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Join Greg Lewis In Charity Bowling Event

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 4, 2010 – 2:01 pm

While we wait to make the announcement of the Vikings 53-man roster (that should happen around 5:00 p.m. CT today), I wanted to pass along a note regarding a charity initiative WR Greg Lewis and his wife, Tamika, have taken up.

Greg and Tamika, along with several other Vikings players, are teaming up to put on a bowling event that will benefit the Smile Network and the Angel Foundation. The Angel Foundation’s goal is to help families with loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The bowling event will take place on Friday, September 17 at Brunswick Zone in Eden Prairie, MN and it will give participants a chance to mingle and bowl with Vikings players and also bid in a silent auction that will include autographed merchandise.

In order to participate you must pre-register and you can do that by sending your entry fee to the following address:

Angel Foundation
PO Box 44981
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

There are 3 different packages available for purchase. The “Pre-Seaon” package is $700 and includes 6 bowlers, 2 non-bowlers and food. The “Regular Season” package is $1,700 and includes 6 bowlers, 4 non-bowlers, food and a Vikings player in your lane. The “Super Bowl” package includes 6 bowlers, 6 non-bowlers, food, Greg Lewis bowling on your team, access to a VIP area and access to the Silent Auction 15 minutes before it closes.

If you have any questions or want more information on the pricing and packages, send an email to vikingwo17@hotmail.com.


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Hurry-Up Offense Work Highlights Thursday AM Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 5, 2010 – 11:11 am

Although they weren’t fully padded up and there was no tackling to the ground, Vikings players were competing about as hard as you’ll see during a training camp practice on Thursday morning and it was a delight to watch. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress had his squad working on game-ending and hurry-up situations, which ramped up the competitive atmosphere and probably provided some great tape for the coaches to go in and digest early this afternoon.

In 2009, the Vikings had 2 game-winning drives on offense and 1 game-winning drive on defense. The game-winning offensive drives came in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers (Brett Favre to Greg Lewis ring a bell?) and then in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens (Longwell 31-yard FG), and the game-winning drive on defense also came in the Baltimore game when the Ravens were forced to try a 44-yard FG to pull out a win.

“A good little segment today,” Childress said in his opening remarks while meeting with the media after practice. “A couple of two-minute situations that we faced here in the last four or five years. You can’t get enough of that work and just as we reviewed last night, the teams that are coming one way to beat us or we were trying to go one way to beat somebody else, games in this league come down to that quite frequently.”

The first 2-minute situation called upon the 1st-team offense to drive from their own 37-yardline in 2 minutes with 2 timeouts, needing a TD to win the game. Tarvaris Jackson guided the offense down the field and a laser to TE Visanthe Shiancoe put the offense right around the 10-yardline. Jackson hurried the offense down the field to kill the clock, and then with time for 1 final play Jackson hit WR Greg Lewis in the endzone for the TD.

The second 2-minute situation charged the 2nd-team offense with driving from the 80-yardline with 2 minutes to go and 2 timeouts, needing a FG to win. On the 1st play of the series, the play was blown dead because of a sack and loss of 10 yards. Three plays later on 4th down, LB Ben Leber broke up a pass but was called for pass interference, which extended the drive. Another pass interference call several plays later pushed the offense into scoring range and K Rhys Lloyd ultimately came on to split the uprights on a 48-yard FG as time expired.

“Any situation we deal with (in practice), we want to make it game-like,” Jackson told me after practice. “We want to make it as close to the real game as possible so when you get in that situation it’s not new to us.”

A few other notes from this morning’s practice…

– During the early parts of practice, the offense installed its hurry-up package and all 3 teams had an opportunity to execute it against air. Not surprisingly, Jackson looked the most comfortable of the 3 QBs during the drill, Rosenfels was not quite as comfortable and rookie QB Joe Webb struggled the most.

– NFL officials joined the team for practice this morning and will be with the team over the next couple of days. I’m sure this is a common ritual around the league and it’s something the Vikings have done every year under Childress. The officials work with the players and coaches during practice answering questions or pointing out points of emphasis for the coming season; they even call penalties during the team portions of practice.

