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A Few Training Camp Trends 1 Week Into The Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 6, 2010 – 10:49 am

Practice #1 of Friday is in the books as the team worked out from 9:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. in front of another packed training camp crowd in Mankato. Jared Allen and the rest of the defensive line were signing autographs after practice, which is a major reason for the boosted attendance this morning.

The Vikings had a spirited 9-on-7 period that saw the offensive line and RB Toby Gerhart dominate early and then saw the defense, specifically LB Jasper Brinkley, pick it up toward the end and shut down the offense. Brinkley has had an outstanding camp to this point and it’s clear the strongest part of his game continues to be stopping the run. He can fill holes and stun a ball carrier with his aggressiveness and suddenness.

The Vikings will hold a special teams practice this afternoon from 2:10 to 3:15 p.m. and then will hit the fields 2 more times tomorrow before taking the day off on Sunday. Speaking of special teams practice, that’s where RB Darius Reynaud injured his ankle the other day. I saw Reynaud walking around the sidelines today during practice, so that’s a good sign. Hopefully he can recover quickly and get back out on the field; he has had a very nice training camp to this point.

Other guys who missed practice today included: WR Percy Harvin (personal), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Benny Sapp (illness), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP), LB J Leman (leg) and C John Sullivan (leg).

CJ will chime in later today with a few more observations from today’s practice and a report on rookie DE Everson Griffen.

I’m going to head out of Mankato and begin my journey to Canton, OH for enshrinement ceremonies of John Randle and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010. Before I do that, though, I wanted to list a few trends I’ve noticed now that we are a week into 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Here it goes…

– Players who, in my eyes, are having solid training camps are: WR Bernard Berrian, LBs Jasper Brinkley and Kenny Onatolu, OT Patrick Brown, CB Chris Cook, OG Chris DeGeare, DT Letroy Guion, RT Phil Loadholt and RB Albert Young.

– The position group I’ve seen improve the most over camp has been the offensive line.

– The position group that has been the most impressive since Day 1 of camp is the LBs.

– I am confident in the way the Vikings medical and strength staffs are handling the injuries of CB Cedric Griffin and WR Sidney Rice.

– The Vikings had a true one-two punch in previous seasons with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. But I’m wondering if the one-two punch philosophy will be modified slightly in 2010 to include a few RBs in the rotation along with Peterson.

– RB Toby Gerhart has gotten better every day, struggling right out of the gates and having perhaps his best practice on Friday morning.

– I’m certain that Vikings fans will set a training camp attendance record this year; the crowds have been great.

– The Vikings defensive line led the league in sacks last year, and this year during training camp the unit looks improved.


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Notes From Morning Practice; E.J., Brinkley Shine

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 4, 2010 – 11:07 am

Mother Nature took it easy on us Wednesday morning and provided modest (compared to Tuesday) heat and humidity for a 2 hour and 10-minute workout in which the Vikings were suited up in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. There was a fair amount of pad crunching going on, so I took my notebook out and jotted down a bunch of notes.

Here they are…

– The 1st portion of practice is typically dedicated to special teams, especially kick coverage. Following the kick coverage period, the Vikings worked on FGs and K Ryan Longwell looked sharp in his drill work. The last FG attempt from Longwell is occasionally designed to fall short so the team can practice returning a long missed FG; RB Darius Reynaud was the returner on Wednesday. It’s a part of the game that a team could easily go a whole season without seeing, but it’s interesting to me to take note of the minutia that teams go through to thoroughly prepare themselves for an upcoming season.

– RB Adrian Peterson was one of a handful of players who didn’t participate this morning. So rookie Toby Gerhart and 3-year veteran Albert Young shared the 1st team duties. When I saw Peterson without his shoulder pads as he headed out to practice, I wrote a note to myself to be sure to pay attention to which guy(s) got 1st-team reps. It seemed to me that Gerhart and Young shared equally the reps. At this point in camp, it’s my opinion that Young is ahead of Gerhart in the competition for Peterson’s complement, but I think ultimately it’ll come down to a trio (or more) of RBs who complement Peterson rather than a traditional 1-2 punch.

