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Murphy Pleased With Camarillo’s Performance As Punt Returner

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2010 – 1:19 pm

The Vikings traded for Greg Camarillo earlier this season to fortify their depth at WR, but as it turns out Camarillo’s greatest contribution to the team has been as a punt returner. Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy was complimentary of Camarillo when asked about him at today’s press conference.

“He’s lent a sense of stability back there,” Murphy said. “Great decision maker; very secure with the ball and pushes the ball up the field. That’s what you want out of your punt returner.”

In looking at his statistics, you won’t be blown away by Camarillo. He ranks 16th in the NFL with a return average of 8.8 yards, has 0 return TDs and his long return of the season is 22 yards. But perhaps more important than the ability to provide explosive returns in the punt game is the ability to bring stability to the role. In that regard, Camarillo has been perfect (0 fumbles this season).

“The whole object is to get the ball back to the offense,” Murphy explained. “If you’re not going to score with it, make sure that the offense gets a chance to line up on the next snap.”

Murphy added that Camarillo’s performance is even more impressive given the conditions the Vikings have seen throughout the year with cold-weather games at New England and at Chicago – plus the Vikings play at Philadelphia 3 weeks.

“The ability to have the guy back there, especially considering the outdoor games we have in tough conditions, he has played extremely well,” Murphy said.  “In some of those outdoor games, and I’m sure that Philadelphia is going to be no different that time of the year, you’re glad Greg Camarillo is back there to return punts because he’s going to give the ball back to the offense if we don’t score with it.”


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Vikings WRs: Rehabbing, Relieved and Restless

Posted by cjsiewert on September 15, 2010 – 6:46 am

The Vikings came into the preseason confident in their group of WRs, on both the talent available and the depth it possessed. Things have changed since that time with marquee WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice missing extended time recently. This forced the Vikings to make a few moves and eventually settle on and trade for the sure-handed Greg Camarillo from the Miami Dolphins.

Camarillo, Harvin and Rice are all in different phases of getting exactly where they want to be both mentally and physically for the season, but the 3 have the same goal in helping this team reach its highest potential.

Rehabbing

Rice, who will miss the first 6 weeks of the season because of his placement on the Physically Unable to Perform (reserve/PUP) list, has continued to rehab his surgically repaired right hip at Winter Park. The Pro Bowler’s recovery is expected to last longer than the 6 week period but he’s optimistic about returning to full health.

“Right now I’m just focused on getting in here every morning and doing my rehab and doing what it takes to get back out there on the field,” Rice said.

It’s been tough for Rice to sit out and watch his teammates play without him because he wants to contribute to a WR core trying to find its niche. Rice’s absense from the field in Thursday’s season opening loss to the Saints was apparent as the Vikings WRs combined for 56 yards on 4 catches.

Relieved

Usually when someone’s heart stops for any period of time it’s great cause for concern, but the 2009 Rookie of the Year was relieved to find out that the latest diagnosis for his reoccurring migraines is the result of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes brief stoppages of breath during sleep.

Since the diagnosis, Harvin has not suffered from any more migraines and the types of treatments used may be the solution. Doctors have given Harvin an oxygen mask to wear while he sleeps and the 2-year veteran has expressed that the mask has made a 100% difference in the way he sleeps and feels in the morning.

Restless

Getting a shot at playing your former team is an opportunity that most players relsih and Camarillo is no different. After being traded away from the Dolphins to the Vikings late in the preseason for CB Benny Sapp, Camarillo has had little time to adapt to a new offensive scheme and that may have been the reason why he saw limited action against the Saints with just 1 catch for 29 yards. That limited action is something Camarillo hopes to change in Week 2’s matchup against his former team as the Vikings will square off against the Fins in the home opener.

“It’s so early, it’s great,” Camarillo told Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune on playing his former team. “Last week how the whole team felt about the Saints and wanting to get their second swing at them, that’s how I feel about the Dolphins. It’s all my friends. No ill will toward the team, but I want to come out there and kick their tail.”


