Vikings Trim Roster To Get To 75

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2010 – 2:45 pm

NFL teams are required to trim their rosters to get down to 75 players today. In order to do that, the Vikings cut 2 players, moved another to the “waived – injured” list, and placed another on the reserve/PUP list.

WR Marko Mitchell and T Bill Noethlich were waived.  LB J Leman was waived – injured (reverted to injured reserve).  And finally, WR Sidney Rice was placed on the reserve/PUP list.

The Vikings play on Thursday night at home against the Denver Broncos in their preseason finale and then are required to trim the roster to 53 players on September 4.

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Choosing The Right Combination

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2010 – 2:00 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress recently described his offense as “in flux” and no position represents that billing more accurately than the offensive line, specifically the C and RG positions. An injury to C John Sullivan has sidelined him for most of training camp and as a result both starting RG Anthony Herrera and backup C Jon Cooper have seen extra time in the middle of the 1st-team offensive line.

“We’re still kind of filling out that position, exactly what would be the best lineup,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell explained. “Is it moving Anthony (Herrera) in (at C) and putting Chris in (at RG)? Is it using Coop (Jon Cooper) and leaving Anthony at guard? Or if Sully’s (John Sullivan) even going to be back.”

With the regular season now just over a week away, the time will soon come for the Vikings to decide on a starting C for Week 1. If that choice is Cooper, a 2nd-year player who spent the first 4 weeks last season on practice squad but then was elevated the 53-man roster for the final 12 weeks, then the flux factor remains minimal. But if the Vikings decide to move Herrera to C, the flux factor is a bit more complicated.

Moving Herrera to C would slide 5th round rookie Chris DeGeare into the starting lineup. DeGeare has had a nice training camp and it’s possible he’d be a solid performer right off the bat at RG for the Vikings. But that move would take away the Vikings depth because DeGeare is currently a swing lineman capable of playing multiple positions.

“Chris has done a nice job for us,” Bevell explained. “He’s a quick learner. He’s done some good things. I think there are still things he can improve on. That would be probably the toughest environment (to make his 1st start), that game, going into New Orleans. If that is how it shakes down, then we are confident enough to go with it.

“We’ve been able to move the combinations around a little bit. It gave us an opportunity to look at some different guys and different combinations. All we can do is look on the bright side of it and see how we’ve been able to make adjustments by moving Anthony, putting Coop in and some of those other adjustments.”

Whichever lineup the Vikings go with to start the season, the good news is the team will have had plenty of reps with that individual at C. Sullivan’s injury happened early enough in camp that both Cooper and Herrera have spent significant time working with the 1st team at C.

Ultimately, the ideal outcome is for Sullivan to make it back healthy in time for Week 1. If he can’t, someone will have to step up along the offensive line in Week 1.

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Vikings Continue Weighing Options At QB

Posted by cjsiewert on August 31, 2010 – 5:53 am

Since the beginning of training camp the Vikings were certain that they would have 3 QBs to help the team prepare for its 50th season. But now after Brett Favre’s return there’s been a wealth of speculation on what the organization is going to do with its group of backup QBs.

The answer to that question: Nobody knows.

It may even be the case that the Vikings coaches and executives haven’t made a decision yet. The coaching staff will have to cut the roster down to 75 players on Tuesday but the 3 backup QBs will more than likely stay on board to see playing time this Thursday night against the Denver Broncos in the final preseason game at Mall of America Field. The final 53-man roster will be determined on Saturday.

We’ll curb any speculation as to how this scenario will pan out, but with that in mind, each QB has shown their worth to this team throughout the preseason workouts and during the first 3 preseason games.

Here’s what we’ve seen from each backup QB to this point:

As was the case last season, Tarvaris Jackson has spent the preseason as Favre’s backup and earned that role by way of his continued improvement over recent years. In 2007, Jackson guided the Vikings offense to the #13 ranking in the NFL, a jump from #23 in 2006. He was also a key factor to the Purple’s 5-game winning streak toward the end of the season. The 5-year veteran furthered his progression in 2008 by helping the team win 2 of its last 3 games to claim the NFC North title. Week 15 saw #7 throw for 4 TDs while posting a career-best 135.5 passer rating.

