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All Systems Go For Peterson; Henderson Expected To Play

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 30, 2011 – 11:53 am

Both LB E.J. Henderson (knee) and RB Adrian Peterson (calf) appeared on the week’s initial injury report, and it sounds like both players will also be appearing at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday to play the Chiefs.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier indicated that there are no concerns about Peterson’s status for Sunday. He was kicked in the calf during last week’s game against Detroit but made it through today’s practice with no issues. Henderson has a sore knee that’s been bugging him for a few weeks, but Frazier said it’s expected that he’ll be able to play on Sunday as well.

No word on the other 6 players listed on the Vikings injury report this week. But if anything major develops we’ll be sure to let you know.


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Jared Allen Says Fans Deserve A New Stadium, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 30, 2011 – 7:10 am

The Vikings will travel to Kansas City this week to battle the Chiefs in perhaps the most raucous atmosphere any NFL stadium has to offer. The Vikings trip to Arrowhead Stadium in 2007 was my first road trip with the Vikings and it remains to this day one of my favorite places to visit, even as an opponent coming to play in a hostile environment.

If you’re a football fan, you can’t help but love a place like Arrowhead Stadium and the atmosphere it generates.

Typically the visiting team buses arrive at the stadium three hours prior to kickoff, which sounds pretty early. But when you arrive to the game three hours early in Kansas City, you’re late to the party. Fans attending games at Arrowhead Stadium have every inch of the parking lot covered with tailgating gear well before the visiting team buses arrive, creating quite the scene for the opposing team as they try to collect their pregame thoughts and focus on the game ahead.

This will be a new experience for many of the Vikings players on Sunday. But not for DE Jared Allen. He’s a fixture on the Vikings defense now, but he began his career as a member of the Chiefs and was obviously a fan-favorite there, too. He knows exactly what an A+ stadium experience can do for fans and, in turn, the home team.

That’s exactly why Allen is a proponent for a new football stadium in Minnesota, where there are hundreds of thousands of football fans who would relish in the type of atmosphere Arrowhead Stadium creates.

Click here to watch a video of Jared Allen talking about a new stadium in Minnesota.

“We have such great fans and they continue to come to the dome,” Allen said on Thursday. “Toward the end of that game last week, you couldn’t hear. It was awesome. We’re watching film, and the camera is shaking. So those are passionate fans and they deserve a stadium more than anything, too. Like I said, you get that kind of atmosphere where you’ve got tailgating, I don’t know, there’s just something about it when you pull up into a parking lot where you can tailgate and really get after it that, as a player, you look forward even more so to home games.”

Allen is well-educated about the stadium issue and even acknowledged some of the hurdles that exist. Ultimately, though, Allen is speaking from personal experience and assured fans that a new stadium would be beneficial because the Vikings current stadium is beyond out-dated and because it would create a better game-day experience for paying customers – the fans.

“I understand. I understand people don’t want to pay more [taxes],” Allen said. “But it’s bad. I’m gonna be honest, The Metrodome is bad. I think we have four showers with hot water down there (in the locker rooms). I think it would be good for the whole state of Minnesota. The fans, trust me, you want a new stadium.”


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Henderson, Peterson Return To Practice; Sanford Added To Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2011 – 2:51 pm

Earlier today we discussed the role injuries could play in this week’s Vikings-Chiefs matchup, focusing mostly on the bad luck Kansas City has had with injuries but also touching on the fact that LB E.J. Henderson and RB Adrian Peterson both missed the week’s first practice on Wednesday.

All indications were that both Henderson and Peterson would be fine and available for Sunday, and now there are more positive indications after Thursday’s practice. Both Henderson (knee) and Peterson (calf) were full participants in practice.

A pair of starters in the secondary remained limited participants for Kansas City, with CB Brandon Flowers battling an ankle injury and S Jon McGraw dealing with a shin ailment.

