The Vikings will open the 2011 regular season against one of the best pass offenses in the NFL and they’ll have to do so without one of their best defensive linemen. Six-time Pro Bowl DT Kevin Williams, an anchor for the Vikings defense, will miss the first two games of the season because of suspension.
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after Friday’s practice, the last full practice before the team heads to San Diego, and he confirmed that Letroy Guion will be the starter at that spot on Sunday. We’ve written about Guion previously here on the vikings.com Blog, and Vikings fans should be anxious to see what #98 can do to help this defense.
But Guion won’t be alone in trying to fill the void created by Williams’ absence. A couple of other defensive linemen were brought into the conversation with Frazier on Friday…
– Rookie Christian Ballard, whom the Vikings selected in the 4th round in last April’s draft, has some position flexibility to him because started a lot of games at both DE and DT in college. He projects to be a versatile defensive lineman in the NFL, too, but right now Frazier said he’s asked Ballard and his coaches to have the rookie concentrate solely on playing what they term the “3 technique.” The 3 technique is a technical football term for the position that Williams plays.
– Another young defensive lineman, Everson Griffen, will be in the mix this season. Griffen is a DE but he has a touch of versatility to him as well. In fact, the Vikings experimented last week with playing Griffen at outside LB. But Frazier and the Vikings defensive coaching staff have the same strategy planned for Griffen that they do for Ballard – for now, concentrate on playing the primary position. For Griffen, that’ll be DE, where he’ll join the rotation with starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison and then reserves Adrian Awasom and D’Aundre Reed.
A couple of other quick notes from the conversation with Frazier…
– CB Asher Allen has been limited in practice all week and Frazier indicated there’s a good chance Allen will be listed as questionable on this week’s final injury report.
– Frazier was also asked about LT Charlie Johnson, who joined the club in training camp and has had to assimilate to the team quickly. As should’ve been expected, Johnson took his lumps early. He was learning a new offense, moved to a new city and was going against Jared Allen every day in practice. But now Johnson seems to be getting his feet under him and Frazier said on Friday that the team is growing more and more comfortable with Johnson at LT. Frazier also praised Johnson for his work ethic, study habits, preparation and overall professionalism. I know many fans are nervous about this part of the offensive line, and I understand the reasoning. But from what I’ve been able to glean after training camp, the preseason and this week of preparation for San Diego, I think the Vikings will be just fine at LT.
Tags: Charlie Johnson, Christian Ballard, Everson Griffen, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Letroy Guion
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 43 Comments »
The NFL has a storied history of brothers playing in the NFL, but it’s not common when the brothers play the same position for the same team during the same season. In fact, there’s been only 15 sets of brothers to do so and only two at the LB position – Niko and Pete Noga with the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals, and Bill and Joe Osmanski with the Chicago Bears from 1944-45.
E.J. and Erin Henderson are in line to start at the middle and outside LB positions, respectively, which would make them the third brother tandem at LB for the same team during the same season.
E.J. has been a constant on the Vikings defense since his rookie season 8 years ago, but for his younger brother Erin, it’s been a different path to be in line for the starting role. Erin spent his first 3 seasons primarily as a special teams player and backup LB, but his hard work throughout training camp this year seems to be paying off.
In the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, Erin registered a team-high 10 tackles and he continued to impress throughout the preseason. The 4th-year OLB was fundamental in a goal-line stand in which the Vikings defense stymied the Seahawks four times after a 1st-and-goal from the MIN 2.
The prospect of having a brother tandem at LB may be exciting for Vikings fans, but anyone with a brother may know, it’s not always easy to agree or use the most effective way of communication. To Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, it’s of no concern.
“From the day Erin [Henderson] arrived,” Frazier said. “They [E.J. and Erin] have a great relationship which is what you hope for when you’re talking about brothers. Which is one of the reasons we weren’t overly concerned when we signed Erin because sometimes that can be a negative as opposed to a positive, and in this case it’s been an absolute positive.”
Team chemistry is an attribute fixed to many great teams and Frazier also sees that as a positive connection between the Henderson brothers.
“You would think there would be some natural chemistry there when you talk about brothers,” Frazier acknowledged. “Being able to relate and talk about assignments and what it takes to be successful in our League. I would think that would come easy for E.J. to share with him [Erin] as opposed to a guy he’s never met before so I would think it’s a benefit for Erin and a benefit for E.J., as well wanting to see his brother succeed which in turn should benefit our football team.”
