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A Look At Potential Backup Plans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 1, 2010 – 2:05 pm

It’s far too early to speculate (accurately) on whether DE Ray Edwards (ankle), LG Steve Hutchinson (hand) and RB Adrian Peterson (ankle) will be able to play on Sunday. All 3 are dealing with injuries coming out of last weekend’s win over the Washington Redskins and all 3 will be monitored closely leading up to this weekend’s game.

Whether they end up playing or not, the Vikings will have backup plans in place to make sure the team doesn’t miss a beat on Sunday while battling the Buffalo Bills. Let’s take a look at potential backup plans should any of the 3 players be unable to play.

DE Ray Edwards
It’s an inexact exercise to pinpoint how playing time will be distributed along the defensive line. More than any other position on the field, defensive line sees a rotation of players coming in and out of the game to keep legs fresh and effort level high. I’m guessing Brian Robison would get the start should Edwards be unable to go, but it’s a safe bet that every lineman who’s active will see more snaps in this scenario, including rookie Everson Griffen and DTs Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy.

LG Steve Hutchinson
Ryan Cook is the top reserve lineman for the Vikings, but he’s already in the lineup as Anthony Herrera’s replacement. As a result, rookie Chris DeGeare would get the call should Hutch be unable to go. DeGeare was selected in the 5th round of last April’s draft and he’s been among the inactives for the Vikings this season; he’s also been dealing with an ankle injury but is in-line to play if the need arises.

RB Adrian Peterson
We saw Peterson’s backup in action on Sunday against Washington, as rookie Toby Gerhart stepped in and picked up the slack. Gerhart rushed 22 times for 76 yards and 1 TD in Peterson’s stead, displaying the type of grit and toughness you’d like to see out of a RB. Obviously the Vikings are in a better position with both Gerhart and Peterson going, but last week was an indication that Gerhart can be the lead guy in a pinch. If it’s determined ahead of time that Peterson can’t play – as opposed to during the game – it’s likely that Albert Young would be activated for game day and join Gerhart and FB Fahu Tahi on the depth chart.


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More Monday Lament Following Loss To New England

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 1, 2010 – 6:35 am

We’ve been here before – lamenting another loss after a hard-fought contest on the road. The Vikings dropped a 28-18 decision to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday to fall to 2-5 on the season. That’s 8 straight losses on the road now and it’s another game where the Vikings battled and hung in there to have a chance in the 4th quarter to pull out a victory.

The main storyline going into the game was the status of QB Brett Favre and his injured ankle. Favre treated the ankle all week and made the push to Sunday, eventually starting the game and playing well against New England. He was 22 of 32 for 259 yards on the night until he took a hit on a 3rd and 3 play midway through the 4th quarter. The hit knocked Favre out of the game and 8 stitches were required to close the wound.

Tarvaris Jackson came in to replace Favre and he promptly threw a 1-yard TD to FB Fahu Tahi and followed that up with a 2-point conversion toss to WR Percy Harvin, closing the gap to 21-18 with 7:31 to play in the game. Despite a couple of fluke plays that went New England’s way, the Vikings were in the game deep into the 4th quarter. But that’s when the Patriots offensive line – and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis – took the game over and salted away the victory.

QB Tom Brady led New England on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 5:30 and was capped by a 2-yard Green-Ellis TD plunge on 3rd and goal from the 2. Green-Ellis had 62 yards rushing on 7 attempts during the drive and he totaled 108 yards on 13 carries in the 2nd half. New England Head Coach Bill Belichick did a masterful job of clock management and the Patriots offense simply ran the ball down the throats of the most dominant run defenses in the NFL over the past 4 seasons. It was a sight similar to what happened at New Orleans in Week 1 late in the game.

The Green-Ellis TD and ensuing PAT put New England up 28-18 and the Vikings didn’t have enough time to muster a comeback.

The Vikings held statistical advantages in key areas, including 1st downs (23-18), net yards (410-362), penalties, and time of possession (35:08 to 24:52). But New England edged out the Vikings in a few other categories, such as 3rd down efficiency (55% to 36%), red zone efficiency (100% to 50%), goal-to-go efficiency (100% to 67%) and turnovers (Vikings had 1, Patriots had 0). And the Patriots won in the statistical category that matters the most – points.

It’s a familiar formula that yielded a similar result. The Vikings battled and battled, did a lot of good things, but came up just short in the end.


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FB Fahu Tahi Signs Tender

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 13, 2010 – 9:08 am

Yesterday 3 players who were formerly restricted free agents (RFAs) signed their tenders. Today, another Vikings RFA has signed his tender.

FB Fahu Tahi is now under contract with the Vikings and will join the team’s offseason program. Tahi, who played college football at BYU, has been with the Vikings since 2006.

There are now just 2 Vikings RFAs who have not signed their tenders – DE Ray Edwards and QB Tarvaris Jackson.


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Report: Paymah To Become Free Agent

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 3, 2010 – 2:16 pm

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune writes that the Vikings will not extend a qualifying offer to Karl Paymah, meaning the CB will hit the free agent market on Thursday evening at 11:01 p.m. CT.

