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Vikings Reach Final Step In Stadium Discussions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 3:16 pm

It’s been a busy – but positive – week in the pursuit to build a new publicly-owned, multi-purpose stadium in Arden Hills.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora is reporting that the NFL is concerned by the progress of the stadium initiative, so concerned that they are reportedly flying to Minnesota next week to to “assess the situation.”

On Tuesday, October 11, the Ramsey County Charter Commission voted against requiring a referendum in November 2012, an effort that would have delayed the stadium project for two years, costing over $100 million and preventing thousands of construction workers from getting back on the job. Just a day later, the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) released their findings from an analysis of the risks associated with this project. While the group’s focus was on the possible worst-case scenarios, the issues raised by the analysis have already been resolved or are in the process of being negotiated.

More importantly, one scenario showed an opportunity to save nearly $76 million on the project, and the study also confirmed off-site transportation improvements will cost $101 million, something the Vikings transportation experts have said for months.

With both the referendum discussion from the last several weeks and the Met Council study findings behind us, now is the time to move forward on this project.

“The sooner we begin the process, the better chance we have of mitigating any risks,” Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said in his Met Council response. “As importantly, moving forward now will also put thousands of construction trades workers back on the job and allow us to take advantage of low interest rates and material costs.”

The Vikings and Ramsey County stand ready to work with State leaders on a final package, including determining the State’s source of $300 million and resolving any remaining issues with the project.

What Can Vikings Fans Do To Help?
– Contract Legislative leaders by clicking here and tell them to support a Fall Special Stadium to ensure the Vikings long term future in Minnesota.
– Follow Minnesota Momentum on Facebook and Twitter
– Stay informed on the issue by logging on to vikings.com and Minnesota Momentum, and also by clicking on the links below…

Bucking Stadium Doubts, Wilf says “Let’s get this done”
Vikings stadium proponents dismiss questions raised by study of Arden Hills site
Wilf says stadium issues are solvable
Panel clears obstacle for Vikings stadium project


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Vikings Secondary Is Prepared If Winfield Can’t Go

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 1:26 pm

Immediate reaction following last Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals was that the young Vikings secondary, which played without Pro Bowler Antoine Winfield, stepped up in a big way. And Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier shared a similar reaction after the game.

“They came up big for us today,” Frazier said in his post-game press conference. “Great to see Asher step up, great to see Jamarca step up. Chris Cook seems like he’s getting better every week. We all know there are big-time receivers every week in our league, and I haven’t seen him bat his eyes yet. He just continues to improve.”

With Winfield unavailable and fellow starter Cedric Griffin sidelined for the first series, Allen and Cook stepped into the starting lineup. And since Arizona had 3 WRs on the first offensive snap, Marcus Sherels also got the start. That means on the first offensive snap of the game, the Vikings 3 starting CBs had an average age of 23 years and average NFL playing experience of 2 seasons.

Even when Griffin returned to the lineup, the secondary was still youthful. But they played like veterans and were a huge reason the defense allowed just 10 points to Larry Fitzgerald and Co.

The Vikings may need a similar effort from that group this week when they travel to Chicago. Winfield didn’t practice all week and he’s listed as doubtful for the game.

“That was extremely encouraging, watching both of those guys compete the way they did,” Frazier said of Allen and Cook on Friday. “We feel like we should be in pretty good shape. With Antoine (out), you miss something from a tackling standpoint, leadership, and all the intangibles he brings. But both Asher and Chris, they’re showing they’re really coming along, which is great for our team.”


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Harvin, Winfield Injury Update

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 11:58 am

The week’s final injury report has not been issued yet, so nothing is official, but Vikings Head Coach indicated to reporters after practice on Friday that WR Percy Harvin (ribs) will be listed as questionable and CB Antoine Winfield (neck) will be doubtful.

UPDATE: Winfield is officially listed as doubtful, Harvin is questionable.

“I think he should be ready,” Frazier said of Harvin. “He did limited work today, and we’re optimistic he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

Frazier also said that Winfield did some running on the side during practice. Stay tuned for the official injury report to be released early this afternoon. At that point we’ll know the status of Harvin, Winfield and the rest of the Vikings and Bears players who’ve been impacted by injuries this week.


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Peterson Named FedEx Ground Player of the Week

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on October 14, 2011 – 11:11 am

The NFL announced today that running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings are the FedEx Ground NFL Players of the Week for games played on October 9-10.

Peterson rushed for three scores (all coming in the first quarter) and 122 yards in the Vikings’ 34-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Fans voted for more than their favorite players. The weekly FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week Award is also a win for local communities. Along with the player awards, FedEx is making a $2,000 donation in each of the winning player’s name to the local Junior Achievement area offices in Northern California and Wisconsin. The funding is used to help U.S. small business development, by educating the next generation of entrepreneurs on how to start and grow their own businesses.

During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, FedEx plans to announce the 2011 FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year in Indianapolis, as well as make a $25,000 donation in the winning player’s name to Junior Achievement chapters in the players’ cities.

Fans can still vote for the FedEx Small Business of the Week by visiting NFL.com/FedEx to cast their vote for one of three small business nominees. FedEx will award $5,000 each week to the small business that receives the most online votes, which will be announced every Tuesday. The program then culminates in recognizing the FedEx Small Business of the Year with an all-inclusive trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

As the Official Delivery Service Sponsor of the NFL, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, FedEx understands the need for a winning game plan, and created the Air & Ground program to highlight superior on-field performance among the league’s top-performing quarterbacks and running backs. Follow FedEx on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @FedExDelivers and track the conversation at #FedExNFL.


