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Vikings Make Several Changes To Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 29, 2011 – 5:33 pm

There were no press conferences and players have the day off, but Tuesday was still a busy day at Winter Park as the Vikings made several changes to the active roster and the practice squad. After a rash of injuries, a few of which came in last Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the Vikings have placed 4 players on the Reserve/Injured (IR) list and signed 5 others to the active roster/practice squad.

S Husain Abdullah, WR Michael Jenkins, S Tyrell Johnson and long snapper Cullen Loeffler were all placed on IR. Jenkins, Johnson and Loeffler were all injured last Sunday, while Abdullah has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion against the the Packers in Week 10.

To fill those four roster spots, the Vikings signed WR Stephen Burton, long snapper Matt Katula, S Jarrad Page and S Andrew Sendejo. The team also signed TE Mickey Shuler to the practice squad. There was one opening on the practice squad after the Vikings promoted Allen Reisner to the active roster last Saturday and waived Burton to make room for the move.

Vikings fans will recognize the names of Burton and Shuler because both have been with the team recently. Burton was a 7th-round pick in last April’s draft and has been with the Vikings the entire season. Shuler was also a 7th-round pick of the Vikings (2010) but was claimed by the Miami Dolphins when the Vikings tried to clear him through waivers to add to the practice squad.

Page might also be a recognizable name because he’s a 6-year veteran out of UCLA who has spent time with Kansas City, New England and Philadelphia. He was a 7th-round pick of the Chiefs in 2006, was acquired via trade by the Patriots in 2010, signed with the Eagles in August of 2011 and then was released by the Eagles earlier this month.

Katula is a 6-year veteran out of Wisconsin who has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens (2005-09) and the Patriots (2010). New England signed Katula in November of 2010 and then waived him in August of this year.

Sendejo went undrafted out of Rice in 2010 and has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and NY Jets. In November of 2010 Sendejo was signed to the Cowboys practice squad and then was promoted to the active roster just days later. In September of this year, Sendejo was claimed by the Jets off waivers, was later waived and re-signed, and was finally waived again on September 27.


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No Surprises On Vikings Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 12, 2011 – 2:47 pm

The Vikings and Chicago Bears each issued their first injury reports of the week on Wednesday. For the Vikings, there were no surprises. Here are the details…

CB Antoine Winfield, who missed last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with a neck injury, has been improving in recent days but did not participate in practice on Wednesday. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Winfield limited in practice or even sit out on Thursday, but perhaps he’ll see some action on Friday and have a chance to suit up on Sunday night.

Players limited in practice on Wednesday for the Vikings were WR Percy Harvin (ribs), LB E.J. Henderson (knee) and LB Kenny Onatolu (hamstring). S Husain Abdullah (pelvis) and DE Jared Allen (eye) were full participants.

For the Bears, DE Julius Peppers (knee) missed practice, as did WR Earl Bennett (chest), OT Gabe Carimi (knee) and DT Matt Toeaina. CB Charles Tillman (knee) was limited and DE Corey Wooten (hand) was a full participant.


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Vikings Lose Control Late, Drop Home Opener To Bucs 24-20

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 18, 2011 – 2:47 pm

It was like re-living a bad dream. The Vikings opened up with a strong 1st half, took a lead into the locker room at halftime and then watched their lead slowly slip away and turn into a deficit during the 2nd half. That’s what happened to the Vikings last week in San Diego and it happened again on Sunday in the home opener, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers providing the heartbreak this time.

Donovan McNabb and Adrian Peterson came out looking sharp in the opening half, with McNabb going 11 of 17 for 153 yards and Peterson looking nearly unstoppable on 15 carries for 83 yards and 2 TDs. The Vikings outgained Tampa Bay 284-62, held a 17-3 advantage in 1st downs and possessed the ball for almost 10 more minutes. The result of that 1st half domination was a 17-0 halftime lead and a home crowd that was buzzing.

But then the Vikings opened the 2nd half by going 3-and-out, punting to Tampa Bay and then watching the Buccaneers go 44 yards in just 2 plays to cut into the lead and make the score 17-7. The Buccaneers then got wise and successfully attempted an onsides kick. Vikings S Husain Abdullah ended the ensuing drive with an INT in the endzone, but by that point it was already apparent that this Buccaneers team wasn’t going away easily.

