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Fan Email: Is Jabar Gaffney A Good Fit For Vikings?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 3, 2012 – 6:30 am

Whenever a recognizable name becomes available, whether it is via trade rumors or free agency – the first thing that comes to mind for many fans and football observers is, “Is he a good fit here?” And so, with the Washington Redskins releasing WR Jabar Gaffney earlier this week, I’ve received several emails from fans asking if the Vikings would be a good match for his services.

It appears the answer is no.

As they do with every player who becomes available, the Vikings will likely discuss Gaffney’s availability and evaluate whether or not he’s a good fit here. It appears Gaffney has plenty of gas left in the tank. He may be 31 years old, but he’s coming off a season in which he recorded career highs in receptions (68) and receiving yards (947), and tied a career high with 5 TDs.

But I’m just not sure he’s a good fit here. The Vikings signed 4-year veteran Jerome Simpson last week, they have veterans Devin Aromashodu, Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins set to return, and they selected two WRs in the 4th round of last weekend’s draft (Greg Childs and Jarius Wright). That’s not to say any of those receivers are superior to Gaffney – they may be, they may not – but it does yield the conclusion that Minnesota may not be a great fit for Gaffney.

The other factor to keep in mind is that for a team and a player to join forces, there must be mutual interest. This is something many fans didn’t consider with regard to the Asante Samuel situation. Yes, the Atlanta Falcons acquired his services for a moderate price from the Philadelphia Eagles, but not every team had the same opportunity as Atlanta. Samuel identified Atlanta has a desirable destination, and he was therefore willing to talk turkey with them in terms of restructuring his contract.

Gaffney will now be in a similar situation. There will be a demand for his services, so Gaffney will choose his next team among multiple options. The smart money should be on the New England Patriots, the team for which he played from 2006-08, especially after ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweeted this. While there is a deep crop of WRs in New England, Gaffney will likely begin his next stint with the Patriots as one of the preferred pass-catchers given his familiarity with the organization and Tom Brady from his first stint with the team, as well as his familiarity with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after their time together with the Denver Broncos from 2009-10.


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Vikings Utilize Draft, Free Agency To Upgrade WR Position

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 30, 2012 – 6:27 am

The Vikings entered the offseason with several items on their to-do list, and one of those items was “upgrade the WR position.” Over the past week or so, the Vikings have done a nice job of utilizing the draft and free agency to do just that.

A week ago, the Vikings returning receivers with significant playing time under their belt from the 2011 season were limited to: Devin Aromashodu, Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins. Several young players, including Manny Arceneaux and Stephen Burton, were also in the fold, but none of them contributed significantly a season ago.

Fast-forward to now, though, and you see improvement. No one will characterize the Vikings WR position as an embarrassment of riches at this point, but there is plenty of reason for optimism about what the Vikings have added.

It started prior to the draft, when the Vikings reached agreement on a free agent contract with veteran Jerome Simpson. A 2nd-round pick of the Bengals in 2008, Simpson had his best season a year ago when he hauled in 50 receptions for 725 yards and 4 TDs. He brings good size and elite athleticism to the Vikings WR corps, and will provide the Vikings offense with the outside, field-stretching presence it needs.

Then during the draft, the Vikings used two 4th-round selections to add even more talent to the group. Jarius Wright, an explosive and ultra-productive slot receiver for Arkansas, was added first. Just minutes later, the Vikings also added Greg Childs, a childhood friend and college teammate of Wright’s. Childs is the prototypical outside WR because of his great size (6-3, 219 pounds) and speed (4.54 in 40-yard dash) combination along with his ability to make acrobatic catches and win versus coverage down the field.

Again, let’s not put the cart before the horse and declare mission accomplished when it comes to improving the passing game. But there’s no question the Vikings added 3 talented players to their WR corps over the last week, and that’s an exciting development for Vikings fans and surely for Vikings QB Christian Ponder.


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Vikings Bring Back WR Aromashodu

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 28, 2012 – 9:53 am

The Vikings are in the midst of reshuffling their roster, placing an emphasis on getting younger and building for the long-term while also trying to fill needs. While he won’t solve every problem the Vikings have at the position, WR Devin Aromashodu has been identified as a player who fits within the team’s plans for 2012.

The Vikings have re-signed Aromashodu, who set career highs with 26 receptions for 468 yards along with 3 TDs and 2 special teams tackles last season, his first with the Vikings. Going into his 6th NFL season in 2012, the Florida native has appeared in 46 games over his career, including 11 starts.

Drafted by Miami in the 7th round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Aromashodu spent time in Indianapolis from 2006-07 and Chicago from 2008-10 before coming to Minnesota.


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Aromashodu Impresses With Diving 1st-Quarter TD Catch

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 3, 2011 – 6:55 am

Prior to this season, the only memory Vikings fans had of WR Devin Aromashodu was of him sprinting under a Jay Cutler-thrown pass to haul it in and score a TD in overtime to defeat the Vikings at Soldier Field during the 2009 season. But now, Vikings fan can replace that memory with a better one.

Aromashodu did to the Chiefs what he did to the Vikings back in 2009, except it wasn’t a game-winning score in overtime. It was a 34-yard pass from Donovan McNabb in the 1st quarter that gave the Vikings an early 7-3 lead. Click here to watch a video replay of the TD.