“We invite those guys into all of our meetings at night and we don’t have any secrets,” Childress said. “If they’ll share with our people – how they’re looking at things and how they’re calling things – it’s their expertise so we don’t make it a closed-door affair. It’s an inclusive deal and they can jump in with offensive linemen, or the secondary, or the wide receivers, wherever they can get better. We’re glad to have them here.”

– One of the Vikings “special categories” periods of practice was an all 3rd-down session. The 1st team offense picked up 1st downs on 3 of 4 plays, the 2nd team was 2 for 4 and the 1st team was 1 for 4.

– I watched the defensive line vs. the offensive line during the 1-on-1 period of practice. Individuals who stood out while winning their 1-on-1 battle were: C Ryan Cook, DT Fred Evans, DT Letroy Guion, LG Steve Hutchinson, LT Bryant McKinnie and DE Brian Robison.

– There was a spirited session of the inside skeleton passing drill between the LBs/Ss and RBs/TEs. In the final matchup of the drill, LB Chad Greenway went up against Shiancoe. Greenway forced an incompletion and the LB group broke out in over-emphasized rejoice to chide Shiancoe. As the players began running away to the next drill, Childress held everyone up and asked for Greenway and Shiancoe to have a rematch. So the 2 players lined up again, this time with the whole team present to watch. At the snap, Shiancoe made a nice move on Greenway to release from the line of scrimmage and wiggled his way open. But Greenway didn’t quit and was able to catch up to Shiancoe and rip the ball from his arms to force another incompletion. The LB group broke out in cheers again and Shiancoe took it very well. It was a fun part of practice and a great display of competitiveness.

– Players who were out of action today included: WR Percy Harvin (personal), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Benny Sapp (illness), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP), RB Darius Reynaud (leg), RB Adrian Peterson (leg) and LB J Leman (leg).

– With Harvin and Rice experiencing extended time away from camp, WR Greg Lewis has gotten reps exclusively with the 1st team offense and he’s taking advantage of the situation by making a positive impression on Childress. When asked about Lewis’ performance so far during camp, Childress referred to Lewis as a “jack of all trades” and a “crafty” player at his position.

– Childress was also asked about DT Letroy Guion and the kind of camp he’s having. Here was his response: “He’s had a good camp. He looks like he’s matured. He came in a couple pounds heavy, but nothing to write home about. I think that’s probably balanced out. I think he understands more about what we’re doing and what we’re asking of him defensively. I think he’s doing a better job rushing the passer and he’s always been stout in the run game.

– The offensive line has looked much better the past 2 days with C John Sullivan back in the fold.


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1 Practice Down, 1 To Go On Monday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 2, 2010 – 10:52 am

My radio appearance with buddy Paul Allen of AM 1130 KFAN was postponed today, which allowed me to see every minute of Monday morning’s 2 hour and 15-minute practice, which was executed in mild temperatures compared to Sunday’s suffocating heat. The Vikings took full advantage of the ideal conditions – including a nice cloud cover to give us a break from the sun – and had an intense workout in front of another solid crowd.

A few players were missing from practice today for various reasons, including: WR Percy Harvin (personal), CB Benny Sapp (illness), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP) and C John Sullivan (leg). The leg injury to Sullivan does not seem serious and the 3rd-year C was on the field watching practice, so that’s a good sign.

While those players weren’t able to take part in practice, there were several special guests on-hand to take in the workout. Vikings ownership is in town for their annual training camp retreat, where they discuss the state of the franchise. I saw former Vikings QB Rich Gannon just outside the locker room; he’s an occasional visitor to the Vikings and seems to have developed a friendship with Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress. Also, Vikings preseason play-by-play man Ari Wolfe was at practice, so it was nice to chat with him for several minutes.

And finally, before I head to the cafeteria for lunch, a few football notes from this morning’s practice…

– With 2 of the top 3 WRs out, Greg Lewis and Jaymar Johnson handled the 1st-team reps with regular starter Bernard Berrian.

