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Peterson Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 30, 2011 – 2:42 pm

Adrian Peterson is determined to make it back to the field as soon as possible after sustaining a knee injury in last week’s game against the Washington Redskins. A big step in his recovery occurred today, as he underwent knee surgery with Dr. James Andrews.

“We’ve received word that Adrian underwent successful knee surgery with Dr. James Andrews and is now resting comfortably,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said in a statement issue on vikings.com. “Adrian is in our thoughts, we wish him a speedy recovery and we look forward to seeing him when he returns to Minnesota.”

Vikings fans have seen Peterson accomplish incredible feats in his 5-year NFL career, and now they’re going to watch him overcome adversity and get back to superstar form.


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With Gerhart Stepping In, Vikings Offense Won’t Change

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 30, 2011 – 7:16 am

Following the season-ending knee injury to Adrian Peterson last week in Washington, there will be a change this week at RB for the Vikings. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that the change will be restricted to the identity of the starting RB rather than a change in offensive style or philosophy.

The Vikings offense is one built around a strong running game and around the NFL’s best RB. And when you build a team with that makeup, it’s important to have a backup RB who can be trusted with shouldering the load. By selecting Toby Gerhart in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Vikings secured insurance.

Peterson was sidelined earlier this season with an ankle injury, and Gerhart stepped into the lineup and filled in admirably. He averaged 75.0 rushing yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry with 1 rushing TD while also hauling in 13 receptions for 80 yards and 1 TD. Then when Peterson left last week’s game in the 3rd quarter, Gerhart came in and immediately ripped off a 67-yard rush, the longest of his career, and finished the game with 11 carries for 109 yards, the first 100-yard rushing game of his NFL career.

By no means will anyone argue that Gerhart – or any other NFL RB – can replace the play-making ability of Peterson, but there’s also no question that Gerhart has shown that he can step into the lineup and be the kind of productive runner this Vikings offense needs.

“One of the things about Adrian’s absence earlier in the season, we had a chance to get Toby some extended snaps and we really haven’t altered the offense by any means,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said earlier in the week. “Toby has done a very good job in Adrian’s absence, did a great job Saturday of stepping in and performing and rushing for over 100 yards. We really haven’t had to alter things and we really don’t plan to. We look forward to eventually getting Adrian back on the field but we don’t think we have to really alter the offense.”

Another reason besides Gerhart that the Vikings offense will maintain its philosophy for the last game of the season is the offensive line’s run-blocking ability. Yes, the offensive line has been criticized much this season for their pass protection. But this group has been very good in the running game. The Vikings enter the final week of the regular season ranked 3rd in rushing TDs with 17 and 4th in rushing yards per game with 149.3

“I don’t know that it does this last week,” Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave responded when asked if Peterson’s absence would require the offense to change philosophies. “Our O-line has embraced a lot of the concepts that we have gotten good at this year so we want to keep on keeping on in that regard and Toby has proved that whether it be Adrian or Lorenzo Booker or Toby back there, we can block people and create some holes.”

The Peterson-less Vikings offense will have a good challenge this week as they go against a Chicago Bears defense that ranks 6th against the run, allowing just 97.5 rushing yards per game. The Vikings ability to establish the run will be paramount to keeping the Bears defense off-balance, which is an important part of protecting QB Christian Ponder. And protecting Ponder so he can sit in the pocket and develop as a passer is the #1 reason to watch the Vikings this weekend.


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Frazier Looking To Send Off Kleinsasser With A TD, Win

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 29, 2011 – 8:34 am

Vikings TE Jim Kleinsasser will complete his 13th and final season on Sunday, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier would like to send the burly-but-affable TE off in style.

“No doubt about it,” Frazier said at his Wednesday press conference. “I’m not letting out any secrets there. If we get down to the one, Chicago, you better stop number 40. We’re going to find a way to try to get him in the end zone if we can.”

If the Vikings are able to get Kleinsasser in the end zone one last time, it’ll be the 8th TD of his career. That’s not a gaudy number for a 13-year veteran TE, but as all Vikings fans know, Kleinsasser’s value to the team is not defined by his line in the box score.

“He’s a guy who has been one of the best, if not the best, blockers in the entire league for his entire career,” Vikings Director of College Scouting Scott Studwell said. “Even in his thirteenth year, he’s still one of the best blockers in the league.”

Given Kleinsasser’s background, it should come as no surprise that he has been able to maintain his spot on an NFL roster in three separate decades. A Carrington, North Dakota native who grew up on a crop and beef farm that his family owns to this day, Kleinsasser revels and excels while working in the trenches.

