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Player Blog: Rookie WR Greg Childs Checks In From Mankato

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2012 – 6:26 pm

We at vikings.com are lucky enough to have rookie WR Greg Childs blogging for us here in Mankato at Verizon Vikings Training Camp.  Below is his first entry on how the first few days of camp have gone for him.  Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @TheGregChilds85.

What’s up everyone? My name is Greg Childs, and I’m a receiver for the Minnesota Vikings. This year is my first training camp in the NFL and I’m loving every second of it. It’s a lot of hard work, but nothing worth it ever came easy, right?

We reported to training camp on Thursday, July 26 in Mankato, Minnesota. I rode down with Jarius Wright, a close friend of mine and also a wide receiver. He’s cool. We grew up together in Warren, Arkansas, we played together at the University of Arkansas and then we were both drafted in the same round of this year’s draft by the same team.

So far the practices have been tough. There are a lot of good players up here in the NFL, but I love the competition and know that I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m looking to represent my family and all my fans the best way I can, and that’s by always playing hard and never giving up.

I plan on checking in with you guys regularly during camp, so don’t forget to come back and read about what’s going on with myself and the Vikings. You can also keep up by following me on Twitter. My handle is @TheGregChilds85.

That’s it for now. See ya’ll later!


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Greenway, Rudolph, Walsh Stand Out On Tuesday; Other Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2012 – 5:33 pm

The competitive spirit was as thick in the air as the sweltering humidity on Tuesday at 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, as the Vikings conducted their second padded practice that included a couple periods of live, tackle-to-the ground work. Those periods featured short-yardage and goal line situations, perfect opportunities to jot down some notes.

Here are a few of them from Tuesday’s practice…

One-On-One
A large crowd of scouts, special guests and members of the ownership group gathered around one end of Field #2 to watch the RBs, FBs and TEs go one-on-one against the LBs. The drill is competitive as it is, but the unusually large crowd that gathered near the drill only intensified the atmosphere.

The first part of the drill required the offensive players to pass protect against the defensive players. LB Jasper Brinkley got home on his first three rushes and RB Jordan Todman jumped up and displayed some striking pass protection. Rookie LB Audie Cole got in the mix with a great swim move to get past his blocker in a flash and LB Everson Griffen showed his explosion by winning two of his three matchups.

The offense saw much more success in the pass receiving/coverage portion of the drill. The star of the show was TE Kyle Rudolph, who had no trouble wiggling open and hauling in receptions. He made an inside move on LB Chad Greenway and then broke to the outside, creating plenty of separation for Christian Ponder to loft a pass toward the TE. John Carlson got in on the action, too, utilizing an out-breaking route to separate from Griffen and haul in a pass. Todman also flashed once again, shaking free from Cole to win his matchup.

Goal Line Battles
There was outstanding back-and-forth between the offense and defense in the team’s goal line drill. The drill was setup for the offense to have it 1st-and-goal from the 2-yardline. In all three matchups (first team, second team, third team), the defense stymied the offense on 1st and 2nd down, but yielded a TD on 3rd down.

Greenway made one of the better defensive plays of the day when he registered a pass breakup (PBU) on a fade route from Ponder to Rudolph. On the next play CB Chris Cook, DT Letroy Guion and Greenway combined to stuff RB Lex Hilliard short of the goal line. On 3rd down, though, Hilliard burrowed his way into the end zone.

The second team offense threw an incomplete pass on their 1st down try and then saw Todman get stuffed. On 3rd down, RB Derrick Coleman surged past the defense and into the end zone for the score.

Coleman took a handoff on 1st down for the third team, too, and was stopped by a trio consisting of Cole, Griffen and DE Ernest Owusu. QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down and then he hit FB Ryan D’Imperio for a TD on 3rd down.

