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Jenkins Added To Vikings WR Corps

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 12:18 pm

If you would’ve told me three days ago that the Vikings signed a free agent who was most recently with the Atlanta Falcons, I would’ve guessed it was one of their three offensive linemen on the market. But if you told me one day ago that a former Falcon would wind up with the Vikings, I would’ve guessed it was WR Michael Jenkins.

And I would’ve been right.

Jenkins, who will wear #84 in Minnesota, was released by Atlanta Friday morning and it didn’t take long for the Vikings to scoop up the 6-4, 217-pound WR. In Minnesota, Jenkins will fit well as an outside receiver and he gives QB Donovan McNabb a big target, which will be especially helpful in the red zone.

The move reunites Jenkins with both Bill Musgrave and George Stewart. Jenkins was a first-round pick of Atlanta in 2004 and during his career there Musgrave was an assistant coach from 2006-10 and Stewart was the WRs coach. Interestingly enough, the only season Jenkins, Musgrave and Stewart were all in Atlanta together was Jenkins’ most productive campaign in terms of TDs (he had seven).

Jenkins, who played college football at Ohio State University, became dispensable in Atlanta because the Falcons made a blockbuster trade in last April’s draft to jump up to the #6 overall pick, and with that pick they selected WR Julio Jones. With star WR Roddy White already in the fold, the addition of Jones probably sealed Jenkins’ fate.

In seven seasons with the Falcons, Jenkins never quite produced up to the level you expect from a first-round WR. He did have 7 TDs in 2006, but he never caught more than 53 passes in a season and then his opportunities really decreased when White came onto the scene.

 But in Minnesota, Jenkins will have an opportunity to be relevant again if he can hold off the rest of the Vikings young WR corps. Keep in mind, though, that Jenkins will have a leg up on the competition because he already knows Musgrave’s playbook.


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Vikings Make Several Roster Moves Official

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 12:15 pm

On the same day that Vikings players and coaches will check in to 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, the team also made official several roster moves. We’ll break them down for you right here, but we’ll also post the full press release this afternoon on the home page of vikings.com.

The Vikings signed a pair of veteran WRs to shore up that position, bringing aboard Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins. Aromashodu, who is 6-2, 201 pounds, was most recently with the Chicago Bears – you’ll remember he had a huge game and the game-winning catch against the Vikings in overtime during the 2009 season – and he possesses a combination of speed and toughness. Jenkins comes from Atlanta, where he was coached by George Stewart for two seasons before Stewart joined the Vikings and where he was with current Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for several seasons. Jenkins knows the Vikings offense inside and out and he provides Donovan McNabb a big target because he measures in at 6-4, 217 pounds.

The team reached agreement with five of its own free agents, re-signing the following: S Husain Abdullah, DT Fred Evans, S Eric Frampton, LB Erin Henderson and K Ryan Longwell.

Lastly, the Vikings signed their entire 2011 draft class, including first-round pick QB Christian Ponder.


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Robison Plans To Take Advantage Of Starting Opportunity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 12:04 pm

Vikings DE Brian Robison is one of the more passionate and outgoing football players I’ve been around. So it comes as no surprise to me that he was one of the first players to report to 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on Sunday, especially considering he enters this year’s training camp as a heavy favorite to win a starting DE position.

With Ray Edwards having left via free agency, there’s a vacant starting spot at left DE and Robison has proven over his four-year career that he is capable of the job.

“It feels good,” Robison said when asked how it feels to enter training camp as a starter. “It’s an opportunity I’ve been wanting for a while and it’s an opportunity I plan on taking advantage of. So that’s my outlook coming in.”

Robison indicated he didn’t train much differently this offseason than in previous offseasons, although he did note one area he adjusted.

“I did a little bit more cardio so I’d be in [better] shape,” Robison commented. “But as far as the actual football side of things I really didn’t do too much different. I just tried to hone in on what I do right and improve on that and things I felt like in needed to work on [I tried to] improve on that as well. I just did what I’ve always done.”

Robison will be the team’s new left DE presumably and the Vikings will also have a new defensive coordinator in Fred Pagac. When Leslie Frazier was named interim head coach late last season, it was Pagac who stepped up to fulfill the defensive coordinator role. Now with Frazier in the fold as the head coach, Pagac will remain as defensive coordinator.

