Hendersons Set To Become Third Brother Tandem At LB In NFL History

Posted by cjsiewert on September 9, 2011 – 3:09 pm

The NFL has a storied history of brothers playing in the NFL, but it’s not common when the brothers play the same position for the same team during the same season. In fact, there’s been only 15 sets of brothers to do so and only two at the LB position – Niko and Pete Noga with the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals, and Bill and Joe Osmanski with the Chicago Bears from 1944-45.

E.J. and Erin Henderson are in line to start at the middle and outside LB positions, respectively, which would make them the third brother tandem at LB for the same team during the same season.

E.J. has been a constant on the Vikings defense since his rookie season 8 years ago, but for his younger brother Erin, it’s been a different path to be in line for the starting role. Erin spent his first 3 seasons primarily as a special teams player and backup LB, but his hard work throughout training camp this year seems to be paying off.

In the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans, Erin registered a team-high 10 tackles and he continued to impress throughout the preseason. The 4th-year OLB was fundamental in a goal-line stand in which the Vikings defense stymied the Seahawks four times after a 1st-and-goal from the MIN 2.

The prospect of having a brother tandem at LB may be exciting for Vikings fans, but anyone with a brother may know, it’s not always easy to agree or use the most effective way of communication. To Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, it’s of no concern.

“From the day Erin [Henderson] arrived,” Frazier said. “They [E.J. and Erin] have a great relationship which is what you hope for when you’re talking about brothers. Which is one of the reasons we weren’t overly concerned when we signed Erin because sometimes that can be a negative as opposed to a positive, and in this case it’s been an absolute positive.”

Team chemistry is an attribute fixed to many great teams and Frazier also sees that as a positive connection between the Henderson brothers.

“You would think there would be some natural chemistry there when you talk about brothers,” Frazier acknowledged. “Being able to relate and talk about assignments and what it takes to be successful in our League. I would think that would come easy for E.J. to share with him [Erin] as opposed to a guy he’s never met before so I would think it’s a benefit for Erin and a benefit for E.J., as well wanting to see his brother succeed which in turn should benefit our football team.”

We’ve witnessed great defensive units over Vikings history such as the Purple People Eaters and the Williams Wall, but are we now in store for a new era of great defensive play? And what to call them? The Bash Brothers, Two-Headed Viking or simply The Brothers Henderson? Let us know what you think.

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Ponder’s Splits Refute Critics

Posted by cjsiewert on May 2, 2011 – 7:21 am

As many of you may have heard by now, ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer had some harsh words directed at Vikings 1st-round draft choice Christian Ponder in terms of his value as a #12 overall selection.

“Christian Ponder is Elvis Grbac,” Dilfer said last Friday morning during a radio appearance. “He’s Elvis Grbac. Elvis Grbac was a beautiful thrower. He threw for 4,000 yards. He did a lot of nice things. Every time it got tough, he melted.”

Ponder also received mixed feelings from other draft pundits, as I pointed out last Friday. But as for Dilfer’s comments, it got me wondering why he felt Ponder “melted” in pressure situations. Dilfer also went on to say Ponder “plays with a lot of anxiety. Do you want your quarterback in the NFL to play with a lot of anxiety?”

Ponder’s splits say otherwise.

During his junior and senior seasons at Florida State, Ponder completed 105 of 133 passes (78.9%) for 1,156 yards when the game was tied. When his team was losing by a margin of 1-7, Ponder completed 116 of 180 passes (64.4%) for 1,380 yards with 5 TDs and 1 INT.

Other numbers that indicate his ability to perform in pressure situations would include his 4th quarter performances. In 2009 and 2010, Ponder completed 69 of 112 passes (61.6%) for 779 yards with 5 TDs and 2 INTs. Not to mention his performance against AP ranked teams – 72 for 117 (61.5%), 846 yards, 9 TDs and 3 INTs.

What I like most about Ponder’s splits, though, is how he managed the offense when it reached the opponent’s red zone. His last 2 seasons at FSU saw Ponder complete 45 of 72 attempts for 373 yards with 22 TDs and only 1 INT in the red zone. When faced with 3rd and goal, he converted 8 of 11 attempts for 44 yards with 7 TDs and zero INTs.