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Reviewing Sunday’s Developments

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 6, 2010 – 9:18 am

With the Vikings opening the season on a Thursday night, the team’s schedule – and, consequently, our coverage of the team – leading up to Game 1 is a bit unusual. Yesterday’s (Sunday’s) schedule was just like a regular Wednesday schedule and today is just like a Thursday. On top of that, it’s Labor Day Weekend.

So over the past couple of days and into today it’ll be easy for aspects regarding the Vikings and their preparation for Thursday night’s season-opener to fall through the cracks for fans. To avoid that, let’s review what happened on Sunday…

The Vikings announced a 7-member practice squad. We’ll have more details regarding the Vikings practice squad shortly, so stay tuned.

– The Star Tribune quoted WR Percy Harvin as saying “I’m ready to play ball.” That’s a positive sign for Vikings fans.

– Speaking of Harvin, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress indicated to reporters that Harvin will assume kick return duties and that Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and others will take looks at the punt return role.

– While meeting with the media following his team’s practice, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress addressed the backup QB situation. He explained that Tarvaris Jackson gives the Vikings the best chance to win, citing his knowledge of the offensive system and development during the offseason and training camp. Childress also said: “I think you have to understand that the guy that started with the first group (Jackson) got to play 8 snaps in the St. Louis game. The second guy (Sage Rosenfels) got 36 attempts and was 24 of 36 or something. 8 snaps – 36 snaps. The guys that they played. The guys that he played. It’s a completely different set of circumstances. I would hope that if Tarvaris was in there going with the two’s (2nd-team), that he would have been able to light it up that same way.”

– When asked about the team’s interest in free agent WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, whom the Vikings took a look at in free agency a year ago before Seattle signed him, Childress said “Right now, I’d be more prone to see if we could find a younger guy or somebody that’s been around in a West Coast offense.”

– One thing that is easily lost when looking back on last year’s NFC Championship Game between the Vikings and the Saints is how dominant Adrian Peterson was that night. Unfortunately, his fumbles overshadowed his production. Peterson ran for 122 yards and 3 TDs on 25 carries, an effort that Saints Head Coach Sean Payton hasn’t forgotten: “They’re one of the best rushing teams in the league. When you look at a guy like Adrian Peterson, and what they do as a front, they’re a team that each week is a handful rushing the football. I think as you prepare to play them you have to start with defending the run, defending a great halfback and a great offensive line like they have. And now defending a quarterback like Brett Favre. They kind of threaten you on a lot of fronts. That’s a big challenge.”

– When asked what was the most important position to add depth at this point, Childress said “Right now casting a gaze towards offensive lineman. I don’t think they are quite finished hammering through.”

– Childress indicated that the trade compensation for Sage Rosenfels was a 5th round pick and for Darius Reynaud it was “possibly a 7th” round pick.


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Final Audition For Some As Roster Deadline Nears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 2, 2010 – 7:37 am

Tonight’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos represents a final audition for several players as they hope to make the Vikings 53-man roster. The Vikings began training camp back on July 30 with 80 players and tonight training camp officially comes to an end and the Vikings will trim the roster to 53 players by the end of the day Saturday.

For some, such as DE Jared Allen or RB Adrian Peterson, tonight’s action isn’t so dramatic. But for others, tonight could mean everything. Let’s take a look at a few position battles that are still up in the air…

Offensive Line: All 5 starters from last year will return in 2010, but beyond that the Vikings OL situation is uncertain. Rookie Chris DeGeare has performed well to this point and could be anywhere from the Week 1 starter at RG to the team’s #1 reserve. And what about Ryan Cook? He can play all 5 positions along the line but might have to hold off others, such as Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich, to make the team.

Wide Receiver: Last year’s breakout WR – Sidney Rice – is on the mend with a hip injury and won’t be active until midway through the season, so that opens up another spot on the roster. The Vikings brought in Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker last week to fortify depth, but there are others, such as Logan Payne and Greg Lewis, who are vying for playing time as well. All of these players have a chance tonight to step up and stand out.

