Hicks Signs With Redskins

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 8, 2010 – 7:54 am

On Friday the Vikings saw RB Chester Taylor dart Minnesota for division rival Chicago to sign a 4-year, $12.5 million contract. On Saturday, another unrestricted free agent (UFA) on the Vikings roster – OL Artis Hicks – decided to pick up and join another team.

Hicks, an 8-year veteran, signed a 3-year contract with the Washington Redskins this past weekend. He is the 2nd UFA to leave Minnesota this offseason, which means the Vikings are permitted to sign 2 UFAs.

After spending the first 4 years of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Hicks came to the Vikings in 2006. That season was head coach Brad Childress’ first in Minnesota and he swung a trade to bring the versatile lineman with him to the Vikings. Hicks can play guard and tackle on both sides of the line.

Hicks played and started 14 games in ’06 with the Vikings and logged 27 starts in 56 games overall while in Minnesota. In Philadelphia, Hicks played in 38 games with 31 starts and was an important part of the Eagles team that advanced to Super Bowl XXXIX.

Having played in West Coast offenses his whole career, Hicks’ decision to join the Redskins makes sense. New head coach Mike Shanahan also employs the West Coast offense and is making over the Redskins offensive line. In Washington, Hicks will be on a team with a familiar offense and he’ll also be in line for a regular starting spot, something he wouldn’t have had in Minnesota.

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Vikings, Cardinals May Start Backups Along O-Lines

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 4, 2009 – 11:15 am

Injury concerns for the Vikings and Cardinals leading up to their game this Sunday night have been largely centered on QB Kurt Warner (concussion) and CB Antoine Winfield (foot). But there are a couple of other injury situations that will impact this matchup and both of them are along the offensive line.

For the Cardinals, starting LT Mike Gandy has missed 2 consecutive practices due to a pelvis injury he suffered last week in Tennessee. Arizona has started the same offensive line for 31 consecutive games but that streak may come to an end this week if Gandy is unable to play.

Starting in Gandy’s place should he be unable to go will be Jeremy Bridges, a 6-year veteran who has placed mostly G and some RT during his career. With Jared Allen and the Williams Wall coming to town on Sunday, Bridges will be tested. But he sounds confident.

“They say you’re supposed to be a little more finesse at left tackle, but it’s the same difference, man,” Bridges told the team’s official website. “You’ve got great athletes coming off that edge and you’ve got to block them. You’ve got to do a lot of dancing.”

The Vikings face a similar scenario along their offensive line, but at a different position. Starting RG Anthony Herrera has also missed 2 practices this week and he was held out of last week’s game against Chicago after suffering a concussion against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 11. The difference is that the Vikings already have one game under their belt with a backup in the starting lineup.

Veteran swingman Artis Hicks, whose value with the Vikings is that he can play 4 positions along the offensive line, filled in more-than-capably for Herrera last week.

“I thought he did a good job,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said last week after the Bears game. “He is a jack of all trades. He doesn’t flinch. He’s started right tackle, he’s started right guard, he started on the over side so he’s a valuable guy and there is nobody on that team that thinks twice about him going in there.”

Against Chicago last week the Vikings offensive line protected QB Brett Favre as he threw for 392 yards and they also paved the way for the Vikings ground game to record 152 net yards rushing.

It may very well be that both Gandy for the Cardinals and Herrera for the Vikings are able to play on Sunday night. But if they aren’t, Bridges and Hicks are poised to step up and fit in.

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Versatile Veteran Hicks Steps In For Herrera

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 30, 2009 – 7:55 am

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress told reporters after Sunday’s game that he can’t recall coaching a more versatile player in his career than rookie WR Percy Harvin. But it was another versatile player on Sunday who did his job and allowed other versatile players, such as Harvin, to rack up yards and points.

G Artis Hicks, an 8-year veteran who was acquired by the Vikings from Philadelphia the same year Childress came to Minnesota from the Eagles, stepped into the starting lineup on Sunday in place of Anthony Herrera, who was held out due to a concussion sustained in last week’s win over the Seahawks. The Vikings offense didn’t miss a beat with Hicks in the fold, racking up 537 nets yards – 159 of them on the ground – and allowing just 1.0 sack.

