwell exudes the kind of leadership and work ethic that yields great results, whether it be on the football field, in the front office or at a community event. He’s a source of pride for the Vikings organization.

Now that I’ve shared this on the blog, I’ll probably have to hope he doesn’t form tackle me in the hallway.


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This Week’s Monday Morning Mailbag Is Posted

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 7, 2010 – 8:01 am

This week’s Monday Morning Mailbag is posted and you can read it by clicking here. We address several topics this week, including the FB position and the offensive line.

Do you have a comment/question for the Mailbag? If so, submit it by sending me an email at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net.

Remember that we can’t post every comment/question, but we will answer every question we receive.


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No OTAs This Week For Vikings; Minicamp Coming Up

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 7, 2010 – 6:42 am

It looks as if the Vikings may have finished their OTA schedule for the 2010 offseason and now have their mandatory minicamp next on the horizon.

Last Friday, the Vikings wrapped up their 12th OTA before heading to Nellie Stone Johnson Community School for their annual playground build. We’ll have more on the playground build later, so stay tuned for a written and video recap along with a photo gallery.

The Vikings mandatory minicamp will run from June 10-13 and vikings.com will have complete coverage of the activities.


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Members Of Vikings Organization To Participate In Lymphomathon On Saturday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 4, 2010 – 6:07 am

The Lymphoma Research Foundation Minnesota Chapter’s 6th Annual Lymphomathon 5k walk/run is this Saturday at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis and the Vikings are participating for the 2nd consecutive year. The Vikings team is headed up by Assistant Director of Public Affairs Jeff Anderson and consists of Vikings players, staff members and friends.

Pro Bowl special teamer Heath Farwell is a member of the Vikings Lymphomathon team and he’ll be joined by Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders at the event to sign autographs prior to the walk/run.

Registration for Saturday’s Lymphomathon begins at 9:00 a.m. and the 5k walk/run will commence at 10:00 a.m. There is no fee to register.

The purpose of the Lymphomathon is to raise awareness of lymphoma and fund research for a cure for the most common blood cancer and the 3rd-most common cancer in children; today, half a million Americans are affected by lymphoma. It is estimated that there were over 74,300 new cases of lymphoma in the U.S. in 2009 and about 20,510 people will die from it. Approximately 1,110 people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in Minnesota (3 per day) and another 320 will lose their lives this year.

For more information, to join Team Minnesota Vikings or to register a team, call 1-800-235-6848 or visit www.lymphomathon.org.


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Vikings Annual Playground Build Is Today

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 4, 2010 – 5:01 am

For the 5th consecutive year, the Vikings will join forces with volunteers and other charitable organizations to build a new and safe playground at a local school. This year’s playground build will take place at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School in North Minneapolis.

Vikings players and coaches will be at Winter Park for OTA #12 this morning and will then join the rest of the organization in the build at Nellie Johnson Community School. I won’t be at practice today so don’t look for OTA observations. But, there’s typically several media outlets at this particular community event so I’m sure players and coaches will be available to the media at the event later this afternoon. I will try to catch up with a few of the guys to see how practice went at Winter Park.

Cost of the playground’s construction is being split between the Vikings and one of it’s community partners – Toro. I’ll have more details about today’s activities, including a recap of the event, later this weekend on vikings.com.


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OTA #11 Observations; Teaching/Learning Environment Important At OTAs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 3, 2010 – 12:20 pm

Often times I mention weather conditions in the OTA observations and it’s not because I’m a native Minnesotan – weather seems to be a common conversation topic in our great state. The weather is a relevant factor because these OTA sessions are as much about teaching/learning as they are skill sets and physical activity.

“There is a lot of teaching going on here,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday while meeting with reporters. “Coaches are being intentional about that. (There are) a lot of bright-eyed guys so we will have some good competitions at a number of positions.”

On Thursday, the Vikings practiced under ideal weather – and teaching – conditions as they completed OTA #11. Although these OTAs are non-contact exercises at all times, I’ve definitely sensed a pickup in the intensity and competitive environment as the OTA schedule has progressed. Thursday’s action, especially near the end of practice, was no exception and served as a prime example of the good competitions Childress referenced on Wednesday.

Let’s go over a few observations/highlights from Thursday’s practice…

– S Husain Abdullah tallied an INT during the first team portion of practice, picking off a Sage Rosenfels pass near the sideline.

– Childress mentioned during Wednesday’s press conference that the team is working a lot on situational football, and they did so again on Thursday. I noticed during both team drills and 7-on-7 work that 3rd downs, red zone and zero-blitz/zero-pressure scenarios were presented.

– The best offensive play of the day came during 7-on-7 work, when Tarvaris Jackson floated a pass in the back right corner of the endzone for TE Visanthe Shiancoe. LB Heath Farwell was in on the coverage and actually was in a great position, but Shiancoe jumped and got both hands on the ball. My view of the ground was blocked, so I could tell if the TE got both feet in bounds. Farwell came away from the play waving his arms as if to say “incomplete” but Shiancoe had both hands in the air to say “touchdown.”

– Rookie 6th round QB Joe Webb got in on the action with a sharp throw to RB Darius Reynaud on 3rd and goal from the 8.

– The best part of practice came on the final 3 plays, where it was offense vs. defense inside the 10-yardline. Jackson hit Shiancoe on a quick slant for a score and then the QB followed that effort up with another TD on a quick slant to WR Jaymar Johnson. On the final play, though, Leslie Frazier’s defense came with a blitz and forced an incompletion. Jackson called an alert and made an adjustment to the play. S Jamarca Sanford came on the blitz and Jackson’s pass was batted down by a wall of defensive linemen.

