Saturday Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 9, 2010 – 12:28 pm

The Vikings worked for roughly 90 minutes over the noon hour on Saturday under sunny skies and warm conditions as they begin to make final preparations for their Monday Night Football matchup with the NY Jets. It appeared as though everyone except CB Chris Cook was taking part in practice – Cook has been listed on the injury report with a knee injury and hasn’t practice at all this week.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met briefly with reporters following practice and addressed a number of topics. Here are a few notes from the discussion…

– Childress said WR Randy Moss has done a good job of getting acclimated with the offense since arriving. Exactly how much Moss will play on Monday night is uncertain, but my sense is that he’ll be on the field more times than not. Childress also made a good point that Moss is able to help the Vikings with his knowledge of how the Jets defense operates as much as with his abilities as a receiver in the Vikings offense. Moss had been with New England since 2007 and has gotten quite familiar with the Jets defense over the year.

– Childress was asked about the injury to Cook and the head coach said he anticipates a quicker recovery from this knee injury than from the knee ailment that sidelined the rookie CB earlier in the season.

– QB Brett Favre is listed on the injury report with both ankle and right elbow injuries. Childress said the elbow issue came up after the bye week and he also said an MRI indicated a flare up. It’s something the team will monitor and manage but it doesn’t seem to be a major issue at this point.

– Finally, Childress said C John Sullivan, who is dealing with a pesky calf injury, continues to improve and has pushed through some on-field work lately. Sullivan will travel with the team to New York, so there’s a chance he could improve over the next 2 days and be on the field. Ryan Cook stepped in for Sullivan against the Detroit Lions in Week 3 and my guess is Cook would again be the replacement if Sullivan is unable to go.

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Vikings Defense Epitomizing Consistency Early In 2010 Season

Posted by cjsiewert on September 29, 2010 – 6:29 am

With so many different variables leading to ebbs and flows in the Vikings aerial attack along with other personnel finding a rhythm early in the regular season, the Purple are welcoming the bye week to rest and gain extra preparation for a Week 5 Monday night matchup against the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Yes, the Vikings have shown irregularities throughout the first 3 weeks. But one factor that’s been a consistent force is the play of the defense. Through 3 weeks the Vikings defense ranks in the top 5 in points (3rd-12.5 PPG) and yards allowed (5th-276.3 YPG) and also boasts an 8th-ranked passing (189.0 YPG) and rushing (87.3 YPG) defense.

The Purple have prided themselves on a dominant run defense ever since Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress’ arrival in 2006. The Lions were the latest team to face this staunch unit, as they were held to a season-low 63 yards rushing in last Sunday’s contest – nearly 100 yards less than Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s total for the game (160).

As the run defense continues its stout performance, so has the pass rush.

Obtaining such a balanced defense is one of many reasons the Vikings have yet to allow more than 14 points a game this season. Even with CBs Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin out for the first 2 weeks, the Vikings pass defense allowed only 237 yards against the pass-heavy Saints team in Week 1 and a dismal 114 yards in Week 2 against the Dolphins.

During the Vikings 24-10 victory over the Lions on Sunday at Mall of America Field, the Vikings secondary welcomed back both Cook and Griffin in route to allowing 237 passing yards. After Lions star rookie RB Jahvid Best left the game with a toe injury, Detroit turned one-dimensional with its aerial attack and the Vikings quickly adjusted. Lions QB Shaun Hill was held to a 69.6 passer rating and was intercepted by LB Ben Leber and CB Antoine Winfield late in the game, putting a halt to any sort of comeback.

As the Vikings defense continues to show its consistency in both the run and pass rush, it’s well known that everyone needs to stay confident in their specific role with 4 straight games against talented offenses – at New York, home against the Dallas Cowboys and then 2 road games against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.

“Going into the bye week you need to get more confidence going,” Vikings LB Chad Greenway told reporters after Sunday’s victory over the Lions. “Whatever injuries we do have, the bye week will take care of them and now we know the stretch we have coming out of the bye so we need to get at least mentally healthy.”

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Cook, Griffin Make Successful Returns To Lineup

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 27, 2010 – 8:25 am

An already impressively strong Vikings defense got a lot stronger on Sunday because CBs Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin made their returns to the lineup after battling back from knee injuries. As a result, the Vikings secondary played perhaps its best game of the short season.

Griffin injured his knee during last year’s NFC Championship Game and aggressively rehabbed the injury to the point where he wanted to be on the field at the commencement of training camp. The Vikings decided against that move but Griffin continued his hard work and was able to come back earlier than anyone anticipated.

Cook injured his knee at the end of the preseason and was forced to sit out the team’s first 2 regular season games. But he, too, worked hard to get back and made his return on Sunday along with Griffin. The ultimate result was a much deeper Vikings CB corps and a stronger secondary overall.

“Great to have those two guys back,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after the game. “It’s nice to have two bigger bodies in there. I know that Cedric contested a couple of passes, and Chris had a nice breakup. They’ll only get better and better as they get back into that football shape and practicing potentially as starters.”

