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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OTA #11 Observations; Teaching/Learning Environment Important At OTAs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 3, 2010 – 12:20 pm

Often times I mention weather conditions in the OTA observations and it’s not because I’m a native Minnesotan – weather seems to be a common conversation topic in our great state. The weather is a relevant factor because these OTA sessions are as much about teaching/learning as they are skill sets and physical activity.

“There is a lot of teaching going on here,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday while meeting with reporters. “Coaches are being intentional about that. (There are) a lot of bright-eyed guys so we will have some good competitions at a number of positions.”

On Thursday, the Vikings practiced under ideal weather – and teaching – conditions as they completed OTA #11. Although these OTAs are non-contact exercises at all times, I’ve definitely sensed a pickup in the intensity and competitive environment as the OTA schedule has progressed. Thursday’s action, especially near the end of practice, was no exception and served as a prime example of the good competitions Childress referenced on Wednesday.

Let’s go over a few observations/highlights from Thursday’s practice…

– S Husain Abdullah tallied an INT during the first team portion of practice, picking off a Sage Rosenfels pass near the sideline.

– Childress mentioned during Wednesday’s press conference that the team is working a lot on situational football, and they did so again on Thursday. I noticed during both team drills and 7-on-7 work that 3rd downs, red zone and zero-blitz/zero-pressure scenarios were presented.

– The best offensive play of the day came during 7-on-7 work, when Tarvaris Jackson floated a pass in the back right corner of the endzone for TE Visanthe Shiancoe. LB Heath Farwell was in on the coverage and actually was in a great position, but Shiancoe jumped and got both hands on the ball. My view of the ground was blocked, so I could tell if the TE got both feet in bounds. Farwell came away from the play waving his arms as if to say “incomplete” but Shiancoe had both hands in the air to say “touchdown.”

– Rookie 6th round QB Joe Webb got in on the action with a sharp throw to RB Darius Reynaud on 3rd and goal from the 8.

– The best part of practice came on the final 3 plays, where it was offense vs. defense inside the 10-yardline. Jackson hit Shiancoe on a quick slant for a score and then the QB followed that effort up with another TD on a quick slant to WR Jaymar Johnson. On the final play, though, Leslie Frazier’s defense came with a blitz and forced an incompletion. Jackson called an alert and made an adjustment to the play. S Jamarca Sanford came on the blitz and Jackson’s pass was batted down by a wall of defensive linemen.

– Childress hosted a contingent of Minnesota high school football coaches at practice, something he’s done in the past as he continues to cultivate a relationship with members from every level of football in the state.

– Mike Grant, the son of former Vikings Head Coach Bud Grant, heads a group of students from Eden Prairie High School called The Brotherhood. The group meets weekly and is comprised of primarily black, male student athletes who have committed to improving themselves both academically and personally.

The students were able to watch Thursday’s practice from the sidelines and then were joined by several members of the organization following practice. Along with a big group of players, individuals who visited with Grant’s group included Childress, Frazier, VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and WRs coach George Stewart.

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Special Teams Registers Special Performance

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 18, 2010 – 9:21 am

In a dominating victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at Mall of America Field, the Vikings defense cooled off a hot Cowboys offense while their offense lit up a Dallas defense that had allowed just 14 points in the previous 3 contests.

But it wasn’t just an offensive and defensive show on Sunday. The Vikings special teams unit played well also.

From kicking and punting to kick and punt coverage, special teams coordinator Brian Murphy had his unit performing superbly against the Cowboys. K Ryan Longwell was 2 of 2 on FGs and 4 of 4 on PATs, and he also demonstrated expert control on his kickoffs. P Chris Kluwe pinned Dallas on its own 2 with one punt and also registered a 61-yard boomer.

The kick coverage units were solid as well, holding Dallas to just a 15.7-yard return average on 7 kickoff returns. Special teams stalwarts S Husain Abdullah, LB Heath Farwell and S Tyrell Johnson each registered a pair of tackles and CB Cedric Griffin, though credited with no special teams tackles, did a great job of preventing returners from getting around the edge.

“I know it’s trite but our team did a great job,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after the game. “Whether you talk about Ryan Longwell and Chris Kluwe kicking the football. Our coverage units were unbelievably outstanding. We were real worried about (Patrick) Crayton in the return game and Felix Jones who got in there toward the end. Great place to put our defense on the field.”

Childress raises an excellent point as it pertains to the special teams performance aiding the defensive effort. Dallas average starting field position after a kickoff was their own 22, and their average starting position for all possessions was their own 25. The Vikings, meanwhile, enjoyed an average starting field position of their own 43, a drastic difference and one that was paramount in the final outcome.

The addition of QB Brett Favre to the Vikings offense will go down as the most important improvement over last year’s team, but one must also not discount how much Murphy and his special teams unit has improved from last year as well.

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Vikings Secondary Will Be Tested Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 6:18 pm

All of the speculation can now go away – both the Vikings and Cardinals have submitted their list of inactive players. After all the dust settled, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner was active and will start tonight while the Vikings will once again be without CB Antoine Winfield.

As a result, the Vikings secondary will be further challenged tonight as they face an explosive offense that features an accurate and experienced QB (Warner) and a talented bunch of receivers, including Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Anquan Boldin.

With Winfield out of the game and given the Cardinals propensity to spread out their offense, the Vikings secondary depth will be tested tonight. Fortunately CB Benny Sapp, who was listed on the injury report this week, will be able to play. He’ll team with CBs Asher Allen and Karl Paymah to fill in for Winfield, something this trio of players has done well since Winfield has been out of the lineup.

But I also expect to see more of S Husain Abdullah. He is listed as a safety but Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has mentioned in the past that he trains at CB as well. If the Cardinals go to a lot of multiple-receiver sets, Abdullah could be tabbed to join some combination of CBs Cedric Griffin, Allen, Paymah and Sapp along with safeties Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams.

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Jackson Back on the Practice Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 5, 2009 – 1:18 pm

Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson was back on the practice field working with his teammates during this morning’s practice. He continues to recover from a knee injury suffered a few days back and looked solid while participating in individual, position, group and team drills.

Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell met with the media following this morning’s practice and he said Jackson looked fine. Asked when Jackon would be back practicing with the team full-time, Bevell deferred head coach Brad Childress and the training staff.

Today’s work involved 2-minute situations and a few more 3rd down scenarios. Bevell said the team is “competing hard and doing a nice job” but also that there are “still some wheels spinning in those minds.”

A few highlights from this morning’s action included an interception in the endzone by S Husain Abdullah and then 2 solid rushes in 3 plays from DEs Jared Allen and Ray Edwards.

The Vikings will work for a little more than an hour this afternoon and then head back for meetings. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is in Mankato right now as part of his “Mort Goes To Camp” tour. He filmed bits with P Chris Kluwe, coach Childress, and also a group comprised of Jared Allen, Heath Farwell and Chad Greenway. Some very funny stuff was produced and you’ll be able to see it on tonight’s SportsCenter.

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