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Peterson, 3 Other Vikings Lead In Pro Bowl Voting

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 14, 2012 – 3:04 pm

Adrian Peterson is the leading Pro Bowl vote-getter for the NFC at RB and is 5th among all NFL players, with 5 weeks of voting remaining. Three other Vikings – DE Jared Allen, KR Percy Harvin and LT Matt Kalil – also lead their respective positions in NFC Pro Bowl voting.

It’s great news that 4 Vikings lead their positions in the balloting, but that also means Vikings fans have work to do. Fans can click here to cast their ballots.

Blair Walsh is having the best season among NFC kickers, having converted 23 of 24 FGs (5 of 5 from 50+) and boasting 41 touchbacks already. TE Kyle Rudolph is 2nd among NFC TEs with 6 TD receptions, FB Jerome Felton is lead-blocking for the NFL’s leading rusher, John Sullivan has developed into one of the League’s finest centers, Chad Greenway is the NFL’s leading tackler and Antoine Winfield looks to have found the fountain of youth. Those are just a handful of Vikings who are deserving of Pro Bowl consideration.

Balloting will conclude on Monday, December 17 following the conclusion of Monday Night Football. The teams will be announced at 6:00 p.m. CT Wednesday, December 26 on NFL Network’s “Total Access.”

The AFC and NFC All-Star squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the American Football Conference and National Football Conference in the Pro Bowl. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on December 20-21.

The 2013 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 27, 2013 and televised live on NBC at 6:00 p.m. CT from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.


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After 4th Straight 100-Yard Outing, Peterson Up For Weekly Award

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 13, 2012 – 9:57 am

The best RB in the NFL had the best performance of any RB in the NFL this week. But do fans agree? If so, Peterson will FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Week honors.

Peterson was named a finalist for the award after rushing for 171 yards and 1 TD on 27 carries and leading the Vikings to a 34-24 victory over the Lions. The performance marked Peterson’s fourth consecutive 100-yard outing and puts him on pace for a career-high 1,804 rushing yards.

Fans can vote for Peterson at NFL.com/FedEx now through 2:00 p.m. CT on Friday to determine the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week. The winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.


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Jarius Wright Up For Pepsi Max NFL Rookie Of The Week Honors

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 13, 2012 – 9:49 am

It didn’t take long for Jarius Wright to make an impact in his first career regular season game. And it didn’t take long for Wright to gain recognition for it, either.

Wright caught 3 passes for 65 yards and 1 TD in Sunday’s win over Detroit, and for that effort he’s been named a finalist for Pepsi Max NFL Rookie of the Week honors. Joining Wright as finalists this week are Rams P Johnny Hekker, Tampa Bay CB Leonard Johnson, Colts QB Andrew Luck and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

Fans can vote for Wright by going to NFL.com/rookies beginning now through Friday at 2:00 p.m. CT to determine the Pepsi Max NFL Rookie of the Week. The winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.


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Rudolph Reemerges In Vikings Passing Game

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 12, 2012 – 3:55 pm

The Vikings passing attack took a big step forward on Sunday, and a big reason for it was the reemergence of one of Christian Ponder’s favorite targets – TE Kyle Rudolph. The 2nd-year TE hauled in 7 receptions for 43 yards, including a 20-yard TD early in the 4th quarter that gave the Vikings a 14-point lead.

Of Rudolph’s 7 receptions, 4 resulted in a 1st down or TD and a 5th led to a Blair Walsh FG. Rudolph was targed 9 times on the day.

Rudolph is one of Ponder’s most reliable targets, but he had been neutralized in recent weeks. After scoring 5 TDs in Weeks 2-6, Rudolph had just 2 receptions in his previous 3 games. That of course changed on Sunday, and the change came after the Vikings placed an emphasis on getting Rudolph more involved.

“We actually have been emphasizing Kyle; we just haven’t been able to get him uncovered,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after the game. “We did some things today to try to get that done from a schematic standpoint and also formation wise, we were able to connect. We’ve been trying the last few weeks to get him the ball, we know in order for our passing game to succeed we need him involved.”

On Sunday, he was involved. And on Sunday, the passing game succeeded.


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Vikings 2012 Draft Class Looking Even Better After Wright’s Debut

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 12, 2012 – 7:44 am

Football fans know it can be foolish to cast final judgment on a draft class too early. Just 10 games into the season, it’s clearly far too early to grade each NFL team’s performance in the 2012 NFL Draft. But it’s also clear that just 10 games into the season, the Vikings got a lot of things right last April.