Neither Griffin nor Cook were stars of the game so to speak, but as Childress pointed out they both had impact plays and their presence in the lineup added depth to the position and also made players around them better. I was told by someone after the game that S Husain Abdullah had his best game of the season and my sense is that it could have something to do with both Cook and Griffin being in the lineup.

Following the victory over Detroit, both Cook and Griffin spoke with reporters in the locker room and sounded like guys who approached their rehab the correct way and were also thrilled to be back in the action.

“When you take time away from the game, you learn a bit more,” Griffin explained. “Your awareness is heightened, you gain appreciation for the game and that’s what I did. I appreciate this game and I love this game. I’m glad my teammates supported me and the coaches allowed me to get back into practice and get up to speed and get back out here for the Lions.”

Cook spoke about battling an injury early in his 1st season as a pro.

“It did hurt mentally to get hurt early on but I’m a confident guy and I didn’t let it kill my confidence,” the rookie CB said. “I just looked at it as a minor setback with a major comeback. I just worked as hard as I can to get back.”

As I stated above, the Vikings defense was already a strong unit without Cook and Griffin in the lineup. But there’s no doubt that the defense is even better with both CBs on the field. It’ll be interesting to see if the presence of Cook and Griffin in the lineup will alter how assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier schemes and strategizes.

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Griffin To Make 1st Start After Knee Injury

Posted by cjsiewert on September 26, 2010 – 11:00 am

Vikings CB Cedric Griffin will make his 1st start of the 2010 season today against the Detroit Lions since suffering a torn ACL during the NFC Championship game last January. Griffin was listed as questionable leading up to today and the Vikings coaches made the decision to start the 5-year veteran in place of Lito Sheppard.

Rookie CB Chris Cook may be joining Griffin on the field today as he made the team’s active roster. Cook has not played since injuring his knee during the 3rd preseason game.

The pair of CBs rejoining the lineup comes as a welcome sight to the Purple who are looking for their 1st win of the season over tough Lions team.

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CBs Cook, Griffin Questionable; Leber Probable

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 24, 2010 – 3:25 pm

The Vikings and Lions have issued their Friday injury reports. Let’s get right down to the details…

The good news is that LB Ben Leber (back) was a full participant and is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. He was limited on Wednesday and Thursday and progressed to a full participant in Friday’s practice; it appears he’s in line to play this weekend. WR Percy Harvin (hip) was limited again today but that’s good news considering he missed Wednesday’s practice with the hip ailment and an illness.

There’s been speculation that both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin could suit up this weekend. Cook was a full participant on Friday and Griffin was limited; both are listed as questionable on the injury report and the jury is still out as to whether they’ll play on Sunday.

Here is where the other players on the Vikings injury report stand: DT Jimmy Kennedy (knee) is questionable and WR Bernard Berrian (knee), QB Brett Favre (ankle/elbow), T Bryant McKinnie (finger) and C John Sullivan (calf) are all probable.

For the Lions, QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder) has been ruled out, as expected. Also ruled out are WR Nate Burleson (ankle) and LB Zach Follett. Listed as questionable are: DE Cliff Avril (finger/knee), LB Landon Johnson (neck), LB DeAndre Levy (groin) and G Stephen Peterman (foot). Listed as probable are: S C.C. Brown (forearm), S Louis Delmas (biceps/calf/groin) and LB Ashlee Palmer (ankle).

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Cook, Harvin Good To Go For Sunday?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 24, 2010 – 6:16 am

Injuries have been a factor for the Vikings in the early portion of the 2010 season, but there were some positive developments on that front following Thursday’s practice.

After injuring his knee in the preseason, rookie CB Chris Cook has been out of action for the Vikings first 2 regular season games. Cook came on strong at the end of training camp and the preseason and was even in line to potentially start against the New Orleans Saints. But then a knee injury derailed him for a moment.

Cook was listed as a full participant for the 2nd consecutive day on Thursday and indications are that he may suit up and play on Sunday against the Lions. Cook’s presence in the defensive lineup would be a nice plus for the Vikings because they’re going against a WR with elite size and speed in Calvin Johnson. On top of that, Cook is solid in run support and the Lions bring with them a talented rookie RB in Jahvid Best who will test the Vikings run defense.

The other piece of good news on the injury front to come out of Thursday’s practice regarded WR Percy Harvin, who was listed on the week’s initial injury report as dealing with a hip injury and an illness; the illness designation indicates Harvin dealt with another migraine. Harvin missed practice on Wednesday but was back on the field as a limited participant on Thursday.

Following Thursday’s practice, Harvin told reporters he was feeling great, that he got a good night’s sleep on Wednesday night and woke up Thursday refreshed and that he rebounded quicker from this migraine than he typically had in the past.

“I’m not happy over the migraine, but I can’t ask to never have a headache again,” Harvin said. “But if I can go periods where I don’t get them, I’m happy with it.”

In addition to the migraine, Harvin is also dealing with a strained hip that has bothered him the past couple weeks. But as with the migraine, Harvin appears to be progressing well back to health and was able to practice with his teammates on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday.