And it’s when Kleinsasser works in the trenches that the Vikings excel. The 6-3, 272-pound tight end with a Paul Bunyan-type frame and hard-nosed nature has helped pave the way for 7 of the top 8 single-season rushing marks in Vikings history, including Adrian Peterson’s team record and NFL-leading 1,760 yards in 2008. He’s also helped 10 different players rush for 100 yards in a game 62 times.

“He’s meant so much to our organization and he’s meant a great deal to me,” Frazier said. “He’s one of those guys you count on. He’s one of our leaders on our team and just a loyal, hard-working guy, tough as nails and someone you can always count on. You know he is going to come to work prepared, ready to do his job, a tremendous example for any young player coming into the League, just his work ethic and the way he approaches things. Just a team player and it would be great for us to send him out on a winning note on Sunday and I told our guys, if you want to thank him for the teammate that he is, let’s find a way to get this ‘W’ in his final game as a Viking. Tremendous person, tremendous player and he has been great for our organization.”


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Ponder Expected To Start On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 29, 2011 – 7:41 am

Vikings QB Christian Ponder was forced out of last week’s game against the Washington Redskins after he suffered a concussion in the 3rd quarter, and given the (rightful) sensitivity to head injuries in professional sports these days it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Ponder ruled out for Sunday’s season finale against the Bears at Mall of America Field.

But there was good news on Wednesday. Ponder was a full participant in practice, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said the plan is for Ponder to start on Sunday. Frazier also said he saw some good things from Ponder in the Washington game before he was injured, and that he’s looking for the rookie QB to continue playing well on Sunday.

 “I thought he did some good things in that Washington game prior to being injured,” Frazier explained. “He really seemed to be settled down and playing with the confidence we expect and seemed to be having fun in the time that he was out there. I’m optimistic that he’s going to play well in our ball game on Sunday and that’s good for his confidence, good for our team, and it’s a big deal just to continue to try to improve but all of these looks that he is getting now as a rookie should help him in the future.”


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Greenway Named Vikings 2011 Community Man Of The Year

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2011 – 11:57 am

Chad Greenway has been selected as the 2011 Vikings Community Man of the Year.

Since being selected in the 1st round of 2006 NFL Draft, Greenway has been an active member of the team’s community outreach. He has volunteered his time with several local organizations, including Memorial Blood Centers, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Sanford Hospital, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, Fuel Up To Play 60, Taste of the NFL, United Way and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Greenway took his volunteerism to a new level when he and his wife, Jenni, established the Lead The Way Foundation (www.greenway52.com) to enrich the lives of individuals and families who are in need medically or financially. For the past five years on Father’s Day, Chad and Jenni have partnered with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for the Greenway’s Gridiron Gallop 5K race, benefiting Minneapolis youth sports programming.

Greenway is one of 32 team representatives, one of which will be named the Walter Payton Man of the Year at this year’s Super Bowl. As the Vikings representative for the NFL Man of the Year award, Greenway will receive a $1,000 check for the Lead The Way Foundation through NFL Charities.


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Career Year Leads To Jared Allen’s 4th Pro Bowl Honor

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2011 – 7:54 am

No Viking has had a better season than DE Jared Allen. And Jared Allen has had no better season in his ultra-productive 8-year career. Allen’s peers across the NFL and his fans across the country have responded by voting him onto this year’s NFC Pro Bowl roster, marking the 4th time Allen has been named to the Pro Bowl in his career.

Allen has made a career out of terrorizing opposing QBs, and he had his best output yet in 2011. Through 15 games Allen has tallied 18.5 sacks, which is 3.5 more than his previous career high of 15.5 in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 4.5 more than his best mark with the Vikings (14.5 in both 2008 and 2009). Allen is 3.0 sacks away from setting the franchise single-season sack record, which is currently held by Chris Doleman (21.0), and he’s 4.0 away from the NFL’s single-season record, which is held by Michael Strahan (22.5).

Allen’s 18.5 sacks lead the NFL, and he’s also the NFL leader in fumble recoveries with 4. Twice this season Allen has posted 3.0-sack games, and since entering the league in 2004 Allen leads all players with 101.5 sacks. Allen also recorded his 4th career safety this season, which ties an NFL record for most safeties in a career.


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Breaking Down The Bears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2011 – 7:44 am

The Vikings return to Mall of America Field this weekend to host the Chicago Bears in what will be the season finale for both clubs. The Vikings come into this matchup following a road win over the Washington Redskins on Christmas Eve Day, while the Bears are coming off a 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Night.

Sunday will mark the 102nd meeting between the Vikings and Bears, two division rivals dating back to 1961. The Vikings hold the all-time series lead with a 52-47-2 advantage, including the first regular season win in team history via a 37-13 shocker at Met Stadium. But Chicago has dominated the series of late, winning the prior four meetings by a combined score of 142-67. The Bears will play at Mall of America Field on Sunday for the first time since 2009 because the 2010 matchup was played at TCF Bank Stadium following the collapse of the Metrodome roof.

