Talking Points: Coach Frazier Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 5:05 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held a press conference after Monday’s opening practice and he obviously was asked about a lot of relevant topics. We’ll post the press conference in on-demand format soon, so you’ll be able to listen and watch it in its entirety.

Until then, here are a few comments I thought were of particular significance:

– The Vikings signed free agent OT Charlie Johnson on Monday. He was actually in Mankato for practice but was unable to suit up because of a new CBA rule that requires players with new contracts to sit out of practice until the new League starts (August 4). But it was good to see Johnson in camp because he is permitted to sit in meetings and bond with his teammates in the dorm. Frazier said the plan for Johnson is to get him in the offensive line rotation and see what he can do. Johnson was most recently in Indianapolis, where he protected Peyton Manning’s blindside. But he has some versatility and is a candidate to slide down the line and perhaps play some guard as well.

– Staying with the offensive line, Frazier said that starting RG Anthony Herrera will open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Herrera is coming back from an ACL injury and also a triceps injury, so this development is not unexpected. Frazier said the goal is not to rush Herrera back into action; rather, the goal is to get him ready to play once the season arrives.

– Former Vikings WR Randy Moss is going to retire, according to his agent, Joel Segal. Frazier was very complimentary about Moss when asked to comment about the WR, saying he was a tremendous player and a (future) Hall of Famer. Frazier said he had a good relationship with Moss when they were together in Minnesota last year and he also commented that Moss commanded two and sometimes even three players in coverage during his prime. Before some of you get too excited, I still don’t see Moss as a good fit here, even with Frazier saying so many nice things about him.

– We’ve talked about CB Cedric Griffin quite a bit on lately, and Frazier was asked about him on Monday as well. Frazier described Griffin as a “key component” to the Vikings defense and to the team. The Vikings plan is to take it slow with Griffin, largely because they weren’t able to be with him during the offseason to fully monitor his progress. As is the case with Herrera, the goal with Griffin is to make sure he’s ready to play once the regular season rolls around.

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Notes From Training Camp Practice #1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 4:36 pm

The first training camp practice of the Leslie Frazier era is in the books. Vikings players and coaches hit the outdoor practice fields for about 95 minutes under partly cloudy skies and windy conditions. The wind didn’t provide a great teaching environment but it probably helped everyone tolerate the humidity.

Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder met with reporters after practice and one of his first comments was about how great the weather was for the workout; Ponder is of course used to the suffocating heat and humidity in Tallahassee, Florida for training camp practices. Speaking of Ponder, we caught up with him before he met with reporters, so be sure to check back to for that video interview tonight.

There was a larger-than-normal contingent of players who sat out of practice on Monday, due mostly to rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that prohibit players operating under a new contract from participating in practice until the League year stars, which is on Thursday, August 4. Notable players not practicing because of this rule included S Husain Abdullah, WRs Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins, DT Remi Ayodele, LB Erin Henderson and QB Donovan McNabb.

Beyond unavailable personnel, another limitation for the Vikings in practice today was because of another new CBA rule which prohibits teams from contact practices for the first three days of camp, including report day. This means that tomorrow (Tuesday) will be another day of no contact.

So because of the limited personnel available and because of the no contact rule, we’ll take it easy before we start listing off which players are running with the first team and which players are running with the second team. For now, suffice it to say that there were no major surprises in terms of the unofficial depth chart.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held a press conference following practice and streamed it live. We’ll have that available for you in on-demand format at some point tonight, so be sure to come back for that. Also, RB Adrian Peterson left practice early, but it’s for a good reason. Frazier disclosed after practice that Peterson’s fiancé went into labor; don’t be surprised if Peterson misses a couple days.

Here are a few more quick notes from Monday’s practice…

– CB Marcus Sherels and WRs Stephen Burton, Greg Camarillo and Jaymar Johnson took turns returning punts. It was a tough task because of the wind. We’ll continue to monitor the punt returner – as well as the kick returner – rotations throughout camp to try and give you an idea of who to expect back there for preseason game #1.

– There was a #4 jersey out on the field. No, it wasn’t Brett Favre. With new QB Donovan McNabb having negotiated #5 away from Kluwe, the Vikings punter has switched to jersey #4 for the season.