As a 5-year veteran, Paymah was one of many players who had an expiring contract this offseason but would not become an unrestricted free agent because of the new rules that govern an uncapped year. But if the Vikings do not tender Paymah, he’ll become a free agent and can sign with any team.

The Vikings have several other players currently on the roster who have expiring contracts but also have fewer than the 6 required years to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs). They are: OL Ryan Cook, DE Ray Edwards, DT Fred Evans, S Eric Frampton, QB Tarvaris Jackson and FB Fahu Tahi. The Vikings have until 10:59 p.m. on Thursday night to extend qualifying offers to these players or else they, too, become free agents and can sign with any team beginning at 11:01 p.m. on Thursday.

Going back to Paymah, he was a free agent signing from last offseason and was involved in the training camp battle for the nickel back position. He saw most of his time on special teams and also saw the field after Antoine Winfield injured his foot against Baltimore in Week 6. Ultimately, Paymah played in 12 games for the Vikings but he didn’t crack the lineup after the Vikings Week 13 loss at Arizona.


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Friday Notes Before The Big Game Against Big D

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 15, 2010 – 9:22 am

Will this game ever get here?! It’s been 12 days since the Vikings last played and we still have to wait 2 more days before they play again.

It feels like we’ve analyzed every possible aspect of this game over the past 5 days, from blogging about it to the news articles we’ve posted to my conversation with PA on his 9-noon show on Thursday. Here are a few random thoughts and updates on previous thoughts…

– In our Monday morning preview video we cited health as one of the key storylines in this matchup. As it turns out, both teams appear to be fairly healthy with the  game just 2 days away. Only one player for the Vikings has missed practice this week (FB Fahu Tahi) and the Cowboys expect to have both Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in their backfield.

– You’ve surely heard ad nauseam about the importance of the Vikings pass protection against Cowboys edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. I won’t dismiss that point – it’s key in this game – but a few things to follow up on that. First, don’t forget about the middle of Dallas’ defensive line, which features Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff. He’s good against the pass and the run, as we point out here. Secondly, the Vikings have a couple of good edge rushers, too, in DEs Jared Allen (14.5 sacks) and Ray Edwards (8.5 sacks). Lastly, I’m actually anticipating that both the Vikings and Cowboys offenses will find a way to scheme against those lethal pass rushes and at least avoid disaster. So, which team can find the best antidote?

– Here’s something we haven’t discussed this week: Cowboys CB Terence Newman is very good. Whichever Vikings WR he lines up against will have a challenge.

– I brought this up with PA Thursday on the radio. QB Brett Favre did not guarantee a victory during his Wednesday press conference. The fact that some media outlets took what he said and turned it into a guarantee is quite a stretch, but I get it – stretching it into a guarantee creates buzz and promotes the self-interests of said media outlets. Favre said he would be shocked if he weren’t doing another Wednesday press conference next week. What else should he say? On top of that, he said Dallas is playing as well as any other team in the NFL right now. Let’s move on.

– I haven’t really shared this opinion on the site because I myself don’t want to be the source of inflammatory remarks regarding the coming opponent. But it’s Friday and we’re close to the game, so here it goes. I think the Vikings can take advantage of the middle of the field on offense. I like guys such as Chester Taylor, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin working the middle and taking advantage of one-on-one mismatches. Conversely, the Vikings defense must be on their “A” game when defending the middle of the field. TE Jason Witten is a player and when players such as RB Felix Jones and WR Miles Austin get the ball in their hands, the Vikings defense must tackle them. Tackling issues – something the Vikings defense has had periodically this season – will devastate the Vikings if they arise again on Sunday against Dallas.

– There is going to be at least one key special teams play in this game. Special teams play often goes under the radar, unless there’s a big breakdown. But collectively, special teams ends up playing just as much of a factor in the outcome of a game as offense or defense. Regardless, you’re going to see a combination of at least a few big plays on special teams. Whether those plays are returns, turnovers, blocked kicks, kickoffs out of bounds to give away great field position, I don’t know. But I have a feeling that someone, somehow is going to make a big impact on special teams. Right now I’m sensing a big return somewhere along the line by either Percy Harvin or Patrick Crayton, a FG at the end of the game or a blocked FG/punt in the middle of the game.


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Tahi Added To Injury Report; No Other Changes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 14, 2010 – 3:45 pm

Thursday’s injury report didn’t look much different than Wednesday’s for the Vikings or Cowboys, with only one change for each team.

The Vikings added FB Fahu Tahi to the report, indicating he didn’t participate in practice because of a back ailment. Everyone else on the Vikings report was limited; you can read the full report by clicking here.

For Dallas, the only change was that RB Marion Barber (knee) was a limited participant on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Everyone else on the Cowboys report was a full participant.


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FB Tahi: No Glory, No Problem

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 13, 2010 – 9:00 am

Vikings FB Fahu Tahi does the dirty work – lead blocking for RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor and pass protecting for QB Brett Favre – without much recognition.

In the Vikings season finale, though, it was a lack of recognition by the opposing defense that allowed Tahi to do something he had never done in his NFL career – catch a TD pass.

