Blogs

Final Audition For Some As Roster Deadline Nears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 2, 2010 – 7:37 am

Tonight’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos represents a final audition for several players as they hope to make the Vikings 53-man roster. The Vikings began training camp back on July 30 with 80 players and tonight training camp officially comes to an end and the Vikings will trim the roster to 53 players by the end of the day Saturday.

For some, such as DE Jared Allen or RB Adrian Peterson, tonight’s action isn’t so dramatic. But for others, tonight could mean everything. Let’s take a look at a few position battles that are still up in the air…

Offensive Line: All 5 starters from last year will return in 2010, but beyond that the Vikings OL situation is uncertain. Rookie Chris DeGeare has performed well to this point and could be anywhere from the Week 1 starter at RG to the team’s #1 reserve. And what about Ryan Cook? He can play all 5 positions along the line but might have to hold off others, such as Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich, to make the team.

Wide Receiver: Last year’s breakout WR – Sidney Rice – is on the mend with a hip injury and won’t be active until midway through the season, so that opens up another spot on the roster. The Vikings brought in Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker last week to fortify depth, but there are others, such as Logan Payne and Greg Lewis, who are vying for playing time as well. All of these players have a chance tonight to step up and stand out.

Defensive Line: It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Vikings hold onto an extra defensive lineman or 2 given how well the unit has played in training camp and the preseason. Aside from the usual suspects, there have been a few standouts during training camp, including DT Letroy Guion and DE Jayme Mitchell. They’ll have a chance to solidify their positions tonight but others on the depth chart, such as DT Fred Evans and DE Everson Griffen, will try to use tonight as another stepping stone.

Linebacker: They might slide a bit under the radar, but the Vikings LB corps might be the deepest spot on the entire team. The team’s 3 starters are outstanding, and LB coach Fred Pagac has done a great job of shoring up depth behind those starters with players such as Jasper Brinkley, Heath Farwell and Erin Henderson. Given the importance of LBs to the special teams unit, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a couple more LBs (Kenny Onatolu, Nate Triplett) on the final 53-man roster.


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Vikings Top Seahawks 24-13 Behind 4th-Quarter Comeback

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 9:48 pm

Preseason games often times lose their interest past halftime, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday night at Mall of America Field, where the Vikings pulled out a 24-13 come-from behind victory over the Seattle Seahawks to improve their preseason record to 2-1 and, more importantly, move another step closer to opening the 2010 regular season.

Brett Favre and the Vikings 1st team offense racked up 223 yards of offense in the opening 2 quarters but penalties and turnovers compromised scoring opportunities. The Vikings defense dominated Seattle’s 1st team offense, holding them to just 98 net yards of offense in the 1st half. As a result, the teams entered halftime knotted at 10.

Seattle opened up another lead early in the 3rd quarter with an Olindo Mare FG; there was no other scoring in the 3rd period.

But the Vikings offense opened up a bit in the 4th quarter, with both Sage Rosenfels and Joe Webb leading scoring drives. Rosenfels capped his drive by lofting a pass to Javon Walker in the endzone. Walker, acquired earlier in the week, made an acrobatic catch over 2 defenders for the score, giving the Vikings a 17-13 lead after the Ryan Longwell PAT. On the Vikings next possession, Webb entered the game and capped his drive by hitting fellow rookie Ryan D’Imperio. The fullback bullied his way into the endzone for a 7-yard score that gave the Vikings a 24-13 lead.

The scoring ended there and the Vikings came away with their 2nd win of the 2010 preseason. We’ll have more coverage, including a complete game recap, highlights, on-demand video of head coach Brad Childress and Favre’s press conferences and much more.


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What 2 Watch 4 Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 12:29 pm

Tonight marks the 3rd preseason game for the Vikings as they host the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field in a game scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT. The 3rd preseason game is considered the “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as they make final preparations for the regular season, so tonight is a good time to keep a keen eye on the squad.

With that in mind, here are a few things I’ll be specifically watching tonight…

Safety
Unquestionably the position fans were the most displeased with coming out of the 2009 season. I’m not sure they played as poorly as many thought, but there is definitely room for improvement. Madieu Williams has one of the starting spots nailed down, but the other spot is still up in the air, with both Tyrell Johnson (last season’s regular starter) and Jamarca Sanford battling it out. My sense is that Johnson has an edge in this competition, but Sanford did start last week in San Francisco and Johnson didn’t come in until the 3rd quarter. I’m not sure how to read into that, but tonight’s rotation and performance from each guy will go a long way in determining who will be the Week 1 starter.

Offensive Line
Probably the position fans are the most displeased with currently, especially after the sack QB Brett Favre took last week. I’m less concerned with the starting 5 and more concerned about the depth behind the starting 5, specifically at OT. Rookie G Chris DeGeare should provide adequate depth on the interior line, but I think Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich have a lot to prove as reserve OTs. They’ll get their chance tonight in the 2nd half as well as in next week’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.

Another area to watch will be the starting C position, where John Sullivan has made it back from a leg injury and should see substantial time tonight. But last week starting RG Anthony Herrera played some at C, so it will be interesting to see if the Vikings offensive staff plays Herrera at C again tonight, even with Sullivan back in the lineup and able to play. If Herrera does play C tonight, this might be a development worth watching over the next couple of weeks.