– LB play was impressive today, especially during team drills such as the 9-on-7 drill and LB vs. RB/TE passing and pass protection drill. During the 9-on-7 period, middle LBs Jasper Brinkley and E.J. Henderson stood out to me, consistently penetrating the line of scrimmage to cause disruption in the backfield or right at the line. Henderson broke up a pair of consecutive running plays, once on his own and then the 2nd time with DT Pat Williams. On the 4th and 5th plays of the period, it was Brinkley who caused the disruption, meeting up with Gerhart off RG and causing RBs coach Eric Bieniemy to tell Gerhart to bounce it outside and “trust your vision.” Near the end of this period, Reynaud registered the best run when he broke free off LT thanks to a nice seal block by rookie TE Mickey Shuler.

– Here are quick summaries of 2 players who looked good offensively: WR Bernard Berrian because of his smooth route running, leadership and sure-handedness. TE Garrett Mills because of several good “hands” catches (where the player doesn’t trap the ball against his body) during individual, 1-on-1, and team work.

– Finally, I should give you the attendance report from practice. The following players were not participants today: WR Percy Harvin (personal), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Benny Sapp (illness), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP), Peterson (lower body) and LB J Leman (leg). It was good to see C John Sullivan (leg) and Shuler back in action after they had missed a few sessions.

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more from 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.


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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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LB Brinkley Ready To Take On His Role, Whatever That Might Be

Posted by cjsiewert on July 31, 2010 – 1:54 pm

After stepping in for an injured E.J. Henderson in Week 13 of the 2009 season, LB Jasper Brinkley was able to immerse himself in the Vikings starting defensive front in just his 1st season in the NFL.

One might think that Brinkley, or any 2nd-year player following a season with ample starting time, would set out a few goals to help reach a higher individual status with a season’s worth of experience under their belt.

But that is not the case with this 2nd-year middle LB.

“I really have no individual goals,” Brinkley stated. “I just have team goals. Win more games than we did last year. Hopefully we can go in and do that this year.”

Having no individual goals does not mean that he’s not improving himself. Rather, it speaks volumes to how much of a team-oriented player #54 really is. Brinkley also explained his feelings coming off a season in which he started the final 4 games of the regular season and the 2 playoff games, with a total of 32 tackles on the season.

“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable,” Brinkley said. “Now that I got a season under my belt, I got a lot of experience from last year. This year is a chance to better myself off of what I did last year.”

Even with Henderson spending most of the practice on Saturday morning with the 1st-team defense, Brinkley also saw plenty of practice time with the 1st unit as Henderson is easing his way back onto the field. During non-contact drills, Henderson played with the 1st team and during contact drills Brinkley stepped in.

With no sense of entitlement to a starting position, Saturday’s morning practice may be a common sight during the early games of the 2010 campaign for #54 and #56.

“Whichever role is best to help the team win I’m ready for,” Brinkley said.


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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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Observations From Final Minicamp Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 13, 2010 – 12:15 pm

The Vikings concluded their mandatory minicamp this weekend with a 4th and final practice on Sunday morning, working out for just over an hour under cloudy skies and moderate temperatures.

Practice format for Sunday looked similar to that of Friday and Saturday, though I did notice some red zone work being done. As has been widely-reported, Tarvaris Jackson took reps with the 1st team and rookie Joe Webb took many of the 2nd team reps. But following practice, Head Coach Brad Childress said not to read too much into the QB rotation at this point because the team is trying to split up reps to expose young players to as much as possible as they try to immerse themselves in the Vikings offense.

Speaking of Childress, he addressed the media following practice and vikings.com was there to cover it. We’ll have video of that press conference available in on-demand format later today so be sure to check back.

Also important to note was that RBs Toby Gerhart and Adrian Peterson were not at practice today.

Several players were stopped by reporters following practice and I tried to poke my head into as many interviews as I could. Here’s what I heard…

– Jackson was asked about his improvement from the 2009 season and he explained that the biggest improvement he’s made has been a mental standpoint and a focus standpoint. Perhaps Jackson learned from fellow QB Brett Favre during last season, but I also think Jackson is naturally progressing as a QB in this league. He has the desire to succeed and I characterize him as a player who works at improving his craft.

Jackson also said he thinks he’s grown more during this offseason than he has during any other point in his career.

