Player Safety At TCF Bank Stadium “Should Not Be An Issue”

Posted by cjsiewert on December 16, 2010 – 3:06 pm

Despite concerns on whether or not TCF Bank Stadium will be ready for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears, and reports that the field is frozen, Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier alleviated concerns on player safety regarding the playing surface during his Thursday press conference.

“From everything that I’ve been told, player safety should not be an issue,” Frazier mentioned. “They’re doing everything possible to assure us that that’s not going to be an issue and that’s what we’re believing. We’ll get a chance to go through a walk-through on Sunday or Saturday as a team. That’s what we’re looking forward to and our guys can get comfortable with it.”

Frazier also mentioned that he has talked with his players about the safety issue, echoing his statements towards the media.

“I have talked to our players about that fact and just assured them that the league is making sure that safety will not be an issue,” Frazier reiterated. “That they can approach this with great confidence and go out and just perform and play the way they want to play and I have confidence that part of it will not be an issue.”

The Vikings spent their first 21 seasons as a franchise playing outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium and will be doing the same for the first time in 29 years to the day on Monday night. The matchup against the Bears will feature a celebration of the franchise’s 50 seasons, with the “50 Greatest Vikings” to be honored at halftime. Many of the former Vikings players that will be honored on Monday night played in freezing-cold conditions late in the season at the old Met and it will fitting that their recognition will take place in the same conditions that they became accustom to over their careers in Minnesota.

Vikings QB Brett Favre acknowledged that he, too, along with former Vikings that played at the old Met, had to adapt to such conditions and that the question of player safety may been seen as an after-thought to the “50 Greatest Vikings.”

“These older guys that will be back this week will laugh at that question,” Favre said.

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QB Decision To Be Made In The Next Couple Of Days

Posted by cjsiewert on December 16, 2010 – 1:58 pm

With Brett Favre’s sprained throwing shoulder placing his availability for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears in question, coupled with the decision to put Tarvaris Jackson on injured reserve, the Vikings signed journeyman QB Patrick Ramsey to add depth to an injury-plagued QB unit.

Ramsey, an 8-year veteran out of Tulane, spent his first 4 seasons with the Washington Redskins, the 2006 season with the NY Jets, 2007-08 with the Denver Broncos, 2009 with the Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions and was with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins this year. He hasn’t played in a game since 2008 and hasn’t started since 2005.

Ramsey’s most productive season was in 2003 where the 6-2, 225-pounder started and played in 11 games completing 179 of 337 passes for 2,166 yards, 14 TDs and 9 INTs. His career totals are 511 completions on 913 attempts for 5,930 yards, 35 TDs and 30 INTs.

The signing of Ramsey doesn’t necessitate his presence on the playing field this week, but rather gives the Vikings more depth at the QB position that is lacking it. As far as Favre’s status goes, Vikings Interim Head Coach Leslie Frazier mentioned during his Thursday press conference that his condition would be made clearer as the week progresses.

“We’re trying to determine when and if he’ll be able to do anything at all this week,” Frazier said. “So we’ll see what happens probably a little bit later in the week.”

Even with Favre’s availability up in the air and Jackson placed on injured reserve, there are still uncertainties on who will be the Vikings starting QB come Monday night. Joe Webb is the team’s #3 QB, but has been dealing with a hamstring injury that he suffered early in the game against the Buffalo Bills a week-and-a-half ago.

“We’ll see,” Frazier said in response when asked if Webb would be the starter. “Just give it a couple of days and see if things change. We’ll see what happens.”

In just a matter of a week, the Vikings have gone from a team that never had to worry about its starting QB, since Favre had started an NFL-record 297 consecutive times before, to a team that may be starting a QB who has never made a start and has played in only 2.

Given the circumstances, though, Frazier acknowledged that Webb would be taking reps with the 1st team offense in practice this week and that the rookie QB is up to the challenge. Also, the interim coach said that Webb “may be passed that hamstring (injury).”