The play came on a 4th and 1 from the goal line in the 3rd quarter. Tahi snuck out of the backfield and QB Brett Favre found him wide open in the endzone for the TD, the 1st of Tahi’s pro career.

In a Q&A session with NFLPlayers.com, Tahi discussed the scoring play.

“It felt good because I hadn’t scored a touchdown since college,” Tahi said after identifying it as the highlight of the season for him to this point. “With it being my first, I didn’t really know how to react, but it was a nice feeling to finally get in.”

Although Tahi calls that TD the highlight of his season, don’t mistake the battering ram FB for a me-first type of player.

“It sounds cliché, but this is a team sport,” Tahi told Mike Donnelly of NFLPlayers.com. “In the NFL, you have your stars like your Brett Favres and Adrian Petersons who are on the same side of the ball as me, and of course they’re going to get a lot of the limelight, but it doesn’t bother me. I’m just glad I can play football and I just want to go out there and do my job and help my team to win every Sunday.”

To read the full Q&A piece with Donnelly and Tahi, click here.


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Reynaud Reflects On Henry’s Passing

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 17, 2009 – 4:40 pm

By now you’ve likely heard of the tragic death of Bengals WR Chris Henry, who passed away on Thursday one day after falling out of the back of a pickup truck during what police said was a domestic dispute with his fiancée.

A tragedy such as Henry’s passing has a wide-ranging impact that begins with family and friends and spreads to teammates and the rest of the NFL, including the Vikings.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress mentioned to reporters on Thursday after practice that both FB Fahu Tahi and S Madieu Williams knew Henry from their time as Bengals players.

Another Vikings player – WR Darius Reynaud – was also connected to the fallen WR. Both Henry and Reynaud attended West Virginia University and the two were even teammates during the 2004 season. On top of that, Henry and Reynaud grew up 30 miles from one another just outside of New Orleans.

Reynaud said he remembers playing against Henry in high school and that once the two were both at West Virginia Henry took Reynaud under his wing and taught him how to be a WR.

“He took me in and showed me how to be a receiver,” Reynaud said on Thursday. “It was devastating to hear what happened yesterday (Wednesday). I’m still shocked to this point. He had just done an interview talking about his life changing around. And you could tell by the way he was talking that he’s changed.

“Just to hear what happened…life is short man. You’ve got to cherish every moment and live every day like it’s your last.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to Henry, his family and friends and the Bengals organization.


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Vikings FB Familiar With Bengals

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 10, 2009 – 6:55 am

Though certainly not enough to lend any game-planning advantage, FB Fahu Tahi has some familiarity with the Vikings opponent this Sunday at Mall of America Field.

Tahi was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of BYU in 2006 but didn’t make the final roster cut coming out of training camp. He was signed to the practice squad but was later released, which prompted him to sign with the Vikings in November of 2006.

Tahi played mostly special teams and some spot duty on offense in 2007, but in 2008 he won a starting job for the Vikings. This past offseason the Bengals signed Tahi to an offer sheet, but the Vikings matched it and the 6-0, 254-pound battering ram remained in purple as RB Adrian Peterson’s lead blocker.

Now Tahi is just a few days away from facing his former team – the same team that pursued him this past offseason and the same team on which his cousin, FB Fui Vakapuna, plays. The Vikings FB said there were still a few players left from his time in Cincinnati but that for the most part there are a lot of new faces.

Tahi said that in his short time with the Bengals in 2006 most of the players he got to know were on offense. But now that he’s on the Vikings offense, Tahi is familiarizing himself with the Bengals defense.

“Their whole front seven is playing really good football right now,” the physical FB said on Wednesday. “My buddy Jonathan Fanene, we were roommates in Cincinnati, he’s playing really well. He’s stepped in and played really good football.”

“I think a big difference in their defense is Rey Maualuga. He’s doing a great job for their linebackers. As I said, their whole front seven is playing very well right now.”


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Vote Vikings To The Pro Bowl

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 17, 2009 – 3:37 pm

Late in October, we wrote in this space that Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie was having a Pro Bowl caliber season. And according to information released by the NFL today, fans seem to agree with us.

McKinnie is 1 of 10 Vikings who currently are the leading vote-getters at their position. Both G Steve Hutchinson and C John Sullivan lead their positions in votes, as do fellow offensive players RB Adrian Peterson and Fahu Tahi. QB Brett Favre, who has a league-best 107.5 passer rating, doesn’t lead all QBs in voting (Drew Brees is #1) but Favre is the 4th-leading vote-getter in the entire NFL, behind Brees, Peyton Manning and Peterson.

Defensively, DE Jared Allen and DT Pat Williams lead their position in votes.

The Vikings also have 4 special teams players who lead in votes, with Heath Farwell leading in special teamer votes, Percy Harvin the leading vote-getter among kickoff returners, Chris Kluwe leading among punters and Ryan Longwell the #1 vote-getter among kickers.

Fans, click here to increase the vote total for the 10 Vikings leaders and also to cast votes for other deserving players on the Vikings roster.

 


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