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A Look At The Vikings Depth On Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 20, 2010 – 7:01 am

Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on Thursday that this year’s Vikings defense has the best depth he’s seen so far during his tenure with the team. In a game as violent as football, depth is essential to sustaining success, so hearing Frazier’s comment about the Vikings depth on defense should be encouraging for Vikings fans.

Let’s take a look at a few players who are currently providing the Vikings with solid depth on defense…

Defensive End
Starters: Jared Allen and Ray Edwards
Key Reserve: Brian Robison
Other Reserves: Everson Griffen, Jayme Mitchell

Robison is an explosive pass rusher who can come off the edge and beat OTs to get to the QB. But he’s also a stout player who can battle inside, which allows the Vikings to play him inside on some 3rd downs. Whether he’s subbing for Allen or Edwards with an outside pass rush or sliding inside on obvious 3rd down passing situations, Robison is a key element to the Vikings defensive line rotation.

Defensive Tackle
Starters: Kevin Williams, Pat Williams
Key Reserves: Letroy Guion, Jimmy Kennedy

The Vikings re-signed Kennedy this past offseason because he provides a solid option in the DT rotation. But the player to watch here is Guion, who’s had a great training camp and then played well last weekend against St. Louis. Guion has been with the Vikings since 2008 as a developmental prospect, but things seem to be clicking for him now. If Guion continues to trend upwards, he and Kennedy help provide the Vikings with a strong rotation at DT.

Click here to read on about the Vikings depth at LB and in the secondary…


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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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Vikings Agree To Terms With Kennedy

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 17, 2010 – 2:49 pm

Several reports last week indicated that DT Jimmy Kennedy would return to the Vikings, even after a free agent visit with the Buffalo Bills. Today, the Vikings have announced that the 7-year veteran and the club have indeed agreed to terms.

Kennedy will enter his 3rd season as a Viking in 2010 after originally joining the team in December of 2008. He enjoyed one of his most productive seasons in 2009, matching his career-best 3.0 sacks in the regular season and adding another sack during the playoffs. Kennedy made 1 start in 2009, filling in for Pat Williams at Chicago and tallying 9 tackles that night.

The former Penn State standout wa the #12 selection in the 2003 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams and has played for St. Louis, Chicago and Jacksonville, along with the Vikings, during his career. He has played in 77 career games with 31 starts and has posted 10.0 career sacks.


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Report: Vikings Re-Sign DT Kennedy

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 13, 2010 – 5:09 pm

In the entry just before this one, CJ referenced a report speculating that the Philadelphia Eagles may be considering whether or not Vikings DE Ray Edwards, a restricted free agent (RFA) with a 1st round tender, would be worth swiping from the Vikings.

CJ also then broke down the Vikings options moving forward should Edwards sign with Philadelphia.

If this report from NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora is accurate, there’s another member of the Vikings defensive line who could have left town for another team but has instead decided to stick around. According to La Canfora, DT Jimmy Kennedy has re-signed with the Vikings.

After visiting with the Buffalo Bills this week and openly desiring a starting role somewhere, Kennedy has decided to return to the Vikings, where his role may not be a starting one but is important nonetheless. Kennedy is a frequent sub in the Vikings defensive line, a unit that features fellow DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Many times Kennedy comes in to spell Pat Williams, specifically in passing situations.

We’ve reached out to the appropriate people within the organization but have not been able to confirm La Canfora’s report. If and when we receive confirmation, we’ll let you know.

Be sure to follow the Vikings on Twitter (twitter.com/VikingsFootball) to ensure you’re on top of all Vikings news.


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Spielman Talks About Vikings Free Agents

Posted by Mike Wobschall on February 25, 2010 – 12:39 pm

Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman sat down with Vikings beat writers on Thursday after appearing on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, an annual tradition of his at the NFL Scouting Combine. Much was discussed during the sitdown and we’ll have plenty more updates throughout the next couple of days, but I wanted to quickly mention that Spielman was asked several questions about the Vikings strategy in free agency.

Teams are not allowed to talk to players who will become free agents on March 5 because they are still under contract with another team. But the Vikings are free to speak with their own pending free agents, such as RB Chester Taylor.

Others, such as DT Jimmy Kennedy, WR Greg Lewis and CB Benny Sapp are also on schedule to become free agents in the early part of March. Because the Vikings are limited in pursuing unrestricted free agents (UFAs) due to new rules that apply to the Final League Year, it’s even more important for the team to identify the players they’d like to retain.

From the sounds of it, the Vikings will try to retain most of their UFAs.

“We’ve always tried to keep our guys on the football team if we can get them back,” Spielman explained. “But sometimes, whether it’s a financial situation or something [else], it’s not always possible. Sometimes it works out.

“All our guys that are our unrestricted free agents are guys that helped us win ballgames last year and I think everybody in the organization feels strongly about at least trying to get these guys back.”

The highest-profile UFA on the Vikings roster is Taylor, who’s been an important part of the Vikings offense since he signed as a free agent back in 2006. If the Vikings are unable to reach an agreement with Taylor before March 5, the RB will be able to test the open market and assess his value.

