Thursday Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 21, 2010 – 2:29 pm

There are lots of changes to the Thursday injury reports, so let’s go over a few of them.

The not so great news is that the Vikings added 2 players to the Thursday injury report – T Ryan Cook (wrist) and WR Percy Harvin (hamstring) – and S Husain Abdullah (concussion) was held out for a second consecutive day. But the good news is TE Jim Kleinsasser (groin) and CB Lito Sheppard (hand) returned to practice and DE Brian Robison (ankle) went from limited on Wednesday to a full participant on Thursday.

Click here to see the full Vikings injury report.

The Packers added G/T Marshall Newhouse (back) to the report because he was held out of practice on Thursday and CB Charles Woodson (toe), who was limited on Wednesday, was also held out on Thursday. S Nick Collins (knee) and LB A.J. Hawk (knee) were limited on Thursday after being held out on Wednesday. T Chad Clifton (knee) and DE Cullen Jenkins (hand) both went from being limited on Wednesday to full participants on Thursday.

Got all that?

It will be interesting to see how Green Bay comes out injury-wise after tomorrow’s practice. Injuries have hampered the Packers all season long, with LB Nick Barnett, RB Ryan Grant and TE Jermichael Finley having already been placed on injured reserve. It looks like some key offensive and defensive linemen – Clifton, Jenkins, Pickett and Tauscher – will be playing, but it’s surprising to see that WR Donald Driver (quad) has been held out of practice both Wednesday and Thursday and that Woodson was held out on Thursday.

The NFL is a war of attrition and the Vikings and Packers are great illustrations of that as they prepare to renew their twice-annual rivalry this weekend.

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Murphy Points To Continuity, Unselfishness In Solid Special Teams Effort

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 21, 2010 – 12:30 pm

Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy met with reporters on Thursday, as he does each week, and there were a few interesting notes to take from what he had to say. Let’s take a look at them…

– I wrote on Monday that the Vikings put together perhaps their most complete special teams effort in Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, thanks in large part to Percy Harvin’s 95-yard kickoff return for a TD but also because of outstanding work by P Chris Kluwe, K Ryan Longwell and the kick coverage units.

Murphy was asked on Thursday about his team’s overall effort against Dallas and said that it was a solid performance. He also explained that the quality play is a function of continuity.

“It was a solid performance,” Murphy said. “It’s a reflection of stability at all the positions. Playing with the same guys will lead to success; the same guys doing the same things, working with the same people.”

– This was Murphy’s response when asked if Harvin would be utilized on punt returns: “It’ll come eventually. I don’t think it’s him (not being smooth enough yet), it’ll be the right place and the right time for him to be back returning punts.”

– Kluwe is receiving rave reviews for his punt performances not because of how far he’s kicking it but because of his accuracy and ability to hang the ball up in the air long enough to allow the coverage unit to surround the returner.

“He’s been very consistent,” Murphy said of Kluwe, “and he’s another guy that you appreciate because the bottom line is winning and he’s doing what it takes for us as a team to win. Punters are judged right, wrong or indifferent, they’re judged by their gross punt (average). But in order for the Minnesota Vikings to win, we need to net out and change the field. And he’s done that unselfishly. He’s doing the things that we need to win.”

– You’ll remember that TE Jim Kleinsasser had a good game catching the ball against Dallas. But in recent seasons Kleinsasser’s value has been as an effective in-line blocker for the offense. He’s also a core special teams player, though, and Murphy was asked to comment on what Kleinsasser means to the special teams group.

“Jim is one of those guys [who] regardless of years, he comes, he prepares, he’s a steady performer, you know what you’re going to get out of him and that’s great effort,” Murphy explained. “He’s strong at the point (of attack). He never lets you down in that role. He’s willing to do those things. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what he brings to the table because not only does he do it without a lot of fanfare, I think it’s a good example for the rest of the guys in the room to see a guy like that that has played that long and is still willing to do those things.”