On Sunday, it became even clearer. Matt Kalil continues to hold down the left side of the offensive line, Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson have helped the secondary improve, Blair Walsh set a team record for touchbacks and is now 23 of 24 on FGs, and Robert Blanton, Rhett Ellison and Audie Cole continue to contribute on special teams and in other phases of the game. But now there’s a new contributor.

Jarius Wright, a receiver the Vikings drafted in the 4th round (118th overall) last April, made his regular season debut on Sunday and hit the ground running with 3 receptions for 65 yards and 1 TD. On the Vikings fifth offensive play, Wright dashed through the Detroit Lions secondary and QB Christian Ponder threw a shoulder fake to the left before lofting a pass toward Wright down the middle of the field. Wright hauled in the pass while falling to the ground and was tackled at the 1. Just moments later, Ponder found Wright in the end zone for a 3-yard TD to give the Vikings an early 7-0 and to give Wright his first NFL score.

Let’s keep things in perspective: it was one game and Wright had just one catch after hauling in two during the first series. But let’s also enjoy this moment, because Wright infused excitement and athleticism into a passing game that was missing its most explosive component – Percy Harvin.

The Vikings 2012 draft class has looked good all season. But after Wright’s debut on Sunday, it looks even better.


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Bring Out The Brooms! Vikings Win 34-24, Sweep Lions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 11, 2012 – 4:10 pm

After a two-game losing streak fanned the flames of a hot 5-2 start, the Vikings reignited their season on Sunday at Mall of America Field with a fiery 34-24 victory over the Detroit Lions that featured a bounce-back performance from QB Christian Ponder, another dominating performance from RB Adrian Peterson and timely ferocity from the defense.

Before a blow-by-blow recap of how the Vikings won, here’s a quick summary of the stand-out performers…

– Peterson continues to display why he’s the best RB in the NFL. Coming off 3 consecutive 100-yard games, Peterson ran through the Lions as well. He rushed for 171 yards and 1 TD on 27 carries, including a game-breaking and victory-clinching 61-yard dash in the 4th quarter. The Vikings are now 27-12 when Peterson carries the ball 20+ times. Peterson has 1,128 yards on the season, which averages out to 112.8 yards per game and puts him on pace for a career-high 1,804 yards. Not bad for a guy coming off knee surgery.

– Ponder critics were out in full force the past three weeks, but they’ll have to take a couple weeks off after Sunday’s outing. Ponder was 24 of 32 on the afternoon, throwing for 221 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs for a passer rating of 114.2. He took just 1 sack on the day and pulled the ball down to run 7 times, gaining 15 yards. Ponder hit 10 different receivers on the day (including himself) and leaned heavily on TE Kyle Rudolph (7 receptions, 64 yards, 1 TD).

– LB Chad Greenway is the NFL’s leading tackler. He was up to his usual tricks again on Sunday, but he put a stamp on this week’s performance by grabbing a 1st-quarter INT. His big play led to a Blair Walsh FG and a 10-0 Vikings lead.

– S Jamarca Sanford has stepped up big time for the Vikings this season. He forced yet another fumble on a Calvin Johnson reception. He has 5 forced fumbles on the season. Antoine Winfield recovered the fumble, which set up yet another Walsh FG.

– We should mention Walsh here because he had a fantastic day. Walsh was 4 for 4 on FGs, connecting from 48, 23 (twice) and 33 yards. He also blasted 6 touchbacks and now is the Vikings single-season record holder in that category. P Chris Kluwe was also a standout performer on the afternoon, flipping field position with ease and often times pinning Detroit deep in their own territory.

Fans left the game talking about Peterson and Ponder, but in the early stages it was rookie receiver Jarius Wright who created a buzz. Active for his first regular season game with fellow receiver Percy Harvin sidelined due to an ankle injury, Wright got the party going early by dashing through the heart of the Lions defense on his team’s fifth play from scrimmage and hauling in a 54-yard reception from Ponder that set the Vikings up with a 1st and goal from the 1. Just two plays later, Ponder went back to Wright to cap the drive with a 3-yard TD to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.

The Vikings took a 13-3 lead into the locker room at halftime, and then extended that lead to 16-3 early in the 2nd half when Blair Walsh hit his 3rd FG of the game, that one from 23 yards out. The Lions responded immediately with a quick 4-play, 81 drive that culminated in a 16-yard TD reception by TE Brandon Pettigrew. Ponder and Co. showed resiliency, though, and answered the Pettigrew score with a TD pass to their starting TE – Kyle Rudolph. Ponder found his buddy for a 20-yard score and Peterson bulled his way into the end zone for the 2-point conversion, giving the Vikings a 24-10 lead early in the 4th quarter.

