Tonight’s preseason game moves us 1 step closer to the regular season, which is set to begin for the Vikings on Thursday, September 9 in New Orleans. But there are still questions to be answered and Monday mornings are the time to get that done.
So, if you have a comment/question, submit it/them to the vikings.com Monday Morning Mailbag by sending an email to me at email@example.com or by submitting it to the comments section below this entry. Remember to include your name and town with each email.
We can’t post every comment/question, but I’ll respond to every question.
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Are you following the Vikings on Twitter? If not, you should because along with vikings.com, the vikings.com Blog and the Vikings official Facebook page, it’s a great way to stay on top of all the latest Vikings news and content.
Following the Vikings on Twitter will give you quick access to latest news headlines and blog posted on vikings.com, in-game updates related to statistics and injuries, post-game updates from press conferences and the locker room, plus much more.
Remember, you don’t need your own Twitter account to follow the Vikings. Just go to Twitter.com and search for @VikingsFootball.
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Today is an exciting day for vikings.com because the organization and it’s official sporting goods retailer – Sports Authority – are set to open the brand new “Sports Authority Studios” at Winter Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for this afternoon.
The on-site production studio will be used for the filming of the Vikings pregame show, Vikings GamePlan, interviews for the Vikings Radio Network and flagship station KFAN AM 1130, vikings.com video productions plus various photo and video shoots.
“Sports Authority is honored to partner with the Minnesota Vikings to unveil the first ‘Sports Authority Studios’,” said Jeff Schumacher, Executive Vice President, CMO and CSO of Sports Authority. “This studio is a new concept for Sports Authority and we look forward to the growth of our partnership with the Vikings.”
The opening of Sports Authority Studios signifies an official launch to Vikings Entertainment Network (VEN) – the umbrella for all Vikings entertainment initiatives including broadcast, website and in-stadium programming.
“We are thrilled to have a partner like Sports Authority with the vision to join us on such an important initiative,” said Bryan Harper, Vikings Sr. Marketing Manager and Executive Producer, VEN. “Sports Authority Studios will allow us to maximize programming efforts and provide even more exclusive content for Vikings fans.”
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With CB Cedric Griffin’s status for the early part of the 2010 season in question because of a knee injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings made sure to bolster their depth at CB heading into the offseason program. They did this by signing free agent Lito Sheppard, re-signing Benny Sapp, continuing to develop Asher Allen and drafting Chris Cook.
With so much competition on the depth chart for that starting spot, including a pair of veterans with a solid body of work in the NFL already, it’d be a tall task for a rookie such as Cook to earn the job. But with just 13 days to go until the Vikings regular season opener in New Orleans, Cook may end up tackling the task.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune wrote earlier this week that Cook may start at right CB on Saturday evening against the Seattle Seahawks, a significant development for 2 reasons: 1) Saturday’s game is the 3rd preseason game, which is considered a “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as the regular season approaches and 2) Cook has been spending most of his time in training camp and the preseason playing left CB behind starter Antoine Winfield.
For one reason or another, the Vikings have decided to insert Cook into the competition on the left side with Allen and Sheppard. It could be that the coaching staff is seriously considering him as a starter. Or it could be the coaching staff just wants the 2nd round rookie to experience both CB positions.
Either way, I view these developments as a positive sign of Cook’s future with the Vikings. At 6-2, 212 pounds, Cook has excellent size for a CB in assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier’s scheme. And while his size and physicality are good, I’ve also been impressed with his ability to make plays on the ball. In one training camp practice 3 weeks ago, Cook made 2 INTs down the field where he battled a WR. If he can consistently come up with those plays downfield, he has a legitimate chance to be an all-around solid CB, with the ability to cover WRs downfield but also come up and support the run.
For now, though, we’ll temper the enthusiasm and let Cook’s play speak for itself. That is the approach the Vikings coaching staff is taking.
“He’s done some decent things over there,” Childress said of Cook playing on the right side. “That’s where he played his senior year. He played left before that. We’re worried a little bit about the footwork. I think he’s done some okay things over there. I think he’s probably more comfortable just because he spent all those turns at training camp on the left, but we’ll get a chance to see him play over there a little bit.”
Said Frazier: “Well we want to get through this next ballgame and get a chance to evaluate this third preseason ballgame. Chris will get some reps, Asher will get some reps and so will Lito. And then we will try to put together what we have seen over training camp and preseason games and try to make a decision.”
