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Sullivan, Greenway, Vikings Sponsor New Playground At Amplatz Children’s Hospital

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 29, 2012 – 6:06 am

Vikings center John Sullivan is donating $150,000 to make a new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital playground possible. To support Sullivan’s efforts, Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, has donated $25,000 through his Lead the Way Foundation while the Vikings organization – through the Vikings Children’s Fund – has contributed the remaining $25,000 for the $200,000 project.

A ceremony will take place on Tuesday to name the playground and reveal renderings of the future project, which is set to open in Spring 2013. During the event, the playground will be officially named “Sullivan Playground” in Sullivan’s honor. Children wearing “Team Sullivan” t-shirts will celebrate the naming and refreshments will be served.

Immediately following the ceremony, Sullivan, along with teammates Brandon Fusco, Greenway, Charlie Johnson, Tyrone McKenzie, Kyle Rudolph and others, will host a “Halloween Huddle” for patients and their families in the lobby of University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. The players will then make bedside visits throughout the hospital.

About the Sullivan Playground
Just outside of University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital will be the Sullivan Playground for patients and their siblings. The play space is secure, private and comfortable. Working with Landscape Structures, a Minnesota company focused on designing inclusive playgrounds for children of all abilities, Amplatz Children’s Hospital child rehabilitation therapists and child-family life specialists selected a variety of activities and structures that are fun and appropriate for all children, regardless of age and medical conditions.  This playground and design will incorporate therapeutic, sensory and development elements as well as an innovative mixture of climbing, discovery, sliding, spinning and social function that are necessary for our patient and sibling population.  The unique features have exploration elements with ground level interaction.  As the first commercial outdoor slide ever made to accommodate children with IVs, the custom designed posts and attachments allow patients to climb ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) stairs and go down the roller slide without disconnecting from their devices.


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3 Keys To Vikings Improvement Along Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 11, 2012 – 11:02 am

In taking a closer look at the Redskins running attack earlier on Thursday, we referenced the camaraderie generated from playing the same five starters in all five games as one factor that’s led to production. In taking a look at the Vikings offense through five games, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier and QB Christian Ponder have similar sentiments about their front line.

“The offensive line is playing tremendously well,” Ponder said on Wednesday. “You can tell the chemistry they have and the amount of communication they have on the line. They’re doing such a great job and they’re really gelling together, not even just the pass protection, they’re opening up holes in the run game. They couldn’t be playing any better.”

Frazier mentioned communication as a key to the line’s play as well while speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“I see them at practice, in between, talking to one another about how we have to combo block, what we have to do from a technique standpoint,” Frazier said. “It’s a good chemistry on our offensive line right now and it’s showing up on the field.”

This type of play from the offensive line is refreshing to the Vikings and to those who’ve followed the Vikings in recent seasons. Individuals have played well at various times, but it’s been a couple of seasons since the Vikings offensive line played this well collectively. There are likely several factors behind the improvement. Let’s take a look at three of them.

1. Coach Davidson
There’s no better place to start than with Vikings OL coach Jeff Davidson. This is his second year on the job, and the veteran coach with multiple Super Bowl rings and NFL playing experience to his credit is starting to see results. It’s often said that a head coach or even defensive/offensive coordinator needs time to incorporate his scheme. A new position coach faces a similar challenge working with his subset of players, and therefore it’s fair to grant that position coach time as well. Davidson has put plenty of time in, and it’s beginning to pay off.

2. Buying the right groceries
If Davidson is the chef concocting the recipe for success along the offensive line, Vikings GM Rick Spielman and his personnel staff are responsible for buying the groceries from which Davidson creates the recipe. You may hate the analogy, but the point remains that Spielman has punched the right buttons when it comes to personnel decisions along the offensive line.

John Sullivan, whom Spielman selected with a 6th-round pick in 2008, has turned into one of the best centers in the NFL. Phil Loadholt, a 2nd-round pick in 2009, has taken a big step forward in 2012 and is in a contract year. The Vikings saw something they liked in Brandon Fusco, a 6th-round pick in 2011, and their decision to award him a starting job after training camp has turned into the right one. And you can’t talk about draft picks along the offensive line without mentioning Matt Kalil, the Vikings 4th overall pick this past April. He’s dominated the opposition at LT so far this season and looks every bit the part of a 4th overall choice. The selection of Kalil allowed the Vikings to move Charlie Johnson, last year’s LT, to his more natural position – guard.