How Ponder reacts to pressure situations as an NFL QB is to be determined, but I thought it would beneficial to point out his numbers in said circumstances over his past 2 seasons.

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What Are The Pundits Saying About Ponder?

Posted by cjsiewert on April 29, 2011 – 8:31 am

Now that we’ve had a night to soak in all of yesterday’s 1st-round selections, let’s take a look at what draft pundits around the web are saying about the Vikings 12th overall pick, Florida State QB Christian Ponder. – Todd McShay
“If he can stay healthy, which was a problem last year, you have quarterback that’s ready to play now, has great football intelligence and is a throw-back type of quarterback. He’s tough, he will get out of the pocket and make some throws on the run and he can be very accurate throwing short to intermediate. He doesn’t have the great arm strength but they don’t need that in this West Coast-style offense.” (NFC North Blog) – Kevin Seifert
“So what are they getting in Ponder? It won’t be the mobility of Cam Newton or Locker, and Ponder isn’t as smooth of a passer as Gabbert. But the Vikings undoubtedly got one of the smartest quarterbacks in the draft, one who scored a 37 on his Wonderlic test and who graduated from Florida State in 2 1/2 years. He completed his MBA in May 2010 and spent last season working on a second graduate degree in sports management.” – Mike Mayock
“(VP of player personnel) Rick Spielman is tied at the hip with this young quarterback. Man, he’s betting an awful lot on a kid that most thought would go between 25 and 40.” – Pete Prisco
“I love this pick. I think he will be the best in this class. Smart. Tough. Sees the field. Great move, Vikings.” – Matt Bowen
“I do see Ponder developing into a starting QB in this league; however, there was plenty of defensive line talent (Fairley, Quinn, Kerrigan, Jordan, etc.) sitting by the phone at No.12.” – Nolan Nawrocki
“Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier desperately needed a new franchise quarterback with Brett Favre moving on. Ponder is a great fit for Bill Musgrave’s West Coast offense. A strong Senior Bowl and pro-day workouts elevated his draft stock. The biggest challenge for Ponder could be staying healthy, having been snake bitten by injuries in college.” – Peter King
“Christian Ponder is, quite simply, the classic example of a quarterback who was overpicked in the first round, the way we’d heard so many of them would be. But the Vikings obviously figured they liked Locker and Ponder, and they couldn’t trade down to gather currency in rounds two or three. So they sat at 12 and picked a developmental quarterback they felt they had to have.”

And as for Mr. Ponder himself – @cponder7: “It’s great to be a MINNESOTA VIKING!!!!!!!!”

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Who Will Be Available At #12?

Posted by cjsiewert on April 28, 2011 – 1:38 pm

It’s been a while since I last voiced my opinion here on, but with the 76th NFL Draft kicking off tonight with primetime, 1st-round coverage, how could one stay away?

After over 2 months of speculation and mock drafts, it’s finally time to turn the mock into reality. And the biggest reality that the Vikings are facing in this year’s draft is the unpredictable nature of what the 11 teams ahead of the Purple will do with their selections. Who will be available at No. 12 and will that prod the Vikings brass to grab “their guy” at that moment? Or will they trade back with the hope of snagging the right player later on while gaining a mid-to-late round pick? Or do they trade up with their eyes set on an immediate impact player?

All of these questions will be answered tonight but the most prevalent question that lingers with the Vikings faithful is what position will be addressed with that first selection.

As Mike pointed out with his No. 1 (out of 7) factor that complicates the 1st round, the labor situation has prohibited free agency to begin before the draft, as it typically does, and this leaves teams with more needs during the draft which would often be addressed with free agent signings. This is certainly the case for the Vikings as nearly every position on offense and defense, except RB, may be addressed with their first selection.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at which players might be available when the Vikings are on the clock at the No. 12 spot.

QB: Jake Locker – Cam Newton is expected by many to go No. 1 overall and if not, it’s likely he won’t make it past the top 10 with teams such as Cincinnati (#4), Arizona (5), San Francisco (7) and Washington (10) possibly addressing the QB position. Blaine Gabbert is next in line for a top pick, leaving Locker as a strong candidate for the next QB to go off the board. But will Locker’s accuracy concerns convince teams to take a pass, or do any of the first 11 teams value him as a top selection?