It was all Buccaneers the rest of the way. They kept the Vikings out of the endzone after a 12-play, 69-yard drive and Ryan Longwell came on to convert his second FG attempt of the day. But FGs weren’t going to be enough to stave off Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers scored the final 14 points of the game, with the final score coming on a LaGarrette Blount TD run with just 35 seconds to play in the game, giving the Buccaneers a 4-point lead and ultimately the win.

Peterson finished the game with 120 yards rushing on 25 carries, which is a good box score under normal circumstances. But the Vikings went to Peterson just 10 times in the 2nd half and it amounted to 37 yards. McNabb finished going 18 of 300 for 228 yards with no TDs or INTs. The top receiving target for Minnesota was Percy Harvin, who had 7 receptions for 76 yards.

Defensively, the Vikings were led in tackles by Antoine Winfield (11). DEs Jared Allen and Everson Griffen both tallied a QB sack and Abdullah had an INT.

The loss drops the Vikings to 0-2 on the season and they’ll try to right the ship next Sunday when they host their first NFC North game of the year, as the Detroit Lions come to Mall of America Field.


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Emptying Out The Notebook Before First Full Pads Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 4, 2011 – 10:08 am

It’s another perfect day at 2011Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Mankato. The Vikings wrapped up a morning walk-through at about 10:00 a.m. and now they’ll rest and recover before heading out for their first full pads practice at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Assuming a few issues with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are worked out before this afternoon, the 3:00 p.m. practice today will be the first time players with new contracts can practice.

The Vikings had several special visitors at this morning’s walk-through, including U.S. Senator Al Franken (Minn.). Franken addressed the team after the walk-through and also spent some time with vikings.com. He talked a little Vikings history, touched on the stadium situation in Minnesota, gave his opinion on the acquisition of QB Donovan McNabb and gave us his outlook for the season. We’ll have the interview with Franken posted shortly.

Also visiting practice today was NFL referee Jeff Triplette and his crew. An NFL officials crew visits Vikings training camp each year to go over new rules with coaches, players and the media.

Let’s empty out the notebook before I start filling it up again at this afternoon’s practice. Here are a few topics I’ve made notes on but haven’t mentioned yet…

– There is a vacant starting position at outside LB on the Vikings defense and head coach Leslie Frazier has said that Erin Henderson is penciled in as the starter. But he’s one player under a new contract, which means he hasn’t been able to practice yet. In his place, Jasper Brinkley and Heath Farwell have taken reps with the first team. This will be a position to watch as training camp rolls on and as we get into the preseason.

– Staying with the defense, there is also competition for starting positions at safety. Husain Abdullah is a likely starter, but he is under a new contract and hasn’t been able to practice yet. Taking reps with the first team has been Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford. Also, don’t discount rookie Mistral Raymond as someone who could earn some playing time. Right now, I’d guess that Abdullah is a favorite to start and then the other starting spot will come down to Johnson and Sanford.

– This is a tough environment for coaches because many of their players have not been allowed to practice and because contact was prohibited in practice for the first three days of camp. Compounding the difficulty, of course, is the fact that the lockout wiped away all offseason practices, such as minicamps and OTAs. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spoke with reporters on Wednesday and I thought he gave an interesting explanation of what it’s been like for coaches around the NFL, particularly new coaches who are trying to get acclimated with their teams. Here is his quote:

“It’s unchartered territory. We’ve never been through anything like this whether as a coach or a player so we’ve tried to be smart and whittle down the volume we present to the players. We want to be difficult and diverse to defend on offense but at the same time we want to know what we’re doing. We also want to get these guys back in football shape and not just work hard mindlessly. We want to work smart. We’re bouncing all of those factors with our eye on September 11 down in San Diego. Fortunately we do have the month of August and we’ve planned as such I believe.”


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Greenway Leading The Way For Vikings Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 17, 2010 – 9:11 am

It was S Husain Abdullah (2 INTs) and DE Jared Allen (1.0 sack) who made splash plays for the Vikings defense last week in Chicago. Both players have been solid in their roles for the Vikings – Abdullah is holding down a starting spot for the first time in his career and Allen has 3.5 sacks in the last 2 games – but there is no defender who has been more consistent this season than LB Chad Greenway.

Greenway collected 12 tackles – 2 of which came for a loss – against the Bears and the 5th-year LB now has 93 stops and 9 tackles for a loss. Greenway has finished 1st or 2nd in tackles in every game for the Vikings this season and he’s also registered 1.0 sack and 1 forced fumble on the season.

Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said a couple weeks back that Greenway was playing at a Pro Bowl level. I have no doubt that Frazier would say the same thing today. The key for Greenway, though, is splash plays, such as the plays made by Abdullah and Allen against the Bears last week. If Greenway can tally more sacks and/or get mits on fumbles and INTs, he’ll generate more league-wide buzz and his chances for a Pro Bowl berth will increase.

Another key to Greenway getting that 1st Pro Bowl berth is you, the fans. Fan voting for the Pro Bowl is open and you can cast your ballots for Greenway and other deserving Vikings by clicking here.


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Sanford Solid While Filling In For Abduallah On Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 18, 2010 – 1:10 pm

Husain Abdullah beat out Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford for the staring S position opposite of Madieu Williams during training camp and the preseason this summer, but Sanford wound up playing defense during Sunday’s win over the Cowboys when Abdullah was forced out of action with a head injury.

Speaking with reporters after the game, Childress said Sanford played well in Abdullah’s stead.

“He did a great job,” Childress said, “I thought playing in the back end and still attends to our kicking team because he is every bit as valuable as Heath Farwell is on our kick (coverage) game.”

Childress indicated that Abdullah will now go through the standard NFL and Vikings protocol with regard to head injuries, which will likely land him on this week’s injury report and leave his status for next week’s game in Green Bay in question.

Speaking of head injuries, that issue got a lot of press this weekend because of some serious injuries and incidents that happened both college and pro games. Player safety – and specifically concussions – have been at the forefront of the game for a while now and many are speculating on what the NFL will do with regard to rules to protect the players.

Childress was asked about this issue and said he anticipates the NFL to be as proactive as possible to keep player safety a top priority.

“I think they (the NFL) always entertain any and all forms of discipline,” Childress said. “I know it’s in the form of a fine right now. I know people have been suspended in the past for particular heinous helmet-to-helmet collisions. I think they’re always going to error on the side of safety.

“I think they’re going to try to be safe and do what’s best for the player. And if the official is going to error, he’s going to error in pulling the flag if he thinks that’s what happened.”


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A Sure Tackle On Defense

Posted by cjsiewert on October 8, 2010 – 12:48 pm

With all of the hype over the past 2 days around the Vikings focused on Randy Moss’ return, let’s not forget that there’s a marquee Monday night matchup against the AFC East leading NY Jets.

Surely, a game within the game is the competition between Moss and Jets CB Darrelle Revis – as we pointed out this morning – but when the field is flipped, the Vikings defense will have their hands full with Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Co.

After 4 games, Sanchez has clearly avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. He’s boasting a 105.3 passer rating with 8 TDs and 0 INTs. The 0 INTs by Sanchez is something the Vikings are hoping they can change come Monday night.

“We want to get takeaways,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier mentioned prior to Thursday’s practice. “In order for our team to be successful on Monday night, we feel like that’s going to be a major part of the game. Which team comes up with the most turnovers.”

The Vikings defense has played well throughout its first 3 games, not allowing more than 14 points in a game while possessing the 4th best ranking in yards allowed (276.3). Coming into the season, there were questions concerning the Vikings secondary and how they would perform. But the play of one S in particular has helped alleviate those concerns.

“He’s a good open field tackler,” Frazier said of Vikings S Husain Abdullah. “He really seems to be composed and plays with a great deal of poise. He has the ability to match up with tight ends and cover backs out of the backfield. He’s really done the things that we thought he’d be able to do and we think he should just continue to get better as a football player. The fact that he’s getting more playing time should help him as time goes on.”

Frazier also described the 3-year veteran as a “sure tackler,” something that he feels is essential to the success of the defense. Through 3 games, Abdullah has registered 13 tackles.

“He has the eye of the tiger when it comes to playing football,” Frazier acknowledged.


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Childress Saw “Some Good Things” From Vikings Secondary Vs. Saints

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 13, 2010 – 1:50 pm

The Vikings entered their season-opener against the New Orleans Saints with just 3 healthy CBs and a new starter at S in Husain Abdullah. Considering the Saints boasted last year’s #1 scoring offense and #4 passing offense and were also returning most of their starters, the Vikings secondary had a tall task at hand.

But Leslie Frazier’s defense rose to the challenge, holding Drew Brees and Co. under their average passing yards per game from a season ago and giving up just 14 points. The Vikings secondary was beaten for a long TD on the game’s 1st series and there were lapses in other junctures of the game, but by and large the Vikings secondary held their own.

A few days removed from the game, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress explained that he saw some positives from the secondary.