“I think it might be a little bit more aggressive, possibly,” Robison said of the Vikings defensive scheme with Pagac as the coordinator. “Obviously that’s something we’ll see here in the next three or four days, kind of what his scheme is and what he thinks he wants to do. But just based off of the last four or five games that we had with him last year he seems to be a little bit more aggressive with blitzes.”


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Players Report To Training Camp Today

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 11:40 am

It’s a sunny and warm day here at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. The Vikings will call Mankato their training camp home for the 46th consecutive season and this year they also return to Gage Community Center after staying in the Julia A. Sears Residence Community last year.

Today is report day for coaches and players, so expect to see a lot of blog entries and video interviews. Most of the guys will be arriving between noon and 4:00 p.m. I also expect the team to announce several roster moves at some point today.

The team will not practice today because there is a lot of administrative work to be done and there will also be a team meeting later this evening. We will hear from Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, though, as he’s scheduled to meet with reporters around 2:00 p.m. in front of Gage Hall.


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Submit Your Monday Morning Mailbag Questions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 9:20 am

Training Camp is finally here! A long offseason full of CBA talk is over and the season is upon us. The last five days or so were as busy a five days as I’ve ever seen in the NFL, so I’m sure you have a lot on your mind. Share it with us by submitting a comment or question to the Monday Morning Mailbag.

To submit a comment or question, send an email to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. You can also submit your comment or question in the comments section below this entry.

Remember to include your name and town on the comment/email. We can’t post every comment/question, but we’ll try to answer each question.


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Free Agents Can’t Practice With Teams Until August 4

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2011 – 5:54 pm

Because of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) impasse this past offseason, the NFL experienced its wildest free agent frenzy of all-time. In effect, teams, players and player agents literally had three or four days to do what they normally do over the course of a couple months.

But because of a rule in the new CBA, the free agent frenzy will come to a sudden hault this week, even as all 32 training camps will have begun by Sunday evening.

The rule in the CBA prohibits players who sign new contracts from practicing with their teams until the start of the new league year, which is Thursday, August 4th. This rule even applies to a free agent who re-signs with his team and it applies to many players who were traded this offseason, including Vikings QB Donovan McNabb.

The good news is these players who are not allowed to practice until August 4 can take part in other team activities, such as position meetings. So while they won’t be on the field for a few days, they’ll still be in meetings and around the team at one of the most important parts of the season.

The rule does not apply to draft picks and undrafted rookie free agents, so those players will be able to practice as soon as their camps open.


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New NFL QB Rule Could Mean More Action For Joe Webb

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2011 – 9:49 am

With all of the Collective Bargaining Agreement news this offseason, it was easy to forget a few of the rules changes that took place in the NFL. And with the arrival of two new QBs (Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder) in Minnesota, it was easy to forget about Joe Webb.

But these two issues are going to be important for the Vikings and Vikings fans this season.

Under old rules, NFL teams were allowed to have 45 players on their active game day roster. A 46th player was designated as the emergency or 3rd QB. If the emergency QB entered the game before the 4th quarter, then the other two QBs were disqualified.

Under the new rules, NFL teams are allowed to have 46 players on their active game day roster. In addition, the emergency QB rule is abolished, which means a team’s 3rd string QB can enter the game at any point without disqualifying the other two QBs.

This could be a big deal for the Vikings and perhaps for Webb. With McNabb now in the fold, the plan is for him to start and it’s possible that Ponder will perform well enough in training camp and the preseason to win the backup job. In this scenario, Webb would be the 3rd string QB. Under the old rules, Webb likely wouldn’t enter the game until the 4th quarter. But now, the Vikings offensive coaching staff can be creative in how they deploy Webb. He can line up at QB or WR, he can return kicks and he can run a Wildcat-type of package.

All of this is presuming quite a few things, from McNabb being named the starter and staying healthy to Ponder playing well enough to win the backup job. Remember, Webb enters training camp with a leg up on Ponder because of experience.

No matter how you slice it, though, the new QB rule is significant for the Vikings. And for the Vikings ability to get Webb and his athletic ability out on the field as often as possible.


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McNabb A Pro At Limiting Mistakes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2011 – 6:03 am

In 12 NFL seasons, QB Donovan McNabb has accumulated a lot of TD passes (230), a lot of wins (97), a lot of playoff appearances (seven) and a lot of division championships (five).

But there’s one statistic he’s been able to avoid collecting in mass – interceptions.

