Vikings Tweak Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 13, 2011 – 9:07 am

The Vikings have made a few changes to the roster over the past day or so. Here are the changes…

– C Joe Berger was signed to the active roster and C Jon Cooper was waived to make room for Berger.

– DL Cedric McKinley was signed to the practice squad. The Vikings had a spot open on the practice squad after activating TE Allen Reisner on Saturday.

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Childress Updates Status Of Injured Vikings

Posted by cjsiewert on October 20, 2010 – 1:23 pm

As the NFL has made a point to deem “devastating blows” unacceptable and worthy of distributing hefty fines for such hits, it’s a reminder to coaches, players and fans alike how violent the sport of football can be at times. And with a violent sport comes injuries.

The Vikings –not unlike any other team in the league – have dealt with the injury bug on many different levels. But 3 key players were pointed topics in head coach Brad Childress’ Wednesday press conference.

Vikings regular starting C John Sullivan has been plagued with a nagging calf injury since training camp and his participation has taken a hit as a result. Both backup Cs Ryan Cook and Jon Cooper have seen time in place of Sullivan, but Cooper eventually landed the replacement role.

After Childress’ press conference, it seems as if Sullivan is making strides towards getting back into the starting position but isn’t ready for an entire game.

“Right now I would say that would be a tag-team deal,” Childress said of Sullivan and Cooper’s playing time. “We’re going to rep those guys equally in practice and see how Jon comes along. As you here me say often, it’ll be how he comes back tomorrow and how he feels, but both those guys are going to take snaps in there, he and Cooper.”

Another unit that’s dealt with injuries is the secondary. CB Cedric Griffin is out for the season with a torn ACL while rookie Chris Cook is currently dealing with a knee injury. On top of the injuries to those 2 key CBs is Vikings starting S Husain Abdullah, who encountered a head injury against the Dallas Cowboys. Abdullah’s timetable to return isn’t clear, especially with the league taking extra precautions regarding head injuries.

“As of right now, I’m foggy on it as is he foggy,” Childress acknowledged of Abdullah’s return. If Abdullah is unable to return, Childress said he’d take a look at both Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford.

Perhaps the most anticipated return from injury is that of WR Sidney Rice, who is rehabbing from hip surgery. Rice was placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list prior to the season, barring him from play until Week 7. Although Rice could be removed from the PUP list this week to play against the Packers, the Pro Bowler still has a ways to go before he can step onto the field with full certainty that his hip has healed.

When asked if Rice was at a point where he could participate with the team, Childress simply acknowledged, “he’s not.”

“He still going through his treatment,” Childress said. “At such time he can get out there, then we have to declare that. Then he’s got three weeks from that point when he’s physically out there practicing, taking practice turns. Now, he can do some land training. Whether it’s walking, whether it’s jogging on the turf or on the grass, but we’ve got three weeks from when we feel like he’s able to come back and practice, but we have to take a look at him. And you know there’s football shape and there’s conditioning shape.”

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Emptying Out The Vikings-Cowboys Notebook

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 19, 2010 – 2:01 pm

On Wednesday we’ll begin focusing on the huge NFC North showdown between the Vikings and Green Bay, which will be featured on NBC’s broadcast of Sunday night football. Before then, though, let’s empty out the notebook from last weekend’s 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Percy’s Versatility
Percy Harvin has been a sensational playmaker for the Vikings since he arrived last season as a 1st-round pick. But just as impressive as the actual plays he makes on the field is his ability to impact the Vikings in so many different ways. He’s a dynamic kick returner, a productive receiver and he can line up in the backfield and act as a RB.

As a rookie last season, Harvin finished tied for 1st among all NFL rookies in receiving yards (790) and receptions (60). He also ranked 2nd in the NFC and 7th in the NFL with his team record 2,081 all-purpose yards (1,156 kickoff return, 790 receiving, 135 rushing). In total, Harvin touched the ball 117 times and averaged 17.8 yards per touch.