Booming Blair Walsh
It’s standard for the Vikings begin practice with a special teams period or two, and today practice began very well for the Vikings. And it was largely because of K Blair Walsh, whose leg strength was on full display. Of the kicks I saw, Walsh booted touchbacks on six of six tries, with two of those kickoffs flying over the goal post and through the uprights.

Walsh also ended practice on a solid note, hitting a 43-yard FG to close the final period.

Fans have expressed concern to me about the potential for Walsh to struggle on FG accuracy during his rookie season. Nothing that I’ve seen suggest Walsh will have that struggle, but even if he does I expect the increase in field position the defense will see this year because of Walsh’s touchbacks will counterbalance the loss in points from missed FGs. The Vikings ranked 31st in opponents’ drive start last season (24.4-yardline), and that statistic will only improve for the Vikings this season with Walsh in the fold. Missed FGs show up in the stat sheet and are directly reflected on the scoreboard, while average drive start for your opponent is a much more subtle influence. But both are equally important to the outcome of a game, and Walsh has shown that he has the ability to improve the Vikings in both areas.


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Williams Says DT Guion Stands Out

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2012 – 12:14 pm

A big part of training camp each year is watching position battles unfold and, ultimately, become settled as teams prepare for the upcoming season. One big – literally and figuratively – position battle for the Vikings in this year’s camp is at DT, where Kevin Williams has a hold of one starting position and no one has a handle on the other.

At least that was the thinking heading into training camp. A few days into the action, and it looks like there’s an early leader.

“Letroy (Guion) has been one that has been phenomenal in camp,” Vikings Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams said on Tuesday. “It may not seem to the naked eye, but there are some (film) clips of him just getting off blocks, running to the ball and pursuing. Day two he made a play outside of the numbers running to the football, so we are very pleased with him and we’re waiting to see how Fred (Evans) does.”

Evans has been a solid reserve for the Vikings since he joined the team in 2007. Guion was a 5th-round pick in 2008 and has progressed to the point now that he’s the early favorite to earn a starting job at DT in 2012. Other DTs on the Vikings roster competing for roster spots include undrafted college free agents Chase Baker and Tydreke Powell and second-year player Christian Ballard. While Williams pointed to Guion as one individual who is standing out early in camp, the Vikings new defensive boss also stressed that the entire group’s performance is important.

“Keep them fresh, keep them running so they can make plays,” Williams said. “When we’re at the end of the ballgame and the game is on the line, we have to close it out. It’s just that at the end, we want the guys fresh and we want to close it out. That is game-specific and season-specific so at the end of the year, we don’t have a guy that has 1,000 reps under his belt, we want guys to be fresh so that when playoffs come down the line, we’re ready to hunt.”


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Verizon Wireless Turns Up The Heat On Its 4G LTE For Training Camp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2012 – 9:30 am

There are many reasons to make the trek to Mankato, Minnesota for 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. And now Verizon Wireless has added yet another. Verizon Wireless announced Monday that it has activated the nation’s largest 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network at Minnesota State University, Mankato and within the city of Mankato for the Vikings three-week stay at training camp.

In a news release, Verizon Wireless stated that residents and visitors to the area with 4G LTE smartphones, jetpacks and tablets will be able to take advantage of speeds up to 10 times faster than the company’s 3G network. In real-world, fully-loaded network environments, 4G LTE users should experience average data rates of 5 to 12 megabits per second (Mbps) on the downlink and 2 to 5 Mbps on the uplink.

“We wanted to give Vikings fans a preview of the  Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network while  visiting training camp for streaming video, downloading files, uploading pictures and so much more, at consistently reliable fast data speeds,” said Seamus Hyland, president-Great Plains Region, Verizon Wireless.  “Mankato residents can also experience the difference our high-speed broadband network makes with their smartphones and other devices.”

Verizon Wireless introduced the globe’s first large-scale 4G LTE network on Dec. 5, 2010, (including Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minn.) and has been rapidly building out its network, now covering 337 markets across the country.  The company is on track to meet its goal of covering more than 400 U.S. markets by the end of 2012.  The company will continue to work on optimizing the network in the Mankato area and service will not be continuous until the official market launch with a larger coverage area later this year.