Others news on the Vikings injury report included S Jamarca Sanford being added with a thigh injury; he was a full participant, however. CBs Asher Allen (toe) and Chris Cook (groin) were full participants, DT Kevin Williams (foot) was a full participant and both S Tyrell Johnson (hip) and TE Jim Kleinsasser (elbow) were limited.


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Notes From Pagac Press Conference; Robison, K. Williams Playing Well

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2011 – 12:44 pm

A lot of you have commented here on the vikings.com Blog recently that Vikings Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac does not take a loquacious approach to his weekly press conferences. It’s true, Pagac does tend to hold his cards close to the vest.

But hey, he’s been a successful coach for a long time and you don’t keep at job as an assistant coach at Ohio State University for 23 seasons by divulging secrets and strategies. On top of that, let’s give him credit for not being one who spews out hyperbole just to pass time and give the standard, run-of-the-mill quote.

With all that said, there were a few interesting notes to come out of Pagac’s press conference on Thursday. Here they are…

Not surprised by Robison
There’s always a natural level of concern when a team loses a starter, and that was certainly the case for Vikings fans when DE Ray Edwards left the club via free agency this past offseason. Brian Robison, who had been an important member of the DL rotation since entering the League as a rookie in 2007, was tabbed as the replacement and he was even given a contract extension during the offseason.

Concerns about Robison not being able to replace Edwards have reduced, if not gone away, after the first 3 games. Robison is off to a good start in 2011, having tallied 11 tackles and 1.0 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and 1 pass defensed. He’s gotten to the opposing QB constantly and has 10 QB hits.

Robison’s fast start may surprise some, but it doesn’t surprise his defensive coordinator.

“No, Brian Robison’s a good football player,” Pagac said. “He’s one of our top fifteen, sixteen guys on our football team. We expect those things out of Brian. He’s doing a good job right now.”

Williams right back into the swing of things
Last week marked the return of DT Kevin Williams to the lineup following a two-game suspension to begin the season. It’s no coincidence that the Vikings registered 5 sacks against the Lions in the same game that Williams made his return. When Williams is in the game, opposing offenses generally allocate two blockers to him each play, which gives other defensive linemen one-on-one opportunities. And, Williams was in the game a bit more than Pagac and the Vikings coaching staff expected against Detroit.

“Thought he did well,” Pagac said. “We’re happy to have him back. Obviously we think he’s a great football player, and we expect him to continue to improve as we go on.

“He probably played more than we thought (he would). He probably played probably fifteen, twenty snaps more than we thought he would’ve. But he was in great shape and he was able to go. Whatever he did during his two weeks off, he did a good job of staying in shape and working out.”

Asked if he expects Williams will have any limitations this week because of conditioning after missing the first two games or because of his foot injury, Pagac’s answer was (predictably) simple.

“He’s back to work.”

Encouraged by Everson Griffen
DE Everson Griffen has quickly become one of the Vikings best special teams players. And now he’s also starting to find a niche on defense. The Vikings have experimented with Griffen in a variety of roles on the defense, including standing him up as a LB or sorts.

Griffen was in this role occasionally against Detroit, and Pagac indicated he was satisfied with what he saw, but he’s also expecting improvement.

“I thought Everson did a great job in the game,” Pagac said. “He did a good job of rushing. What he did in the drop part of it was fine. We’ll continue to get better at that. It was one of the first times we did it with live bullets. We expect him to get better and better.”


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Peterson Appearing On “The Rich Eisen Podcast” This Week

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on September 29, 2011 – 11:23 am

Make sure to catch Vikings RB Adrian Peterson on “The Rich Eisen Podcast” this week on NFL Network and NFL.com.  The shows debuts on NFL Network today (Thursday, September 29) at 3:30 p.m. CT and then re-airs at various times throughout the weekend. You can also listen to the Podcast on NFL.com or via iTunes.

For complete info, click here to visit NFL.com.


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A Look At How Injuries Impact Sunday’s Vikings-Chiefs Contest

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2011 – 7:46 am

The Vikings and Chiefs are both off to disappointing 0-3 starts, and they’ve gotten to this point in different ways. The Vikings have built double-digit leads in each of their games, only to lose nail-biters in the 4th quarter and overtime. The Chiefs have suffered through a pair of blowouts and one nail-biter of their own, but adding salt to the wounds is the number of players they’ve had go down to injury.