If Cook performs well on Saturday night and winds up with that starting job for Week 1, it says more about his development than it does about the inability of Allen or Sheppard to win the job. Credit goes to Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and his scouting staff, along with Childress, for selecting Cook early in the 2nd round after trading out of the 1st round. If you remember, Cook was regarded by many as a notch below other CBs in the 2010 draft, such as Joe Haden, Devin McCourty, Patrick Robinson and Kyle Wilson.
Tags: Chris Cook, Leslie Frazier
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The Vikings conducted practice at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome on Thursday because head coach Brad Childress wanted his players to get a feel for the new playing surface that was installed this offseason. The old surface – FieldTurf – was replaced by Sportexe, a product produced by a Georgia-based company and also used by the Baltimore Ravens.
The new playing surface will see its 1st game action on Saturday, when the Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks in a game scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. CT. Speaking of the game, Childress disclosed that he anticipates his starters to play the entire 1st half and then 1 series into the 3rd quarter. Childress declined to specify what the playing order would be for the QBs following Favre’s departure from the game and he also said WR Percy Harvin, who has missed extended time this training camp and preseason, has not been cleared to play.
Earlier this morning I offered my thoughts on the Benny Sapp-for-Greg Camarillo trade. Today, Childress was asked to comment. Here’s what he said: “Love Benny. It’s hard to see him go. They (Miami) had a need and want and we had a need and a want. We were able to match those two things up. I don’t know that it speaks anything to how we feel about the other people yet, but obviously good enough to part with Benny. At the same time, we had a need that we felt like we needed to fill.”
Asked about his new receiver, Childress responded: “A receiver by definition should receive. He’s got A+ hands, so if you put a ball around him he’s got great pluck characteristics that he can pluck the ball out of the air and catch it in his hands.
On whether Camarillo is an inside or outside receiver: “He’s done both; he’s played outside, he’s played in the slot. We’ll have to start him slowly; we can’t put everything on his plate right away. We like for all our guys to be able to interchange.”
Also, I wasn’t able to attend this morning’s practice at Mall of America Field, and therefore I wasn’t able to catch up with Camarillo after his 1st Vikings practice to get his reaction to the trade. But the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad did, and here’s what Camarillo had to say
“It was a crazy day,” Camarillo said when asked about what happened after he learned he had been traded on Wednesday. “I found out at 10 a.m. that it was time to leave my home and move to Minnesota. I’ve only been here for maybe 24 hours. But it’s home now. I’m excited. It’s a new opportunity with a great team.”
Tags: Greg Camarillo, Percy Harvin
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After disappointing news that WR Sidney Rice could be sideline for 8 weeks or even more after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the week, the Vikings weren’t reduced to licking their wounds or curling over in the fetal position. Instead, the team has aggressively addressed the problem by signing veteran Javon Walker and trading for 5th-year player Greg Camarillo.
Camarillo immediately bolsters the talent level and depth of the Vikings WR corps. The 6-1, 190-pound WR out of Stanford is a versatile player who can lineup in the slot or out wide. According to the website footballoutsiders, Camarillo was targeted 73 times in 2009 with 50 receptions and 0 drops. Camarillo, a smart player, has good but not great quickness and speed and he’s also been productive over the past 2 seasons, hauling in 105 catches in that time with an 11.1-yard per catch average.
Time will tell exactly how the Vikings use him, but by all appearances he seems to be a prototypical possession receiver – versatile with great hands and a history of producing. He’s a nice addition for the Vikings.
The addition of Camarillo comes at the expense of CB Benny Sapp, who had been with the club over the past 2 seasons and played well during his time with the Vikings. When CB Antoine Winfield was sidelined last season with a foot injury, it was Sapp who stepped in and played capably. In total, Sapp played in 30 games for the Vikings with 11 starts and tallied 59 tackles, 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles in that time.
“Benny was a good player for us,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He did a great job while he was here. He helped us out down the stretch a year ago. Wish him the best with his new team, wish him the best.”
But while the Vikings depth at WR was in question, depth at CB was not. And that’s why Sapp was dealt. Although starter Cedric Griffin is coming back from a knee injury, Winfield appears to be in top form and a trio of other CBs – Asher Allen, Chris Cook and Lito Sheppard – are vying for playing time. Sapp was by no means a front runner among the CB group and he actually missed extensive time during the early part of training camp due to dehydration.