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Monday’s Top Plays

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2012 – 7:57 pm

The energy level picked up a notch at 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on Monday, as the Vikings donned pads for the first time and guys were flying around making plays. With 90 players and roughly 120 minutes of practice time, it’s hard to catch all of the best action. But here’s a quick review of the top plays I saw on Monday…

– We’ll begin at the end of practice, where the Vikings offense and defense went toe-to-toe in a goal line drill. The situation was 1st and goal from the 1-yardline with 8 seconds remaining on the clock and the offense needing a touchdown to win the game. The best action came when the third teams were on the field. QB Sage Rosenfels took the snap and lofted a pass to the back corner of the end zone for rookie Jarius Wright, who made an acrobatic catch over CB Corey Gatewood and tried to tap both feet in bounds before being shoved out of bounds. The official signaled touchdown, which prompted a celebration from the offense and heavy protest from the defense, all in good fun. The best protest – or at least the most comical protest – came from DE Jared Allen, who wasn’t involved in the play. “This is not college! This is not college! This isn’t high school,” Allen bellowed with a huge smile on his face. “You gotta have two feet in!” Allen was in the official’s face as if he were a baseball manager arguing a call with an umpire, and the entire display was a moment of levity to conclude what was the team’s most intense practice of camp so far.

– The Christian Ponder-to-Kyle Rudolph connection was as strong as ever on Monday, with Rudolph being a popular target of Ponder’s yet again. Midway through practice Ponder rifled a pass down the middle of the field to the goal line, leading Rudolph perfectly and putting the pass just out of the reach of LB Chad Greenway. Despite a gamely attempt by Greenway to deflect the pass, Rudolph was able to haul in the reception for a TD. “Kyle’s got like four or five inches on him in height, let alone wingspan. If you just get the ball up, he’s going to get it.”

– WR Devin Aromashodu is good for a flashy play or two each practice, and that was the case on Monday. Aromashodu ran a go route down the left sideline and made what turned out to be an excellent back shoulder reception while leaping over a defender. The pass came from QB Joe Webb.

– LBs Jasper Brinkley and Everson Griffen delivered a couple big-time hits. Brinkley met RB Lex Hilliard near the line of scrimmage during the second-to-last team period of practice and came out on top of the confrontation. Griffen saw FB Ryan D’Imperio make a reception in front of him and then saw fit to end the play abruptly by putting a big hit on the FB.

– Veterans Chris Carr and Tyrone McKenzie combined to force a turnover during a 7-on-7 drill. Carr tipped a pass and McKenzie, playing middle LB, got underneath the deflection to collect the INT and run the other way with a convoy of blockers in front of him.

– RB Jordan Todman flashed his greatest asset – speed – during the second-to-last team period of practice. Todman took a handoff that appeared to be designed to go inside and bounced out wide left. Todman gained the edge on the defense and raced down the left sideline for what would’ve been a TD run of at least 65 yards.

– Rosenfels displayed some athleticism near the end of practice during a team period. On the play, Rosenfels sprinted right after feeling pressure from his left and bought just enough time to hit rookie receiver Greg Childs near the sideline. Childs tapped both toes in bounds to complete the play, making up for a drop on a deep pass he had earlier in the day.


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Looking Back On A Busy Monday At Vikings Training Camp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2012 – 4:56 pm

Monday was a busy day at 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. It began with a typical morning walk-thru and concluded with the team’s first padded practice of camp. In between, the Vikings announced that Matt Blair would become the 20th member of the team’s Ring of Honor, Adrian Peterson went to the hospital and Percy Harvin left practice with an injury.

Where do we begin? Let’s start with Peterson. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier disclosed to reporters after the team’s afternoon practice that Peterson had been taken to the hospital because of an allergic reaction to seafood he ate during lunch.