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Missing Piece? Shiancoe Could Help Offense Return To Form

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 21, 2010 – 7:56 am

A season ago TE Visanthe Shiancoe was a go-to threat for QB Brett Favre and the Vikings offense. He had a career-high 56 catches and 11 TDs, with each of his scores coming in the red zone. This year, though, the passing attack has yet to take its true form and as a result Shiancoe hasn’t seen as much action.

Through 5 games, the Shiancoe has 13 catches for 197 yards and 1 TD. Last week against Dallas he was shutout and he now has 3 total receptions over the past 3 games. The 6-4, 250-pound TE has developed into a talented receiver for the Vikings and when the passing offense gets back on track and produces as it did in 2009, Shiancoe will be a big reason why.

While over the past 2 weeks one can argue the addition of WR Randy Moss to the offense has taken looks away from Shiancoe, an even stronger argument can be made that as the offense continues to improve and gel Shiancoe will become more of a factor. He is an exceptional technician and route runner who can take advantage of mismatches in the middle of the field and down the seam. Moss’ addition as a down-field threat who commands double-teams will assist Shiancoe in finding those mismatches.

“It’s a matter of us putting him in a position to be a prime look on certain passes,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday. “Now I always say, you can be looking at somebody as a prime guy and if he’s gloved or he’s being covered by two people it has to go elsewhere. We can do a better job of that, putting him in better situations.”

This week’s game against Green Bay might present one of those better situations Childress referenced. Surely Green Bay’s priority will be to stop RB Adrian Peterson from establishing the run and then also prevent Moss from torching them deep down the sidelines. As a result, Shiancoe could be in-line to see some of those mismatches that led to a great season a year ago.

On top of all that, statistics indicate that Green Bay has had trouble containing opposing teams’ TEs in recent weeks. Miami’s Anthony Fasano had a 22-yard score last week, Washington’s Chris Coolley had 7 receptions for 69 yards 2 weeks ago, Detroit TEs combined for 154 yards on 14 grabs and in Week 3 Chicago’s Greg Olsen had 5 catches for 64 yards and 1TD.

Now, Green Bay is obviously aware of these facts and will scheme against Shiancoe. They’ve had mixed results against the Vikings pass-catching TE in the past, holding him to 4 total receptions in 2009 but also yielding a TD in each game.

It will be interesting to see how the Vikings try to integrate Shiancoe into the offensive attack going forward. If they can do it successfully, the offense will be one step closer to regaining its 2009 form.

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Favre’s Elbow Feels “Better”

Posted by cjsiewert on October 21, 2010 – 5:40 am

Since experiencing tendinitis in his right elbow, Brett Favre’s ability to throw the football accurately and with the gunslinger velocity we’ve become accustom to over the past 20 years may have taken a slight hit.

Favre even mentioned after the Week 5 loss to the NY Jets that he missed a couple of throws that he could’ve “made in my sleep.” But last Sunday’s victory over the Dallas Cowboys saw Favre record his 1st game with a passer rating over 100 (106.9), which may or may not be a fair indication as to how his elbow is feeling, but it doesn’t appear to be getting worse.

“It feels better,” Favre told reporters Wednesday. “As I said after the (Dallas) game, it felt better.”

The 20-year veteran received a cortisone injection to help alleviate pain in his throwing elbow. The injection has relieved the pain, but Favre feels a sense of skepticism on whether it’s healed or not.

“I think the cortisone injection has helped,” Favre said. “But I’m reluctant to say, just knowing that I had tendinitis before, that it’s gone. Especially the way I throw. (I’m) hardheaded; not wanting to take time off. Keep my fingers crossed, but right now it feels better.”

Favre’s elbow feeling better couldn’t come at a better time with the Vikings facing a critical NFC North showdown with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field this Sunday night. The visit to Green Bay will be Favre’s 2nd in a Vikings uniform after playing for the divisional foe for 16 seasons.

“Whether we’re both undefeated or not, I think the significance of the game doesn’t really change,” Favre acknowledged of the Vikings-Packers matchup. “Maybe subconsciously there’s more, I don’t want to say pressure, but the need to get it going. Maybe more so than any other time.”

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