Thinking Of You Today, Freddy

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 24, 2011 – 9:55 am


The Minnesota Vikings will do something for the first time in franchise history today. They’ll play a game without legendary former athletic trainer Fred Zamberletti in attendance.

Zamberletti, who was the team’s trainer from the very beginning of the franchise in 1961 and remains with the club as a consultant and team historian, had never missed a preseason, regular season or postseason game in team history, a streak of 1,049 games up until today. He had to remain home because of an illness, but we know he’ll be back with the club in no time.

Zamberletti is a member of the Vikings Ring of Honor and is a voice of reason and wisdom within the organization. During his long tenure with the team, Zamberletti has earned the respect and admiration of players, staff and fans. In fact, over 100 alumni showed up to celebrate with him at the Metrodome when the team held “Fred Zamberletti Day” in 1998.

This trip has not been the same without you, Freddy. We’re all thinking of you on this day and we look forward to seeing you when we get back home.

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Vikings Arrive At FedEx Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 24, 2011 – 9:38 am

The Vikings have arrived at FedEx Field in Landover, Marlyand for today’s showdown with the Washington Redskins. Kickoff is slated for 12:00 p.m. CT (1:00 p.m. out here). FOX will be handling the television broadcast, with Chris Myers and Tim Ryan calling the action, but the best broadcast will be from the Vikings Radio Network, where Paul Allen (play-by-play), Pete Bercich (analyst) and Greg Coleman (sideline) will bring fans the game.

It’s a great day for football here in the Washington D.C. area, with sunny and clear skies, temperatures hovering around 50 degrees and a slight breeze circling around. The bad news, though, appears to be the field conditions. Early reports from various people already are that it’s the poorest field conditions we’ve seen this year. That will be an issue to monitor.

We’ll have much more on which to update you before the game, including the Vikings inactives 90 minutes prior to kickoff, so be sure to stay tuned to all day today.

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Asher Allen, Hutchinson Ruled Out; All Others Probable

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2011 – 11:54 am

The Vikings on Friday ruled CB Asher Allen (concussion/shoulder) and LG Steve Hutchinson out for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Both players sustained their concussions last week against the Saints and neither player was able to participate in practice this week.

RG Anthony Herrera (knee), S Jarrad Page (hamstring), DT Kevin Williams (knee) and LB Erin Henderson (illness) were all full participants in practice on Friday and are all listed as probable.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said earlier in the week that Joe Berger would start if Hutchinson was unable to play. It’s expected that rookie interior lineman Brandon Fusco could also see some action with Hutchinson unavailable.

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Will Redskins Employ Run-Heavy Attack vs. Vikings?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 22, 2011 – 4:03 pm

The Vikings will travel to the Washington D.C. area on Friday with an injury-depleated secondary that currently ranks 30th in the NFL. Just 1 of the 4 starting DBs from Week 1 remains in the lineup (Jamarca Sanford), and with Asher Allen dealing with a concussion and Cedric Griffin demoted from the starting lineup, it’s entirely possible that 6 of the team’s best 7 opening-day DBs will not see the field.

On top of all that, the Washington Redskins come into this weekend’s matchup ranked 14th in passing and 29th in rushing. For the season, the Redskins have passed the ball on 60.7% of their snaps and they have twice as many TDs through the air (16) as they do on the ground (8).

With all of that said, though, don’t be surprised if Washington attacks the Vikings defense primarily on the ground. It might not make sense at first blush, but a closer look at the numbers suggests this might be the route the Redskins take.

The Redskins currently sit with a 5-9 record, but they began the season with 3 wins in their first 4 games. In those 4 games, the Redskins averaged 30.75 rushes per game. After a bye in Week 4, Washington went on a 6-game losing streak, and in those games they ran the ball just 17.0 times per game. Since losing to Dallas in Week 11, the Redskins have gone 2-2 and have run the ball 31.5 times per game in that stretch, including a 40-carry game in victory against the Giants last week.

Suffice it to say the Redskins have seen better results when they employ a more balanced run-pass ratio, and they’ve in fact won games when they’ve had a run-heavy attack.

It might seem odd given the caliber of pass defense the Vikings have displayed as of late, but Washington could very well choose to attack the Vikings on the ground early and often. If they choose this strategy, rookie RB Roy Helu will be the team’s primary ball carrier. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per rush and had 3 consecutive 20-carry, 100-yard rushing performances from Week 12-14.

“I think he is a tough football player, a good football player that has good skills,” Vikings Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac said on Thursday. “He can run, he’s fast, he’s predominantly a tackle to outside runner, but that is their offense. He does a good job.”