During the course of the preseason, Jackson has completed 10 of 18 passes for 58 yards. He has also rushed for 23 yards on 3 attempts with a long of 14 yards. Jackson started the Vikings 1st preseason game against the St. Louis Rams and has backed up Favre for the last 2 games, which may be an indication that he will retain the #2 QB role, but again, that decision has yet to be made. Head coach Brad Childress has mentioned that he’s been impressed with Jackson’s growth and ‘evolution’ during preseason practices.

After his acquisition by the Vikings prior to the 2009 season, Sage Rosenfels has spent his career in purple as the #3 QB. That has continued to be the situation throughout the preseason as Rosenfels has thrown for 392 yards and 4 TDs with a 63.8 completion percentage (30-for-47). The difference this season is that the 10-year veteran seems to have found a higher comfort level under center as a Vikings QB. He’s shown great poise and passing accuracy this preseason.

In what seems to be the wild card in this whole state of affair is the raw athletic ability of rookie QB Joe Webb. Webb was selected by the Vikings in the 6th round (199th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft and ever since his inception to the organization he’s continued to provide the team with a multitude of options. He began rookie minicamp as a WR but the coaching staff felt it was best suited for the former Blazer to return to his natural position under center. The 1st-year QB was the 1st QB in NCAA history to pass for 2,000+ yards and rush for 1,000+ yards in back-to-back seasons and that ability has seemingly translated to the NFL. Webb has made plays this preseason with his arm and his legs, completing 12 of 21 passes (57.1%) for 91 yards and 2 TDs while rushing the football 7 times for 78 yards and a TD. Webb’s rushing TD came on a 48-yard sprint down the middle of the field where he outran the entire San Francisco 49er defense.

Thursday night’s final preseason game may sway the Vikings coaching staff in one way or another to make a decision, but until Saturday, any guess on which backup QBs will make the final roster is as good as another.

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Backup RBs Are “2 And 2A”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 30, 2010 – 2:07 pm

Ever since Chester Taylor left the team via free agency to join division rival Chicago, Vikings followers have been trying to identify the individual who would replace the role of complementing Adrian Peterson. It is, after all, an important role given today’s NFL where a 2-back rotation is the way to go and it’s actually more common to have 3 solid RBs than 1 workhorse.

The search for Taylor’s replacement began with veterans such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook and then continued through the 2010 NFL Draft. In the end, the Vikings went to training camp with 2nd round rookie Toby Gerhart and 2nd-year pro Albert Young, a guy who has risen from the practice squad and now figures to be a contributor this season.

It was Young who got the start for the Vikings 1st preseason game, with Gerhart being worked in slowly after that. And then on Saturday night Gerhart got the start. The 2 RBs have been sharing reps and as a result it’s never been clear who the true #2 RB is. And that’s because there will be no clear-cut #2 RB, according to head coach Brad Childress.

“I think it will be by week and who we are facing and what exactly we need out of a second running back,” Childress explained after practice on Monday. “If you remember last year, there were a number of games where we didn’t have a third running back up and from time-to-time that will happen when maybe we need another tight end up or need another rush guy. So those guys are 2 and 2/A.”

Time will tell exactly how the Vikings offensive staff deploys Gerhart and Young. My sense is that Young is more solid in 3rd down scenarios, specifically pass protection, while Gerhart provides a better presence in the run game, specifically looking at the inside zone running scheme.

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Positive Signs Regarding Harvin’s Status

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 30, 2010 – 6:05 am

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress used the phrase “in flux” to describe his offense last week and after Saturday night’s preseason victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Part of the reason the Vikings offense has been in flux over recent weeks is because Percy Harvin’s status has been in flux as well.

Harvin has missed extended time over the last month or so due to a death in the family and his migraine condition. Migraines forced Harvin out of action last season and then the condition resurfaced a couple weeks ago. But last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year was able to suit up on Saturday night against Seattle and haul in a pair of receptions for 30 yards, a positive indication for his near-term status.