Against Dallas on Sunday, Harvin returned a kickoff 95 yards for a TD, the 3rd kickoff return TD of his career – more than any other Vikings player in history. He also had 3 receptions for 21 yards and lined up in the backfield to take 2 handoffs and pickup 18 yards.

“We talked about that before,” Childress said when asked about Harvin’s versatility, “about Urban Meyer saying he may have been their best running back (at Florida). In fact, he takes a great look at runs coming out of the backfield; outside runs, inside runs. We’re just trying to put the ball in his hands and get him as many touches as we can.

Childress even said the team might take a look at Harvin as a punt returner at some point because of his natural return abilities and vision in setting up blocks.

Replacing Cedric Griffin
The loss of CB Cedric Griffin to another knee injury hurts the Vikings pass defense and his absence was felt against the Cowboys. All 3 of Dallas’ TDs came via the pass, and two of the scores came with CB Lito Sheppard in coverage.

“He was in coverage on the two touchdown throws,” Childress explained on Monday. “I think we felt like he could have played a little bit better technique on the one down in the end zone, maybe could have been in inside technique to deny that slant. He was about to make a great play on the ball, it hit his hands, then [Dez] Bryant makes a great play on the ball.”

It’s not necessary to give up on Sheppard, but the Vikings must correct some of the errors that led to those 3 TDs on Sunday. The Packers have every bit as talented a WR corps as the Cowboys, so expect Aaron Rodgers and Co. to look for a way to attack the Vikings secondary.

Hopefully they’ll try to attack Asher Allen. My sense is that the pieces are falling into place for Allen, who is currently in his second season with the Vikings but is now seeing more of the field on defense. I think Allen is close to making a big defensive play and the timing would be perfect if he could do it against Green Bay. There will still be some learning moments for Allen on defense, but I like what I saw from him against the Cowboys, particularly with him being in the right position at the right time. Eventually he’ll be able to play fast without thinking, and that’s when the big plays will start to happen.

Center of Attention
Staring C John Sullivan has been dealing with a pesky calf injury all season and it’s caused him to miss some games. On Sunday against Dallas he was active but Jon Cooper started in his place – perhaps a precautionary move on the Vikings part. Although I feel the Vikings have missed Sullivan at C this year, Cooper did a good job against a stout Dallas defensive front seven. Jay Ratliff is the Cowboys defender that was lined up directly over Cooper for most of the day and though he did get a sack, he only had 3 tackles. Given Cooper’s inexperience and size disadvantage against Ratliff, it could’ve been much, much worse.

“He did a good job with the line calls,” Childress said of Cooper. “That guy [Jay] Ratliff is a hell of a football player and he gave him fits right from that first pass that he threw complete to Percy. I think he ended up kind of jittering him a little bit at the line of scrimmage and hit Brett on that particular play. But he did a great job with the line calls. Extremely competitive in there. I liked what he did getting a promotion to that starting job.”

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Vikings Show Confidence In Cooper

Posted by cjsiewert on October 14, 2010 – 12:45 pm

After backup C Ryan Cook was replaced by Jon Cooper at halftime during Monday night’s loss to the NY Jets, the 2nd-year veteran stepped up to fill in on a moment’s notice. His play gained the respect and attention of the coaching staff as well as his fellow teammates.

“He did a pretty nice job, held his own,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell mentioned of Cook’s ability to come in and perform when called upon. “I feel confident with Coop, he does a great job. He’s scrappy, he’s tough. He’s going to fight each and every play and I’m excited about it.”

Cooper, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Vikings, has played in 3 games this season with Sullivan recovering from a nagging calf injury. As Bevell pointed out during his weekly press conference, it’s important the C position “understands what we’re trying to do” and possess the ability to “make a call quick” at the line of scrimmage.

When Sunday rolls around, the Vikings will have their hands full with Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff. The 6-year veteran has a knack for penetrating into the backfield with his “ability to redirect and his great quickness,” Bevell acknowledged.

Should Cooper be the choice as a starter on Sunday against a premier defensive front, the team holds assurance in his abilities. Also, the fact that the Vikings will be starting their 3rd C in 5 games is not a concern of one important figure on the offense.

