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A Few Friday Fun Facts

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 12, 2010 – 9:52 am

While we’re waiting for head coach Brad Childress to meet with reporters for the final time this week in advance of the Bears game and while we’re also waiting word on the status of Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, let’s get through some easy reading. Here are a few fun facts for Friday morning…

– The Vikings and Bears will play for the 99th time in their series history on Sunday. The Vikings lead the all-time series with the Bears 52-44-2.

– Minnesota is 4-4 vs. the Bears since Brad Childress took over the team in 2006. The Bears swept the ’06 season. The Vikings bounced back and swept the ’07 series. The two teams split in 2008 and 2009, each winning their home games.

– Former Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice is currently the Bears OL coach.

– Childress is from Aurora, IL, attended college at the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois, and coached at the University
of Illinois. Vikings DT Fred Evans is from Chicago and attended Morgan Park High. Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy is from Elmwood Park, IL.

– Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier played CB for the Bears from 1981-85 and was a starter on their 1985 Super Bowl team.

– The Vikings win last week snapped a 4-game overtime losing streak and improved the team’s record to 17-3 in their last 20 games at Mall of America Field (2008-10).

– The Vikings-Cardinals game was the 3rd straight game in which the Vikings tallied over 400 yards of offense (10/24 at GB – 402, 10/31 at NE – 410, 11/7 vs. ARI -507).

– WR Percy Harvin ranks 2nd in the NFL with 1,228 combined net yards in 2010.


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Vikings Conclude A Highlight-Filled Practice #2

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2010 – 11:38 am

Practice #2 of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp was highlight-filled, as the squad begins to hit full stride here in Mankato in preparation for the upcoming season. The team practiced for approximately 2 hours in warm and partly cloudy conditions.

All 3 Vikings coordinators held press conferences following practice, so stay tuned for quotes and comments from that. Also, CJ got together with LB Jasper Brinkley and will have a report on him and the Vikings defense later today.

Tonight is Football and Fireworks Night at Verizon Vikings Training Camp, as the team will practice under the lights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:55 p.m. and then fans will be entertained with a fireworks display right after practice.

Let’s run through a few highlights from this morning’s practice…

– You’ve heard the expression “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” several times in the past. The expression typically represents a moment when an NFL rookie experiences a “wake up” call during practice, usually a big hit that jars them a bit. Rookie RB Toby Gerhart got his “Welcome to the NFL” moment today…a couple times. DT Pat Williams got him first after the RB caught a pass in the right flats and then Brinkley jolted Gerhart a few plays later as he waited to catch another pass. Neither hit was malicious and Gerhart wasn’t the least bit shaken up by them, but it did generate a reaction from the crowd and you know that Williams and Brinkley got a little joy out of the moment.

– There is a drill called the “inside skeleton” where QBs, RBs and TEs work together in a passing exercise against LBs and Ss. In the early part of an inside skeleton drill, both Chad Greenway and Ben Leber stepped in front of passes to nab INTs. Greenway’s came off of rookie Joe Webb and Leber’s came off of veteran Sage Rosenfels. But Rosenfels bounced back right away to complete a pair of nice passes, the first to TE Garrett Mills over Jamarca Sanford and the next one to RB Darius Reynaud over LB Heath Farwell.

– Speaking of Reynaud, the converted RB ran with the 3rd team offense primarily today, with Gerhart and 3-year veteran Albert Young rotating between the 1st and 2nd teams. It’s too early to glean much off of the rotations right now, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.

– While we’re on the topic of depth charts, one spot I’m curious to watch develop during training camp and the preseason is DT. This morning, Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy took the most reps with the 2nd team defense.

– CB Antoine Winfield generated some laughs from the crowd this morning. He was standing on the sidelines while WR Greg Lewis and CB Marcus Sherels went head-to-head in the 1-on-1 portion of practice. Lewis and Sherels got locked up right off the line of scrimmage at the snap and eventually Sherels was on the ground and Lewis was running away with a reception. Seeing Sherels thrown to the ground, Winfield tossed his sweat towel in the air to signify a pass interference penalty flag, right in front of the bleachers off of field #1. The crowd got a kick out of it.

– Later during 1-on-1s, CB Lito Sheppard locked up WR Marko Mitchell with an impressive display of press coverage and DeAndre Wright made a nice play on a deep pass down the left sideline that was intended for Logan Payne.

– One of the most impressive offensive plays of the day came when QB Tarvaris Jackson threaded the needle on a pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe down the right seam during 7-on-7 work.

– And finally, during team work near the end of practice, S Husain Abdullah stepped in front of a Jackson pass to notch an INT. On the play, Jackson executed a play-action fake and then bootlegged to the right. He slipped and tried to get a pass out to the flats anyway, but Abdullah was there to jump the route and pick off the pass.


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More Reports On Vikings RFA Tenders

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 4, 2010 – 8:19 am

We mentioned yesterday that the Vikings haven’t confirmed any restricted free agent (RFA) tender information, and likely won’t do so until the deadline tonight at 10:59 CT, but that won’t stop external sources from revealing the information.

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune is reporting that the Vikings have tendered DT Fred Evans at the 2nd round level and QB Tarvaris Jackson at the 3rd round level (explanation of the 3rd round tender here). This means that the Vikings have extended qualifying offers to both players and that if either player signs with another team the Vikings will have the right of first refusal and they would receive draft pick compensation.

We’ll continue to pass along information when appropriate, but remember that this information is only being reported and has not been confirmed by the club.