3. You win with players
It’s only fair to credit coaching and personnel decisions when credit is due, so the first two points remain applicable. But the bottom line is that players have to go out and do their jobs. And that is what’s happening for the Vikings along the offensive line, through the first five games. There’s a lot of season to play, and the players will be the first to admit there are improvements to be made, but so far their ability to communicate and play well together has made a big difference for the Vikings offense.

“I like how they’re working together collectively,” Frazier said. “That is what you need as a unit to be effective on an offensive line and those guys are helping one another. I can see Matt [Kalil] working with Charlie [Johnson] and Charlie helping him. Then I see what John [Sullivan] is doing with Brandon [Fusco],who’s a young guy who is early in his career and helping him. And then Phil [Loadholt] is much more consistent. So each guy playing a little bit better and what it has created is a solid offensive line.”


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Offensive Line Paved Path To Victory For Vikings Over 49ers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 25, 2012 – 2:06 pm

Did the Vikings offensive line have their best performance of the season in Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers? It sure looked like it, and Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier thought so, too.

“I think, collectively, yeah. And when you consider the front they were going up against, that’s a very good front,” Frazier said.

Frazier credited LG Charlie Johnson for a solid performance against 49ers All-Pro Justin Smith, and he also noted that Matt Kalil fared well against standout pass rusher Aldon Smith. Brandon Fusco and Phil Loadholt anchored down on the right  side of the offense, and the lynchpin of it all is C John Sullivan. Credit should also be given to the Vikings coaching staff, who used a creative blocking scheme at times to create opportunities for the offense. Loadholt shifted to the left side of the formation on at least one snap to give San Francisco a different look, and the club also found a way to get rookie Rhett Ellison in on the action.

“It was a good performance across the board,” Frazier said. “As a group, to rush for 146 yards on that defensive line or that defense, it’s pretty impressive.”

Having any success against the 49ers on the ground is impressive. Gaining 146 yards? Over the past two seasons, that’s nearly unheard of. San Francisco hadn’t allowed that many rushing yards since November of 2010, and the 344 total yards the Vikings amassed on Sunday is 5th best against the 49ers over their last 19 games. Also, the Vikings collected 25 1st downs – #1 against San Francisco over the last19 games – and they logged 33:28 in time of possession – #2 against the 49ers over that same span.

A few other notes on the offensive line’s performance against the very good 49ers defense:
— The 49ers have only been held without a sack one other time since the start of 2011 (19 games) – against Baltimore in 2011.
— The 49ers did not have an INT, and they’ve been held without an INT just four times in that same span.
— The 49ers have only been held without a SACK and INT one other time in that span – the Baltimore game in 2011.


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Roster Rundown: Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2012 – 7:00 am

Few position groups will be as heavily scrutinized early this season more than the offensive line. The Vikings have been one of the NFL’s best rushing teams over the past several seasons, but the combination of a need for improvement in pass protection and multiple new starters in the group will have many keeping close tabs on the men up front.

The offensive line is the subject of today’s Roster Rundown…

The Vikings will bring 15 offensive linemen with them to training camp, probably a standard number in League circles. While we can be fairly certain on four of the five starters heading into training camp, there will still be plenty of competition up and down the line in both the starting lineup and especially for the reserve spots.

John Sullivan is solid at center and has developed into one of the best five or so players at his position in the entire League. Sullivan began his career as Matt Birk’s understudy and eventually rose to starter status, where he snapped to Brett Favre in his first season as the starter and has progressed nicely ever since. There are two other players listed as centers on the Vikings roster who will compete for a backup role behind Sullivan – Joe Berger and Quentin Saulsberry. Berger is a returning veteran with seven seasons of experience and Saulsberry is an undrafted college free agent out of Mississippi State.

The Vikings should be set at both OT positions as well. Phil Loadholt returns at RT and should be sufficiently motivated in a contract year. Fans have grown tired of his penalties and occasional pass protection letdown, but my sense is Loadholt is sitting on a nice season. At LT the Vikings of course have 1st-round pick Matt Kalil. Sullivan has described Kalil as a “freak” athletically. Other OTs listed on the Vikings roster are: Pat Brown, Levi Horn, DeMarcus Love, Geoff Schwartz and Darrion Weems. Brown and Love are returning from last year’s team, Schwartz was a free agent pickup for the Vikings this offseason and could compete for the starting RG spot, and both Horn and Weems are undrafted college free agents.

