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Vikings Release 3 Veterans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 10, 2012 – 2:47 pm

The Vikings on Saturday announced the release of 3 veteran players – CB Cedric Griffin and OGs Anthony Herrera and Steve Hutchinson.

“It was a tough decision as we move forward and prepare for the upcoming season and the future of our organization,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said. “All three individuals have meant a great deal to the Vikings organization both on and off field over the years. We wish all of them the best and thank them for their service to the Minnesota Vikings.”

All 3 players had been core members of the team for the past several seasons and played key roles in the team winning back-to-back division titles in 2008 and 2009 as well as making a run to the NFC Championship Game after the 2009 season. It’s likely that a combination of factors – clearing salary cap room, performance and rebuilding the roster – factored into the decisions to part ways with the players.

We’ll have more reaction to these moves and analysis and what it means for the future of the Vikings soon.


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Notes From Frazier’s Monday Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 5, 2011 – 2:57 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held his customary day-after-the-game press conference on Monday and came away from the film room with the same emotion he displayed immediately after Sunday’s loss – mistakes in the 2nd half overshadowed a lot of positive developments.

“After having had a chance to go back and look at the tape, those breakdowns in the second half really nullified a great effort by so many guys on our team,” Frazier said. “Guys coming out fighting and really playing to win; a number of guys. Percy, Toby, Jared, Kevin Williams, just a number of guys across the board battling. But we had some breakdowns in our secondary that really hurt us in the second half of that ball game.”

Frazier also cited turnovers and a special teams lapse as mistakes, ultimately acknowledging that “we are just not good enough at this point to overcome some of our own mistakes.”

As resigned as Frazier has been since the end of Sunday’s game, he actually sounds even more determined to help his team get past those mistakes and start playing better football.

“It’s something that you are concerned about and we will keep working at it as a team and as a staff,” Frazier said. “We have four games remaining this regular season, none more important than this game coming against Detroit. We have to work extremely hard to try to fix some of the problems that showed up. That kind of takes away from all the good things that did occur during the course of the game when you don’t get a win.”

Here are a few more notes from Frazier’s press conference on Monday…

Turning to Page?
Last week the Vikings made a bevy of roster moves, mostly due to injuries, and one of those moves was the signing of free agent S Jarrad Page, a 6-year veteran out of UCLA. Page has 45 career starts in his NFL career, including 5 this season with the Eagles and 1 last year in New England. Page won’t be in the starting lineup this week against the Lions, but Frazier did say on Monday that he could get some playing time on defense on a rotational basis this week.

“We are hoping he can,” Frazier said. “He did some really good things on special teams yesterday, so the fact that he has started some games this year in the League and he seemed to pick up things pretty well at the end of last week.  We are going to try to give him a little bit more and wee if he can get in the game and help us out. We are going to look at that depending on how he practices this week.”

Rosenfels’ role
Another one of the roster moves made last week was the signing of veteran Sage Rosenfels. This is Rosenfels’ second stint with the Vikings – he was with the team in 2009 – and while at some point Rosenfels could emerge as the backup, right now Joe Webb will be the #2 QB. This is an important note this week because starting QB Christian Ponder is dealing with a hip injury.

“That would be Joe,” Frazier said when asked if Rosenfels would take 1st-team reps should Ponder miss practice time. “Sage is not at that point, and I talked with Sage about his role on the team and he’s comfortable being that third guy and really helping Christian, along with Joe, to develop. But he wouldn’t be far enough along to put in a starting role.”

Happy having Herrera back
RG Anthony Herrera made his return to the starting lineup after battling back from another knee injury, this one sustained against the Green Bay Packers on October 23. Herrera made the Vikings roster as an undrafted free agent and has ascended the depth chart to establish himself as a starter. With that as his professional background and with a fiery attitude, Herrera gives the Vikings offensive line a needed edge at times, so Frazier was happy to have Herrera back in the lineup on Sunday.

“He played well,” Frazier said. “He had some moments where he struggled a little bit and then he really got his legs under him and played extremely well. It was great having him out there. He gives us some leadership, brings some intensity to our offensive line. We missed him. It was good just to have his presence on our offensive line. He brings a different vibe to our offense and gives us something that lacks at times.”