Defensive Line: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings hold onto an extra defensive lineman or 2 given how well the unit has played in training camp and the preseason. Aside from the usual suspects, there have been a few standouts during training camp, including DT Letroy Guion and DE Jayme Mitchell. They’ll have a chance to solidify their positions tonight but others on the depth chart, such as DT Fred Evans and DE Everson Griffen, will try to use tonight as another stepping stone.

Linebacker: They might slide a bit under the radar, but the Vikings LB corps might be the deepest spot on the entire team. The team’s 3 starters are outstanding, and LB coach Fred Pagac has done a great job of shoring up depth behind those starters with players such as Jasper Brinkley, Heath Farwell and Erin Henderson. Given the importance of LBs to the special teams unit, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a couple more LBs (Kenny Onatolu, Nate Triplett) on the final 53-man roster.


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Some Good, Some Bad With 1st Team Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 29, 2010 – 2:45 pm

The Vikings came away from Saturday night’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks with a 24-13 victory thanks to a 4th-quarter offensive surge that included a pair of TD drives led by QBs Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb. But being that it was the team’s 3rd preseason game, much of the post-game analysis is centered on assessing how the starting unit looked.

So let’s assess.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said it the best, telling reporters during his post-game press conference that his offense remains “in flux.”

“It’s no different than my answer to you the other day; it is still in flux,” Childress said. “There’s moving parts, there are parts that are still being added. Whether it’s the quarterback just getting here a couple of weeks ago, whether it’s (Greg) Camarillo just getting here or Percy (Harvin) coming back or that offensive line playing all-together. It’s still in flux.  There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Taking into account Childress’ quote and the fact that Minnesota’s 1st-team offense tallied just 10 points in 2+ quarters, the assessment could justifiably be fairly negative. QB Brett Favre was 16 of 26 for 187 yards, but he had no TD passes, 2 INTs (one of which was a tipped pass) and a lost fumble.

But an objective assessment of the 1st-team’s performance also yields some positives. Although Childress also said during his press conference that he’d like the offense to be more explosive, Favre and Co. did register 5 explosive plays – 4 passes and 1 run (an explosive play is a run of 12+ yards and a reception of 16+ yards). The Vikings also converted their first 4 third-down tries, which enabled them to move the ball. The Vikings drove 34 yards in 3 plays on the 1st series, 65 yards on 16 plays on the 2nd series, 38 yards in 3 plays on the 3rd series and 66 yards on 13 plays in the 5th series. While the offense needs to convert those drives into more points, it’s still a positive sign that they were able to sustain drives and pick up big chunks of yardage.

“Yeah, we would have liked to score more,” Favre said after the game. “[We] turned the ball over. [There is] a lot of stuff on film that we can learn from. We obviously are not hitting on all cylinders yet, but overall I was pleased. I think I had 26 passes. I thought I threw the ball well for the most part.”

A few other positive signs included Adrian Peterson’s 24-yard TD dash, seeing WR Percy Harvin (2 rec. for 30 yards) back on the field and in a good mood after the game, Greg Camarillo contributing in big situations and Javon Walker’s acrobatic TD grab in the 2nd half.

So the 1st-team offense finished its work on Saturday night with mixed reviews. The main concerns going forward are shoring up the offensive line play, eliminating costly penalties and dropped passes and finding a way to get Peterson and the ground game going to keep opposing defenses off-balance.


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What 2 Watch 4 Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 12:29 pm

Tonight marks the 3rd preseason game for the Vikings as they host the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field in a game scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT. The 3rd preseason game is considered the “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as they make final preparations for the regular season, so tonight is a good time to keep a keen eye on the squad.

With that in mind, here are a few things I’ll be specifically watching tonight…

Safety
Unquestionably the position fans were the most displeased with coming out of the 2009 season. I’m not sure they played as poorly as many thought, but there is definitely room for improvement. Madieu Williams has one of the starting spots nailed down, but the other spot is still up in the air, with both Tyrell Johnson (last season’s regular starter) and Jamarca Sanford battling it out. My sense is that Johnson has an edge in this competition, but Sanford did start last week in San Francisco and Johnson didn’t come in until the 3rd quarter. I’m not sure how to read into that, but tonight’s rotation and performance from each guy will go a long way in determining who will be the Week 1 starter.