– LB Jasper Brinkley spoke with reporters about his progress through the offseason as well. Brinkley was a solid contributor to the Vikings special teams unit for the first 12 weeks of last season and then was inserted into the starting lineup when middle LB E.J. Henderson went down with a season-ending leg injury. Brinkley performed admirably in Henderson’s stead and it appears the Vikings will be comfortable with the 2nd year player in Henderson’s spot until the defensive captain can return to the lineup. One particular area Brinkley acknowledged he was focusing on was pass coverage, where he is concentrating on rotating his hips better and matching up route combinations with splits between receivers.

– CB Lito Sheppard said he noticed a sense of high expectation amongst the Vikings as they come off a season in which they advanced to the NFC Championship Game. It was an interesting observation from Sheppard because the Vikings new CB is also coming off a loss in a conference championship game. He was with the Jets in 2009 and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Jets in the AFC title game.

– Many Vikings players and both Childress and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier spent several minutes after practice visiting with and signing autographs for members of the 932nd Medical Squadron out of Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois. The squadron was lead by Master Sergeant Mike Taylor and also includes TSgt Gilmore, SSgt Jackson and Sr. Airman Wissman. The 932nd is in town on a 2-week tour at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.


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Arctic Blast XV To Be Held This Weekend

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 10, 2010 – 2:36 pm

The Vikings narrowly missed out on an opportunity to play in Super Bowl XLIV, but that won’t deter the organization from participating in Arctic Blast XV this upcoming weekend at Lake Mille Lacs.

The 15th annual Minnesota Vikings Arctic Blast Snowmobile Rally, sponsored by MillerCoors Brewing Co., the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Total Luxury Limousines and Arctic Cat, will feature current and former Vikings players, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, Viktor and team executives as the Vikings organization raises money for the Vikings Children’s Fund (VCF).

Arctic Blast XV is comprised of a full slate of events that includes snowmobile giveaways, free arcade play for kids, an ice fishing pond, outdoor BBQ, Karaoke and food/drink specials at various Blast Points throughout the day. There will also be numerous prizes and games for fans of all ages at Vikings headquarters at the Blue Goose Inn in Garrison.

On Sunday, a prize party will be held with more than $30,000 in prizes to be awarded, including a choice of a new Arctic Cat Snowmobile or ATV.

Current players scheduled to attend are TE Jeff Dugan, DE Ray Edwards, LB Jasper Brinkley and S Jamarca Sanford. Also, assistant coaches Derek Mason and Diron Reynolds will also join the festivities. A full list of alumni will be at the event, including Bud Grant, Jim Marshall, Scott Studwell, Joey Browner and Doug Sutherland.

Participants can register day of event at any of the 4 Blast Points located in Garrison, Onamia, Isle or Malmo ($35). For the list of Blast Points and more information, call (952) 828-6577 or visit http://www.vikings.com.


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Short Of Super Bowl, Long On Improvement

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 26, 2010 – 4:33 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters for his season-ending press conference on Tuesday afternoon, addressing a bevy of topics ranging from the disappointment that remains after Sunday night’s NFC title loss to the future of Brett Favre to building a championship organization.

The Vikings head coach didn’t hide from the fact that coming up one game short of the Super Bowl has harvested gut-wrenching disappointment from the Vikings fan base. But he also pointed out, appropriately so, that the disappointment is also felt within the walls of Winter Park.

“We didn’t achieve our ultimate goal, which is to go to the Super Bowl and win it,” Childress said. “You saw Sunday night how tough those guys took it. I know that everybody in town here takes it tough. We as a coaching staff and players and the organization take it extremely hard, too.”

Childress did a nice job of conveying the underlying sentiment and emotions that currently define the Vikings and their following. But, as a person in his position is called to do, Childress also outlined the positives his team and fan base can take into the coming months and 2010 season.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow and I don’t know that it completely goes away right away,” Childress said. “But as the leader of this football team, it’s important from my standpoint to point out to our guys all the positive things that we accomplished this year, whether it’s in terms of the wins and losses, the division, offense improved, defense improved and I thought we improved in the special teams area. It’s important to point those things out because I think those things get flushed under and really it ends up happening with everybody that’s not the Super Bowl champion; that’s the tough part of this business.”

The Vikings did indeed continue to improve under Childress. The team’s record has improved each year since 2006, including jumping to 12-4 this year after a solid 10-6 campaign in 2008. The Vikings won their 2nd consecutive division title in 2009 and also earned the NFC’s #2 seed, which gave them a 1st-round bye in the conference playoffs and played a pivotal role in the Vikings smashing the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 in the Divisional Round.