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Winfield Full Participant In Practice; Herrera Sits Out

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 10, 2011 – 3:29 pm

As the Vikings prepare to face the NFL’s hottest passing attack they are on the way to getting some very good news. CB Antoine Winfield, who has missed the past 4 games with a neck injury, was a full participant in practice on Thursday.

Although Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier has not said definitively that Winfield will play on Monday night against Green Bay, he has expressed optimism that Winfield would be available. Winfield’s presence as a full participant in the team’s first practice of the week is yet another indication that the 13-year veteran will indeed return to action.

Starting RG Anthony Herrera (knee) did not practice, and his status for Monday night’s game is unclear. Frazier did say Herrera made progress over the bye week. Making progress looks to be a theme among Vikings players who were dinged up heading into the bye, as Herrera and Winfield were the only injured Vikings to show up on this week’s report (Chris Cook is on the report but has a “not injury related” designation).

Over the next several weeks with the stadium issue on the front burner in Minnesota, we’ll have a piece of stadium information posted after each vikings.com Blog entry.

Stadium FAQ: What is the Vikings current stadium situation at the Metrodome?
The Vikings have only a few games remaining on the lease at the Metrodome, and team officials have been firm they will not sign a lease extension without a stadium solution in place.

The team currently ranks at the bottom of the NFL in stadium revenues due to the challenges of the Metrodome. Since 1992, 28 of the 32 NFL cities have either built new stadiums or significantly renovated their existing facilities, making it difficult for the Vikings to remain competitive. While the Metrodome has been a great asset for the State of Minnesota for 29 years, the reality is the facility is obsolete for use for NFL games. It no longer provides fans with the experience they expect or deserve


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After (Film) Review: Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 29, 2011 – 6:19 am

We’re going to debut a weekly feature here on the vikings.com Blog today called “Weekly Review.” The day after each Vikings game, I’ll watch film to focus on one aspect of the team and then provide a report here on the vikings.com Blog. For the premier edition of After (Film) Review, we’ll focus on the offensive line.

With an off-day between Saturday’s game and the posting of this report, the Star Tribune’s Mark Craig beat me to the punch a little bit on analyzing the offensive line’s performance against the Cowboys. But it looks like we came to the same basic conclusion: the offensive line showed improvement. Specifically, the return of starting RG Anthony Herrera to the lineup was a big boost for the offensive line. While Craig was also complementary of LT Charlie Johnson, I was actually as impressed and maybe a touch more impressed with C John Sullivan.

For what it’s worth, we should temper somewhat the enthusiasm because this was just a preseason game and Dallas didn’t exactly come after the Vikings offense with a blitz-heavy attack. As 1500ESPN’s Tom Pelissero notes, Dallas “rushed more than four men three times in 18 dropback passes (16.7%) and rushed three on six occasions (33.3%), while the Vikings used at least one chip or extra protector eight times (44.4%), not including four bootleg plays.”

All in all, though, I thought the offensive line’s performance on Saturday was encouraging. This group has been much-maligned over the last 12 months, but I have a feeling that they will be much improved in 2011. Let’s get to a few specific examples of solid play from the first-team offensive line…

1st Offensive Series
– On the Vikings first 3rd-down play, Herrera pulled to take out LB Anthony Spencer and RT Phil Loadholt blocked to his inside and took out DE Igor Olshansky to open up a hole for Adrian Peterson to pickup 7 yards and the 1st down.
— On 3rd and 1 a few plays later, LT Charlie Johnson cleared out and sealed DE Kenyon Coleman and a pulling Steve Hutchinson finished off CB Orlando Scandrick to allow Peterson to pickup 5 yards and another 1st down.
— On the next play, McNabb went play-action fake to Peterson and was given a perfect pocket. This enabled WR Bernard Berrian time to make a double-move and run past the Dallas secondary. McNabb hit him in stride for a 49-yard TD.
— Totals for the drive: Peterson 5 carries, 29 yards; McNabb 2 for 2, 54 yards, TD)