Offensive Line
Probably the position fans are the most displeased with currently, especially after the sack QB Brett Favre took last week. I’m less concerned with the starting 5 and more concerned about the depth behind the starting 5, specifically at OT. Rookie G Chris DeGeare should provide adequate depth on the interior line, but I think Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich have a lot to prove as reserve OTs. They’ll get their chance tonight in the 2nd half as well as in next week’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.

Another area to watch will be the starting C position, where John Sullivan has made it back from a leg injury and should see substantial time tonight. But last week starting RG Anthony Herrera played some at C, so it will be interesting to see if the Vikings offensive staff plays Herrera at C again tonight, even with Sullivan back in the lineup and able to play. If Herrera does play C tonight, this might be a development worth watching over the next couple of weeks.

New WRs
Both Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker should see their 1st game action as Vikings tonight. Walker was brought in via free agency earlier in the week and Camarillo was brought in via trade a day later. My sense is that Camarillo has a real shot to be a factor in the Vikings passing game this season. He caught 55 and 50 passes in consecutive years with the Dolphins, a run-heavy team, and he’s never played with a QB at the level of Brett Favre, so perhaps Camarillo will be a productive possession receiver with the Vikings. Walker is a bigger target than Camarillo and also brings with him a rapport with Favre from their days together in Green Bay. Walker also knows the offense better than Camarillo at this point, which is why I expect Walker to look better tonight.

It’ll be interesting to watch both of these guys play and I’m specifically interested to see what my initial impressions of Camarillo are after tonight’s game.

I’m also looking forward to watching WR Bernard Berrian in extended time tonight with Favre. Even before issues with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice arose, I thought Berrian was poised to have another big season for the Vikings. In 2008, Berrian fulfilled expectations as a big-time free agent signing by leading the NFL in yards per catch. Then last season, with Favre under center, Berrian missed the opportunity to develop early chemistry with #4 because of a nagging hamstring injury. With Berrian healthy and Favre back in the fold, I expect the speedy #87 to be a big factor in this year’s passing game. We’ll get a glimpse as to what the future holds tonight.

Jayme Mitchell
The 6-6, 285-pound DE has been written off by many Vikings followers over the year, partially because a knee injury ruined much of his time in Minnesota. But earlier this week assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Mitchell is now showing no ill-effects from that knee injury, and Mitchell’s play recently is bearing that out. He’s had a nice training camp and an even better preseason. After his 1st solid preseason performance against the St. Louis Rams, I said I needed to see him do it again before I jumped on-board. Then that’s exactly what he did against San Francisco last week. So I’m on-board with Mitchell making the squad for now, but we still have 2 preseason games to play. Hopefully Mitchell stays healthy and puts on another good show tonight. He could provide the Vikings with excellent depth behind Ray Edwards.


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Childress, Camarillo Discuss Trade; Vikings Practice Downtown

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 26, 2010 – 2:58 pm

The Vikings conducted practice at Mall of America Field at the Metrodome on Thursday because head coach Brad Childress wanted his players to get a feel for the new playing surface that was installed this offseason. The old surface – FieldTurf – was replaced by Sportexe, a product produced by a Georgia-based company and also used by the Baltimore Ravens.

The new playing surface will see its 1st game action on Saturday, when the Vikings host the Seattle Seahawks in a game scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. CT. Speaking of the game, Childress disclosed that he anticipates his starters to play the entire 1st half and then 1 series into the 3rd quarter. Childress declined to specify what the playing order would be for the QBs following Favre’s departure from the game and he also said WR Percy Harvin, who has missed extended time this training camp and preseason, has not been cleared to play.