“I was,” Childress responded when asked if he was encouraged by Harvin’s performance on Saturday night. “I would like to see him more active in the offense. There are some signs of rust, you can tell from some of those routes he ran. It’s just good to see his smiling face out there. He didn’t seem any worse for the wear. He took a couple pretty good licks.”

Harvin took one hit early in the game that caused his helmet to become dislodged and then he took another hit later in the game that caused him to pause for a moment before rising to his feet. But he seemed fine on standing on the sidelines once the 1st-offense was removed from the game and he also was in good spirits while speaking with reporters on the field following the game and with Childress in the locker room after the game.

“We’re feeling really confident,” Harvin said. “I know we said that a couple times, but I think this time we found what the main cause was. I’m not saying I’ll never get a headache again, but hopefully we can slow it down a little bit. … It’s not life-threatening, but it’s something we need to work on and I will.”

Harvin had more to say in a story posted on the Star Tribune’s website by Mark Craig.

Although Harvin’s battle with migraines have been a life-long ordeal and will likely remain that way during his NFL career, recent developments have produced positive signs for his near-term future. And that’s a good thing for the Vikings and, more importantly, Harvin.

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2,000 Yards For Peterson?

Posted by cjsiewert on August 29, 2010 – 6:43 pm

Saturday night’s 24-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks saw many of the Vikings regular starters playing into the second half with many of the offensive players getting an opportunity to show what they could do with the football. The Vikings offense had a nice balanced game plan – 36 passing attempts and 33 plays on the ground.

Last year’s squad found themselves relying heavily on the passing game with the emergence of WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice receiving the ball from future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. But with Harvin dealing with migraines and Rice sidelined after hip surgery, will RB Adrian Peterson return as the staple of the Purple’s offensive attack just as it was in the pre-Favre years?

Peterson rushed for 37 yards on 11 attempts and reached the endzone once on a 24-yard handoff from Brett Favre Saturday night. The 2007 Rookie of the Year also caught 2 passes for 36 yards, one that came on a screen pass where #28 scampered through the Seahawks defense for a 31-yard gain.

After Favre’s return to Winter Park on August 17, he mentioned during his press conference that he doesn’t feel that he has to be as great as he was last year for the team to reach the Super Bowl – one reason being that the men in purple have so many different weapons. The Vikings star RB may be a huge factor under that assumption.

Saturday night’s victory over Seattle may well have been an indication as to how the offense’s approach, and the use of Peterson, will unfold for the Vikings during the course of the regular season. If that’s the case, AP may end up recording a career year on the ground.

A lot of attention has been centered on Titans RB Chris Johnson self-proclaiming himself as the league’s best back over Peterson after rushing for 2,006 yards last season. The Vikings RB has been less vocal on the situation than Johnson but told a group of reporters after Saturday night’s preseason game that Johnson’s success last season serves as a tool of motivation.

“I look at him like, ‘hey, it’s time for me to get it now,’” Peterson said. He also related back to Favre’s comments on the potential that the Vikings offense has this season to be successful.

“With our offense we have so many different weapons. So the ball is going to be moving around with different guys. So I can’t trouble myself or waste on focusing on just 2,000 yards, 2,000 yards. I just set my goal and go out and perform my best, and if it comes it comes.”

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Some Good, Some Bad With 1st Team Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 29, 2010 – 2:45 pm

The Vikings came away from Saturday night’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks with a 24-13 victory thanks to a 4th-quarter offensive surge that included a pair of TD drives led by QBs Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb. But being that it was the team’s 3rd preseason game, much of the post-game analysis is centered on assessing how the starting unit looked.

So let’s assess.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said it the best, telling reporters during his post-game press conference that his offense remains “in flux.”

“It’s no different than my answer to you the other day; it is still in flux,” Childress said. “There’s moving parts, there are parts that are still being added. Whether it’s the quarterback just getting here a couple of weeks ago, whether it’s (Greg) Camarillo just getting here or Percy (Harvin) coming back or that offensive line playing all-together. It’s still in flux.  There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Taking into account Childress’ quote and the fact that Minnesota’s 1st-team offense tallied just 10 points in 2+ quarters, the assessment could justifiably be fairly negative. QB Brett Favre was 16 of 26 for 187 yards, but he had no TD passes, 2 INTs (one of which was a tipped pass) and a lost fumble.