Given the Chiefs misfortune with injuries so far this season and with 7 players listed on the Vikings first injury report of the week, it makes sense for us to take a quick look at how injuries could impact Sunday’s game between these two clubs.

For the Vikings
It’s natural to be concerned when you see both LB E.J. Henderson and RB Adrian Peterson on the week’s initial injury report and listed as “did not participate.” Henderson is dealing with a sore knee and Peterson is listed with a calf injury. But indications are that their injuries won’t keep them off the field on Sunday, with Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier saying Peterson will be fine and Henderson could return to practice as early as today.

A pair of CBs – Asher Allen (toe) and Chris Cook (groin) – were on the injury report again this week, but both played through their injuries last week and both were full participants on Wednesday. Kevin Williams (foot) is also dealing with an ailment but played through the game on Sunday and was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.

S Tyrell Johnson (hip) and TE Jim Kleinsasser (elbow) were also on the injury report and listed as limited participants. No word on the severity of those injuries, but if they’re limited or full participants today, expect them to be available for Sunday’s game.

For the Chiefs
There isn’t quite as much optimism for the Chiefs on the injury front. They lost their best offensive player – RB Jamaal Charles – to a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, and they lost one of their top two defensive players – S Eric Berry – to a season-ending injury in Week 1. On top of that, starting TE Tony Moeaki suffered a season-ending knee injury before the season started and WR Jonathan Baldwin, a 1st-round pick last April, has been sidelined with a thumb injury since the preseason. So before this week’s first injury report was issued, the Chiefs were already hurting.

With Berry already out, the Chiefs secondary is now dealing with two more injured starters. Talented CB Brandon Flowers was a limited participant on Wednesday with an ankle injury, but he told reporters afterward that the ankle felt better than he anticipated and that he’ll push it even harder in today’s practice. The other injured starter is S Jon McGraw, who injured his shin last week against San Diego. McGraw was also a limited participant in practice on Wednesday.

Baldwin has been steadily progressing in recent weeks and his return could come as soon as this week. He traveled with the team to both Detroit in Week 2 and San Diego in Week 3. He hasn’t been a full participant in practice yet, but if he is this week that might indicate his return will be Sunday against the Vikings.

Ultimately, with both teams trying to avoid an 0-4 start, expect players to grind out practices this week and push hard to be available on Sunday. At this point it would be a surprise if either Flowers or McGraw didn’t play for the Chiefs, and as discussed above it sounds like Henderson and Peterson will be good to go for the Vikings.


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Frazier: Jared Allen Has Stepped Up “In All Areas”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2011 – 11:16 am

Even after spending more than 10 days with the team in Mankato during training camp and watching the entire roster play preseason games, you just never know how everything will unfold once the regular season arrives. But there are some things you can see coming clear as day. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: Jared Allen had the best training camp of any Vikings player.

Through 3 games in the regular season, his play on the field affirms that observation. And you can count Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier among those who saw an impressive start to the season coming for Allen.

“I just know in my conversations with him when we came to training camp, you could sense the commitment that he had to having a great start and a great year,” Frazier said on Wednesday. “He was so disappointed in a year ago, that the work that he put into this offseason felt like it was going to pay dividends. Boy, he’s off to a great start.”

Allen, who had just 1.0 sack through Week 8 last year, already has 4.5 sacks this season. Last week against Detroit, a team who came into the game having allowed zero sacks, Allen got to QB Matthew Stafford for 3.0 sacks.

While we associate Allen with being the team’s best pass rusher, the perennial Pro Bowler is also stepping up in other areas. He’s an important part of the Vikings run defense – he almost had a game-winning safety against Detroit last week on a running play – and Frazier says Allen has also stepped up as a leader on the team.