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Special Teams Must Be Solid On Sunday Night

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 10:21 am

Special teams is a phase of the game that’s often overlooked, but it remains as important to the outcome of games as defense and offense. And when you play the Chicago Bears, the importance of special teams is even more important. The Bears annually feature one of the finest special teams units in the NFL.

This year is no exception, as the Bears boast the 5th ranked punt coverage team and the 9th ranked kickoff coverage team. In terms of kickoff and punt return, the Bears have perhaps the most dangerous return man of all in Devin Hester. K Robbie Gould is perfect on FGs and PATs this year, and his kickoffs reach the end zone 92.0% of the time; he records touchbacks on 64.0% of his kickoffs, which ranks 6th in the NFL.

Against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, the Bears allowed 547 yards of offense, but they still won the game. And they won the game largely on the strength of their special teams. Hester logged a 64-yard punt return for a TD and a 73-yard kickoff return, and then Julius Peppers blocked a FG late in the 3rd quarter.

The bad news is Chicago’s special teams group is good enough to lead the team to victory. The good news is the Vikings special teams group has been good this year, too. The Vikings rank 6th in kickoff coverage and 5th in both kickoff and punt return average. K Ryan Longwell has been steady and P Chris Kluwe has 7 punts downed inside the 20, 7 punts fair caught and just 1 touchback.

On Thursday, Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer had candid assessments of a few important aspects of his special teams group. Here’s what he had to say…

On kickoff coverage
“I think our kickoff covering unit has been outstanding all year. Ryan’s done a great job with our kickoffs. He’s kept people off balance a little bit between the left, right and middle, and the hang time has been really good. Guys are focused. We’ve had a couple guys switch in and out, and even the backups have done a nice job.”

On punt coverage
“Punt coverage was not good for a couple weeks. Detroit and Kansas City were not good and this last week was very good. Chris punted the ball well. Patrick Peterson is a very dangerous returner, but Chris punted the ball very effectively and very well and our guys covered and did a good job forcing fair catches and that’s what you’re looking for.”


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Vikings Gear Up For Sunday Night Spotlight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 8:08 am

The Vikings halted a 4-game losing streak in 2011 last week by defeating the Arizona Cardinals. This week the Vikings will look to halt another losing streak, as they travel to the Windy City for a bout with the Chicago Bears on NBC’s Sunday Night Football (SNF).

It’s always fun to play in primetime, but it hasn’t been much fun for the Vikings and their fans of late. Discounting the Vikings Tuesday night victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of last season, the Vikings have lost their previous 7 primetime games, including losses in their last 3 SNF games.

But now is as good a time as any for the Vikings to reverse their fortunes. The Vikings are 15-15 all-time on SNF, including a 6-8 record on the road. But, against the Bears on SNF, the Vikings are 5-2. In fact, the Vikings last win on SNF came against…you guessed it, the Chicago Bears, via a 34-14 decision at Mall of America Field in November of 2008. It’s actually the Vikings only win on SNF since NBC took over its broadcasting rights.

You can count Vikings LB and defensive team captain E.J. Henderson as one who looks forward to playing in the spotlight of Sunday Night Football.

“Definitely nothing like that,” Henderson told us earlier this week. “Everybody across the country gets to check you out. Put on your best game face, give your best performance. Everybody in your home town, your family [will be watching]. You’re the only game on, so it’s definitely exciting.”


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Premier RBs On Display For Sunday Night’s Vikings-Bears Matchup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 14, 2011 – 6:58 am

Beginning with the Purple People Eaters and Monsters of the Midway in the 1960s and 70s and continuing through 51 years of football, the Vikings and Bears have traditionally featured physical, hard-nosed defenses. The Vikings and Bears physical style of play over the years is a big reason why the division in which they play is known as the “black and blue” division.

The tradition of fierce defenses continues for each franchise today, as the Vikings feature a talented defensive line and currently rank #5 against the run in the NFL. The Bears, meanwhile, feature an outstanding duo at LB with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, and they have a tremendous pass rusher at DE in Julius Peppers.

As proud a defensive team as both the Vikings and Bears are, though, Sunday night’s matchup between the two clubs also features a pair of premier RBs who, if not properly defended, can rack up big-time yardage against any defense. The Vikings, who rank 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards per game, feature the NFL’s 2nd-leading rusher and best RB in Adrian Peterson. The Bears answer with the versatile Matt Forte, who leads his club in both rushing and receiving, and is the NFL’s 6th-ranked rusher.

There is no question what Chicago’s #1 priority will be on defense: stop Peterson. But that’s been a task easier said than done for Chicago since Peterson has entered the League. As Christian Peterson noted in this week’s “What To Watch For,” Peterson averages 112 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry against Chicago in 7 contests; he’s also scored 11 TDs. Peterson had just 50 yards last year at Soldier Field, but prior to that Peterson had felt rather comfortable in the Bears home stadium. From 2009 to 2007, here are Peterson’s stat lines: 27 touches, 137 total yards, 2 TDs; 23 touches, 130 yards, 2 TDs; 21 touches, 233 yards, 3 TDs. Those are elite numbers, obviously, and it’s a trend the Bears defense will be looking to stop on Sunday night.

But the Bears also feature a RB that must be stopped. Forte already has a 200-yard rushing game this season, and he’s also registered a 100-yard receiving game. He’s a double-threat coming out of the backfield and he possesses the combination of power and speed to make him a 3-down RB if the Bears desire. Only 2 other RBs have more runs of 20+ yards than Forte, and only 2 other RBs have a better per carry average than Forte’s 5.4. No, he’s not the caliber runner of Peterson, but he’s a Top 10 sort of RB and he’s good enough to carry the Bears to victory.

So while both of these franchises have a proud history of fierce defensive play, both teams also currently have game-breaking RBs that must be contained by their current-day defense. The question is, which club will execute better in the running game on Sunday night?


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