2nd Offensive Series
– The Vikings picked up 13 yards on the first play of the series with a Percy Harvin reception, then on the second play of the series Peterson gained 9 yards on the ground. LT Charlie Johnson and TE Jeff Dugan double-teamed DE Jason Hatcher and FB Ryan D’Imperio and Harvin took care of Spencer, which gave Peterson room to dance around both James and Scandrick to gain 9 on the ground going wide left.
— On 2nd and 1, Sullivan handles NT Jay Ratliff long enough and Herrera seals off Olshansky so Peterson can cutback from the left to the right and pick up 5 yards and the 1st down.
— On 1st and 10 from the Minnesota 47-yardline, the Vikings featured a two-TE set. The line provided a solid pocket for McNabb, but the QB couldn’t find an open receiver, so he fled to the right and then found Berrian, who broke open and caught McNabb’s pass for a gain of 15 yards.
— Totals: Peterson 2 carries, 14 yards; McNabb 4 for 5, 37 yards)

3rd Offensive Series
On 2nd and 7 from the MN 17, McNabb changed the play at the line of scrimmage and the Vikings ran wide left with Peterson. TE Kyle Rudolph was just good enough to seal off LB Sean Lee and Sullivan got to the second level to block James from the play, which is ultimately why Peterson was able to dash forward for a 15-yard gain. Hutchinson pulled on the play to take out Elam.
— On 2nd and 10, Booker carried and went up the middle to gain 10 yards. Johnson sealed Spencer off immediately, Sullivan handled Ratliff, Hutchinson took care of Lee and Herrera came off his initial block to prevent James from making a stop early in the play.
— On 1st and 10 from the DAL 47, McNabb made his best throw of the night. McNabb was in the gun, with Booker and Kleinsasser in the backfield as protectors. McNabb rifled a pass into WR Michael Jenkins on a slant for a gain of 17. There was a nice pocket for McNabb and #5 got rid of the ball quickly. Preseason TV analyst Mike Mayock said: “For anyone who thinks that Donovan McNabb doesn’t have it (anymore), take a snapshot of this throw.”
— Totals: Peterson 2 carries, 18 yards; Booker 1 carry, 11 yards; McNabb 2 for 4, 25 yards, INT)

4th Offensive Series
– On the first play of the series, Peterson ran behind the LG for a 5-yard gain. Johnson and Kleinsasser combined for a kickout block on DE Sean Lissemore and Sullivan sealed NT Josh Brent out of the play.
— Peterson gained 3 yards on a pitch wide right. The play was actually blocked well, but OLB DeMarcus Ware chased the play down from the back end; he was intentionally left unblocked because the play was going to the opposite side. But that’s why Ware is a perennial Pro Bowler. However, this was the first time Ware was a factor in the game (5:00 to play in 1st half).
— Totals: Peterson 2 carries, 8 yards; McNabb 1 for 3, 6 yards.

5th Offensive Series
– McNabb hit Booker for a 12-yard gain on 1st down, but the Vikings went 3-and-out after that; gave up a sack on 2nd down.

End of 1st half: Vikings had 216 yards (157 for Dallas), 12 first downs (9 for Dallas) and 89 rushing yards (22 for Dallas).

6th Offensive Series
– On 3rd and 4 out of the gun formation, McNabb was protected great against a 4-man rush and he lofted a pass for Jenkins down the right side; Jenkins won the one-on-one matchup against CB Mario Butler to make the catch for a gain of 26 yards and the 1st down.
— Totals: Peterson 3 carries, 12 yards; McNabb 1 for 3, 26 yards


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Vikings Offense Takes Step Forward Saturday Night

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 27, 2011 – 10:28 pm

The Vikings ultimately didn’t win Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field, but the first-team offense took another step forward in their development under new coordinator Bill Musgrave.

QB Donovan McNabb was 12 of 18 for 156 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT on the night. He hit speedy WR Bernard Berrian over the top of Dallas’ defense for a 49-yard score in the 1st quarter and he found Percy Harvin four times for 29 yards in the 1st half. New WR Michael Jenkins also got in the mix during the 1st half with 2 receptions for 22 yards, including a 17-yard grab on the play right before McNabb’s interception; the interception came on a deflected pass.

While it was encouraging to see the passing game take flight against Dallas, there’s no question that the bread and butter of this offense will be the running game. Adrian Peterson took handoffs on five of the Vikings first six plays, which set up Berrian’s long TD score to cap the team’s opening drive. In total, Peterson gained 81 yards on 14 carries and looked explosive the entire night.

The performance by the Vikings first-team offensive line should not go unnoticed. The group welcomed back starting RG Anthony Herrera following his recovery from a serious knee injury that ended his 2010 season prematurely. Herrera stepped in and the rest of the line displayed improvement, as Peterson burst past the first line of the Dallas defense on multiple occasions.