– I thought I’d make a simple note each day of players who just looked good…players who pass what is called “the eye test.” We’ll track this throughout camp and then see if it translates onto the field during games. Passing the eye test today was: FB Matt Asiata, RB Toby Gerhart, LB Chad Greenway, CB Cedric Griffin, WR Percy Harvin, DE D’Aundre Reed, RB Alexander Robinson and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

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Vikings Sign OT Charlie Johnson

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 10:45 am

Even on the first day of practice at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, head coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman continue to mold the roster. The Vikings on Monday signed free agent OT Charlie Johnson, who was most recently with the Indianapolis Colts.

Johnson, a product of Oklahoma State, has played in 74 career games with 54 starts, yet he’s just 27 years old. He measures in at 6-4, 305 pounds, giving him the size up front to battle in the run game but also giving him the mobility to handle outside speed rushers in pass protection. And you don’t hang around the Colts for six seasons if you’re not productive and reliable.

Johnson played in 10 playoff games with five starts in Indianapolis, including appearances in two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl start. The Colts won 10+ games every year Johnson played there and Johnson was Manning’s blindside protector for a pair of MVP seasons in 2008 and 2009.

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CB Griffin Anxious To Get Back On The Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 9:18 am

A long offseason of CBA and lockout rhetoric has coaches and players extra anxious to get back out on the field at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. But there might not be anyone more anxious than CB Cedric Griffin.

Griffin missed 14 games last year because of a knee injury and that came after he made a speedy recovery from the same kind of injury in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. So for two straight offseasons, Griffin was aggressively rehabbing a knee injury that ended his season the year prior.

“I’m definitely anxious to get back to playing football, just due to last season and missing quite a few games,” Griffin said. “But I’m back and ready to go. We’re going to have fun this year.”

If you know Griffin, you know that he truly is anxious to get back out on the field. Standing on the field during the ’09 Championship Game, it was disheartening to see Griffin get hurt on the kickoff to open overtime. Then last season, it was even more disheartening to see Griffin incur the same injury again.

There aren’t many players who love to play more than Griffin. He aggressively rehabbed his first knee injury to the point where he had to be held back a bit. But Griffin’s determination could not be contained and he completed the recovery process in time to return early last season. That same determination will have him ready to go this season.

 Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier had some good news on Griffin Sunday; he said Griffin won’t begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. But he also said the team would ease Griffin back into the flow of things.

“Based on what the doctors have told me, we kind of have to go slow early on,” Frazier said. “But we want to try to get him ready for that San Diego game. We can’t ask him to do everything that all other players are doing for this early part of camp. But we’re going to monitor his progress and take him along at a little slower pace than the rest of the players.”

With Griffin back in the fold, the Vikings CB position is instantly strengthened.

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2011 Will Be Berrian’s Big Bounce Back Season

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 7:09 am

A great part about the Blog is that readers have the opportunity to share their thoughts via the comments section. I began this blog entry with that thought in mind because I’m guessing the title of this entry already has many of you foaming at the mouth and ready to rip me to shreds.

Well, you have full license to criticize the opinion that WR Bernard Berrian will have a bounce back season in 2011, but hear me out first. Check out the full article I posted this morning about Berrian. It contains the opinion and supporting argument that the Vikings should keep Berrian on the roster and that we should expect a big bounce back season in 2011.

Most of you will immediately write off this thought because you’ve already given up on Berrian and you want the team to dump him to save salary. But I think keeping him on the roster is the better move. Berrian will enter the 2011 season fully healthy, which he hasn’t been in nearly two years, and he’ll enter the season as the Vikings best down-field threat. This is important because although I expect the Vikings to be mostly a ground-and-pound, dink and dunk offense, especially early in the season, NFL offenses still need to be able to explode. After Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson, Berrian will be the Vikings most explosive weapon and he’ll be their best chance at blowing the top off of defenses.

Also working in Berrian’s favor this year will be opportunities. Chemistry issues with Berrian and QB Brett Favre contributed to Berrian’s lack of production the past two seasons. With Donovan McNabb in the fold, Berrian will be re-energized. And with Sidney Rice gone to Seattle, Berrian will see more snaps per game.

I don’t expect Berrian will have 12 TDs and I won’t suggest that you draft him onto your fantasy football team. But I will suggest that you leave the door open – even if only a crack – for a big bounce back season from #87. A season closer to his 2008 numbers than in 2009 and 2010.

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