Earlier this morning I offered my thoughts on the Benny Sapp-for-Greg Camarillo trade. Today, Childress was asked to comment. Here’s what he said: “Love Benny. It’s hard to see him go. They (Miami) had a need and want and we had a need and a want. We were able to match those two things up. I don’t know that it speaks anything to how we feel about the other people yet, but obviously good enough to part with Benny. At the same time, we had a need that we felt like we needed to fill.”

Asked about his new receiver, Childress responded: “A receiver by definition should receive. He’s got A+ hands, so if you put a ball around him he’s got great pluck characteristics that he can pluck the ball out of the air and catch it in his hands.

On whether Camarillo is an inside or outside receiver: “He’s done both; he’s played outside, he’s played in the slot. We’ll have to start him slowly; we can’t put everything on his plate right away. We like for all our guys to be able to interchange.”

Also, I wasn’t able to attend this morning’s practice at Mall of America Field, and therefore I wasn’t able to catch up with Camarillo after his 1st Vikings practice to get his reaction to the trade. But the Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad did, and here’s what Camarillo had to say

“It was a crazy day,” Camarillo said when asked about what happened after he learned he had been traded on Wednesday. “I found out at 10 a.m. that it was time to leave my home and move to Minnesota. I’ve only been here for maybe 24 hours. But it’s home now. I’m excited. It’s a new opportunity with a great team.”


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A Few Thoughts On Sapp-For-Camarillo Trade

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 26, 2010 – 6:20 am

After disappointing news that WR Sidney Rice could be sideline for 8 weeks or even more after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the week, the Vikings weren’t reduced to licking their wounds or curling over in the fetal position. Instead, the team has aggressively addressed the problem by signing veteran Javon Walker and trading for 5th-year player Greg Camarillo.

Camarillo immediately bolsters the talent level and depth of the Vikings WR corps. The 6-1, 190-pound WR out of Stanford is a versatile player who can lineup in the slot or out wide. According to the website footballoutsiders, Camarillo was targeted 73 times in 2009 with 50 receptions and 0 drops. Camarillo, a smart player, has good but not great quickness and speed and he’s also been productive over the past 2 seasons, hauling in 105 catches in that time with an 11.1-yard per catch average.

Time will tell exactly how the Vikings use him, but by all appearances he seems to be a prototypical possession receiver – versatile with great hands and a history of producing. He’s a nice addition for the Vikings.

The addition of Camarillo comes at the expense of CB Benny Sapp, who had been with the club over the past 2 seasons and played well during his time with the Vikings. When CB Antoine Winfield was sidelined last season with a foot injury, it was Sapp who stepped in and played capably. In total, Sapp played in 30 games for the Vikings with 11 starts and tallied 59 tackles, 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles in that time.

“Benny was a good player for us,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He did a great job while he was here. He helped us out down the stretch a year ago. Wish him the best with his new team, wish him the best.”

But while the Vikings depth at WR was in question, depth at CB was not. And that’s why Sapp was dealt. Although starter Cedric Griffin is coming back from a knee injury, Winfield appears to be in top form and a trio of other CBs – Asher Allen, Chris Cook and Lito Sheppard – are vying for playing time. Sapp was by no means a front runner among the CB group and he actually missed extensive time during the early part of training camp due to dehydration.

No word yet on when Camarillo will join the Vikings or what jersey number he’ll wear. His contract runs through the 2011 season.


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Pending Physical, Vikings Acquire WR Camarillo

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2010 – 1:57 pm

The Vikings signed free agent WR Javon Walker on Tuesday and on Wednesday they made another move to bolster the team’s depth at WR by sending CB Benny Sapp to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for WR Greg Camarillo. The trade has been agreed to by both Miami and the Vikings but the completion of the deal is contingent on players taking and passing physical examinations.

We’ll provide confirmation when the deal is officially complete.

Camarillo stands at 6-1, 190 pounds and has been with the San Diego Chargers (2006) and Miami Dolphins (2007-2009). He has 113 receptions for 1,325 yards and 4 TDs in his career and in 2009 he played and started in 16 games for the 1st time in his career. Camarillo finished the ’09 season with 50 receptions for 552 yards.


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