The addition of Kalil at LT allows the Vikings to move Charlie Johnson over to LG, perhaps his more natural position. Johnson has the athleticism to play OT, but Vikings GM Rick Spielman explained to me earlier this offseason that his arm length is not ideal for the position. Moving him inside to LG will put Johnson is a better position to succeed, and it will allow Johnson to help Kalil transition to the NFL game. The RG position is up for grabs at this point. I expect Brandon Fusco to open camp as the starter, but both Schwartz and Chris DeGeare should have their sights set on winning the job as well. The two other OGs listed on the Vikings roster are Tyler Holmes and Austin Pasztor, a pair of undrafted college free agents.

A lot of names to go over there, but it just means more competition for the position group as a whole. The top three aspects of the offensive line I’ll be watching at training camp are…

– Who looks the best at RG? Fusco has the early edge based on the offseason program, but both DeGeare and Schwartz are in the mix as well.

– How does Kalil adjust to the NFL? Going against Jared Allen every day will help Kalil a ton if the 1st-round pick can strike a balance between taking his medicine from Allen and others on defense while also establishing himself as Ponder’s blindside protector.

– Does Loadholt take a big step forward this year? He was solid as a rookie in 2009 when he helped the club go 12-4 and play in the NFC title game, but since then he’s produced mixed results. Loadholt is one of my favorite guys on the team and I know he takes pride in his game, so I expect him to take a big step forward in his second year working with well-respected OL coach Jeff Davidson.


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An Economical, Long-Term Plan For The Offensive Line

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 13, 2012 – 6:06 am

Accustomed to watching a top tier running game since 2007 and tired of watching their brand-new franchise QB run for his life, Vikings fans are anxious to see the team make moves to improve the offensive line. But even with USC LT Matt Kalil expected to be the Vikings 1st-round pick next month, Vikings fans want more.

And it’s understandable. Christian Ponder was sacked 30 times in just 11 games, plus the Vikings released RG Anthony Herrera and LG Steve Hutchinson this past weekend, opening up a pair of vacancies in the starting lineup.

As a result, Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks – a pair of OGs who have 3 Pro Bowls and 2 All-Pro selections between them – are in high demand among Vikings fans. Both are scheduled to become free agents at 3:00 p.m. CT today, and both play positions of need for the Vikings.

While both players would serve as upgrades at their position, don’t expect the Vikings to enter the bidding for their services. The Vikings do have a considerable amount of salary cap space, but signing Nicks would eat much of it up and the Vikings have more than just one player on their wish list; Grubbs will likely command an expensive salary as well. With other needs on the roster, the Vikings would be better-served, in my view, to use their free agency money on other positions, such as CB or WR.

A big part of my opinion on the matter is the plan I’d like to see the Vikings put into place this offseason to improve the offensive line. No, there may not be high-priced and Pro Bowl-caliber free agent signings on the horizon, but I still foresee the Vikings solving their offensive line woes. And I see them solving it by going young. Hear me out…

– Take Kalil in the 1st round, which will provide a starting LT and yield a replacement for Hutchinson at LG with Charlie Johnson sliding over. He will play better and will feel more comfortable at LG.
— John Sullivan has emerged as a Top 5-7 center in the NFL according to those who know more about it than me, and the Vikings locked him up to a contract extension last season. He becomes the leader of this young group, especially with Hutchinson no longer in the picture.
— At RG the Vikings can lean on veteran Joe Berger and 2nd-year player Brandon Fusco. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from coaches and players about Fusco’s progress last year and his prospects for the future.
— To round out the line, Loadholt will be back as the starting RT. He had a down year in 2011 and he’ll be the first to acknowledge that. But 2012 is a contract year for him, he’s been around Winter Park for much of the offseason, and OL coach Jeff Davidson is determined to help him improve. I like that situation.
— Lastly, other youngsters such as Chris DeGeare and Pat Brown can compete for playing time along the line should one of the proposed 5 starters falter or suffer an injury.