But an objective assessment of the 1st-team’s performance also yields some positives. Although Childress also said during his press conference that he’d like the offense to be more explosive, Favre and Co. did register 5 explosive plays – 4 passes and 1 run (an explosive play is a run of 12+ yards and a reception of 16+ yards). The Vikings also converted their first 4 third-down tries, which enabled them to move the ball. The Vikings drove 34 yards in 3 plays on the 1st series, 65 yards on 16 plays on the 2nd series, 38 yards in 3 plays on the 3rd series and 66 yards on 13 plays in the 5th series. While the offense needs to convert those drives into more points, it’s still a positive sign that they were able to sustain drives and pick up big chunks of yardage.

“Yeah, we would have liked to score more,” Favre said after the game. “[We] turned the ball over. [There is] a lot of stuff on film that we can learn from. We obviously are not hitting on all cylinders yet, but overall I was pleased. I think I had 26 passes. I thought I threw the ball well for the most part.”

A few other positive signs included Adrian Peterson’s 24-yard TD dash, seeing WR Percy Harvin (2 rec. for 30 yards) back on the field and in a good mood after the game, Greg Camarillo contributing in big situations and Javon Walker’s acrobatic TD grab in the 2nd half.

So the 1st-team offense finished its work on Saturday night with mixed reviews. The main concerns going forward are shoring up the offensive line play, eliminating costly penalties and dropped passes and finding a way to get Peterson and the ground game going to keep opposing defenses off-balance.

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Vikings Top Seahawks 24-13 Behind 4th-Quarter Comeback

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 9:48 pm

Preseason games often times lose their interest past halftime, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday night at Mall of America Field, where the Vikings pulled out a 24-13 come-from behind victory over the Seattle Seahawks to improve their preseason record to 2-1 and, more importantly, move another step closer to opening the 2010 regular season.

Brett Favre and the Vikings 1st team offense racked up 223 yards of offense in the opening 2 quarters but penalties and turnovers compromised scoring opportunities. The Vikings defense dominated Seattle’s 1st team offense, holding them to just 98 net yards of offense in the 1st half. As a result, the teams entered halftime knotted at 10.

Seattle opened up another lead early in the 3rd quarter with an Olindo Mare FG; there was no other scoring in the 3rd period.

But the Vikings offense opened up a bit in the 4th quarter, with both Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb leading scoring drives. Rosenfels capped his drive by lofting a pass to Javon Walker in the endzone. Walker, acquired earlier in the week, made an acrobatic catch over 2 defenders for the score, giving the Vikings a 17-13 lead after the Ryan Longwell PAT. On the Vikings next possession, Webb entered the game and capped his drive by hitting fellow rookie Ryan D’Imperio. The fullback bullied his way into the endzone for a 7-yard score that gave the Vikings a 24-13 lead.

The scoring ended there and the Vikings came away with their 2nd win of the 2010 preseason. We’ll have more coverage, including a complete game recap, highlights, on-demand video of head coach Brad Childress and Favre’s press conferences and much more.

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Vikings Dominate 1st Half But Unable To Grab Lead; Game Tied At 10

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 7:33 pm

It’s halftime here at Mall of America Field and the game is tied at 10. The Vikings have dominated the half, but penalties and turnovers on the Vikings offense have kept the game close.

Seattle scored on an 86-yard INT return by rookie Earl Thomas. On the play, Favre hit WR Bernard Berrian on the numbers but Berrian tipped the ball up in the air, allowing Thomas to collect the ball and rush to the endzone for the score. Outside of that, there’s been production for Seattle because the Vikings defense has stopped the ground game.

The Vikings offense, though, has looked good. It’s just that a few penalties and 2 turnovers have taken away potential scoring chances.