“We got into a good rhythm,” RT Phil Loadholt said after the game. “We were moving guys up front, got in a good rhythm and we were able to move the ball. As an offensive line, we love it when we hear that run call. The momentum, once you start putting drives together like that, you can see it in the defense that things are going well for us. It feels good once you get that momentum.”

The Vikings first-team offense strung together drives of 83, 51, 56 and 45 yards on Saturday night, largely thanks to the protection and run blocking provided by the line. In his postgame press conference, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said he was impressed with the offensive line early in the game and he also said Herrera’s performance was encouraging. Asked if Herrera would be able to play in the regular season opener on September 11 in San Diego, Frazier said the feisty veteran had “a chance,” which is good news as Herrera comes back from that knee injury.

All in all, we’ll temper the enthusiasm because the Vikings lost the game and there were still productive drives that didn’t end with TDs. At the same time, it was encouraging to see the offensive take yet another step forward in their development. McNabb stretched the field vertically with Berrian and Jenkins, and then Harvin and Peterson did their work underneath.


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5 Things To Watch Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 27, 2011 – 10:26 am

Tonight the Vikings will play their third preseason game of the 2011 season and it’ll be against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field. First-teamers will get extended looks tonight, which is why the third game of the preseason is considered so important.

With that in mind, here are five things to watch during tonight’s Vikings-Cowboys contest…

A TD from the first-team offense
The first-team offense took a big step forward last week in Seattle after a mediocre outing in Tennessee to open the preseason. Expect another step forward this week from Donovan McNabb and Co. It would ease a lot of souls – everyone from Vikings coaches to Vikings fans – if the first-team offense could find a way to move the ball and score a TD or two. To this point, McNabb has looked comfortable in the offense and he’s spread the ball around to a variety of receivers. Tonight, though, watch for the running game to improve a touch and for McNabb to find a way to attack vertically.

Cedric Griffin and Anthony Herrera coming back from injury
A pair of starters are coming back from serious knee injuries this season – CB Cedric Griffin and RG Anthony Herrera. Griffin has had a nice training camp and he’s looked good in the little time he’s seen on the field. Tonight, though, he’ll likely get his first extended action since the injury and the Vikings will be focused not only on how he performs during the game but how his knee feels after the game. With Herrera, he’s slowly been brought along during training camp and tonight is the first time he’ll play in a game at all since the injury. Just as is the case with Griffin, it will be as important how Herrera feels after the game as how he plays during the game. Head Coach Leslie Frazier said earlier this week that the one thing the coaches will be looking for is Herrera’s explosion coming off the ball. If he can show signs of regaining that explosion and he can come away from the game with minimal soreness, then the feisty veteran will be one (major) step closer to returning to the starting lineup.

Pressure on Cowboys QB Tony Romo
One of the positives I took away from the Vikings performance last week in Seattle was the pass rush from the first-team defense. Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson was rarely allowed time to sit in the pocket and find an open receiver, which was a large part of why the Vikings were able to shutout Seattle in the first half. Tonight the Vikings will see an offensive line that is a touch better and a QB that is much better. If the Vikings can still find a way to pressure the passer tonight, we know they might have something going this year in terms of pass rush after a less-than-stellar pass rush last year. I think the secondary is going to be better than most people think this year, but an effective pass rush will make the secondary look even better.

Another strong performance from Chris Cook
One of the bright spots in last week’s victory over Seattle was the performance of CB Chris Cook. He was lined up against former teammate Sidney Rice for much of the first half and he held his own by frequently jamming Rice at the line of scrimmage and even being involved in a pass breakup in the endzone. If Cook can step up and perform well as the team’s 3rd CB, the Vikings defense will be stronger. With Cook in the lineup, the Vikings nickel package features two big, physical CBs (Cook and Griffin) on the outside and then Antoine Winfield sliding inside to play the slot receiver. That’s the lineup Frazier prefers to see out there and if Cook plays well tonight, that vision comes one step closer to being realized.