“In the second half, we brought Jon Cooper in and he did a good job out there,” Vikings All-Pro RB Adrian Peterson said prior to Thursday’s practice. “Playing for a half (with Cooper) and the offense look good. We were able to move the ball and be productive.”

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Who’s The Man In The Middle For Thursday?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 7, 2010 – 2:39 pm

Starting C John Sullivan was sidelined for much of training camp and the preseason with a calf injury, leaving his status for Week 1 in question and prompting the Vikings to take a look at alternatives at the position. That’s the not-so-great news.

But the better news is that Sullivan has returned to practice over the last couple of days; he was listed as a limited participant for both Monday’s and Tuesday’s practices. Making the news even a little better is what both Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had to say about their starting C this week.

“He seems like he hasn’t missed a beat,” Childress said while meeting with reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “I think that probably he’s going through some of the soreness that you get, maybe not to the same extent as camp, just when you come out here and practice and get pushed around and your muscles talk to you a little bit. I think he’s going through some of that. He’s just working hard to get some of that stamina back.”

Bevell also acknowledged this week that Sullivan seems to be improving, but he also noted that looking good on the practice field and then performing in a regular season game are different monsters.

“He’s looked good,” Bevell said on Monday. “His conditioning has looked good. He’s done things on the side, whether it’s in the pool, whether it’s with [athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman, to keep his conditioning up. But it’s a matter of loading it up and making sure that it will hold up under 65 or 70 plays a game, all the way up to 90 plays.”

The Vikings have done a nice job developing alternatives at the position should Sullivan be unavailable on Thursday night or at another point in the season. Starting RG Anthony Herrera has taken both practice reps and preseason game reps at C, and regular backup Jon Cooper has also taken turns with the 1st-team offense.

“We like what we saw from Anthony,” Bevell said. “We like what we’ve seen from Cooper. It gives us the flexibility to say who we would put in there. We’re not going to put that out there. Both guys have done a nice job. I think both guys are capable of it, and we want to make sure that when we put those guys out there that we’re going to have the five best guys that are going to help us win.”

The line is at its best with Sullivan at C, but the possibility exists that he won’t be able to go on Thursday night in New Orleans. If that’s the case, either Cooper or Herrera will fill in. My sense is that Cooper would get the call at this point, which is the simplest change for the Vikings to make.

But Childress and Bevell could also decide to put Herrera in at C, which would keep Cooper as the 1st reserve and would then slide rookie Chris DeGeare in at RG. Herrera has performed well while playing C this preseason, but the issue with this alignment is it takes away from the team’s depth at G because the 1st reserve at the position – DeGeare – would be forced into the starting lineup with Herrera moving over from RG.

Any way it shakes out, the Vikings offensive line will be prepared for Thursday night’s game.

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Choosing The Right Combination

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 31, 2010 – 2:00 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress recently described his offense as “in flux” and no position represents that billing more accurately than the offensive line, specifically the C and RG positions. An injury to C John Sullivan has sidelined him for most of training camp and as a result both starting RG Anthony Herrera and backup C Jon Cooper have seen extra time in the middle of the 1st-team offensive line.

“We’re still kind of filling out that position, exactly what would be the best lineup,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell explained. “Is it moving Anthony (Herrera) in (at C) and putting Chris in (at RG)? Is it using Coop (Jon Cooper) and leaving Anthony at guard? Or if Sully’s (John Sullivan) even going to be back.”

With the regular season now just over a week away, the time will soon come for the Vikings to decide on a starting C for Week 1. If that choice is Cooper, a 2nd-year player who spent the first 4 weeks last season on practice squad but then was elevated the 53-man roster for the final 12 weeks, then the flux factor remains minimal. But if the Vikings decide to move Herrera to C, the flux factor is a bit more complicated.

Moving Herrera to C would slide 5th round rookie Chris DeGeare into the starting lineup. DeGeare has had a nice training camp and it’s possible he’d be a solid performer right off the bat at RG for the Vikings. But that move would take away the Vikings depth because DeGeare is currently a swing lineman capable of playing multiple positions.