In fact, McNabb ranks among the NFL’s all-time best at keeping a good TD/INT ratio. He enters the 2011 season with a 2/1 margin, which is good for fourth in NFL history among QBs who’ve thrown for a minimum of 200 TDs (Tom Brady, Steve Young, Peyton Manning rank 1-3).

McNabb’s INTs relative to TD passes is impressive, and so too is his INT total relative to pass attempts. He has the third best INT% in NFL history, having thrown just 115 picks in 5,218 attempts (2.2%), which is the same percentage as Brady.


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McNabb Acquisition The Best Of Both Worlds For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2011 – 5:22 pm

The much-anticipated trade between the Vikings and Washington Redskins involving QB Donovan McNabb was finalized on Friday. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the Vikings come away with a six-time Pro Bowler and a passer who is playoff tested (16 career playoff games) and eager to get back to the postseason.

This is the second time Vikings fans have welcomed a new QB to town this offseason; Christian Ponder was selected by the club in the first round (#12 overall) of last April’s NFL draft. In addition to McNabb and Ponder, Vikings fans are also anxious to see Joe Webb play, especially after he flashed some promise late in the 2010 season.

With a couple of young QBs already in the fold, some Vikings fans would prefer the team stick with the young guns in an attempt to develop a long-term plan. Yet others are enthusiastic about the prospects of landing McNabb because he gives the team a legitimate shot to reclaim division supremacy and make it back to the playoffs.

But I think both camps should feel satisfied. In the short-term, the Vikings are in it to win it. The roster has talented players in key spots – DE Jared Allen, WR Percy Harvin, RB Adrian Peterson, DT Kevin Williams and CB Antoine Winfield – and now another huge talent was added at perhaps the game’s most important position.

At the same time, can you think of another veteran QB who was readily available this offseason who would’ve been a better example for Ponder and Webb? There’s nothing wrong with a young QB sitting back for a bit and watching an experienced veteran work his craft. Assuming McNabb grabs a hold of the starting job, there will be no pressure on Ponder or Webb to step into the starting lineup on the road against San Diego in Week 1 and lead a talented roster full of Pro Bowlers back to the playoffs.

The acquisition of McNabb is a “best of both worlds” proposition for the Vikings. It gives them the experience and talent at the position to be a winner this year and it gives Ponder and Webb (and Rhett Bomar) a veteran influence in the meeting room, in the locker room and on the field.

What do you think of the move, Vikings fans?


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Vikings A Suitor For WR Michael Jenkins?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2011 – 8:01 am

It was just over 24 hours ago that we took a look at Sidney Rice’s departure and where the Vikings would go from there. In doing so, we listed 13 WRs on the market and assessed if and how they would fit in well with the Vikings.

In a sign of how quickly things can change, especially in this hyper-active environment of player movement because of the lockout, there is a WR on the market who might jump to the front of the line – Michael Jenkins.

Jenkins was a first-round pick (#29 overall) of the Atlanta Falcons back in 2004, but he was recently released by the Falcons and is now free to sign with any team. Jenkins became dispensable because the Falcons made a blockbuster trade in last April’s draft to jump into the Top 10 picks and select WR Julio Jones.

In seven seasons with the Falcons, Jenkins never quite produced up to the level you expect from a first-round WR. He did have 7 TDs in 2006, but he never caught more than 53 passes in a season and then his opportunities really decreased when Roddy White came onto the scene.

So why is he a potential fit in Minnesota? For starters, the Vikings do have several bodies on the WR depth chart who are capable of proving themselves in training camp. But it never hurts to add more talent, and there’s no denying Jenkins’ talent and there’s also no denying that Rice’s departure to Seattle leaves a vacancy on the Vikings depth chart.

Digging deeper, though, remember that the Vikings new offensive coordinator is Bill Musgrave, who came to Minnesota after five seasons as an assistant coach in Atlanta. Also, I’ve often described Vikings WRs coach George Stewart as one of the best in the business, and he was the Falcons WRs coach for four seasons from 2003-06.

If you go back and read the last three paragraphs closely, you’ll discover that the only season Jenkins, Musgrave and Stewart were all in Atlanta together was Jenkins most productive campaign in terms of TDs.

So in summary, there is an opportunity at WR for Jenkins with the Vikings and he’d be working with a pair of familiar coaches. I’m not privy to his injury history and I certainly haven’t watched enough film of him to diagnose how much he’s got left in the tank, but on the surface level a union between Jenkins and the Vikings makes some sense.

We’ll see what happens, so stay tuned…


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