Competition at WR
One of the position battles still raging is at WR, where the top 3 are set (Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins) but the next two or three are still open. I’m not sure if the Vikings will keep five or six WRs, but either way there are jobs still available. We won’t count anyone out, but the guys I’ll be watching tonight are Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo, Juaquin Iglesias and Jaymar Johnson. The next tier of guys are Manny Arceneaux, Stephen Burton and Andre Holmes. Aside from performance in the offense, another factor in determining which players will earn roster spots is special teams. Johnson can increase his value by proving effective in the punt return game, while Aromashodu has increased his value by making a pair of special teams tackles.


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Herrera Ready To Prove It

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2011 – 1:33 pm

We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world these days and life in the NFL is no exception. What we’ve come to know and understand in one moment can change in a big way and in a small amount of time.

Vikings G Anthony Herrera knows that lesson well.

Herrera came to the Vikings and the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and was on the 53-man roster for the final 8 games of that season. In 2005 he fought his way into the starting lineup for the final 6 games, but then he was inactive for 13 games in 2006. Finally in 2007 Herrera cracked the starting lineup and stayed there. He was the starter at RG for the final 12 games of that season and remained there ever since.

Then Herrera suffered a knee injury 10 games into the 2010 season, which landed him on the Reserve/Injured list. Seemingly from that moment on, many questioned whether Herrera would make it back to the starting lineup. Being a competitive and fiery individual, the sentiment that he might not make it back to the lineup probably bothered Herrera.

But it also seems to have motivated him to prove everyone wrong. Again.

When you make an NFL roster and eventually become a productive starter after joining the League as an undrafted free agent, you demonstrate an ability and willingness to prove yourself. According to Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier, that’s exactly the mindset Herrera has right now.

“Oh yeah, he has something to prove,” Frazier said on Thursday when asked if he thought Herrera was playing with a chip on his shoulder. “And he wants to prove something to everybody, including us as coaches [as to] whether or not he can do it. We’re all excited to see him come back and play and we’re all pulling for him. He’s a tremendous competitor, a leader for our offensive line and our team and we’re all pulling for him and hoping for the best.”

The best would be if Herrera could play and start in Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, and also come out of that game feeling healthy. Whether or not Herrera will be ready to go for Week 1 in San Diego on September 11, no one knows for sure. Right now, Frazier said, the plan is for Herrera to start the game and get an extended look with the first-team offense.

“We’ll have a better determination after this game,” Frazier said. “He’s going to play for the first time in a long time, so we’ll have to get some stuff on tape, talk to him after the ballgame and just see where he is. And just try to make a decision going forward.”

I wouldn’t bet against him.


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Frazier Sees Progress, But Also Knows Work Remains; Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 22, 2011 – 2:23 pm

After a day off on Sunday following their preseason victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night, the Vikings returned to the practice fields at Winter Park on Monday for an abbreviated workout. The Vikings conducted what they call a 10-10-10 practice, which lasted for approximately an hour.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after practice and said that after watching the tape from Saturday night’s win over Seattle he saw his team was making progress. But he also acknowledged there is still work to be done before the team is prepared to open the regular season on September 11 in San Diego.

“There were some good things that we really felt good about,” Frazier said. “There was some improvement in some key areas, really across the board. But there’s also a lot of work to be done, we realize that. That’s one of the reasons we’re in the preseason, to try to improve and identify what we are going to be as a football team.”

Monday’s practice saw the return of a few key offensive players, with TE Visanthe Shiancoe and WRs Greg Camarillo and Percy Harvin back in the action. Frazier seemed please with his team’s effort in practice on Monday and said the team is poised for another solid week of practice leading up to Saturday night’s contest with the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field.

“Really appreciative of the effort that our guys displayed and the desire to want to be good,” Frazier said. “Today’s practice we wanted to make sure they were focused, they were in tune with what we were trying to get done, and that was the case so it was a good way start to the week.”

Here are a few notes from Monday’s practice and Frazier’s press conference…

– The Vikings practiced in helmets, shells and shorts on Monday in warm temperatures and under a sunny sky. They worked on both kickoff and punt return and also had a period of no-huddle offense/defense against the 40-second play clock.

– Devin Aromashodu and Harvin logged highlight-caliber catches during practice. Harvin ran a corner route and hauled in a long pass before falling to the ground and out of bounds with Antoine Winfield covering him like a blanket. Aromashodu’s catch came on a quick out route in which spun out of his break, briefly lost his footing, regained his footing and turned to look for the football just as it arrived. Aromashodu is climbing up the depth chart in a crowded WR stable and is doing so in large part because of his ability to contribute on special teams.