Are there questions here? Certainly. And there’s no guarantee my proposed solution will work. But for this Vikings team, coming off a 3-13 record with several holes to fill in the starting lineup – particularly the wide receiver position to help Ponder – I believe a young and affordable offensive line with some upside is a better group than a veteran, expensive collection of veterans who are being paid more for past production than they are for expectation.

Nicks and Grubbs are names most fans recognize, and I understand why Vikings fans demand the team pursue them. But you can’t have All-Pros at every position, or at least you can’t sign All-Pros in free agency at every position. I have confidence in the plan I laid out above, and more importantly I have confidence in the young players on the roster and the experience and tutelage Davidson can bring to the meeting room.

What do you say, Vikings fans? Are you okay with the team going young on the offensive line so they can pursue more talented players at other important positions? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below this entry.


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A Few Notes On Vikings Defensive Line Heading Into Opener

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 9, 2011 – 3:25 pm

The Vikings will open the 2011 regular season against one of the best pass offenses in the NFL and they’ll have to do so without one of their best defensive linemen. Six-time Pro Bowl DT Kevin Williams, an anchor for the Vikings defense, will miss the first two games of the season because of suspension.

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters after Friday’s practice, the last full practice before the team heads to San Diego, and he confirmed that Letroy Guion will be the starter at that spot on Sunday. We’ve written about Guion previously here on the vikings.com Blog, and Vikings fans should be anxious to see what #98 can do to help this defense.

But Guion won’t be alone in trying to fill the void created by Williams’ absence. A couple of other defensive linemen were brought into the conversation with Frazier on Friday…

– Rookie Christian Ballard, whom the Vikings selected in the 4th round in last April’s draft, has some position flexibility to him because started a lot of games at both DE and DT in college. He projects to be a versatile defensive lineman in the NFL, too, but right now Frazier said he’s asked Ballard and his coaches to have the rookie concentrate solely on playing what they term the “3 technique.” The 3 technique is a technical football term for the position that Williams plays.

– Another young defensive lineman, Everson Griffen, will be in the mix this season. Griffen is a DE but he has a touch of versatility to him as well. In fact, the Vikings experimented last week with playing Griffen at outside LB. But Frazier and the Vikings defensive coaching staff have the same strategy planned for Griffen that they do for Ballard – for now, concentrate on playing the primary position. For Griffen, that’ll be DE, where he’ll join the rotation with starters Jared Allen and Brian Robison and then reserves Adrian Awasom and D’Aundre Reed.

A couple of other quick notes from the conversation with Frazier…

– CB Asher Allen has been limited in practice all week and Frazier indicated there’s a good chance Allen will be listed as questionable on this week’s final injury report.

– Frazier was also asked about LT Charlie Johnson, who joined the club in training camp and has had to assimilate to the team quickly. As should’ve been expected, Johnson took his lumps early. He was learning a new offense, moved to a new city and was going against Jared Allen every day in practice. But now Johnson seems to be getting his feet under him and Frazier said on Friday that the team is growing more and more comfortable with Johnson at LT. Frazier also praised Johnson for his work ethic, study habits, preparation and overall professionalism. I know many fans are nervous about this part of the offensive line, and I understand the reasoning. But from what I’ve been able to glean after training camp, the preseason and this week of preparation for San Diego, I think the Vikings will be just fine at LT.


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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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Changing Of The Tackle: Vikings Release McKinnie

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 2, 2011 – 1:56 pm

The Vikings made several roster transactions in the days preceding 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and their efforts to mold the team’s roster continued early this week. Their latest move revamps one of the most important positions on the field – left tackle – and it marks the end of an era as well.

The Vikings on Tuesday released LT Bryant McKinnie, ending his nine-year run with the Vikings. In his place, the Vikings might call on OT Charlie Johnson, whom the team acquired on Monday. Johnson is entering his sixth season in the NFL and spent the previous five campaigns with the Indianapolis Colts.

“This decision, while not an easy one, is in the best interests of our football team as we move forward preparing for the season,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said. “We appreciate Bryant’s contributions to the Vikings and we wish him the best in the future.”

McKinnie had been a solid starter for the Vikings throughout his career, never missing a game because of injury, blocking for six of the top eight single-season rushers in team history and blocking for a 1,000-yard rusher in the past five seasons. He did what you expect from a #7 overall choice – lock down a starting spot for nearly a decade.