With that said, Spielman was then asked what kind of market environment he expects given the new rules in the Final League Year. The new rules are such that the salary cap disappears, but so does the salary floor. So will teams spend money as if it’s going on trees? Or will they sit on the money because there’s no spending requirement?

“I don’t know where the market’s going because it’s a whole new deal this year,” Spielman. “I don’t know what other teams are going to do; like I said, it’s an unknown.

“But Chester is one of those guys that we would definitely want to try to sign back if we can. Just like Greg Lewis, just like Jimmy Kennedy, just like Benny Sapp. All those guys are a huge part of our success last year.”

We’ll have more updates from the conversation with Spielman posted shortly…


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Friday Post-Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 1, 2010 – 1:22 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters on Friday after practice to give a final update before this Sunday’s regular season finale against the NY Giants at Mall of America Field. Here are a few notes…

– Childress said the Vikings had a good practice on Friday and that the team feels good about playing at home this weekend to cap the regular season. “We had a good practice and I’m anxious to get busy and get out there and play at home,” the head coach said. “We’ll have the home crowd and expect that to be a huge plus. We’ll kind of try that on for size as we go forward. We’re excited and ready to get it going.”

– DT Jimmy Kennedy injured his thumb in last week’s loss at Chicago while filling in for Pat Williams, who missed the game with an elbow injury. Kennedy was not able to practice at all this week, and while Childress said they’ll wait to see how the DT feels tomorrow, it looks as if DTs Fred Evans and Letroy Guion may have to step up should Kennedy not be able to play on Sunday.

– Speaking of Williams, he was able to practice on a limited basis all 3 days this week. He was limited all of last week and missed Monday night’s game, but although he was limited all of this week as well, Childress seemed optimistic about his run-stuffing DT’s chances of playing. “Pat did make it through the week,” Childress said. “He had a good week of practice.” Asked if Williams has “made it over the hump” in terms of recovering from the injury, Childress said he seems to have done so.


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Will The Williams Wall Be Intact?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 1, 2010 – 9:44 am

The Vikings will look to end a 2-game losing streak and earn a 1st-round bye this weekend by defeating the NY Giants at Mall of America Field. And, if at all possible, they’d like to do it with a complete Williams Wall in the middle of their defense.

Last week against the Chicago Bears, DT Pat Williams was inactive because of an elbow injury that limited him in practice all week. Backup DT Jimmy Kennedy stepped into the starting lineup for Williams, and while Kennedy performed capably, there’s really no way to replace a player of Williams’ caliber.

“Jimmy did a good job for us,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “We knew when we signed him in the offseason that there may be a time where he would have to start a game, and sure enough, it did happen. He stepped up and did a good job for us.

“It’s not the same as having Pat in there, maybe not quite as disruptive as Pat can be at times, but he did a solid job and hopefully he’ll be able to continue to build on that as well.”

While Kennedy, a former 1st-round draft choice, has the ability to step in for Williams when needed, there’s no denying that the Vikings defense is not the same without Williams. A 3-time Pro Bowler, Williams often commands double teams and can often be found in an offensive backfield before a play develops.

“Anytime you don’t have Pat – probably the premier run stopper in the National Football League – on the field, it’s going to affect what you do,” Frazier said. It always makes a difference on our run defense when he’s not out on the field.”

Williams has been out on the field practicing this week, though it’s been on a limited basis just as it was last week. His participation level in practice today (Friday) will be a good indication of his chances of playing on Sunday. Last week he was limited all week and didn’t suit up. This week he was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, so Vikings fans should hope for the words “full participation” next to Williams’ name after practice today.


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A Replay of the Vikings 4th Quarter Goal Line Stand

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 7:16 am

So what was the key to last Friday night’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs? While Tarvaris Jackson’s 12-15 for 202 yards and 2 TD performance certainly played a large factor, perhaps even more significant was the staunch goal line stand the Vikings defense had to end the game.

After a nice drive orchestrated by Chiefs QB Matt Gutierrez and then a pass interference penalty on DB Derrick Roberson, Kansas City had the ball 1st and goal from the Vikings 1-yardline with 55 seconds to play. And they didn’t get in.

You can re-live that goal line stand by clicking here to watch a sideline view of all 4 plays.

On 1st down, with the Metrodome crowd in mid-season form, DE Martail Burnett and DT Jimmy Kennedy teamed to stuff RB Javarris Williams. Rookie S Jamarca Sanford forced an incomplete pass on 2nd down. On 3rd down, with Vikings defenders trying to pump the crowd up even more, Burnett and the middle of the Vikings defensive line stuffed another rushing attempt, this one by Kolby Smith. And then on 4th down, Gutierrez saw another pass fall incomplete when CB Karl Paymah pushed a receiver out of bounds, and the Vikings defense had completed its goal line stand to cap the team’s come-from-behind 17-13 win.

On the field immediately after the game, several Vikings starters, including DE Jared Allen and LB E.J. Henderson, rushed the field to congratulate their teammates on what was an impressive final 4 plays.


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