Favre is 14 of 21 passing for 174 yards and looks sharp. He’s moving nimbly to avoid the rush and he’s scattered his completions to 9 different players. Adrian Peterson leads the team with 36 receiving yards and Shiancoe leads the squad with 3 receptions. Peterson also carried the ball 11 times in the first 2 quarters for a total of 37 yards; he scored on a nice 24-yard TD dash where he hurdled over players and also danced around them.

We’ll have more for you right here on throughout the game and especially after the game, so stay tuned.

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What 2 Watch 4 Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 12:29 pm

Tonight marks the 3rd preseason game for the Vikings as they host the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field in a game scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT. The 3rd preseason game is considered the “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as they make final preparations for the regular season, so tonight is a good time to keep a keen eye on the squad.

With that in mind, here are a few things I’ll be specifically watching tonight…

Unquestionably the position fans were the most displeased with coming out of the 2009 season. I’m not sure they played as poorly as many thought, but there is definitely room for improvement. Madieu Williams has one of the starting spots nailed down, but the other spot is still up in the air, with both Tyrell Johnson (last season’s regular starter) and Jamarca Sanford battling it out. My sense is that Johnson has an edge in this competition, but Sanford did start last week in San Francisco and Johnson didn’t come in until the 3rd quarter. I’m not sure how to read into that, but tonight’s rotation and performance from each guy will go a long way in determining who will be the Week 1 starter.

Offensive Line
Probably the position fans are the most displeased with currently, especially after the sack QB Brett Favre took last week. I’m less concerned with the starting 5 and more concerned about the depth behind the starting 5, specifically at OT. Rookie G Chris DeGeare should provide adequate depth on the interior line, but I think Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich have a lot to prove as reserve OTs. They’ll get their chance tonight in the 2nd half as well as in next week’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.

Another area to watch will be the starting C position, where John Sullivan has made it back from a leg injury and should see substantial time tonight. But last week starting RG Anthony Herrera played some at C, so it will be interesting to see if the Vikings offensive staff plays Herrera at C again tonight, even with Sullivan back in the lineup and able to play. If Herrera does play C tonight, this might be a development worth watching over the next couple of weeks.

New WRs
Both Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker should see their 1st game action as Vikings tonight. Walker was brought in via free agency earlier in the week and Camarillo was brought in via trade a day later. My sense is that Camarillo has a real shot to be a factor in the Vikings passing game this season. He caught 55 and 50 passes in consecutive years with the Dolphins, a run-heavy team, and he’s never played with a QB at the level of Brett Favre, so perhaps Camarillo will be a productive possession receiver with the Vikings. Walker is a bigger target than Camarillo and also brings with him a rapport with Favre from their days together in Green Bay. Walker also knows the offense better than Camarillo at this point, which is why I expect Walker to look better tonight.

It’ll be interesting to watch both of these guys play and I’m specifically interested to see what my initial impressions of Camarillo are after tonight’s game.

I’m also looking forward to watching WR Bernard Berrian in extended time tonight with Favre. Even before issues with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice arose, I thought Berrian was poised to have another big season for the Vikings. In 2008, Berrian fulfilled expectations as a big-time free agent signing by leading the NFL in yards per catch. Then last season, with Favre under center, Berrian missed the opportunity to develop early chemistry with #4 because of a nagging hamstring injury. With Berrian healthy and Favre back in the fold, I expect the speedy #87 to be a big factor in this year’s passing game. We’ll get a glimpse as to what the future holds tonight.

Jayme Mitchell
The 6-6, 285-pound DE has been written off by many Vikings followers over the year, partially because a knee injury ruined much of his time in Minnesota. But earlier this week assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Mitchell is now showing no ill-effects from that knee injury, and Mitchell’s play recently is bearing that out. He’s had a nice training camp and an even better preseason. After his 1st solid preseason performance against the St. Louis Rams, I said I needed to see him do it again before I jumped on-board. Then that’s exactly what he did against San Francisco last week. So I’m on-board with Mitchell making the squad for now, but we still have 2 preseason games to play. Hopefully Mitchell stays healthy and puts on another good show tonight. He could provide the Vikings with excellent depth behind Ray Edwards.

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