On the play, Aromashodu was lined up wide on the left side of the field, with CB Brandon Carr lined up in coverage. The Chiefs were playing with a single high safety. McNabb was under center, took the snap, gave a little play-action fake to Peterson and saw that Aromashodu flew right past Carr. McNabb lofted a pass into the end zone and Aromashodu caught up to the pass, left his feet fully extended and was able to catch and maintain possession as he fell to the ground.

Even in a game that resulted in another Vikings loss, that play by Aromashodu is encouraging. And it makes you wonder what other kinds of plays the 4-year veteran can make if he’s given a chance. Aromashodu was a standout on special teams during the preseason, and I fully appreciate his value there. But I must also say it would be a welcomed addition to the offense if Aromashodu can find ways to make plays in the passing game, too.


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Vikings Drop 22-17 Road Decision To Chiefs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 2, 2011 – 4:25 pm

The Vikings went to Kansas City this weekend looking for their first win of the 2011 season, but they came up short in their attempt as the Chiefs defeated them 22-17 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It’s another frustrating loss for the Vikings because they held advantages in TDs scored, 1st downs, red zone scoring efficiency, rushing yards and time of possession, yet came away with their 4th consecutive loss.

Another solid outing from the Vikings defense kept Kansas City’s offense in check for much of the afternoon. The Chiefs entered the red zone three times on the afternoon, yet never scored when threatening. K Ryan Succop was called upon to convert a career-high 5 FG attempts, and he also nailed a career-high 54-yarder along the way. The Chiefs only TD came on a 52-yard bomb from QB Matt Cassel to playmaking WR Dwayne Bowe.

The Vikings offense, meanwhile, did find the end zone twice on Donovan McNabb TD tosses to Devin Aromashodu early and Michael Jenkins late, but they were unable to outscore the Chiefs. Kansas City’s #1 defensive priority was clearly to stop RB Adrian Peterson - he had 80 yards on 23 carries – but that allowed the Vikings to attack creatively in other areas, such as with Percy Harvin on end-arounds and with TE Visanthe Shiancoe through the air. Harvin had 67 rushing yards on 4 carries and Shiancoe had 6 receptions for 58 yards.

Ultimately, though, the Vikings couldn’t drive for a TD late in the game and Kansas City was able to pickup a 1st down when they needed it most, allowing them to run out the clock on the Vikings defense. The Chiefs came away with the win, their first of the season. The loss for the Vikings dropped them to 0-4 on the season as they return home this week to prepare for a contest against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at Mall of America Field.


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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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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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Vikings Special Teams Give Strong Showing

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 15, 2011 – 7:11 am

It’s generally not something you find football fans talking about, but it’s a vital part of every team and it’s an important factor in every game. We’re talking about special teams. And this preseason for the Vikings, it’s an especially important group to watch because there’s a new special teams coordinator in town with Mike Priefer aboard.

After one preseason game, it’s so far, so good for Priefer’s special teams groups. In what was mostly an uninspiring performance from the Vikings on Saturday night in Tennessee, the special teams groups looked strong. Let’s take a moment to point out a few of the strongpoints…

– P Chris Kluwe had a nice night, booming five punts and generating an average of 41.6 yards per punt and 39.4 net yards per punt; a net average of 39.4 yards would’ve ranked Kluwe 4th among all punters last year. Also, Kluwe put two of his five punts inside the 20-yardline and only three of his punts were returned.

– The Vikings punt coverage unit performed well in unison with Kluwe, allowing just 3.7 yards per return on three attempts.

– On kickoff returns, the Vikings averaged 26.0 yards per try, which would’ve ranked them 2nd in the NFL last year. In kickoff return coverage, the Vikings allowed just 19.0 yards per return, which also would’ve ranked them 2nd best in the NFL last year.

– Give credit to the group of Kluwe, K Ryan Longwell and long snapper Cullen Loeffler because they didn’t have a botched snap, hold or kick all night. Longwell was true from 37 yards out to give the Vikings their only points.

– WR Jaymar Johnson, who is trying to earn a spot on the WR depth chart, certainly helped his cause by performing on special teams. He returned a punt 40 yards in the second half, displaying a quick burst and then excellent top-end speed on the play. Another WR – Devin Aromashodu – who is also trying to win a spot on the WR depth chart helped himself on special teams as well by notching a tackle.

– Others who chipped in with special teams tackles were LB Larry Dean, S Eric Frampton and LB Heath Farwell.


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Vikings Make Several Roster Moves Official

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2011 – 12:15 pm

On the same day that Vikings players and coaches will check in to 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, the team also made official several roster moves. We’ll break them down for you right here, but we’ll also post the full press release this afternoon on the home page of vikings.com.

The Vikings signed a pair of veteran WRs to shore up that position, bringing aboard Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins. Aromashodu, who is 6-2, 201 pounds, was most recently with the Chicago Bears – you’ll remember he had a huge game and the game-winning catch against the Vikings in overtime during the 2009 season – and he possesses a combination of speed and toughness. Jenkins comes from Atlanta, where he was coached by George Stewart for two seasons before Stewart joined the Vikings and where he was with current Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave for several seasons. Jenkins knows the Vikings offense inside and out and he provides Donovan McNabb a big target because he measures in at 6-4, 217 pounds.

The team reached agreement with five of its own free agents, re-signing the following: S Husain Abdullah, DT Fred Evans, S Eric Frampton, LB Erin Henderson and K Ryan Longwell.

Lastly, the Vikings signed their entire 2011 draft class, including first-round pick QB Christian Ponder.


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