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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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Hutchinsons To Host Holiday Party At Children’s Hospital

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 22, 2009 – 9:18 am

Since All- Pro G Steve Hutchinson signed with the Vikings in 2006, he’s made a significant impact on the team’s running game and overall success.

But the football field is not the only place Hutchinson can make a difference.

Hutchinson has been one of the team’s most-active members in community outreach, and he comes up especially big during the Holiday season. Over the past couple of years, Hutchinson and his wife, Landyn, have hosted an early Thanksgiving meal at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

The Thanksgiving meals were so successful and impactful that the Hutchinson’s decided to have a Holiday Party every year, too.

Later today at the Children’s Hospital, Steve and Landyn will host their Holiday Party for young patients and their families – roughly 100 people.

The visit will take place in the Bridges Cafeteria and he Hutchinsons have purchased gifts for every young patient staying in the hospital.

A few of Hutchinson’s teammates – OT Pat Brown, DE Fred Evans and C John Sullivan – will be joining the Hutchinsons this afternoon.


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Vikings Inactives

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 20, 2009 – 10:27 am

Each game day 90 minutes prior to kickoff, teams are required to disclose their 8 inactive players and emergency QB. The Vikings inactives are QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Jaymar Johnson, WR Greg Lewis, CB Asher Allen, S Husain Abdullah, LB Erin Henderson, Kory Lichtensteiger and DT Jimmy Kennedy.

There are a couple of changes from last week’s inactives. In Cleveland, DT Letroy Guion was up and Fred Evans was down. This week against the Lions, both Evans and Guion are up but DT Jimmy Kennedy is down. S Jamarca Sanford was also down last week, but this week he’ll be active and will play in his 1st NFL regular season game, while Abdullah will be inactive.

The QB situation will be the same this week as it was in the season-opener. Tarvaris Jackson will backup Favre and Rosenfels will be the emergency QB.

With both Johnson and Lewis inactive, it seems Berrian continues to recover from his hamstring injury and didn’t come away from last week’s game in Cleveland any worse for the wear.


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WR Berrian Active; Jackson To Backup Favre

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 13, 2009 – 10:38 am

The Vikings have announced the active/inactive players for today’s season opener in Chicago Cleveland and WR Bernard Berrian, who has been battling a hamstring injury and whose status for today’s game was in question, is among the 45 active players for the Vikings.

Inactive for the Vikings today will be: QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Jaymar Johnson, WR Greg Lewis, S Jamarca Sanford, LB Erin Henderson, C Kory Lichtensteiger and DT Fred Evans. Rosenfels will be the 3rd (emergency) QB today and Tarvaris Jackson will backup Brett Favre.

It’s interesting that both WRs Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis are inactive. That leaves the Vikings with 4 receivers active for today, indicating that Berrian isn’t expected to be hampered by the injury. Berrian was listed as questionable in the Vikings injury report on Friday.

It’s also interesting that Evans is inactive. Looks like Letroy Guion, a 5th round draft choice last year by the Vikings, will get a chance to play significant minutes today behind Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.


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Analyzing Training Camp Battles – Backup Defensive Tackle

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2009 – 8:30 am

Training camp continues to creep closer, as we are now only about 48 hours from the 1st practice (as of this posting). Players have begun to arrive back in Minnesota, much of the Vikings football staff has migrated to Mankato and Brett Favre has made his decision. So now we just have to finish up our “Analyzing Training Camp Battles” series here in the vikings.com Blog.

So far, we’ve taken a look at RT, nickel back and WR in this series. Next up is the backup DT position, followed in the next 2 days by the backup LB spot and QB.

The Vikings have led the league in rushing defense the past 3 seasons, a feat that has not been accomplished in the modern day NFL (since the 1970 merger). And the anchor of this dominant run defense is the Vikings excellent DT tandem of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Since Pat Williams signed with the Vikings in 2005, the tandem has appeared in 3 Pro Bowls together.

Given how important the Williams Wall is to the Vikings defense, it’s also important for the Vikings to have solid backup options in the event that the Williams Wall suddenly becomes the William Wall or no wall at all. This happened last year, when Pat Williams was injured and was forced to miss the final 2 games of the regular season.

As the team opens camp, there are 3 veterans who will be the primary candidates to backup the Williams Wall – Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy. As it stands right now, Evans is probably the most reliable option, given his presence in the DL rotation over the past 2 seasons. Kennedy, a former 1st round pick, was added as a free agent last year and Guion was a 5th round pick in the 2008 draft.

Guion is the wild card in this position battle because although he hasn’t played in many games since being drafted, he continues to be included in the team’s plans. He was inactive for 15 of the Vikings 17 games in 2008, seeing action at Tennessee in Week 4 and then also at Detroit in Week 14. Guion stands at 6-4, 303 pounds, so on paper he appears to have the physical stature to hold up in the trenches. Now, he must go to work during camp and prove that he can hold up on the field, too.

Aside from those 3 veterans, the Vikings also have a couple of undrafted rookies who will be added to this competition.  They are Antoine Holmes (NC State) and Tremaine Johnson (LSU). Both players are 6-2 and weigh in a roughly 290 pounds, and both players will look to learn behind a pair of Pro Bowlers. Holmes, who was a junior college transfer, played both DE and DT at NC State. Johnson played behind Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, a pair of 1st round DTs, during his career at LSU. As a freshman at LSU, Johnson was coached by Karl Dunbar, who is now the Vikings DL coach.

It’s always a numbers game for the coaching staff when it’s time to decide how many DL to keep on the 53-man roster. Given his past with the Vikings, look for Evans to be a favorite to get one backup spot. But any other spots that become available are wide open as the team is nearly set to open training camp.


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