“I thought those guy did some good things, all the way around, whether it was Lito (Sheppard)playing at the right corner, Asher Allen swinging back and forth,” Childress said. “I thought they did some good things, particularly in terms of tackling. I saw Asher show up and be able to stick a knife in some things and Lito had a couple nice tackles as well. Antoine is Antoine.”

Both Winfield and Husain Abdullah had nice open field tackles against some of the Saints best playmakers, and Sheppard forced a key incompletion on a 3rd down pass to force a punt.

One of the reasons the Vikings had just 3 healthy CBs entering Week 1 is because 2nd round rookie CB Chris Cook injured his knee during the 4th preseason game. He’s expected to miss multiple weeks but he was able to return to the practice field on Monday with his teammates.

Childress indicated the rookie CB isn’t 100%, but it’s a good sign nonetheless that Cook is working his way back into the mix.

“He just went through some individual periods,” Childress said. “He doesn’t look completely comfortable. As always, it’ll be how he comes back in and treats and how he shows back up tomorrow. But he did some football specific stuff today out on the grass during individual (period).”


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CB Allen, S Abudllah To Start Tonight

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

Heading into training camp prevailing thought was that either Tyrell Johnson or Jamarca Sanford would start at S opposite Madieu Williams. As it can often be, prevailing thought was wrong. Husain Abdullah will be starting for the Vikings at S tonight.

In another change from what was assumed all week leading up to tonight’s season-opener between the Vikings and Saints, 2nd-year player Asher Allen will be starting at CB instead of 9-year veteran Lito Sheppard.

By all appearances, John Sullivan will be starting at C.

Let’s play.


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Recap Of Tuesday Morning Practice; “Live” Periods Highlight Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 3, 2010 – 11:48 am

Rumors and reports of QB Brett Favre’s decision to retire did not buzz kill the Vikings morning practice on Tuesday, as the squad was padded up for their first “live” periods of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Head coach Brad Childress’ team worked on goal line and short-yardage situations and the action was intense.

“First extended work with pads on,” Childress said in his opening remarks after practice. “It’s amazing, as the players said, how the weather can turn hateful when we finally put the full pack on and pad them all the way up. A lot of good work and nobody got hurt. A lot to teach from over here and we’ll see (on film) which guys eyes got big and which guys showed up.”

After a rough first couple of days in training camp, the offense has really begun to sharpen up and the defense continues to perform consistently while also showing flashes of dominance. I spoke casually with assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier following practice and he was bright-eyed in talking about camp and his defense’s performance in general.

Here are a few of my observations from the morning practice as I tried to watch while also handling the developments with regard to Favre…

– C John Sullivan returned to the field after missing the last couple of days with a leg injury. CB Benny Sapp (illness) was not in action and I noticed rookie Chris DeGeare replaced Steve Hutchinson at LG several times; that’s likely just to give Hutchinson some rest as a precaution. Not much action for LB E.J. Henderson today and I also saw WR Sidney Rice working out on the side.

– The 2 biggest defensive hits of the day were registered by LBs Erin Henderson on RB Albert Young and Jasper Brinkley on RB Toby Gerhart.

– CB Chris Cook closed the morning practice with an INT return for a TD off of a tipped pass from QB Joe Webb to WR Marquis Hamilton.

– Childress specifically mentioned that Gerhart and Darius Reynaud showed up during the morning practice.

– As I indicated earlier, it was difficult to pay attention to every snap of this morning’s practice because of the Favre situation. But I did put my phone down for a good 20 minutes to watch live periods of short-yardage and goal line situations. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Goal line
2 Defense vs. 2 Offense -
The defense made 3 consecutive stops, with DT Tremaine Johnson and LB Kenny Onatolu making great plays. Johnson penetrated the offensive line with a quick push at the line of scrimmage and Onatolu leaped to deflect a pass in the endzone.

1 Offense vs. 1 Defense - The defense made stops on 2 of 3 snaps, with S Husain Abdullah making a nice play by knifing into the backfield and then an incomplete pass following that play. The offense’s win in the series came on the 1st play, when Gerhart powered his way into the endzone for a TD.

3 Offense vs. Mixed Defense – QB Joe Webb had a fumbled exchange on the 1st snap and then RB Ryan Moats pranced into the endzone for 2 TDs, giving the offense a 2-1 win in the series.

Short Yardage
2 Defense vs. 1 Offense - The offense acquired a 1st down on 2 of the 3 snaps.
1 Defense vs. 2 Offense - The defense made stops on 2 of the 3 snaps.
3 Defense vs. 3 Offense - The offense acquired a 1st down on 2 of the 3 snaps.


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