A win on Sunday would give the Vikings their first win against the NFC North this season and it would give Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier his first win versus an NFC North opponent. The Bears, meanwhile, have a 7-8 record overall and a 2-3 record against the division this season.

The 2011 season has been an up-and-down campaign for Chicago, and unfortunately for them it will end on a bitter note because injuries have hit them hard and essentially knocked them out of playoff contention. Chicago began the season with just 2 wins in their first 5 games, but then ripped off 5 consecutive wins to move to 7-3 and remain in the thick of the playoff chase. But a hand injury to QB Jay Cutler at the end of Chicago’s Week 11 game against the Chargers began to derail the season, and then a knee injury to starting RB Matt Forte just 2 weeks later forced the season completely off the tracks. Since that 5-game winning streak and the injury to Cutler after the 5th win, the Bears have lost 5 straight games and will try to regroup in the offseason and make another run at it in 2012.

Offensively, it’s a bit deceiving to look at the numbers because of the injuries to Cutler and Forte, and because the team has moved on from backup QB Caleb Hanie and is now playing Josh McCown. A similar progression has occurred at RB, where Forte hasn’t played in the past 3 games, backup Marion Barber III is also dealing with injury, and Kahlil Bell is now shouldering most of the load. For what it’s worth, though, the Bears rank 16th in points per game (22.4), 20th in total offense (321.1 yards per game), 8th in rushing offense (128.2 rushing yards per game) and 24th in passing offense (192.9 passing yards per game).

The Bears are converting just 32.1% of their 3rd downs (27th), have allowed 27 sacks (6th most) and score TDs on 54.1% of their red zone possessions (12th).

Defensively, the Bears remain a solid group and are led by a standout pair of LBs in Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who were both named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster this week. Chicago boasts the NFL’s 6th-best run defense, allowing just 97.5 rushing yards per game and 9 rushing TDs. Chicago has been leaky against the pass, though, as they’ve allowed 256.2 passing yards per game (28th) and 22 TD passes (16th). The Bears best two weapons against the pass are DE Julius Peppers and CB Charles Tillman. Peppers have 10.0 sacks on the season, and has also tallied 4 passes defensed and 3 forced fumbles. Tillman, who was also named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster along with Briggs and Urlacher, has 11 passes defensed, 2 INTs and a sack.

We’ll have much more on the Vikings-Bears season finale all week here on vikings.com, so stay tuned.


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

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 28, 2011 – 3:54 am

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, Greenway is the co-host of this final show of 2011.

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 KFAN (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.


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Vikings Place Hutchinson On Reserve/Injured List, Sign RB Todman

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 27, 2011 – 5:02 pm

The Vikings placed LG Steve Hutchinson on the Reserve/Injured list on Tuesday and signed RB Jordan Todman from the San Diego Chargers practice squad to take the vacant spot on the roster.

Hutchinson did not play in last week’s win over the Washington Redskins because of a concussion he sustained two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints.

Todman was a 6th-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers in last April’s draft. He was a standout RB for the University of Connecticut, scoring 31 rushing TDs and running for 3,179 yards in 3 seasons. Todman was a First-Team All Big East selection in 2010 and was also named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year that season.


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Gerhart, Raymond Up For Weekly Awards

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 27, 2011 – 10:23 am

A pair of young Vikings are up for weekly awards this week after providing a helping hand in the Vikings victory over the Washington Redskins on Saturday.

RB Toby Gerhart has been nominated for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week after rushing for 109 yards on 11 carries at, appropriately enough, FedEx Field. Joining Gerhart as nominees for the award are Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall (18-116-1) and Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller (16-111-1). Gerhart has the lowest yardage total of the 3 finalists by a slight margin, but it should also be noted that he gained those yards on just 11 carries.

Vikings fans can vote for Gerhart on NFL.com/FedEx now through 2:00 p.m. CT on Friday.

The other Vikings player up for an award is rookie S Mistral Raymond, who has been nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors. Raymond tallied 6 tackles, 2 passes defensed and a 4th-quarter INT, which he returned for 31 yards, in the Vikings win over Washington. Raymond’s INT basically sealed the Vikings victory because it set up Ryan Longwell for a 23-yard FG that put the Vikings up by 10 points with just over 4 minutes to play in the game.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton, Raiders WR Denarius Moore, Panthers QB Cam Newton and Redskins RB Evan Royster are also finalists. Vikings fans can vote for Raymond on NFL.com/rookies now through Friday at 11:00 a.m. CT.


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