No word yet on when Camarillo will join the Vikings or what jersey number he’ll wear. His contract runs through the 2011 season.
Tags: Benny Sapp, Greg Camarillo, Javon Walker, Leslie Frazier
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The Vikings signed free agent WR Javon Walker on Tuesday and on Wednesday they made another move to bolster the team’s depth at WR by sending CB Benny Sapp to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for WR Greg Camarillo. The trade has been agreed to by both Miami and the Vikings but the completion of the deal is contingent on players taking and passing physical examinations.
We’ll provide confirmation when the deal is officially complete.
Camarillo stands at 6-1, 190 pounds and has been with the San Diego Chargers (2006) and Miami Dolphins (2007-2009). He has 113 receptions for 1,325 yards and 4 TDs in his career and in 2009 he played and started in 16 games for the 1st time in his career. Camarillo finished the ’09 season with 50 receptions for 552 yards.
Tags: Benny Sapp, Greg Camarillo
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One of the most-talked about position battles heading into 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp was the starting safety position opposite Madieu Williams, with Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford being the primary candidates to fulfill the role. Johnson has been the starter in that role over the past year, but near the end of the 2009 regular season Sanford was given more playing time and even started 1 game for Johnson.
Johnson, selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft, is entering his 3rd year with the club. He was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie when Williams was sidelined with an injury. Once Williams was healthy again, Johnson reverted back to a reserve role. Then when Darren Sharper left the Vikings via free agency, Johnson was elevated to starter.
Sanford was selected by the Vikings in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft and quickly impressed the Vikings with his special teams ability. Eventually his effort and production on special teams yielded some time on the field with the defense, where he impressed again to a point where he could earn a starting spot for the 2010 season.
Both players, along with fellow S Husain Abdullah, have been rotating in and out of the 1st- and 2nd-team defenses, and Sanford started at S against the San Francisco 49ers in last weekend’s preseason game. The team’s next preseason game is on Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field, and Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says that game will be the next step in determining who will start at S for the Vikings.
“We’re going to use this next ballgame as another part of the evaluation and we’re trying to make a decision prior to that September 9 game (season opener),” Frazier explained. “They’re still nip and tuck; Ty (Tyrell Johnson) will get some reps this week, Husain (Abdullah) will get some reps there and Jamarca will as well. Hopefully after this ballgame we’ll come to a conclusion.”
It’s too close to call right now, but expect Johnson to get many of the 1st-team reps on Saturday evening because Sanford got those reps last weekend. How Johnson performs against Seattle will likely resolve the nip and tuck race that is going on right now.
Tags: Jamarca Sanford, Leslie Frazier, Tyrell Johnson
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With Sidney Rice sideline because of a hip injury and Percy Harvin having missed extended time during training camp and the preseason, the Vikings WR position has gone from one of the deeper spots on the team to a position in need of some depth for the time being.
To address that situation, the Vikings have signed WR Javon Walker, a 9-year veteran who’s been with the Green Bay Packers (2002-2005), Denver Broncos (2006-2007) and Oakland Raiders (2008-2009). With the Vikings, Walker is re-united with QB Brett Favre. The tandem was successful in Green Bay, hooking up for TDs 20 times.
Walker has played in 83 career games, including 46 starts, over the last 8 seasons and he was originally selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 1st round (#20) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He earned a Pro Bowl berth following the 2004 season, a campaign in which he had 89 receptions for 1,382 yards (15.5 avg.) and 12 TDs.
For his career, Walker has 267 receptions for 4,011 yards and 31 TDs.
To make room for Walker, the Vikings waived RB Ryan Moats.
Tags: Javon Walker, Ryan Moats
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With the 2010 season certainly upon us, it’s time once again for several Vikings-related things to roll back into action, including the television show “Vikings GamePlan.” During the regular season, fans will have the chance to submit their questions for Head Coach Brad Childress to potentially answer on the show. During the preseason however, the Vikings coordinators and assistant coaches will get their crack at answering your submissions.
For this week’s episode, Assistant Head Coach – Offense and Running Backs coach Eric Bieniemy will answer 1 fan question. So, if you have a question for Bieniemy, submit it via the comments section of this post, along with your first name and your hometown, and it could be answered on this week’s program.
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