But the time came for Minnesota to replace him. Suspect play over the past two seasons along with other ancillary issues moved the Vikings to make a change. The addition of Johnson will provide Vikings QBs with a capable, experienced blindside protector and it will make them younger at the position.

Johnson, a product of Oklahoma State, has played in 74 career games with 54 starts, yet he’s just 27 years old. He measures in at 6-4, 305 pounds, giving him the size up front to battle in the run game but also giving him the mobility to handle outside speed rushers in pass protection. And you don’t hang around the Colts for six seasons if you’re not productive and reliable.

The Colts selected offensive linemen with their first two picks of the 2011 NFL Draft and then were unable to re-sign Johnson.

The Vikings are itching to get back to the postseason and the addition of Johnson will be helpful in that quest. He’s played in 10 playoff games with five starts, including appearances in two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl start. The Colts won 10+ games every year Johnson played there and Johnson was Manning’s blindside protector for a pair of MVP seasons in 2008 and 2009.

This move truly marks a transition for the Vikings at a premier position. McKinnie has drawn a profuse amount of criticism over the last two seasons, but an objective look at his career should yield a favorable opinion of his tenure in Minnesota. At the same time, this has the potential to be a positive move for the Vikings as they look to build a roster that can take the franchise back to the playoffs.


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Talking Points: Coach Frazier Press Conference

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 5:05 pm

Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier held a press conference after Monday’s opening practice and he obviously was asked about a lot of relevant topics. We’ll post the press conference in on-demand format soon, so you’ll be able to listen and watch it in its entirety.

Until then, here are a few comments I thought were of particular significance:

– The Vikings signed free agent OT Charlie Johnson on Monday. He was actually in Mankato for practice but was unable to suit up because of a new CBA rule that requires players with new contracts to sit out of practice until the new League starts (August 4). But it was good to see Johnson in camp because he is permitted to sit in meetings and bond with his teammates in the dorm. Frazier said the plan for Johnson is to get him in the offensive line rotation and see what he can do. Johnson was most recently in Indianapolis, where he protected Peyton Manning’s blindside. But he has some versatility and is a candidate to slide down the line and perhaps play some guard as well.

– Staying with the offensive line, Frazier said that starting RG Anthony Herrera will open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Herrera is coming back from an ACL injury and also a triceps injury, so this development is not unexpected. Frazier said the goal is not to rush Herrera back into action; rather, the goal is to get him ready to play once the season arrives.

– Former Vikings WR Randy Moss is going to retire, according to his agent, Joel Segal. Frazier was very complimentary about Moss when asked to comment about the WR, saying he was a tremendous player and a (future) Hall of Famer. Frazier said he had a good relationship with Moss when they were together in Minnesota last year and he also commented that Moss commanded two and sometimes even three players in coverage during his prime. Before some of you get too excited, I still don’t see Moss as a good fit here, even with Frazier saying so many nice things about him.

– We’ve talked about CB Cedric Griffin quite a bit on vikings.com lately, and Frazier was asked about him on Monday as well. Frazier described Griffin as a “key component” to the Vikings defense and to the team. The Vikings plan is to take it slow with Griffin, largely because they weren’t able to be with him during the offseason to fully monitor his progress. As is the case with Herrera, the goal with Griffin is to make sure he’s ready to play once the regular season rolls around.


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Vikings Sign OT Charlie Johnson

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 1, 2011 – 10:45 am

Even on the first day of practice at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, head coach Leslie Frazier and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman continue to mold the roster. The Vikings on Monday signed free agent OT Charlie Johnson, who was most recently with the Indianapolis Colts.

Johnson, a product of Oklahoma State, has played in 74 career games with 54 starts, yet he’s just 27 years old. He measures in at 6-4, 305 pounds, giving him the size up front to battle in the run game but also giving him the mobility to handle outside speed rushers in pass protection. And you don’t hang around the Colts for six seasons if you’re not productive and reliable.

Johnson played in 10 playoff games with five starts in Indianapolis, including appearances in two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl start. The Colts won 10+ games every year Johnson played there and Johnson was Manning’s blindside protector for a pair of MVP seasons in 2008 and 2009.


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