– WRs led a spirited session of 1-on1s and 7-on-7 drills. Johnson, Logan Payne and Ray Small all registered highlight-caliber catches that caused the crowd to cheer.

– With Sullivan out of the mix this morning, Jon Cooper took the snaps with the 1st-team. Ryan Cook took the 2nd-team snaps at C, and Chris Clark, Chris DeGeare, Thomas Austin and Drew Radovich joined Cook with the 2nd team for a large part of practice.

That’s it for now, but be sure to check back later for more updates and a couple of video interviews.


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OTA #7 Highlights

Posted by Mike Wobschall on May 26, 2010 – 12:11 pm

The Vikings just came off the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park after completing OTA #7. Weather conditions were ideal once again today – sunny skies and warm temperatures – and the coaching staff continues to enjoy a productive teaching environment as they get younger players up to speed and veterans back in the swing of things.

I had a moment to speak with both assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and 2nd round draft pick Chris Cook after practice, so be sure to check back a bit later to read what they had to say about OTAs so far.

For now, though, I thought I’d share some of the highlights from Wednesday’s action at OTAs…

– Speaking of Cook, the 6-2, 212 CB had a great day on the field. During 1 on 1 drills with the WRs, Cook forced a fumble and then on his next turn he registered an INT. On his 3rd go-round, Cook tipped a pass and forced an incompletion.

– Impact plays on defense, such as Cook’s INTs and tipped passes, are emphasized by the Vikings defensive staff during practices. So far during OTAs, and especially the last 2 days, I’ve noticed a lot of tipped passes and forced fumbles. I’ll have more on this with coach Frazier later today, but it’s been good to see the Vikings defense active in attacking the ball and forcing turnovers. CB Asher Allen also had an INT in today’s workout.

– In group installation the offense was working on the 2-minute drill. Tarvaris Jackson looks the most comfortable of the Vikings QBs in this situation and did a nice job in leading the team down the field, both in the group install portion and also in the offense vs. defense portion. During the offense vs. defense portion, Jackson capped the 2-minute drill by hitting a WR in the back corner of the endzone. The WR caught and secured the ball over his head, tapped both feet in bounds and then fell out of bounds as time expired. Sound familiar? It was very similar to the play that won the San Francisco game last year in Week 3. The player on the receiving end of this particular last-second play? Greg Lewis.

– I watched several individual drills during the early part of practice on Wednesday, but the most interesting drill was run by WRs coach George Stewart. I know I’ve raved about Stewart on the blog before this, but he does a great job working with his players and this drill was no exception. The drill is designed to make the WRs react to certain types of coverage on the fly. The QB takes a snap and the WR goes into his route. After a few steps, Stewart yells either “man” or “zone” to indicate the type of coverage the WR is seeing. If it’s man coverage, the WR continues running his route. If it’s zone coverage, the WR makes one more burst and then sits down in an open spot in the zone.

– LB Erin Henderson got in on the INT party, picking off a pass from QB R.J. Archer during 7-on-7 drills; Henderson returned the pick for a score. But on the next play, Archer bounced back and hit WR Jaymar Johnson along the left sideline for what would’ve been a 1st down.

I’ll have more from Wednesday’s OTAs on the blog this afternoon, including some thoughts from both coach Frazier and Cook. So stay tuned…


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Busy Day For Vikings WRs

Posted by cjsiewert on May 20, 2010 – 3:05 pm

As Mike pointed out earlier, OTA #3 has wrapped up after a nice, bright sunny day on the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park. The practice consisted of many different position specific drills and concluded with a couple of non-contact series between the offense and defense.

During practice I took a close look at the WRs. The 6 WRs who participated today included Taye Biddle, Marquis Hamilton, Jaymar Johnson, Greg Lewis, Aaron Rhea and Kelton Tindal.

Here’s how the WRs day went…

Shortly after practice began, WRs coach George Stewart – who is in his 27th season of coaching – had his receivers work on their footwork and reaction skills. The first drill consisted of each player running a quick 3-yard sprint and then quickly turning around to catch an incoming pass. Coach Stewart consistently emphasized the importance of quick foot work and agility while always having your hands ready. Other drills involved more of the same but with varying distances and routes. Again, with these drills Coach Stewart cemented the importance of footwork when running routes.