“He’s back now, in the dorm, resting,” Frazier said. “He’s doing fine. He’ll pick back up with his rehab. He’s been cleared. Everything is back to normal now. Little bit of a scare, but he’s fine.”

As for Harvin, he appeared to have some sort of hand injury midway through practice and eventually went into the locker room for evaluation. Harvin emerged a short time later, worked on the side with a trainer, and then returned to practice.

Earlier in the day, the Vikings announced that Blair would be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor on Thursday evening, October 25 at halftime of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Blair played LB for the Vikings from 1974-85 and still ranks second in team history with 1,452 tackles. He also has more sacks (23.0) and INTs (16) than any other LB in team history.

On Monday we conducted interviews with Blair, Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and TE Kyle Rudolph. Stay tuned to vikings.com for those interviews and much more coverage from training camp.


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Matt Blair To Become 20th Vikings Ring Of Honor Member

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2012 – 2:15 pm

Induction into the Vikings Ring of Honor is the highest honor the organization can bestow upon an individual. The Vikings announced on Monday from 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp that former LB Matt Blair will receive that honor on Thursday, October 25 of this year.

Blair, a second-round pick of the Vikings out of Iowa State in 1974, played LB for the Vikings from 1974-85 and still ranks second in team history with 1,452 tackles; he collected 220 tackles in 1980, marking the third-most tackles by a player in team history. Only fellow Ring of Honor member Scott Studwell and Roy Winston played in more games at LB for the Vikings than Blair’s 160 games (with 130 starts) and no other Vikings LB had more sacks (23.0) or INTs (16). Blair had a knack for being around the ball at the right time, as illustrated by the fact that he blocked 20 kicks during his career and had three games in which he blocked two kicks.

A six-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, Blair made his appearances in the all-star game in consecutive seasons (1977-82), and Alan Page (nine) is the only defensive player in club history with more Pro Bowls to his credit. Blair played on two Super Bowl teams with the Vikings, and the club won NFC Central Division titles and went to the playoffs in six of his first seven seasons in the League.

The Vikings Ring of Honor recognizes Vikings legends for their contributions to the success of the team on and off the field. Members of the Ring of Honor are recognized with a banner on the facade of Mall of America Field’s upper deck, forever living in Vikings lore.

Vikings Ring of Honor
Fran Tarkenton – 1998
Alan Page – 1998
Jim Finks – 1998
Bud Grant – 1998
Paul Krause – 1998
Fred Zamberletti – 1998
Jim Marshall – 1999
Ron Yary – 2001
Korey Stringer – 2001
Mick Tingelhoff – 2001
Carl Eller – 2001
Cris Carter – 2002
Bill Brown – 2003
Jerry Burns – 2005
Randall McDaniel – 2006
Chuck Foreman – 2007
John Randle – 2008
Scott Studwell – 2009
Chris Doleman – 2011
Matt Blair – 2012


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Vikings Tweak Roster Before First Padded Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2012 – 12:23 pm

The Vikings will conduct their first padded practice of 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on Monday afternoon, but before they do the team made a few tweaks to the roster.

DB Nick Taylor was waived with the injured designation, and the Vikings signed DB Chris Stroud to fill the vacant roster spot. Taylor injured his shoulder early in camp, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said that the injury would require major surgery. Stroud is a rookie and comes to the Vikings from Webber International.

The team also reported that WR Stephen Burton had passed his physical. Burton has been dealing with a toe injury that kept him out of action the first few days of camp, but passing the physical is a step in the right direction to getting back on the field.


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Pads Will Pop On Monday At Vikings Training Camp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2012 – 6:08 am

There’s been a walk-before-you-run type of feeling around 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp so far, with a pair of morning walk-thrus and afternoon practices on Friday and Saturday before a day off on Sunday. Head Coach Leslie Frazier’s team has worked well over the two days, as the offense has looked sharp under second-year Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave and the defense has begun its transition to new Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams’ plan.