We’ve witnessed great defensive units over Vikings history such as the Purple People Eaters and the Williams Wall, but are we now in store for a new era of great defensive play? And what to call them? The Bash Brothers, Two-Headed Viking or simply The Brothers Henderson? Let us know what you think.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Erin Henderson, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 21 Comments »
On Monday, October 24th from 7-10pm, Vikings Linebacker Chad Greenway will turn in his uniform and helmet for plates and an apron. Greenway, joined by other Vikings players and celebrity friends, will team up with Manny’s Steakhouse for an evening featuring exceptional food and an exciting auction, all while benefitting a great cause—Chad Greenway’s Lead The Way Foundation. The mission of Chad Greenway’s Lead The Way Foundation is to enrich the lives of individuals and families in need.
Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny’s featuring Chad Greenway & friends will include passed hors d’oeuvres and a multi-course Manny’s dinner served family style and presented by Manny’s Executive Chef, Josh Hill. Guests will enjoy Classic Caesar salads, Jumbo Shrimp Appetizers and sides served family style along with the legendary Manny’s dry aged center cut porterhouse steaks or Pan Roasted Chicken Oreganata. All topped off with Manny’s signature Brownie.
Tickets for Chad Greenway & Friends Celebrity Waiter Night at Manny’s Steakhouse are available for $350, inclusive of tax, gratuity and valet service. For reservations, please visit www.chadgreenway.org. Manny’s Steakhouse is located at 821 Marquette Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55402.
Posted in All | 6 Comments »
I asked on Twitter yesterday what Vikings fans would like to have addressed in the next vikings.com Blog entry. The overwhelming response was something to the effect of the Vikings defense going against San Diego’s passing attack. So, let’s talk it out…
After watching the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers passing offenses hit the ground running last night, it looks like the lockout this past offseason won’t have much of a negative impact on the NFL’s elite QBs early in the season. Drew Brees was 32 of 49 for 419 yards and 3 TDs, while Aaron Rodgers was 27 of 35 for 312 yards and 3 TDs of his own. The Vikings task of Sunday in San Diego will be to slow down another of the NFL’s most prolific passers in Philip Rivers.
Rivers and Co. fall under the “you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them” category. But there is a way for the Vikings defense to contain the Chargers passing offense.
I think the key will be pressuring Rivers. This isn’t a novel concept, but so often when we think about stopping the opposing team’s passing offense we talk about only the secondary. And while it’s important that the Vikings secondary plays well on Sunday, it’s just as important that the rest of the Vikings defense finds a way to collapse the pocket around Rivers and make him uncomfortable.
Brees and Rodgers were dominant last night, but they weren’t perfect. When they weren’t pressured, they looked unstoppable. But when they were pressured, the defenses usually got off the field. Brees and Rodgers were sacked a combined 5 times on Thursday night, and only one of those 5 drives that contained a sack ended with a TD. The other 4 drives ended in 3 punts and 1 FG.
Earlier in the week, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier was asked about his confidence level in the secondary going against a prolific passing attack such as San Diego’s. Frazier also mentioned that containing a passing attack is as much about rush as it is about coverage.
“It’s an important position because for us to be successful, our secondary will have to play well,” Frazier said. “But it’s a combination of our front being able to stop the run with our linebackers and forcing them into situations where they have to throw the ball and we can make them predictable.”
With that in mind, the task of containing Rivers and the Chargers passing attack is as much the responsibility of DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison, as well as the rest of the Vikings defensive line, as it is the secondary’s responsibility. Allen had the best training camp of any Vikings player in my opinion and he looks poised for another double-digit sack season.
But going back to the topic of the Vikings secondary, a group that has been criticized in recent seasons, Frazier seems confident the Vikings have the right personnel in place to make an improvement in 2011. And Frazier’s confidence might not be misplaced. The group will certainly get a boost with the return of both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin to the lineup. The Vikings drafted Cook in 2010 with the idea that the combination of he and Griffin, along with Winfield, would give the Vikings defense the bodies and talent to matchup with many of the great passing offenses in the NFL.
“I think we have the right guys on the field in the secondary between Cedric (Griffin), Chris (Cook), and Antoine (Winfield) that can get the job done,” Frazier said. “When we looked at Chris (Cook) when he was healthy and performing, he did a good job for us, and the same with Cedric (Griffin) and they have made enough progress physically that that’s not an issue. It’s a matter of getting game experience now for Cedric, in which we tried to give him some during the preseason and the same with Chris, and then he tweaked his hamstring in the Dallas game. Just the experience part was more important than determining whether or not they could do it.”
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Chris Cook, Leslie Frazier
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 38 Comments »