Will He Sit Or Will He Play?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 10, 2010 – 4:15 pm

One of the most pleasant developments for me during 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp has been the play from LB E.J. Henderson, who participates regularly with the 1st team defense and has continued his aggressive comeback from a serious leg injury that he suffered near the end of last season.

Henderson told Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress months ago that he was going to “change the protocol with the way this injury is rehabilitated” and to this point I’d have to think the LB is right. He’s had a terrific camp and he continues to participate more and more, instead of taking 2 steps forward and then 1 step back on his way to recovery.

During a Tuesday morning appearance on AM 1130 KFAN’s Power Trip Morning Show, I was asked my opinion on whether or not Henderson would suit up on Saturday evening against the St. Louis Rams in the Vikings 1st presesaon contest. Because of the severity of Henderson’s injury, his importance to the Vikings defense and the lack of importance of a preseason game, I speculated that perhaps the Vikings will sit Henderson in this initial preseason game.

Now I’m beginning to second-guess myself.

During Tuesday afternoon’s practice, Henderson made the play of the day during a short-yardage period. The team was practicing a 4th-and-1 scenario with the 1st team offense going against the 1st team defense. The play call was an Adrian Peterson run up the gut to try and pick up the 1st down. Henderson knifed through the offensive line and dove into the backfield, where he was able to wrap up Peterson for a 1-yard loss and force a turnover on downs.

Henderson immediately bounced up after the play and the rest of the defense rushed up to the LB to give him high-fives and pats on the helmet. It was a great moment to witness and something all Vikings hope to see more of in 2010.

I don’t know the ins and outs of Henderson’s rehab, but plays like that indicate to me that he’s getting close to playing form. Whether he plays or not on Saturday, I’m not sure. And assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said a determination on that hasn’t been made yet.

“He (Henderson) did more today than he has prior,” Frazier said on Monday when asked if Henderson would play this weekend. “He continues to surprise us with what he is able to take.  We will just continue to monitor him the rest of this week and then make a determination at the end of the week.”

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E.J.’s Youth Foundation On-Hand For Tueday AM Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 10, 2010 – 3:55 pm

Inclement weather forced the Vikings to move their Tuesday morning practice indoors. While the rain clouds altered the Vikings practice schedule, they weren’t enough to dampen the spirits of some special guests on-hand.

A large group of children from the E.J. Henderson Youth Foundation made the trek to Mankato from Eden Prairie to watch E.J. and his brother, Erin, practice and then hang out with the 2 brothers following practice.

“It’s great because the kids get a chance to see E.J. in his environment and his element with his teammates,” said Ty Baker, Director of Life Skills and Education at the Foundation. “That’s important. The kids get to see him at the facility, but it’s cool to see him out here among his teammates.

According to its website, the E.J. Henderson Youth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization utilizing a holistic approach to improve the overall well-being of urban youth. HYF’s “Urban Youth Outreach” program provides an opportunity to youth struggling to find purpose and direction. The organization provides guidance-oriented programs that emphasize the importance of having a sound mind, body and soul.

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Young WRs Catching A Good Opportunity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 10, 2010 – 12:55 pm

The Vikings entered 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp with WR being one of their strong points. As it turns out, 2 of the top 3 WRs have missed all or most of training camp and several younger or more inexperienced players have been given more opportunities as a result.

Sidney Rice, who had a breakout season in 2009 and earned his 1st Pro Bowl, was placed on the PUP list to begin camp because of a hip injury that has hindered him since the NFC title game. Rice still isn’t practicing and his return doesn’t seem imminent. Then on Tuesday morning, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress disclosed to reporters that WR Percy Harvin, last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, is dealing with migraines. The migraine issue is one that bothered Harvin last season and it comes at a time when Harvin is also grieving the death of his Grandmother.

So with 2 of the top 3 Vikings WRs off the field, things have gone a bit differently than expected for WRs coach George Stewart’s group. A trio of veterans have done what’s expected of them. Bernard Berrian has stepped up and had a great camp, both in on-field production and in leadership ability. And then 2 other veterans – Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis – have also been there to take on an extra load with Harvin and Rice out of action.

But what’s been just as pleasing to see is the progression of the Vikings young WRs, such as 2nd-year pro Taye Biddle and former Golden Gopher Logan Payne.

“They’re getting opportunities,” Stewart said of his young and inexperienced receivers. “And that’s what you want to see. To practice and show the coaching staff what you can do. These young guys trying to make the football team, it’s important for them to get work and they’re making the most of their opportunities.”

Berrian, who’s had the best camp of any Vikings WR, agrees with Stewart’s assessment.

“They’re doing a great job coming in, especially the new guys, and adjusting to the playbook and learning plays,” Berrian explained. “They’re being thrown in there, still being young and having to learn things, they’re doing a good job of making plays.”

It’s an encouraging sign that individuals such as Berrian and Stewart have been pleased with what they’ve seen from the young WRs, but the proof will be in the pudding when the Viking suit up for preseason action. The team’s 1st preseason game will be this Saturday in St. Louis.

That’s when we’ll see if the Vikings WRs are catching on.

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AM Practice Moved Indoors; WR Brown Signed

Posted by cjsiewert on August 10, 2010 – 12:19 pm

The Vikings made it outside for about 10 minutes Tuesday morning but after heavy rain and a strike of lightening, head coach Brad Childress moved his squad into the climate controlled Myers Field House across the street from the practice fields.

Due to the condensed practice area inside, Childress made the move to hold special teams practice this morning, which was slated for the afternoon, and switched the regular team practice to take place at 2:45 p.m.

There really wasn’t much to take from this practice since the players couldn’t go full speed, avoiding any injuries, but what was impressive to see during the morning session was the outcome of loyal fans of the Purple. These fans were ready to watch their team practice, rain or shine, and proceeded to pack into the limited seating within the tight confines of the field house.

As the Purple Nation shows its true colors, kudos to all who have supported their favorite team throughout 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.

Moving from outside to inside wasn’t the only move the Vikings made this morning, as free agent WR Freddie Brown was signed by the Purple in lieu of waiving rookie S Terrell Skinner. Childress addressed the media after this morning’s practice and mentioned that Brown provides a new look.

“He’s fresh,” Childress said. “With eight receivers in here we are running the legs off of some of these guys. We needed somebody we could get in here. We worked him out this morning and we had tracked him before. He was on our short list. We had two guys in this morning and we signed him.”

Brown was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 7th round (252nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. The former Utah Ute jumped into the national spotlight during the 2009 Sugar Bowl where he compiled 12 catches for 125 yards in the Utes’ 31-17 upset of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Here is the analysis of the newly acquired WR:

Positives: “Tall with a strong upper body build and long arms. Has the size to beat the jam. Uses his frame to shield defenders on slants and crossing routes. Fights for the ball in the air and for extra yardage after initial contact, especially against smaller corners. Equally effective when lining up on the slot or outside. Separates from defenders on jump balls using his height and length. Works to get open if his quarterback scrambles. Able to make a quick move after the catch to free himself from a cornerback.”

Negatives: “Very inconsistent hands; will pluck one ball away from his frame and then body-catch or drop the next. Below-average straight-line speed; fails to break away from corners or safeties down the sideline. Loses balance when trying to make a move in the open field. Product of a spread system. Generally a tough receiver, but will hear footsteps over the middle.”

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