But the pace will quicken and the intensity will spike significantly on Monday. Yes, the pads will pop and training camp as we’ve become accustomed to will emerge.

The Vikings will hold their first padded practice of this year’s camp on Monday at 2:45 p.m., following their customary morning walk-thru at 10:30. Everyone’s questions about how rookie LT Matt Kalil looks against DE Jared Allen or how Everson Griffen looks playing in his new position will begin to be answered. There’s nothing like the crunching of pads and popping of helmets to get football fans excited for what’s shaping up to be another fun season.

Monday marks the 2012 opening of the Northland Ford Dealer’s Autograph Zone, where you can meet and greet Vikings players each day. Beginning today and going through August 14, one position group will be in the autograph zone each day after the morning walk-thru, with gates opening 25 minutes prior to the conclusion of the walk-thru and autographs beginning immediately after practice for another 25 minutes. Today’s featured group is the TEs, including one of the most impressive performers so far during camp – Kyle Rudolph.

If you haven’t yet done so, head down or up or over to Minnesota State University, Mankato to get a good, early look at the 2012 Minnesota Vikings.


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3 Observations From Saturday’s Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 28, 2012 – 7:41 pm

The Vikings conducted their second practice of 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on Saturday and worked under ideal weather conditions to do so. The team also saw a spike in attendance on Saturday, as Vikings fans filled the bleachers and the fence line to see their favorite team and, consequently, create a fun buzz in the atmosphere during practice.

The team has yet to practice in pads – that will start on Monday. So it’s hard to draw too many conclusions after two non-padded practices. But it’s not hard to draw observations. Here are three observations from Saturday’s practice…

Tremendous 12
Without question, Percy Harvin has been the most impressive player on the field through the first two practices. He’s been a frequent target of the QBs during team and drill work, and he’s been in the rotation for kickoff return. Harvin has made several go-to-the ground catches so far, and midway through Saturday’s practice he made a catch along the sideline that was as good as you’ll see all of camp.

Leg Work
About three or four minutes into an early period of practice I started paying attention to field #2, where the Vikings specialists – P Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler and K Blair Walsh – were working on their own. Loeffler and Kluwe were working together on landing punts inside the 20 while Walsh was kicking field goals. Kluwe was consistently landing punts inside the 10 with good hang time, even one time buzzing the tower of FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer after calling his shot. While I was watching, Walsh made six consecutive kicks from 46 yards and then was 2 of 3 from 55 yards. I was also told that Walsh hit a 60-yarder on Friday while working on the side.

“He knows being the only kicker here, he is putting a lot of pressure on himself to improve,” Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said of his rookie kicker. “He is very conscious, a very hard working man, it’s extremely important to him. He competes with himself and that’s why I didn’t think we needed another guy at camp. I wanted to get as many reps as he can with Cullen, with Chris, with our whole first unit to put him in the situation where he can be successful.”

3rd And Long No Problem For Ponder-To-Rudolph
There is a period in practice called “special cats” (special categories) where the coaches put the players in certain game situations, such as red zone or the 2-minute drill. Saturday’s special cats period featured 3rd and long. The first-team offense looked the best of any group during the drill, as I saw Ponder convert at least three of five times. The first two conversions were accurate passes to TE Kyle Rudolph. On the first play of the period, Ponder found Rudolph on the right side for a completion near the 1st-down marker. CB Antoine Winfield was right in the area, but my guess is Rudolph would’ve had enough for the 1st down. The second conversion was also to Rudolph, as Ponder placed a pass perfectly along the sideline for Rudolph to haul in and get out of bounds.

“Kyle has had a great offseason,” Vikings Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “He has gained strength without losing any movement. He is one of the guys that we are going to count on to contribute who wasn’t a full-time starter last year.”

The Vikings will have Sunday off and return to the field on Monday morning for a walk-thru and Monday afternoon for a padded practice.


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