New WRs
Both Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker should see their 1st game action as Vikings tonight. Walker was brought in via free agency earlier in the week and Camarillo was brought in via trade a day later. My sense is that Camarillo has a real shot to be a factor in the Vikings passing game this season. He caught 55 and 50 passes in consecutive years with the Dolphins, a run-heavy team, and he’s never played with a QB at the level of Brett Favre, so perhaps Camarillo will be a productive possession receiver with the Vikings. Walker is a bigger target than Camarillo and also brings with him a rapport with Favre from their days together in Green Bay. Walker also knows the offense better than Camarillo at this point, which is why I expect Walker to look better tonight.

It’ll be interesting to watch both of these guys play and I’m specifically interested to see what my initial impressions of Camarillo are after tonight’s game.

I’m also looking forward to watching WR Bernard Berrian in extended time tonight with Favre. Even before issues with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice arose, I thought Berrian was poised to have another big season for the Vikings. In 2008, Berrian fulfilled expectations as a big-time free agent signing by leading the NFL in yards per catch. Then last season, with Favre under center, Berrian missed the opportunity to develop early chemistry with #4 because of a nagging hamstring injury. With Berrian healthy and Favre back in the fold, I expect the speedy #87 to be a big factor in this year’s passing game. We’ll get a glimpse as to what the future holds tonight.

Jayme Mitchell
The 6-6, 285-pound DE has been written off by many Vikings followers over the year, partially because a knee injury ruined much of his time in Minnesota. But earlier this week assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Mitchell is now showing no ill-effects from that knee injury, and Mitchell’s play recently is bearing that out. He’s had a nice training camp and an even better preseason. After his 1st solid preseason performance against the St. Louis Rams, I said I needed to see him do it again before I jumped on-board. Then that’s exactly what he did against San Francisco last week. So I’m on-board with Mitchell making the squad for now, but we still have 2 preseason games to play. Hopefully Mitchell stays healthy and puts on another good show tonight. He could provide the Vikings with excellent depth behind Ray Edwards.


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A Few Thoughts On Sapp-For-Camarillo Trade

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 26, 2010 – 6:20 am

After disappointing news that WR Sidney Rice could be sideline for 8 weeks or even more after undergoing hip surgery earlier in the week, the Vikings weren’t reduced to licking their wounds or curling over in the fetal position. Instead, the team has aggressively addressed the problem by signing veteran Javon Walker and trading for 5th-year player Greg Camarillo.

Camarillo immediately bolsters the talent level and depth of the Vikings WR corps. The 6-1, 190-pound WR out of Stanford is a versatile player who can lineup in the slot or out wide. According to the website footballoutsiders, Camarillo was targeted 73 times in 2009 with 50 receptions and 0 drops. Camarillo, a smart player, has good but not great quickness and speed and he’s also been productive over the past 2 seasons, hauling in 105 catches in that time with an 11.1-yard per catch average.

Time will tell exactly how the Vikings use him, but by all appearances he seems to be a prototypical possession receiver – versatile with great hands and a history of producing. He’s a nice addition for the Vikings.

The addition of Camarillo comes at the expense of CB Benny Sapp, who had been with the club over the past 2 seasons and played well during his time with the Vikings. When CB Antoine Winfield was sidelined last season with a foot injury, it was Sapp who stepped in and played capably. In total, Sapp played in 30 games for the Vikings with 11 starts and tallied 59 tackles, 2 INTs and 2 forced fumbles in that time.

“Benny was a good player for us,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on Wednesday. “He did a great job while he was here. He helped us out down the stretch a year ago. Wish him the best with his new team, wish him the best.”

But while the Vikings depth at WR was in question, depth at CB was not. And that’s why Sapp was dealt. Although starter Cedric Griffin is coming back from a knee injury, Winfield appears to be in top form and a trio of other CBs – Asher Allen, Chris Cook and Lito Sheppard – are vying for playing time. Sapp was by no means a front runner among the CB group and he actually missed extensive time during the early part of training camp due to dehydration.

No word yet on when Camarillo will join the Vikings or what jersey number he’ll wear. His contract runs through the 2011 season.


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Vikings Sign WR Walker, Waive RB Moats

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 24, 2010 – 10:04 am

With Sidney Rice sideline because of a hip injury and Percy Harvin having missed extended time during training camp and the preseason, the Vikings WR position has gone from one of the deeper spots on the team to a position in need of some depth for the time being.

To address that situation, the Vikings have signed WR Javon Walker, a 9-year veteran who’s been with the Green Bay Packers (2002-2005), Denver Broncos (2006-2007) and Oakland Raiders (2008-2009). With the Vikings, Walker is re-united with QB Brett Favre. The tandem was successful in Green Bay, hooking up for TDs 20 times.

Walker has played in 83 career games, including 46 starts, over the last 8 seasons and he was originally selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 1st round (#20) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He earned a Pro Bowl berth following the 2004 season, a campaign in which he had 89 receptions for 1,382 yards (15.5 avg.) and 12 TDs.

For his career, Walker has 267 receptions for 4,011 yards and 31 TDs.

To make room for Walker, the Vikings waived RB Ryan Moats.


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