QB Matthew Stafford and the Lions would not go away, though. Explosive plays and Vikings penalties put the Lions on the Vikings goal line in just 6 plays, and Stafford found WR Titus Young for the TD to pull his team to within 7 points midway through the 4th quarter. The Vikings went 3-and-out on their next drive, but the defense responded by forcing a Lions punt as well.

That set the stage for Peterson to dagger Detroit. He exploded through the Lions defensive front for 19 yards on 1st down, and then dazzled the home crowd on his next carry with a 61-yard exclamation point, giving the Vikings a 31-17 lead. Johnson fumbled on the Lions first play after the Peterson TD and Walsh tacked on another FG to move the Vikings lead to 34-17. The Lions found Johnson for a late TD, but it was too little, too late for the Lions.

The Vikings came away with the victory, giving them a series sweep of their division rivals and moving them to a perfect 2-0 within the NFC North. The win snapped their 2-game losing streak and sends them into their bye with optimism, as a grueling 6-game stretch awaits them. The Vikings will come out of their bye week with consecutive road games against the Bears and Packers, and then will host the Bears on December 9 before hitting the road for consecutive games once again (at St. Louis and at Houston). The Vikings will conclude their regular season schedule with border rival Green Bay on December 30.


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Welcome To The NFL, Jarius Wright

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 11, 2012 – 1:35 pm

The highly-anticipated regular season debut for Jarius Wright couldn’t have started much better.

Wright, active in his first NFL game on Sunday with Percy Harvin sidelined due to an ankle injury, hauled in a 54-yard pass from QB Christian Ponder on the Vikings fifth offensive play of the game. The Ponder-to-Wright connection got the Vikings to the Detroit 1, but a penaly on the next play backed them up to the 6. Two plays later, Ponder went back to Wright and the rookie hauled in a pass for the TD, the first of his career.

That sequence of events gave the Vikings an early 7-0 lead, and they now lead 13-3 at halftime. Wright is the Vikings leading receiver with 3 receptions for 65 yards and the score, while Ponder has been efficient on the day going 13 of 18 for 102 yards with the TD to Wright and no INTs for a passer rating of 104.4.


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Harvin Officially Out For Today’s Game

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on November 11, 2012 – 10:30 am

As expected, WR Percy Harvin will miss today’s game due to an ankle injury suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks.  Rookie Jarius Wright is active for the first time in his career and will attempt to fill the large void left in the Vikings offense with the absence of Harvin, the NFL’s leading receiver heading into action today.

Here is the full list of Vikings inactives: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, WR Percy Harvin, CB Brandon Burton, LB Marvin Mitchell, OL Mark Asper, TE Allen Reisner and DT Letroy Guion.

Michael Jenkins will start in place of Harvin.  Fred Evans gets the nod for Guion.

Detroit’s inactives: DT Corey Williams, S Louis Delmas, S Amari Spievey, OL Corey Hilliard, OL Jason Fox, QB Kellen Moore and WR Brian Robiskie.


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WR Status Check: Percy Harvin (Ankle) And Calvin Johnson (Knee)

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 9, 2012 – 7:58 am

Earlier this week we listed the 7 Vikings-Lions storylines we’d be following this week, so with Friday upon us and kickoff just two days away, let’s check in on the #1 storyline: Harvin’s Ankle, Megatron’s Knee. Percy Harvin leads the NFL in receptions with 62 and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is arguable the NFL’s best player at the position. But neither has practiced this week due to injuries, and it will have a profound impact on Sunday’s game.

Of the two receivers, Johnson stands the best chance to play. He’s dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of practice all of last week. The time away from practice didn’t seem to bother the All-Pro, as he came down with 7 receptions for 129 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnson has been held out of practice this week, too, but the smart money is on him playing. And if he’s playing, he’s dangerous.

There’s been another element added to this mix of late, though. According to a report from Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Johnson told reporters on Thursday that he’s dealing with nerve damage that is making it harder for him to grip the football. Johnson pointed to a pair of hits from the Lions Week 4 game against the Vikings that is causing the issue.

As for Harvin, he has not been ruled out but he did call himself a “longshot” to play. Harvin suffered an ankle injury last week in Seattle, but was able to finish the game. Harvin spoke with reporters earlier in the week while leaning on crutches, causing many to speculate that the NFL’s leading receiver will be unavailable for Sunday’s game.

I’m not in the business of speculating whether or not a guy will play despite an injury. The Vikings have a bye following this Sunday’s game, so keeping Harvin out of this week’s game would essentially give him nearly three full weeks between his injury and the next ball game. But Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after practice on Thursday that if Harvin is healthy enough to play, he’ll play. Also keep in mind that Harvin is as tough a player as there is, so if there’s even the slightest bit of chance he can play, Harvin will be angling to get out there.