After the individual footwork and reaction drills, the WR core worked on crossing routes. I was impressed to see the early continuity forming between this young WR group and the QBs.

Following a quick session of the offense versus the scout defense, the WRs joined the DB core to run a 1-on-1 drill with Tarvaris Jackson and undrafted rookie free agent R.J. Archer throwing passes. As Mike mentioned earlier, this drill is not as intense with league rules forbidding contact throughout OTAs, but the DBs were extremely emphatic in the occurrence of an INT as well as the WRs showing the same emotion with a big reception.

Once practice concluded after about a 10-minute offense versus defense sequence, the WRs dispersed to the locker room with the exception of 2nd-year WR Jaymar Johnson and 8-year veteran Greg Lewis, who both stayed after practice with Jackson to get a little extra work in. I got the chance to speak with Lewis after practice about his role as the veteran WR and his close familiarity with Head Coach Brad Childress as well as newly-acquired CB Lito Sheppard.  I’ll let you know what Lewis had to say later tonight, so be sure to check back for his comments.


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Sheppard Signing Adds More Stability At CB

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 22, 2010 – 9:29 am

Many football followers woke up Wednesday morning still anticipating the Vikings would select a CB in the 1st round of the 2o10 NFL Draft on Thursday evening. But by Wednesday evening, the Vikings had already added a 1st round CB – former Philadelphia Eagle and New York Jet Lito Sheppard.

Drafted by the Eagles in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Sheppard has had a solid 9-year NFL career that has included Pro Bowl selections in 2005 and 2006 and then an All-Pro selection in 2004. In 104 career games and 70 starts with the Eagles and Jets, Sheppard has 19 career INTs and 3 TDs and he is also the 1st player in NFL history to post 2 INTs with returns of 100-plus yards.

Credentials such as those make Sheppard a great fit for the Vikings because both starting CBs – Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield – are recovering from significant injuries sustained in 2009. While Asher Allen and Benny Sapp filled in well last season, there’s no doubt the addition of Sheppard adds stability to the position as well as a player with vast starting experience in the NFL. Sheppard started every game for the Eagles from 2004 to 2007 and was a starter on teams that won 4 NFC East Division titles and appeared in Super Bowl XXXIX.

“He’s a hard worker and he wants to be the best at his position and his craft,” said Vikings WR Greg Lewis, who played with Sheppard in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2008. “He likes competition, so any time you put all of those traits together you have a good player.”

Lewis, who said Sheppard is a good teammate who will fit in well with the Vikings, recalled practicing against and playing with the CB often in Philadelphia.

“He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win games,” Lewis continued. “He was on a Super Bowl team and he wants to get that ring just like everybody else here.

“Hopefully Antoine and Ced come back as soon as possible, but having Sapp and Lito and Ash there is always good. They are guys with experience. I think it’s a great signing.”


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Vote For Offensive Play Of The Year

Posted by Mike Wobschall on April 8, 2010 – 12:46 pm

A couple of days ago I made a case for Ray Edwards winning the vikings.com 2009 Defensive Play of the Year voting despite Jared Allen being the heavy favorite to capture the most votes.

Now the vikings.com 2009 Offensive Play of the Year voting has begun and there is another heavy favorite – Brett Favre’s incredible TD pass to Greg Lewis in Week 3 against San Francisco. But this time I’m not making a case against the heavy favorite. Favre-to-Lewis in Week 3 should win.

But there are 3 other worthy plays involved in the voting, including Adrian Peterson’s incredible 64-yard TD run against Cleveland in Week 1. Click here to watch all 4 plays and then go to the home page to cast your vote.


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Voting Is Now Open For The Defensive Play Of The Year

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on April 1, 2010 – 10:07 am

Before we look at the Defensive Play of the Year candidates, let’s quickly take a look back at the voting for the Special Teams Play of the Year, which wrapped up yesterday.