CB: Prince Amukamara – If healthy, the Vikings core of CBs provides a stable secondary, but with Cedric Griffin coming off consecutive knee injuries, Chris Cook also rehabbing knee injuries and Antoine Winfield coming into his 13th year of service, the Vikings may look to bolster their secondary with the 6-0, 206-pound speedster.

DT: Nick Fairley – Vikings DT Pat Williams may be looking for a new home pending the result of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, possibly leaving a big hole to fill in his place. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has stated numerous times that he wants the identity of his team to focus on establishing the run game and stopping the rush on defense. And the 6-4, 291-pounder out of Auburn is projected to be disruptive against the pass and run, fitting Frazier’s mold.

OL: Anthony Castonzo – I would be surprised to see the Vikings select an offensive lineman with their first pick, but many of the Vikings faithful have expressed concerns with the run and pass protection. Castonzo provides an imposing figure (6-7, 311 pounds) and is said to have the potential to shut down speed rushers with his great mobility.

This list could go on for another 10 or more players, but any one of the four named players could wind up as an immediate impact player for the Vikings in 2011.

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Are The Vikings A Potential Landing Spot For Bob Sanders?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 21, 2011 – 7:35 am

When reports of the Indianapolis Colts releasing 7-year veteran S Bob Sanders came out Friday morning, many wondered if the Vikings would pursue the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Vikings personnel staff has been prepping for free agency and the NFL Scouting Combine and is sure to be well aware of Sanders’ release. But will the Vikings indeed pursue the former impactful SS who’s been plagued with injuries for the past 3 seasons?

The biggest question here is if Sanders can recover from knee and biceps injuries to make his presence known in 2011. Since recording a career-year in 2007 with 96 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 INTs – garnering the top defensive player award – Sanders has made only 9 starts while missing 39 games.

What makes it easy to link Sanders to the Vikings is the fact that Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frasier was Sanders’ position coach with the Colts. Acquiring Sanders sounds intriguing, but talking with free agents during this uncertain climate of labor negotiations makes it tough to foresee how the Vikings, as well as other teams, will address players such as the former Colts safety.

Prevailing thought prior to the 2010 NFL Draft was that the Vikings needed to selected a CB with their top pick – which they did by drafting Chris Cook as their 1st selection in the 2nd round. As we wait for this year’s draft, popular vote for the Vikings top pick is focused on finding a franchise QB and adding a player to the secondary in a later round. Remember, though, that the Vikings have gone into recent drafts with the mentality of selecting the best available player, so reaching for a player at a certain position is an unlikely move.

But when we consider selecting a CB or a S, it seems practical for the Vikings to find a quality player at said positions during the later rounds of the draft IF they even select a player from the secondary. Reason behind this thought is that 12-year veteran CB Antoine Winfield doesn’t seem to be taking any steps backwards after recording his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl season, Cedric Griffin will return after a debilitating ACL injury, Chris Cook will also return after suffering knee injuries during his rookie season and S Husain Abdullah has proven, in my eyes, a worthy candidate for a starting position in 2011. Abdullah missed only 1 game in 2010 due to a concussion and tied for a team lead in INTs with 3.

As we look forward to the 2011 season, the Vikings secondary has a solid core of players but adding depth is always something that needs careful consideration when assembling a team, especially in the Vikings case where they are assembling a team under a new coaching staff.

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Peterson, Winfield Make Big Plays At Pro Bowl

Posted by cjsiewert on January 30, 2011 – 11:26 pm

The Vikings may be in full offseason mode, following the assembly of a new coaching staff under 1st-year head coach Leslie Frazier, but 2 members of the Purple capped off their 2010 campaigns with impressive showings at the Pro Bowl on Sunday.

Vikings star RB Adrian Peterson and 12-year veteran CB Antoine Winfield each made their presence known at Aloha Stadium. Peterson recorded a game-high 14 carries for 80 yards and a TD, while Winfield tallied 2 tackles and an INT.

