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Several Youngsters In Key Spots For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 17, 2010 – 9:56 am

With a solid corps of veteran players and with a return trip to the playoffs this season after making it last season, the Vikings are not short on playoff experience. In fact, 36 Vikings have either played or been active in at least one playoff game and 25 of those 36 Vikings have started at least 1 postseason game.

With that being said, however, there are several young Vikings who will be in key spots today against the Dallas Cowboys. Their youth and inexperience might be perceived as a disadvantage, but the fact that a division-winning team with a 12-4 record feels comfortable enough to rely on them also goes to their credit.

Here’s a brief look at the young Vikings who will be getting their first taste of playoff action while in primary roles…

LB Jasper Brinkley: A rookie 5th rounder, Brinkley was solid for the Vikings on special teams all season and then he was thrust into a starting role on defense when E.J. Henderson was lost for the year in Week 13. Brinkley has played well against the run and is improving against the pass. He’ll be on the field today primarily in run situations and the Vikings will sub in an extra DB on passing downs.

WR Percy Harvin: The 2009 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, Harvin set a new Vikings franchise record for all-purpose yardage and he also set a new team record for rushing yards by a WR. In addition, Harvin was fantastic as a kick returner and he tied for the lead among rookie WRs for receptions with 60. The Vikings would love to have a typical all-around performance from the outstanding rookie play-maker today.

S Tyrell Johnson and S Jamarca Sanford: Johnson will remain the starter at safety, along with Madieu Williams, but Sanford will also see time on defense. Sanford has been outstanding for the Vikings this season on special teams and toward the end of the season he also saw time on defense. Both players will see the field plenty today.

RT Phil Loadholt: The Vikings ability to contain Dallas’ pass rush is a key factor in today’s game and Loadholt, a 2nd rounder from last April’s draft, is a key factor in that effort. He’ll be primarily facing Cowboys OLB Anthony Spencer.

WR Sidney Rice: Though in his 3rd season, we include Rice in this category because he’s healthy and at the top of his game for the first time. Rice had a breakout season in 2009, often times becoming unstoppable with QB Brett Favre lofting passes his way. Dallas will have to find a way to contain him.

C John Sullivan: A lot of attention has been focused on Dallas edge rushers, but the Cowboys can push the pocket from the middle, too, thanks to Pro Bowl DT Jay Ratliff. One man who’ll be responsible for blocking Ratliff is Sullivan. Although he’s not a rookie either, Sullivan will be playing in his first playoff game as a starting center.


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