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9 Players Who Stood Out On First Day Of Rookie Minicamp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2012 – 4:37 pm

There isn’t much need for an introduction here. The title sums up what you’re about to read. After two practices of rookie minicamp at Winter Park, here are 9 (actually, 10) players who’ve stood out…

DT Chase Baker (rookie free agent – Boise State): A feisty interior defensive lineman, Baker may be undersized but I also like his motor and effort.

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson (pre-draft signee – Sacramento State): One of three QBs in camp, there is no doubt he has the best – and an NFL-caliber – arm.

S Robert Blanton (5th round – Notre Dame): Practiced with energy, good size, instincts seem solid. I will also say his running mate – 1st-round pick Harrison Smith – also impressed on the first day.

RB Derrick Coleman (rookie free agent – UCLA): Runs hard and violent it appears (practices are no contact) and I saw him make a terrific shoe-string catch in the morning.

LB Soloman Elimimian (pre-draft signee – Hawaii): Size and length might work against him, but the guy plays like an animal and I can’t wait to see him practice in pads.

TE Rhett Ellison (4th round – USC):  Sold to me as a bruising, blocking type, but I think he’s a fluid route runner and pass catcher who also knows how to mix it up in the trenches.

WR Kamar Jorden (rookie free agent – Bowling Green): Made two impressive catches Friday, with one coming on a vertical route down the right sideline and the other on a crossing route where he achieved a great release off the line and ran away from his defender.

B Josh Robinson (3rd round – Central Florida): Speed is as impressive as advertised and it looks like he can cover.

CB Nick Taylor (pre-draft signee – Florida International): For a basketball player, he looked good in the morning practice. Actually, he looked good in the morning practice, period. Might have some cover skills.


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Kalil, Blanton Stand Out In First Practice; Other Observations

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2012 – 1:33 pm

The Vikings 10-player draft class plus 61 other players trying out for the club joined Vikings coaches and scouts on the field Friday morning for the first of five scheduled practices at this year’s rookie minicamp. Conditions were perfect, with the coaches and players working under sunny skies, moderate temperatures and a slight breeze.

The group of 71 players is comprised of the 10 draft picks from last weekend, 15 rookie free agents, 7 pre-draft signees and 39 players present on a tryout basis. The players were in helmets, jerseys and shorts with no pads, with the individual and team drill work similar to a full-squad minicamp practice; they are non-contact practices, however.

There will be another practice this afternoon at 2:55 p.m., two more on Saturday and then one final practice on Sunday. Here are a few thoughts from this morning’s practice…

– Although it’s presumed he’ll be the starter at LT from Day 1, #4 overall pick Matt Kalil doesn’t have an entitled attitude. Speaking with reporters after practice, Kalil acknowledged he has plenty of learning to do and he said playing next to a veteran such as Charlie Johnson – who will likely play LG in 2012 – will be an advantage.

– Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier came away impressed with Kalil after the first practice. “You can see why we have high hopes for him,” Frazier said. “He was excellent today.” Frazier was also asked about CB Josh Robison, whom the Vikings selected in the 3rd round, and Frazier said he noticed Robinson had an impressive burst while fielding kicks/punts.

– When asked what he’s looking for out of the rookies and tryout players in attendance this weekend, Frazier noted that standout plays are what catch coaches’ attention. Keep in mind, during the season and even training camp, coaches want to see playmakers but they also emphasize consistency and making routine plays. At this minicamp, though, a premium is being placed on making splash plays.

– Several Vikings veterans, who are not permitted to participate in this weekend’s minicamp, observed the morning practice from the sidelines. The players I noticed watching practice were: QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, TEs John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, OL Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love and John Sullivan, DL Everson Griffen, WR Manny Arceneaux and RB Jordan Todman.

– Last year during training camp I made mention of players who passed the “eye test” during practice. Today’s eye test winners were Kalil and S Robert Blanton. I already explained that Frazier was impressed with Kalil, but what I liked about Blanton was the way he carried himself on the field and added energy to the defense. He appears to be an intelligent player with a passion for the game. That observation is off of one practice, admittedly, but it was obvious this morning that Blanton enjoyed being on the field.

– K Blair Walsh met with a group of reporters after practice and said it was an honor to be on the roster with a player of Ryan Longwell’s stature and accomplishment. Asked if his best trait was his strong leg, Walsh acknowledged that many people credit him with a strong leg, but he also noted that all NFL kickers have strong legs and that he isn’t distinguished among them. Walsh also said that a player has to earn his place in the NFL, regardless of whether he was selected in the NFL draft or not.

– There are five former University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in camp this weekend. They are: WR Da’Jon McKnight, TEs Tiree Eure and Nick Tow-Arnett, DE Anthony Jacobs and DT Brandon Kirksey. McKnight met with a fairly large group of reporters after practice and called it a “blessing” to be in camp with the Vikings. He dealt with a knee injury last season, but says the knee is completely healed now.

– Two other under the radar players who stood out today were CB Bret Lockett and WR Josh Philpart.

– There are three QBs in camp this weekend. They are: Blake Bolles (NW Missouri State), McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Sacramento St.) and Spencer Ohm (Concordia – St. Paul).


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Vikings Fans Can Help Make Stadium Dream A Reality This Weekend

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2012 – 8:49 am

Vikings fans have played a key role toward generating momentum for passage of stadium legislation. With the Minnesota House of Representatives now set to vote on the current proposal on Monday, the ultimate goal is now closer than ever.

The Vikings are urging fans to help make the final push and make the stadium dream a reality.

“The outpouring of support from Vikings fans has greatly intensified over the last several weeks, but it’s crucial that our fans continue to be heard over the weekend,” Vikings Director of Corporate Communications Jeff Anderson said. “Every day we will be asking supporters to email, call, and tweet their State rep and tell them to vote ‘yes’ on Monday. Given that we’ve never been this close, there is absolutely no reason to hold back now.”

Vikings fans can call or email thier Representative to ask them to vote YES on the stadium bill to put thousands of Minnesotans back to work and help secure the Vikings in Minnesota for the next generation of fans. And don’t think your voice won’t be heard.

 Minnesotans “are telling me that they want a stadium…a first-class facility that not only will be the home of our beloved Vikings for generations, but also a stadium that is used by the entire state,” Sen. Julie Rosen, chief author of the stadium legislation, told the Star Tribune. “That will attract a Super Bowl, Final Four and provide opportunities for amateur sports, high school sporting events and other organizations.”


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Vikings Agree To Terms With 15 Rookie Free Agents

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 4, 2012 – 8:13 am

The Vikings rookie minicamp begins today and runs through the weekend. In advance of the minicamp, the Vikings have agreed to terms with the following 15 rookie free agents…

DT Chase Baker – Boise State
RB Derrick Coleman – UCLA
DE Kevin Cyrille – Florida Atlantic
CB Bobby Felder – Nicholls State
WR Kamar Jorden – Bowling Green
DE Eric Latimore – Penn State
LB Tyler Nielsen – Iowa
DE Ernest Owusu – California
LB Corey Paredes – Hawaii
G Austin Pasztor – Virginia
DT Tydreke Powell – North Carolina
DT Terrell Resonno – Missouri
Quentin Saulsberry – Mississippi State
Darrion Weems – Oregon
CB CC Whitlock – South Carolina


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