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Berger, Fusco Will See Action If Hutchinson Is Unable To Play

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 22, 2011 – 3:31 pm

Vikings LG Steve Hutchinson was forced out of last week’s game against the Saints after suffering a laceration to his face. As it turns out, Hutchinson also suffered a concussion in the game. Because of those injuries, Hutchinson has been unable to participate in practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

If Hutchinson is unable to play in Saturday’s game at Washington, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said that 7-year veteran Joe Berger would get the start and also that rookie Brandon Fusco might see some playing time as well.

Should Berger get the start, it will not be the first time he sees the field for the Vikings. Berger filled in for Anthony Herrera for 5 games from Week 7 to Week 12 when the starting RG was dealing with a knee injury. Berger’s ability to provide depth at both LG and RG is precisely the reason the Vikings added him to the roster earlier in the season.

“He did well,” Frazier said of Berger’s time filling in for Herrera. “We felt like he is a guy who is more than capable of playing the guard position and playing center as well. When he was in there he did a fine job so we’re not stressed. We’d like to have Steve for sure, but Joe showed that he can get the job done.”

As for Fusco, he’s been active for just one game this season. The 6th-round pick is listed as a center, but he, too, has position flexibility. Frazier said the team has given consideration to rolling him into the game as well.

“We talked about that, just to be able to see him move around and just see how he does,” Frazier said. “We’re going to see how the game is going and maybe get that done.”

 Even at 2-12, the Vikings primary goal is to win the game. Vikings players and coaches continue to work hard during the week to be in a position to win on game day. But it also isn’t a bad idea to get a better look at players such as Fusco to see if they have the potential to a part of the team’s long-term plans.

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Asher Allen, Hutchinson Sit Out Of Practice; Four Others Limited

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 21, 2011 – 2:53 pm

The Vikings and Redskins each released their initial injury reports of the week after practicing on Wednesday in advance of their Saturday showdown at FedEx Field. The Vikings had two players sit out of practice, while Washington had four players limited and three others listed as full participants.

For the Vikings, CB Asher Allen and LG Steve Hutchinson sat out after sustaining concussions last week; Allen is also listed with a shoulder injury. RG Anthony Herrera (knee), S Jarrad Page (hamstring), DT Kevin Williams (knee) and LB Erin Henderson (illness) were all limited in practice.

For Washington, T Jammal Brown (groin), LB London Fletcher (ankle), RB Roy Helu (toe/knee) and FB Mike Sellers (elbow) were all limited. DE Stephen Bowen (knee), P Sav Rocca (left ankle) and CB Josh Wilson (head/chest) were all listed as full participant.

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A Review Of The Redskins

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 21, 2011 – 7:38 am

The Vikings will travel to the Nation’s Capital this weekend for a Christmas Eve showdown with the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Neither the Vikings nor Redskins can look forward to the playoffs this season, but both teams are looking to close the season on a high note to build momentum for 2012.

The Redskins come into this matchup with a 5-9 record and 4th-place standing in the rough and rugged NFC East. Washington actually began the season as the NFC East’s best team, winning 3 of its first 4 games. But then head coach Mike Shanahan’s group lost 6 consecutive games coming out of their Week 4 bye and they’ve lost 8 of their last 10 after starting out 3-1.

Washington got back to its winning ways last week, though, pulling off a 23-10 upset win over the NY Giants at Met Life Stadium. The running game was key for the Redskins in their victory, as Washington ran the ball 40 times for an average of 3.1 yards per carry, while the Giants rushed the ball just 18 times total and QB Eli Manning was intercepted 3 times.

The running game should be key in this weekend’s game, too. Washington has passed 60.7% of the time this year, which is 6th-highest in the NFL, but Shanahan prefers to have a more balanced attack. With the success Washington had running the ball in victory last week, expect the running game to be emphasized again this week at home against the Vikings. After facing the pass-happy Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints in the last two weeks and surrendering 76 points in the process, the Vikings will welcome the challenge of battling Washington’s ground game. The Vikings rank 10th in rushing defense this season, while Washington ranks just 29th in rushing offense.

When Washington does pass the ball, Rex Grossman is the trigger man. A 9-year veteran out of the University of Florida, Grossman is familiar with the Vikings after beginning his career in Chicago and playing there from 2003-08, a run that included a Super Bowl appearance as the team’s starter. Grossman began this season as the starter in Washington and went 3-2 over the first five games before giving way to backup John Beck for 3 games. Then Grossman reclaimed the starting job in Week 10 and has started the Redskins last 6 games, going 2-4 in that stretch. For the season Grossman is completing 58.3% of his passes for 2,611 yards with a 13-18 TD-INT ratio and a modest 71.4 passer rating. Beck wasn’t any better in his brief stint under center this season, going 80 for 132 (60.6%) for 858 yards with 2 TDs and 4 INTs for a passer rating of 72.1.