“A lot of people said I looked normal,” Harvin said. “It feels good. It gets fatigued at times but with treatment and keep lifting and getting it back strong, it should make a full recovery.”

The key for both Cook and Harvin now is to see how they come back to work Friday following Thursday’s activity. Stay tuned for more as we’ll have Friday’s injury report as soon as it becomes available.

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Vikings Home Opener Fast Approaching

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 19, 2010 – 8:56 am

Players and coaches for both the Vikings and Dolphins are making their way onto the field for the early stages of their warmups, with kickoff between the two teams about 2 hours from the posting. The Vikings come in 0-1 after a season-opening loss at New Orleans while the Dolphins come in 1-0 after beginning their season with a road win over division foe Buffalo.

Be sure to stay tuned here because we’ll have constant pre-game updates as well as the game’s inactives about 90 minutes prior to kickoff. During the game we’ll be chatting live with fans to discuss the game and all things Vikings. And then after the game we’ll be streaming all Vikings press conferences live.

Vikings CBs Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin were out on the field a bit earlier testing their legs with trainers. No word yet on whether they’ll play or not but I think it’s a 50-50 proposition at best; me sense is they won’t suit up this week. WR Percy Harvin was listed as questionable on the injury report but given that he practice on Wednesday and Friday, I’m thinking he’ll be in action today.

We’ll know for sure on those 3 players in about 30 minutes when teams are required to submit their inactive list. That’s it for now but stay here for more pre-game updates.

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Vikings, Dolphins Issue Thursday Injury Reports

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 16, 2010 – 2:03 pm

The Vikings and Dolphins have released their Thursday injury reports and not much has changed for either team.

The only change is that WR Percy Harvin (hip) did not take part in practice. Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell did not offer any news when asked about Harvin’s status. Harvin’s absence from practice on Thursday is not entirely alarming but the team will certainly look for him to take part in Friday’s practice.

There were no other changes for either team. Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said both Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin are “improving” and “heading in the right direction.” Frazier also said the CBs “are not that far away from getting on the field.”

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Injuries Adding Up In NFC North

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 14, 2010 – 12:44 pm

Perhaps it’s no worse than any other division, but the injury situation in the NFC North is beginning to add up and make an impact quickly in the 2010 regular season. We are barely 1 week into things and already 3 of the 4 teams in the division have lost at least 1 starter for an extended period of time due to injury.

It began with the Vikings prior to the season, as they are missing starting WR Sidney Rice and a pair of CBs in Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin. Then this past weekend, other NFC North teams lost starters.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Green Bay Packers starting RB Ryan Grant will be placed on IR, ending his season after just 1 game. In Detroit, the Lions are unsure how long starting QB Matthew Stafford will be out with a shoulder injury, but reports indicate it could be as long as 6 weeks before he’s back under center. Fortunately for the Chicago Bears, they have not lost any starters to injury. [UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports that Bears starting LB Hunter Hillenmeyer is out for the season (illness).]

Although the Vikings are competing against the other 3 teams in the NFC North on a weekly basis, you hate to see players suffer injuries and you especially hate to see them miss extended periods of time because of those injuries. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game and all teams are in the same boat in that they must be dealt with on a weekly basis.

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Childress Saw “Some Good Things” From Vikings Secondary Vs. Saints

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 13, 2010 – 1:50 pm

The Vikings entered their season-opener against the New Orleans Saints with just 3 healthy CBs and a new starter at S in Husain Abdullah. Considering the Saints boasted last year’s #1 scoring offense and #4 passing offense and were also returning most of their starters, the Vikings secondary had a tall task at hand.

But Leslie Frazier’s defense rose to the challenge, holding Drew Brees and Co. under their average passing yards per game from a season ago and giving up just 14 points. The Vikings secondary was beaten for a long TD on the game’s 1st series and there were lapses in other junctures of the game, but by and large the Vikings secondary held their own.

A few days removed from the game, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress explained that he saw some positives from the secondary.

“I thought those guy did some good things, all the way around, whether it was Lito (Sheppard)playing at the right corner, Asher Allen swinging back and forth,” Childress said. “I thought they did some good things, particularly in terms of tackling. I saw Asher show up and be able to stick a knife in some things and Lito had a couple nice tackles as well. Antoine is Antoine.”

Both Winfield and Husain Abdullah had nice open field tackles against some of the Saints best playmakers, and Sheppard forced a key incompletion on a 3rd down pass to force a punt.

One of the reasons the Vikings had just 3 healthy CBs entering Week 1 is because 2nd round rookie CB Chris Cook injured his knee during the 4th preseason game. He’s expected to miss multiple weeks but he was able to return to the practice field on Monday with his teammates.

Childress indicated the rookie CB isn’t 100%, but it’s a good sign nonetheless that Cook is working his way back into the mix.

“He just went through some individual periods,” Childress said. “He doesn’t look completely comfortable. As always, it’ll be how he comes back in and treats and how he shows back up tomorrow. But he did some football specific stuff today out on the grass during individual (period).”

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