As expected, rookie Percy Harvin claimed the award, though in terms of which of Harvin’s 2 kick return TDs last season won the award, the voting was as close as could be.  Both his returns — one vs. the 49ers and the other against the Steelers — accounted for 43 percent of the vote, but the return vs. San Francisco won out by just a handful of votes.  As we said in the vikings.com article, the odds of Harvin dominating this category for several years are pretty high.

Now we move onto the Defensive Play of the Year voting.  Despite the fact that the Vikings defense was solid last year, they only scored one defensive TD (a Jared Allen fumble recovery against the Rams) and didn’t have a bunch of highlight reel-type plays, especially in contrast with the offense.

Fans can view the nominees in full here, watch a highlight video of the nominees here, and then head over to the vikings.com homepage to cast your vote via the fan poll which is located in the bottom-right part of the page.

Next week, the voting for the Offensive Play of the Year will commence, and it’s tough to envision anything other than Brett Favre’s TD pass to Greg Lewis vs. the 49ers claiming said award, though plays such as Adrian Peterson’s TD romp against the Browns in the season-opener and Sidney Rice’s game-tying TD grab in Chicago against the Bears will certainly give the Favre-to-Lewis connection a run for its money.


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Vote For Special Teams Play Of The Year

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 29, 2010 – 9:46 am

Right now on the home page the fan poll is set up for you to vote for the Vikings 2009 Special Teams Play of the Year. There are 4 options and all are quite worthy of earning the distinction as the top play of the year on special teams.

But I have an opinion on which one is just a little better than the rest.

Percy Harvin was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, but there’s no doubt a big part of Harvin’s impact on the Vikings in 2009 was with the special teams unit, specifically as a returner. It’s fitting, then, that Harvin has 2 of the 4 plays that are up for  special teams play of the year.

My vote for Vikings Special Teams Play of the Year is Harvin’s 101-yard kickoff return TD in the 3rd quarter against San Francisco in Week 3. That play gave the Vikings a 20-17 lead over the 49ers late in the 3rd quarter and ultimately helped set the stage for the Vikings most dramatic play and win of the season, when QB Brett Favre hooked up with WR Greg Lewis in the back of the endzone with just 2 seconds to play in the game.

Harvin’s return gave him his 3rd career TD and also a TD in his first 3 NFL games. It also was instrumental in the Vikings moving to 3-0. It’s my pick for Vikings 2009 Special Teams Play of the Year.

Do you agree or disagree. Let us know in the comments below but also remember to back to the home page and cast your own vote. Also remember to stay tuned to vikings.com for more voting on Vikings plays of the year.


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Report: WR Lewis Re-Signed

Posted by cjsiewert on March 1, 2010 – 10:20 am

With free agency set to begin Thursday (March 4), many teams are currently in negotiations with their potential free agents.  The Vikings have expressed their desire to keep all 5 of their potential unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and have now decreased that number by one.

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune reports that the Vikings and WR Greg Lewis have agreed to a 1-year contract this weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Lewis joined the Vikings at the beginning of last season shortly after the release of WR Bobby Wade.  The 7-year veteran compiled 8 receptions for 96 yards and a TD for the Vikings in 2009.  Undoubtedly, his most memorable catch of the season came in Week 3 at home against the San Francisco 49ers.

With the Vikings trailing 24-20 late in the 4th quarter, QB Brett Favre launched a desperation pass from the 32-yard line into the back of the endzone, where Lewis came down with the ball and somehow managed to keep both of his feet inbounds for the game-winning TD.

The miracle pass thrown by Favre won the game and improved the Vikings to 3-0, but the lesser-noted aspect of the play was who actually caught the ball.  The 32-yard game winning TD reception was Lewis’ 1st catch in a Vikings uniform and many people (including myself) did not even know who Lewis was at the time.

Hopefully, this re-signing will bring many more spectacular plays like the one in Week 3, and is a sign of what is to come as to re-signing other potential free agents.

Stay updated on vikings.com for news on other potential free agents, as it is sure to be busy week for the Vikings front office with free agency set to begin this Thursday at 11:01 p.m.


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