– LB Erin Henderson, who is still the favorite to win a starting outside LB position, intercepted a pass from Donovan McNabb. But McNabb turned around and hit WR Bernard Berrian on the next play and then found WR Michael Jenkins deep down the field just a few plays later.

– Among those who did not practice today were RB Toby Gerhart (ankle), LB Ross Homan (concussion) and LB Mark Washington (stinger). LB Heath Farwell, who missed much of last week’s practice, was back on the field. Frazier Homan will not play in this weekend’s game against the Cowboys.

– Frazier said he was unsure if starting RG Anthony Herrera would make his preseason debut this weekend and he also said that Ryan Cook would be the likely replacement if Herrera was unable to go.

– In what will hopefully be a minor issue but could turn into a major one, DT Kevin Williams was held out of practice today because of a foot injury that’s been bothering him since training camp. Frazier said Williams was having trouble pushing off on the foot during last Saturday’s game. Williams will see a foot specialist today and Frazier said the team could hear the results from those tests as early as tomorrow. Also, Frazier said he hasn’t heard a word from the NFL regarding Williams’ possible four-game suspension.


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McNabb Cautiously Optimistic On Offense’s Progress

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 18, 2011 – 11:34 am

Some fans were quick to panic about the Vikings offense following a brief appearance by some of the first-teamers on Saturday night produced no points and little sign of explosion. But count the point man of the offense – QB Donovan McNabb – as one who is cautiously optimistic about the group’s progress.

“Yeah, we’re very excited where we’re at right now,” McNabb said. “But yet it’s still a work in progress. We made some big plays out here, running as well as throwing the ball. Communication-wise, I think the chemistry is flowing where we need it to be. But again, it’s just the beginning and we want to continue to get better each day.”

McNabb’s approach to the current status of the offense is professional, which shouldn’t be surprising considering this is his 13th season in the NFL. And he does have a point. Considering the starting QB just arrived fewer than three weeks ago and considering coordinator Bill Musgrave didn’t have the luxury of an offseason program, minicamps or Organized Team Activities (OTAs) to install his offense, the first-team offense didn’t look bad at all last Saturday night.

For the starting QB, the first preseason game is more about eliminating mental mistakes and perfecting fundamentals than it is about scoring points and accumulating statistics. To that end, McNabb was just fine last Saturday night. He was 6 of 11 for 40 yards with no TDs and no INTs. He completed his first three passes and four of his first five attempts. On McNabb’s first offensive series, the Vikings converted two third-down passes and drove from their own 7-yardline out to the 40.

McNabb came out for a second series and immediately hit WR Bernard Berrian on a quick slant. Then he lofted a touch pass to WR Greg Camarillo on 3rd and 3 to keep the drive going.

In the end, I came away encouraged with what I saw from McNabb and the first-team offense. Two of McNabb’s incompletions could’ve been caught, none of his passes were near-INTs and he used his athleticism to get out of the pocket to buy time. These are all good signs in the first preseason game.

An area to watch this weekend is the offensive line. There’s a new starter at LT, starting C John Sullivan is coming back from injury and there’s a good battle underneath Anthony Herrera at RG.

“The chemistry and the communication [are] definitely there,” McNabb said. “Myself and Sully, as well as Hutch and Herrera, just in the interior have really been communicating and seeing things the same. And obviously when you do that, your communication expands outside to the tackles and we’ll all be on the same page. I’m excited about what we’ve been able to do since everybody’s been able to practice, the way that we’ve continued to improve.

“Obviously this is Week-2-and-a-half for me, so I’m excited to see the progression that we’ve made and excited about what we’ve been able to do on the outside with the receivers and our running game. Again, there’s a lot of things we’ve got to clear up, but yet and still just looking at it, we’ve done some good things.”


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Competition On Offensive Line Remains Thick; Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 15, 2011 – 3:05 pm

The Vikings returned to the practice fields on Monday afternoon after playing in their first preseason game of 2011 on Saturday night in Tennessee. Training camp has shifted from the University of Minnesota, Mankato to Winter Park’s outdoor practice fields at the Vikings home facility.