– Childress hosted a contingent of Minnesota high school football coaches at practice, something he’s done in the past as he continues to cultivate a relationship with members from every level of football in the state.

– Mike Grant, the son of former Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant, heads a group of students from Eden Prairie High School called The Brotherhood. The group meets weekly and is comprised of primarily black, male student athletes who have committed to improving themselves both academically and personally.

The students were able to watch Thursday’s practice from the sidelines and then were joined by several members of the organization following practice. Along with a big group of players, individuals who visited with Grant’s group included Childress, Frazier, VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and WRs coach George Stewart.


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Report: Vikings Not Interested In Atogwe

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 3, 2010 – 7:32 am

On Wednesday we took a closer look at the Vikings safety situation, including recent reports that linked unrestricted free agent S O.J. Atogwe to a number of NFL teams. The Vikings were one of those teams and in both a headline story and a blog entry we examined whether he would be a good fit in Minnesota.

Now another report has surfaced regarding the Vikings and Atogwe. This one comes from Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, who cites NFL sources as saying the Vikings will not pursue the free agent safety.

Other teams who’ve been linked to Atogwe are the Cowboys, Dolphins, 49ers, Lions and Rams. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones indicated earlier this week that his won’t be pursuing Atogwe, either.


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Vikings Wrap Up OTA #10, Host Special Olympics Minnesota Athletes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 2, 2010 – 12:40 pm

The rainy conditions subsided in time for the Vikings to work outside during OTA #10 and then host a group of Special Olympic Minnesota athletes at Winter Park on Wednesday. The Vikings went through a typical OTA practice and then several members of the team, including Head Coach Brad Childress, stayed after practice to visit with the SOM participants and take part in a Punt, Pass and Kick clinic.

Prior to the clinic and meet and greet, the SOM group watched OTA #10 from the sidelines, often times cheering after highlight-caliber play.

After the SOM event, Childress met with reporters and addressed a number of topics, and you can view his presser by clicking here.  Also, check out these images from earlier at today’s practice.

For now, here are a few highlights from Wednesday’s action at Winter Park…

– Rookie 4th round DE Everson Griffen was one of the most engaged players during the SOM event following practice. He signed autographs immediately after practice concluded, assisted the participants in the Kick portion of the clinic and then stayed after the SOM event to visit and pose in photos. We talked to Griffen after the SOM event and we’ll include his comments in the video recap of the event that will be posted later this afternoon.

– I spoke with Dave Dorn, President of Special Olympics Minnesota, during practice and he was once again thrilled to have the event at Winter Park after a practice. Dorn said commented that the Vikings have been a great partner throughout the years and that the Punt, Pass and Kick Clinic was an event that began with former Vikings FB Tony Richardson and has continued with the support of both Childress and superstar RB Adrian Peterson.

– Two highlight-caliber plays stuck out to me during practice. One was registered by LB Erin Henderson in the 2nd-to-last play of the inside skeleton drill. He jumped a pass in the middle of the field that was intended for TE Jeff Dugan and thrown by Sage Rosenfels. Henderson caught the pass smoothly and would’ve glided into the endzone for a TD. On the very next play, though, Rosenfels went back to Dugan at the very same spot and the duo completed the pass. The other highlight-caliber play came from QB Tarvaris Jackson and rookie 7th round TE Mickey Shuler. Jackson took a 5-step drop and rifled a pass to Shuler down the right seam. Shuler, who’s made some impressive catches during OTAs, hauled in the pass and continued down the field.

– Players were made available to the media following practice and one of the most popular interviews was WR Logan Payne, a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher. Payne was signed this offseason after spending time with a few different NFL teams. A few interesting comments from Payne: 1) He said even as a guy whose made an NFL roster in the past, there isn’t much room for error for him and he’s making the most of this opportunity, 2) He had a few other teams interested in bringing him in this offseason but he took a look at the Vikings team and coaching staff and felt comfortable being with the Vikings, and 3) As he comes back from an injury, he feels as fast as he’s ever been during his career.

– While we’re on the topic of former Golden Gophers, I spent a few minutes after Tuesday’s practice with DL Cedric McKinley. He joined the Vikings this offseason as an undrafted rookie free agent and he told me that after playing mostly DE in college he’s been playing a lot of 3-technique here with the Vikings. He also went on to explain that he’s been watching a lot of Kevin Williams’ film and he’s also been impressed with the work ethic Williams has. “I’m having a great experience so far,” McKinley said, “and it’s really a blessing to be a part of this team right now.”


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Will Tyrell Johnson Have A Breakout Season?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 2, 2010 – 7:14 am

Using WRs such as the Vikings Sidney Rice and the Dallas Cowboys Miles Austin as examples of breakout players from 2009, NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan recently identified 20 players who are candidates in his mind to have a breakout season in 2010.

And he included another Vikings player in this year’s group.

Vikings S Tyrell Johnson, entering his 3rd season in the NFL, was on Kirwan’s list. Kirwan said Johnson is “still learning the pro game” after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Arkansas State. But he also said Johnson is an excellent athlete whose already faced a lot of pressure because opposing offenses attack the Vikings via the pass so often.

I found Kirwan’s inclusion of Johnson on this list particularly interesting because of the high volume of emails I’ve received lately from fans who want the Vikings to pursue unrestricted free agent (UFA) S O.J. Atogwe. So I took a more detailed look at the Vikings safety situation – click here to read it.

This entire issue is a good Vikings talker that sparks thoughtful debate and conversation. Fans, what do you think?


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