“He’s playing at a high level versus the run, he’s doing a great job of rushing the passer,” Frazier said. “I don’t think you could ask for a whole lot more. He’s doing a terrific job of leading our team in the locker room. He’s really stepped up in all areas, just good for our team.”

 Last week the Vikings lost their third consecutive game in heart-wrenching fashion and at points both during the game and in the aftermath Allen was vocal. But he wasn’t a negative influence in his outspokenness. Rather, Frazier says he was being exactly the type of leader the team needs, whether it’s in times of struggle or times of prosperity.

“We talked during the week with some of our leaders about making sure everyone was emotionally engaged in the game, no matter what the scoreboard said or how much time was on the clock,” Frazier explained. “And Jared was one of those guys who did a great job of stepping up and just encouraging guys and making sure that they stayed engaged in the game, both mentally and physically. It was just good encouragement for our players and for our team. We need that from him and from some of our other leaders as well.”

What the Vikings need now is a win to generate some positive momentum and hopefully get back to the .500 mark as soon as possible. With the way he’s playing through the first three games, Allen looks to be the perfect impetus to get a turnaround started.

 


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Checking Out The Chiefs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2011 – 7:36 am

It’s Wednesday, and that means we can flip the calendar away from last week’s loss and start thinking about this weekend’s upcoming game against the 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs. Here are a few quick thoughts on the Chiefs…we’ll of course have much, much more about this matchup throughout the week here on vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog.

– The Vikings (0-3) enter Week 4 of NFL action looking for their first win, and this week they’ll try to find it on the road at Arrowhead Stadium, home to one of my favorite NFL stadium environments. The first road trip of my time with the Vikings came in 2007 when the Vikings traveled to Kansas City for a Week 3 showdown. Our buses get to the stadium about 3 hours prior to kickoff, and when we rolled into the Chiefs stadium complex the entire parking lot was jam-packed with Chiefs fans tailgating. It was an incredible atmosphere and one that all NFL fans deserve to enjoy. The atmosphere transfers inside the stadium for the game, too. It’s a loud venue and the Vikings offense must operate efficiently early in the game to stymie the home-field advantage.

– Yes, the Vikings and Chiefs are both winless. But they’ve gotten to this point in different ways. The Vikings have blown big halftime leads and walked off the field each week knowing they were in a position to win the game. The Chiefs suffered through two blowout losses early in the season, losing 41-7 at home to Buffalo in Week 1 and 48-3 to Detroit in Week 2. Then, Kansas City had the ball in San Diego territory late in their Week 3 contest, but a careless INT from QB Matt Cassel ended any hopes of an incredible upset victory for the Chiefs.

– It’s been a tough go from the start of the season for the Chiefs. Explosive return man Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff in Week 1, and the Bills responded by marching 25 yards in 5 plays to score a TD and set the stage for a massive blowout. In the loss, Kansas City lost star S Eric Berry for the season with a knee injury. Then, there were positive signs in the Chiefs next two games, but none of those signs translated to victories. In Week 2, the Chiefs played the red-hot Detroit Lions at Ford Field and their offense got off to a quick start, gouging the Lions defense for plays of 24, 8, 24 and 5 yards right off the bat. But then their best offensive player, RB Jamaal Charles, suffered a season-ending knee injury on the 6th play of the series, and from that point on the game was over.

– The Chiefs rank 30th in total offense, 31st in passing offense and last in scoring offense. Defensively, they rank 23rd in total defense, 28th against the rush and last in scoring defense. They are tied for 31st in turnover margin at -6, which includes 10 turnovers, and their 3rd-down defense and offense is near the bottom of the League as well.

– On paper, the Chiefs look like a team that can be overwhelmed. But these games aren’t played on paper, and after starting 0-3 the Vikings aren’t in a position to expect to overwhelm opposing teams. The loss of Berry and Charles is huge for Kansas City, but they still have a couple of stars – one on defense and one on offense – that can take over games. Defensively, watch out for OLB Tamba Hali, who is one of the NFL’s best pass rushers. He plays that outside edge rusher in the Chiefs 3-4 defensive scheme and he can cause nightmares for opposing LTs and QBs. Hali has 2.0 sacks this season already and he has 43.5 over his 6-year career. On offense, WR Dwayne Bowe can take over games. He has the combination of size (6-2, 221 pounds) and explosiveness (13.8 yards per catch, 55 career 20+ yard receptions, 196 1st-down receptions) to be a dangerous threat for opposing defenses.