“Just in talking with Joe, he’s really excited about the opportunity,” Frazier said. “He can’t wait to line up and play and have a chance to start. If that happens, he’s not running away from it and we have confidence that he can get it done.”

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Vikings Make Roster Moves

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2010 – 11:17 am

The Minnesota Vikings have made the following moves…

QB Patrick Ramsey

DB Simeon Castille

QB Tarvaris Jackson

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Setting The Table For The Chicago Bears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 16, 2010 – 7:43 am

A pair of appropriate coincidences will be in play on Monday night as the Vikings host the Chicago Bears. Monday night will be the Vikings last home game of the 50th season in franchise history and it’s against the same team they faced in the first regular season game in franchise history. In addition to that, the Vikings will play a home game in the outdoors for the first time in 29 years to the day of their last outdoor home game – the last game at Met Stadium on December 20, 1981 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The collapse of the roof at Mall of America Field has forced the NFL and the Vikings to move Monday night’s game to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota. As a result, the Vikings and Bears will be forced to deal with the elements – temperatures are expected to be right around 10 degrees with a windchill making it feel sub-zero.

While the temperatures will be well below freezing for Monday night’s game, the playoff race has heated up for the Bears. They enter the game coming off an embarrassing loss at home to the New England Patriots. In a snowstorm, the Patriots pasted Chicago by a 36-7 count. But the Bears still have a nice 9-4 record, are 1 game ahead of the Green Bay Packers and may be able to put even more distance in the NFC North standings depending on how Green Bay fares on Sunday at New England. The Patriots are heavy favorites in that game and if things fall the way they should, Chicago will have a chance to put the nail in the coffin of the 2010 NFC North race.

In order to do that, though, the Bears will have to march into TCF Bank Stadium and earn a victory. While the Vikings won’t have the benefit of their usual home stadium – Mall of America Field – they will still have the advantage of their home fans. I anticipate a packed house at TCF Stadium and a giddy crowd that will be excited to see outdoor football again, on the same night the team will recognize 50 years of great history by honoring the 50 Greatest Vikings.

The heart and soul of this year’s Bears team is their defense, which is the 3rd-ranked scoring defense and 8th-ranked defense overall. Chicago tends to give up a few yards through the air – they’re ranked 18th in pass defense – but they are dominant against the run, yielding just 87.9 yards per game, ranked 2nd in the league. DE Julius Peppers anchors a defensive line that is playing well, but the key to this defense is the LBs. When middle LB Brian Urlacher and OLB Lance Briggs are on the field together, this defense is really good. And they’ve been on the field together a lot this year. Urlacher is the steady hand that guides this group and Briggs is a legitimate playmaking LB that is equally good against the run and the pass.

Offensively, the Bears are a bit unimpressive to be honest. They had trouble protecting QB Jay Cutler earlier in the year, but offensive line coach Mike Tice has gotten that fixed. Also, Chicago has gone away from a wide array of offensive sets and formations and they’ve become more of a “meat and potatoes” group. The running game is paced by Matt Forte, with Chester Taylor as the complementary back, and the passing game features speedy WRs such as Devin Hester and Johnny Knox. TE Greg Olsen has also become more of a factor this year and he’s able to use his size to be a reliable target on 3rd downs and in the red zone.

Ultimately, though, this offense boils down to Cutler. If he plays well or even just okay, the Bears can win with a great performance by their defense. If Cutler struggles, though, Chicago can fall apart at the seams. A season ago, Cutler had an atrocious 27-26 TD/INT ratio. This year it’s a little better – 17/12 – but the former 1st-round pick has still shown a tendency to get wild. He had a 4-INT game at home against Washington in Week 7 and he’s had 2 other multi-INT games in the past 5 weeks. And while the offensive line has fixed some protection issues, Cutler was sacked twice last week in the loss to New England and 8 times in the 2 weeks prior to that game.

It all sets up for an interesting game on Monday night, as the Vikings play an outdoor game for the first time in 29 years in front of some of the greatest Vikings to ever lace ‘em up. And it’s all on Monday Night Football

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