“It was nice to be able to have a practice here at Winter Park on our field,” Frazier said after practice. “The first time we’ve actually worked with our players on this field. It’s hard to believe…it’s what, August 15 and this is our first time standing on this field together as a team. It was good work for us, good for our coaches to be around our players in this environment and it feels good to be back at Winter Park.”

Aside from being back “home” again for practice, it was also nice to see RG Anthony Herrera back in the action. Herrera didn’t participate in the Mankato portion of training camp and he didn’t play in Saturday night’s preseason opener because of injuries, but on Monday Herrera was back in the action and he was working with the first-team offense.

Herrera wasn’t the only one working with the first-team at RG, though. In fact, I noticed quite a bit of rotation at first-team RG and at second-team RT. Herrera and Scott Kooistra spent time with the first-team at RG, while Chris DeGeare, who started at RG on Saturday night, was actually playing RT with the second-team. Also playing with the first-team at RG was Ryan Cook.

It was a bit of a surprise to see Kooistra at RG because he’s played primarily OT during training camp. He does have experience playing guard, though, so it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him make the move inside. For now, Frazier indicated Kooistra will concentrate mainly on OT.

At this point Herrera appears to be the team’s choice at RG, but there is uncertainty with whether he’ll be able to play by Week 1. With that being the case, both DeGeare and Cook are also in the mix for the starting position.

“You don’t want to eliminate Ryan Cook,” Frazier explained. “Cook still has an opportunity to compete for that position and it’s competition right now because we’re not certain where Anthony is going to be. We just have to see how he progresses.”

Expect to see the Vikings continue to experiment with different combinations along the first- and second-team offensive lines; that’s why we have training camp and the preseason. The goal is to get the best five guys playing along the first-team offensive line and then a group of reserves who have position flexibility.

Let’s get to a few practice notes…

– The Vikings worked for about an hour and 10 minutes under mostly cloudy skies, warm temperatures and a slight breeze. Frazier had his players working in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts and the team worked in front of part of the Vikings ownership group.

– After a quick warm-up and individual position drills, there was a special teams period. It was interesting to watch RB Adrian Peterson working on the side with RBs coach James Saxon during the special teams period. Obviously Peterson doesn’t play on special teams, but it was good to see him and coach Saxon work on some footwork-related issues during the time off.

– Of the seven players who were held out of Saturday’s preseason game, only LB Kenny Onatolu and TE Visanthe Shiancoe didn’t practice on Monday. Onatolu continues to be sidelined by a foot injury and Shiancoe tweaked his hamstring late in the Mankato portion of training camp. Frazier said the goal is to get Onatolu back for the Dallas preseason game on August 27. Shiancoe remains day-to-day.

– S Mistral Raymond, who had a terrific training camp in Mankato but who also tweaked his hamstring on the final play of the final practice in Mankato, did not play on Saturday night. But he was back at practice on Monday and Frazier said the rookie felt no residual effects of his injury during Monday’s work.

– Also sitting out practice on Monday were: LB Heath Farwell (hamstring), DE D’Aundre Reed (calf) and OL Thomas Welch (glute). Frazier described Reed as day-to-day and he also said Welch is expected to be able to practice on Tuesday.

– FB Ryan D’Imperio made a nice one-handed grab on the first play of 7-on-7 drills. He was circling out to the right flats and McNabb led him a touch too much. But D’Imperio stuck his left hand out and was able to haul in the pass. Another one-handed catch was made in 7-on-7 and it was a familiar face doing it. TE Kyle Rudolph, who had another one-handed grab earlier in training camp, was running down the left seam and McNabb led him perfectly. LB Mark Washington was in coverage and actually was shadowing Rudolph perfectly. But Rudolph went full extension to the ground and came up with the one-handed grab.

– Speaking of LB Mark Washington, he got his hands on an INT during 7-on-7.

– WR Bernard Berrian made an impressive catch in the middle of the field. Rookie CB Brandon Burton was in on the coverage and was draped all over Berrian, but McNabb forced the pass into Berrian’s area and #87 came up with the grab. Another impressive play was turned in toward the end of practice and it was rookie QB Christian Ponder who did it. He lasered in a pass to Juaquin Iglesias on a deep out route down the right sideline. The pass was perfectly placed, right past the out-stretched arms of the defender but close enough to the field so that Iglesias could make the catch and get both feet in bounds.


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