A few other notes on Washington’s offense…
— TE Fred Davis leads the team in receptions with 59, but he won’t play in Saturday’s game because he’s been suspended for the rest of the season. WR Jabar Gaffney leads the team in receiving yards with 842. Washington also has Santana Moss, a productive veteran who has 4 TD catches this season.
— Rookie Roy Helu leads Washington in rushing attempts (147), rushing yards (635) and is tied with Beck for the team lead in rushing TDs (2).
— Washington ranks 15th in 3rd down offense, converting 37.3% of their tries, and 27th in red zone offense, scoring TDs 43.2% of the time they enter the red zone.
— The Redskins have allowed 37 sacks on the season, which is tied for 22nd.

Defensively, the Redskins run a 3-4 scheme and boast a talented front 7. The 3 starting down linemen are Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen at DE and Barry Cofield at NT. Talented pass-rusher Brian Orakpo and rookie standout Ryan Kerrigan man the OLB positions, while 13-year pro London Fletcher and Perry Riley start at ILB. Fletcher leads the defense in tackles, Kerrigan (7.5) and Orakpo (7.0) lead the way in sacks, and Bowen and Carriker do a lot of the grunt work in the trenches. Bowen and Carriker have combined for 11.0 sacks on the season.

The Redskins secondary features ball-hawking CB DeAngelo Hall, who has 35 INTs in 8+ seasons and 3 INTs and 14 passes defensed through 14 games this year. The secondary has taken a hit recently, though, as S LaRon Landry, a do-it-all type of defender, has been placed on the Reserve/Injured list.

Here are a few more notes on Washington’s defense…
— Washington ranks 13th in pass defense, 15th in rushing defense and 16th in scoring defense (21.4 points per game).
— The Redskins have collected 37 sacks on the season, 10th-most in the NFL.
— Washington ranks just 16th in 3rd-down defense (37.0%), but they rank 2nd in red zone defense (surrender a TD just 39.1% of the time).

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Reminder: “Vikings Country” Featuring Jared Allen Is Live At Mall Of America Tonight

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 20, 2011 – 11:58 pm

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, Allen 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 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.

Allen will co-host tonight, while Greenway will co-host the final show of the season on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

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Vikings, Ramsey County Move Forward With New Stadium Plans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 20, 2011 – 3:42 pm

Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf meets with Governor Dayton and legislative leaders

On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board passed its third positive vote on the potential new publicly-owned stadium project in Arden Hills, this time approving a “Request for Qualifications for Architectural and Engineering Services.”  Passing 4-3, the vote means the County can move forward with soliciting interested architects who may be approved to design the stadium.

“Today’s action by the Ramsey County Board is further evidence of our strong partnership with the County and is another step in moving this process forward in Arden Hills,” said Vikings Vice President of Stadium Development Lester Bagley. “The sooner we take action, the better chance we have of opening the stadium in 2015. We can also prevent millions of dollars in cost delays and put thousands of people back to work as soon as possible.”

The Tuesday vote came the morning after Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and Vikings officials met with Governor Mark Dayton and several legislators. Gathering at the Governor’s residence on Monday night, the Vikings, Governor Dayton and legislators discussed the latest on the stadium effort, the urgency to resolve the issue and the need to bring forward a legislative package for consideration in January.

The Vikings and Ramsey County also released two new conceptual images today depicting the various uses that could be developed around the proposed new stadium in Arden Hills.

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Vikings, Ramsey County Release New Arden Hills Stadium Development Images

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 20, 2011 – 11:22 am

The Vikings and Ramsey County released two conceptual images illustrating the various uses that could be developed around the proposed new stadium in Arden Hills. Both the summer and winter scenes represent the potential development as a result of remediating the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant (TCAAP) site.

The summer scene portrays various outdoor activities, including running and biking trails that could extend along the eastern edge of the site connecting to the Wildlife Corridor. Multi-use practice fields could be available for youth, high school and amateur sports, including football, lacrosse and soccer. The “main street” concept beyond the football fields could include a mixed-use corridor of retail, residential, commercial office and park space surrounding a community pond.

The winter scene provides a closer view of the “main street” concept, which depicts a winter destination of cross-country skiing, ice-skating on the community pond, hiking and outdoor fun around the fire pits. The “Lake House” adjacent to the pond could provide indoor and outdoor space for community events, adjacent to the main street restaurant and retail corridor.

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