In his 4th consecutive appearance in the NFL’s all-star game, Peterson highlighted the NFC’s 3rd offensive drive with 3 carries for 33 yards and a TD. His 1st touch of the game only amounted to 2 yards, but the following 2 touches resulted in a 17-yard gain setting up his own 14-yard TD run. Peterson also received an onside kick late in the 4th quarter for a 12-yard return.

On the other side of the ball, Winfield – who made his 3rd-career Pro Bowl appearance (3rd consecutive) – made his impression with an INT of Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel midway through the 2nd quarter. On the play, Cassel’s pass intended for Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne was underthrown and Winfield came down with the ball for a 19-yard return.

Vikings middle LB E.J. Henderson made his 1st-career appearance at the Pro Bowl to balance the NFC roster following a series of injury and Super Bowl-related withdrawals, but did not dress.

DT Kevin Williams was also selected in replacement of injured Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, but did not make the trip to Honolulu, Hawaii because his wife, Tasha, is expecting a child.

The NFC defeated the AFC 55-41 in the highest-scoring Pro Bowl since 2004 when the NFC defeated the AFC 55-52.

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The #1 Bright Spot Of 2010

Posted by cjsiewert on January 7, 2011 – 3:22 pm

Over the course of the week we’ve taken a look back at the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season and what we can look forward to in 2011. I’ve posted what I felt have been the most exciting features of Vikings football during their 50th season, from #5 this past Monday and concluding with #1 today.

#1 on the list is QB Brett Favre’s legacy.

In case you missed them, here are the first 4 parts of the series.

#2 – E.J.’s resurgence
#3 – Veteran leaders control the defense
#4 – Adrian Peterson’s ball security
#5 – The impact of the 2010 rookie draft class

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Coming In At #2 Is…

Posted by cjsiewert on January 6, 2011 – 1:16 pm

Over the course of the week we’ll take a look back at the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season and what we can look forward to in 2011. I’ll post what I feel have been the most exciting features of Vikings football during their 50th season, from #5 this past Monday to #1 on Friday.

Today’s installment – E.J.’s resurgence
#3 – Veteran leaders control the defense
#4 – Adrian Peterson’s ball security
#5 – The impact of the 2010 rookie draft class

Check back tomorrow for #1 on the list.

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The Top 5 Bright Spots Of 2010 Rolls On At #3

Posted by cjsiewert on January 5, 2011 – 11:35 am

Over the course of the week we’ll take a look back at the Top 5 bright spots of the 2010 season and what we can look forward to in 2011. I’ll post what I feel have been the most exciting features of Vikings football during their 50th season, from #5 this past Monday to #1 on Friday.

Here is the 3rd installment – Veteran leaders control the defense
#4 – Adrian Peterson’s ball security
#5 – The impact of the 2010 rookie draft class

Check back tomorrow for #2 on the list.

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Harvin To Work Out With Charles Woodson During Offseason

Posted by cjsiewert on January 4, 2011 – 2:25 pm

Monday marked the first day of the offseason for the Vikings, as players cleared out their lockers at Winter Park while chatting with reporters.

As Vikings WR Percy Harvin was making his exit from the team’s practice facility, he spent a few minutes explaining to reporters his thoughts on the 2010 season as well as his personal evaluation of his own performance.

“Personally, I thought I took a couple steps forward,” Harvin said. “Even though we didn’t achieve our team goals, personally, a lot of the coaches and a lot of the players, (Jets CB) Darrelle Revis, (Packers CB) Charles Woodson came to me and they gave me great compliments. Yesterday, the Lions coach gave me great compliments so I think I made a stride in the right direction. I’ll go address myself and see where I need to work to be that much better.”

And getting better in the offseason is going to be a treat in its own right as Harvin acknowledged that he would be working out with a 13-year veteran CB who’s covered some of the greatest receivers to play the game.

“We actually had a quote from Charles Woodson, he told me that I was one of the best players he ever went against,” Harvin said. “I took that as a tremendous honor, so me and him will get together this offseason and work on some things.”

Harvin noted that he and Woodson haven’t worked out arrangements because the Packers are preparing for the postseason, but once the season is over they will “address it from there.”

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