If he plays, that’s great news for the Vikings. If he doesn’t play, the Vikings will have about 11 touches to distribute to other players. Harvin has 100 touches through 9 games this season, which averages out to 11.1 touches per game. In this week’s Wobcast – where Cris Carter is featured as the guest – I pointed to three players who could see a few more touches if Harvin doesn’t play: WR Jarius Wright and TEs John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph.

Harvin also has a role on special teams as the Vikings kickoff returner, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Priefer said a number of guys could step into that role if Harvin is unable to play. Marcus Sherels, the Vikings starting punt returner, can do it, as can Wright, WR Stephen Burton and CBs A.J. Jefferson and Josh Robinson.


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Pre-Game Card Stunt Among Game Elements Vikings Have Planned For Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 8, 2012 – 11:03 am

The Vikings, in a joint effort with the NFL and USAA, will host the team’s annual “Salute to Service” military appreciation game on Veterans Day this Sunday, November 11. The Vikings-Lions matchup will be dedicated to all branches of the United States Armed Forces and current and former military personnel serving our country.

As part of the game, each player’s helmet will contain a decal representing one branch of the military. Players will wear camouflage gloves and use camouflage towels, while coaches and staff will don “Salute to Service” ribbons. Game officials will use footballs with the military-themed ribbon decal as well as a special “Salute to Service” coin for the coin toss.

Along with the military-themed gear, the Vikings will use a variety of pre-game, in-game and halftime elements (complete list below) to honor Minnesotans within all branches of military service. The team is also encouraging all fans to arrive early in order to participate in one of the day’s highlights – a card stunt during the singing of the National Anthem.

“The Vikings have the utmost respect for all of the men and women who currently serve – or have served – our country,” said Vikings Vice President of Sales and Marketing/Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix. “Many of our players, coaches and staff have a direct connection to military personnel. This is an opportunity for the team and our fans to show our appreciation for the selfless individuals in every branch of service.”

“One of the most powerful moments of an NFL game is when thousands of fans stand to honor the military and veterans,” said Don Clark, USAA executive director of sports sponsorships and events. “We hope all fans will join us in the card stunt, and then visit millionfansalute.com to download and share photos and create a digital salute to honor the military on behalf of the Vikings.”

The following is a list of many prominent “Salute to Service” game elements that will be employed on Sunday:

• Honorary Viking/Gjallarhorn – Betty Strohfus – Known as Betty Wall during her Army Air Force days, Elizabeth Wall Strohfus was one of just over 1,000 American women who flew military aircraft during World War II.

• Honorary Captain – Sergeant Brian Neill – A member of the Minnesota National Guard for 23 years, Sergeant Brian Neill is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sergeant Neill sustained injuries while deployed from 2005-07 with Bravo Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion.

• 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band Performances – The Red Bulls Band will perform during pregame and halftime. The halftime performance will include the display of a large American flag.

• USS Minnesota Recognition – On October 27, 2012, the Navy christened its newest submarine, the USS Minnesota, in Newport News, VA. The Minnesota is the 10th ship of the Virginia Class Submarine and is named in honor of the State’s citizens and their continued support to the Nation’s military.

• Team Introductions – Uniformed National Guard members will line the tunnel exit with the Vikings cheerleaders, while the first and last Vikings players out of the tunnel will carry an American flag.

• Minnesota Joint Forces Color Guard – Sunday’s Color Guard will represent all branches of service.

• In Memoriam – A traditional riderless horse will cross through the end zone during a moment of silence and will remain through the National Anthem.

• National Anthem – National country music recording artist James Otto will sing the National Anthem.

• Card Stunt – During the singing of the National Anthem, the entire stadium will participate in a card stunt presented by USAA. The stunt will display a patriotic message and stars/stripes graphics. The Vikings are asking fans to be in their seats 15 minutes prior to kickoff to ensure full-stadium participation. A photo of a recent card stunt is attached, and media members can contact Renee Rosenow at 612.573.3151 for opportunities to film card stunt set-up this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

• Game Coin – Game officials will use a Military Challenge Coin, which is traditionally used in the Armed Forces to recognize achievement and performance and was created specifically for the “Salute to Service” game. A photo of the coin is attached.

• Thank You Card – The Vikings, along with the American Legion of Elk River and the Minnesota National Guard will attempt to make the “Biggest Thank You Card in the World” for the troops of Monticello’s 257th Military Police Company who are currently stationed in Afghanistan. The card is 16 feet high and 48 feet across and the goal is to collect 257,000 signatures prior to the return of these deployed troops and be recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records. Fans can sign portions of the card at various locations in the concourse or outside Gate H prior to the game.


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