– In the Chiefs, I see an offense that can be explosive, even without Charles, and that can be creative. Todd Haley is the head coach, and he was the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals during their run to the Super Bowl with Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Kurt Warner. The Chiefs have gone to the no-huddle offense at times this season and they were actually in the no-huddle offense during their first scoring drive of the season. This team knows how to utilize offensive weapons so they must all be accounted for and the Vikings must attack Cassel to give him little time to find those targets and deliver the ball.


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Vikings Legends Reflect On Doleman’s Career

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 28, 2011 – 6:37 am

It was announced earlier this morning that Chris Doleman will become the 19th player in franchise history to join the Vikings Ring of Honor. Doleman, a Vikings DE for 10 seasons (1985-93, 99), will be inducted into the Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, October 23, when the Vikings host the Green Bay Packers.

Doleman’s place in Vikings history is significant, as he registered 96.5 sacks as a Viking (he had 150.5 career sacks), 31 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries, making him one of the best defensive linemen in the history of a franchise with several Hall of Fame linemen. Confirming Doleman’s significant status among Vikings greats is the way in which fellow Vikings speak of him.

Here’s what fellow Vikings Ring of Honor members John Randle and Scott Studwell, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Vikings QB Warren Moon, had to say about Doleman.

“Chris Doleman had the ability to deliver the big play when you needed it. Teams had to keep an eye on him because they knew it was coming, be it in the beginning, middle or end of the game. He was capable of making that big play. As a young guy learning the NFL game from him, he did so much for me. He taught me how to be a pro on and off the field. He was quiet on the field, a leader without speaking. It was his presence that influenced games. The way he studied the game and showed his teammates the way to prepare and be a mature player made a big impact on me.” — Randle

“Chris was a phenomenal player and a guy who could have excelled in any decade. His size, speed, balance and skill level were ahead of their time. He changed how teams could play against us. Chris was a good friend and teammate and earned the respect of the locker room.” — Studwell

“Doleman is one of those rare guys, maybe one of four or five that I played against during my career right there with Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, that you had to know where they were and set your protection accordingly. You had to know if you were going to help the tackle out with a tight end or running back to chip on those guys. Doleman was someone you always had to worry about because you knew he could get to the quarterback. The amount of time and attention that went to preparing for Chris Doleman benefitted the others guys on those defensive lines. He was one of
those guys that you had to make sure could be blocked in one way or another.” — Moon


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Reminder: “Vikings Country” Featuring Chad Greenway Is Live At Mall Of America Tonight

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on September 28, 2011 – 4:01 am

As is the case each Wednesday during the NFL season, fans can head to Mall of America tonight from 6:30 to 7 to check out “Vikings Country,” a weekly radio show hosted by Mike Mussman and co-hosted by either Jared Allen or Chad Greenway.  Tonight, Chad Greenway is the co-host.

The show will be broadcast live from the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar at Mall of America – located on the fourth floor, east side – every Wednesday during the regular season and will air on FM 100.3; the show will also be aired on Fox Sports North at 11:00 a.m. every Sunday. Allen and Greenway will alternate weeks as co-hosts of the show with Mussman, and the Vikings Street Team will be at each broadcast giving away great prizes.

Fans are encouraged to attend the live broadcast each week at the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Bar, where they will enjoy a state-of-the-art restaurant and entertainment facility that features high definition TV’s, quality billiards, 12 lanes of bowling and a great menu of beverages and food.

Allen will co-host on the following dates: October 5, October 19, November 16, November 30, December 14 and December 28. Greenway will co-host on the following dates: tonight, October 12, October 26, November 9, November 25, December 7 and December 21.


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