“I thought he did a good job,” Childress said of Hicks after the game. “He had Tommie Harris in there lined up as a three technique. He is a jack of all trades. He doesn’t flinch. He’s started right tackle, he’s started right guard, he started on the over side, so he’s a valuable guy and there is nobody on that team that thinks twice about him going in there.”

When the Vikings acquired Hicks several years back, Childress recalled a time when they were both in Philadelphia and Hicks was inserted into the starting lineup at LT only minutes before the game. LT is a premier position in football, of course, because you’re protecting the QBs blindside, and Hicks stepped into the starting LT position on a Monday Night Football game and the Eagles offense didn’t miss a beat.

During his time in Minnesota, Hicks has played several positions, including starting at LT last year in place of a suspended Bryant McKinnie. This year, Hicks has contributed significantly yet again.

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Harvin Continues Impressive Rookie Campaign

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 30, 2009 – 7:54 am

Vikings WR Percy Harvin tallied 6 receptions for 101 yards and a TD on Sunday in his team’s 36-10 route of division rival Chicago at Mall of America Field. While that performance marks his first 100-yard receiving game in the NFL, it’s just the latest example of why he’s the front-runner for rookie of the year honors.

But Harvin doesn’t seem worried about yardage totals or postseason honors. Just as his superstar RB teammate Adrian Peterson, teams goals come first for Harvin.

“I don’t worry about yards,” Harvin said in the locker room after Sunday’s win. “All I worry about is as long as we get the victory we’re making another step towards our team goal.”

The Vikings team goals include winning another division title and ultimately winning a Super Bowl. And the efforts of Harvin are aiding in those quests. What makes Harvin so valuable to the Vikings isn’t simply his receiving skills; it’s his versatility. For the season – combining his receiving, rushing and kick return yards – Harvin has 1,617 yards and 7 TDs on 84 touches; that’s 19.25 yards per touch.

“He is a triple threat,” Vikings G Artis Hicks said. “I think defensive coordinators and special teams coordinators, they look at that and have to game plan against that. If he isn’t the rookie of the year, show me another guy who is.”

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said he couldn’t recall seeing a more versatile player in his coaching career. And Vikings QB Brett Favre was complimentary of Harvin on Sunday, too.

“I think Percy is on his way to a league of his own,” Favre said. “He’s quick like Wes Welker. He is strong. He’s got a long ways to go to be in the same category as Wes, but at the rate he is going he is a dominant force in a lot of ways.

“(He’s) smart. He understands the game. Does he make mistakes? Does he wish he would have done this or done that? Sure. But I think the way he’s performed this year, and there is still a lot of football to be played, but the guy is legit.”

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Hicks’ Position Flexibility Helped Vikings On Sunday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 13, 2009 – 9:10 am

Rookie RT Phil Loadholt missed Sunday’s game against the Rams because of an ankle injury but he told the Star Tribune that he’s confident he’ll be able to give the ankle a go during practice on Wednesday.

Starting in Loadholt’s place on Sunday was veteran swingman Artis Hicks. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said Hicks did a “nice job,” especially for not having practiced in the RT spot for much of the week.

“With only having Friday as a full practice at the right tackle position,” Childress said, “I thought he did a nice job for being on that side. He is a natural left sided guy, left handed guy. I thought he did a nice job for lining up there.”

Childress dealt for Hicks after he took the job in Minnesota because the 2 were familiar with each from their time in Philadelphia together and because of Hicks’ tremendous position flexibility. Hicks can play 4 positions along the line.

“About the only thing he is not studying is the center position because Ryan Cook is a guy that we would typically have up and slide into that spot (center),” Childress explained. “Artis has got to have a feel for a right-hand and left-hand. He’s got to know the personnel along the front, right-handed and left-handed. He has to know how we are blocking plays right-handed and left-handed.”

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