The Vikings also improved in several statistical areas, leading the league in sacks with 48 and producing the NFL’s 2nd-highest scoring offense at 29.4 points per game, a massive leap from the 23.7 points per game they registered in 2008. Also, the Vikings kick coverage and kickoff return units saw drastic improvement.

Other significant statistical jumps included the 2009 defense allowing 1.3 fewer points per game and the offense jumping from 17th to 5th in total offense and 25th to 8th in passing offense.

The addition of QB Brett Favre was the impetus behind much of the offensive improvement and it gave the Vikings a heightened sense of legitimacy as they cruised to an undefeated home season, sensational 13-4 record and an appearance in a conference championship game on the road in a difficult environment that saw them in position to win it with just 19 seconds left.

Along with the addition of a 19-year veteran future Hall of Famer at QB, though, Childress also pointed out that a number of young players were involved in the 2009 improvement. C John Sullivan and S Tyrell Johnson both progressed in their 1st full year as starters and rookies LB Jasper Brinkley, WR Percy Harvin and OT Phil Loadholt played key roles in starting positions.

It all adds up to a team that fell short of its goal this year but is also part of an organization that is striving to win a championship.

“I think the message has been consistent – we’re attempting to build a championship organization here and we continue to get closer,” Childress said. “I know it’s unsatisfying, but I know that there’s a number of different guys getting involved. The younger guys, whether it’s the Loadholts, the Harvins, we’re continuing to build that thing.

“This was a fun, fun group to coach and they remained that way, all the way through the season. It’s fun to watch guys compete with each other and for each other. And it’s rare in this business of individuals that you see guys come together and play that way for the whole season. I just acknowledge that everyone’s hurting and at the end of the day a lot of good things that we’re going to take away and build off of.”


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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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Small Draft Class Makes Big Impact

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 5, 2010 – 9:49 am

The Vikings tied a franchise low with 5 draft selections during the 2009 NFL Draft. But while the franchise’s most recent draft class is small in numbers, its impact was big.

All 5 members of the draft class made the Vikings 53-man roster coming out of training camp. That’s an accomplishment on its own. But all 5 members of the draft class also started at least 1 game and all 5 were regular contributors throughout the regular season.

Here’s a brief look at each member of the 2009 draft class and how exactly they made their mark on the team this regular season:

Round 1 – #22 Overall
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

Harvin was the most exciting player in college football during his time at Florida and he brought that flare and swagger with him to the Vikings. He played in 15 games and contributed both as a kickoff returner and a WR. Harvin finished the season with 60 receptions for 790 yards and 6 TDs while also adding 42 kickoff returns for 1,156 yards and 2 TDs, becoming the 1st Viking to ever record 2 kickoff return TDs in a season and in a career. Harvin set a franchise record for all-purpose yardage and also for rushing yards by a WR.

Round 2 – #54 Overall
Phil Loadholt, RT, Oklahoma

The 6-8, 343-pound RT became just the 5th rookie tackle in Vikings history to start a season opener and he went on to play and start in 15 games during the regular season.

Round 3 – #86 Overall
Asher Allen, CB, Georgia

Allen was inactive for the Vikings first 6 games, but he was called upon once CB Antoine Winfield went down with a foot injury and the rookie CB from Georgia came up big. In 10 games played and 1 started, Allen registered 18 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF and 2 passes defensed. He was also a regular contributor on special teams and tallied 4 tackles.

Round 5 – #150 Overall
Jasper Brinkley, LB, South Carolina

There’s simply no way to replace a player such as E.J. Henderson, but Brinkley, a player who has been through injury issues of his own, took some of the sting away with his ability to step into the starting lineup late in the season. Brinkley played in all 16 regular season games and started 4 contests once Henderson was placed on IR. He tallied 24 tackles and 1 tackle for a loss on defense while also adding 11 special teams tackles.

Round 7 – #231 Overall
Jamarca Sanford, S, Mississippi

Sanford led the SEC in tackles during his 4-year career and he had no problem bringing his aggressive style to the next level. He played in 14 games, including 1 start on defense, and tallied 17 special teams tackles, 15 tackles on defense and 1 forced fumble.


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