“Chris has done a nice job for us,” Bevell explained. “He’s a quick learner. He’s done some good things. I think there are still things he can improve on. That would be probably the toughest environment (to make his 1st start), that game, going into New Orleans. If that is how it shakes down, then we are confident enough to go with it.

“We’ve been able to move the combinations around a little bit. It gave us an opportunity to look at some different guys and different combinations. All we can do is look on the bright side of it and see how we’ve been able to make adjustments by moving Anthony, putting Coop in and some of those other adjustments.”

Whichever lineup the Vikings go with to start the season, the good news is the team will have had plenty of reps with that individual at C. Sullivan’s injury happened early enough in camp that both Cooper and Herrera have spent significant time working with the 1st team at C.

Ultimately, the ideal outcome is for Sullivan to make it back healthy in time for Week 1. If he can’t, someone will have to step up along the offensive line in Week 1.

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1 Practice Down, 1 To Go On Monday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 2, 2010 – 10:52 am

My radio appearance with buddy Paul Allen of AM 1130 KFAN was postponed today, which allowed me to see every minute of Monday morning’s 2 hour and 15-minute practice, which was executed in mild temperatures compared to Sunday’s suffocating heat. The Vikings took full advantage of the ideal conditions – including a nice cloud cover to give us a break from the sun – and had an intense workout in front of another solid crowd.

A few players were missing from practice today for various reasons, including: WR Percy Harvin (personal), CB Benny Sapp (illness), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP) and C John Sullivan (leg). The leg injury to Sullivan does not seem serious and the 3rd-year C was on the field watching practice, so that’s a good sign.

While those players weren’t able to take part in practice, there were several special guests on-hand to take in the workout. Vikings ownership is in town for their annual training camp retreat, where they discuss the state of the franchise. I saw former Vikings QB Rich Gannon just outside the locker room; he’s an occasional visitor to the Vikings and seems to have developed a friendship with Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress. Also, Vikings preseason play-by-play man Ari Wolfe was at practice, so it was nice to chat with him for several minutes.

And finally, before I head to the cafeteria for lunch, a few football notes from this morning’s practice…

– With 2 of the top 3 WRs out, Greg Lewis and Jaymar Johnson handled the 1st-team reps with regular starter Bernard Berrian.

– WRs led a spirited session of 1-on1s and 7-on-7 drills. Johnson, Logan Payne and Ray Small all registered highlight-caliber catches that caused the crowd to cheer.

– With Sullivan out of the mix this morning, Jon Cooper took the snaps with the 1st-team. Ryan Cook took the 2nd-team snaps at C, and Chris Clark, Chris DeGeare, Thomas Austin and Drew Radovich joined Cook with the 2nd team for a large part of practice.

That’s it for now, but be sure to check back later for more updates and a couple of video interviews.

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Updated: Vikings Tweak Roster – Add WR Perretta

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 29, 2009 – 3:01 pm

UPDATE: WR Vinny Perretta has also been added to the practice squad.

The Vikings on Tuesday made a series of roster moves involving both the 53-man roster and the practice squad.

Here are the moves the Vikings made:

– C Kory Lichtensteiger was waived from the 53-man roster
– C Jon Cooper (by player) and WR Nick Moore (by club) were terminated from the practice squad roster
– Cooper was signed to the 53-man roster
– OT Patrick Brown was signed to the practice squad

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A Few More Odds and Ends From Monday

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 7, 2009 – 4:41 pm

A few more notes from Moday’s action at Winter Park…

– Rookie CB Asher Allen has changed from #30 to #21. The jersey change comes after the release of Marcus McCauley, who had previously worn the #21 jersey. I asked Allen why the switch to #21, and he told me that he wore #21 in high school and that 21 is his favorite number.

– In case you missed it last night, the Vikings waived undrafted rookie C Jon Cooper from the 53-man roster last night and added C Kory Lichtensteiger. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was asked about Lichtensteiger on Monday after practice and here’s what he had to say:

“We liked him coming out (of college). He has played for a year in that West Coast offense there (in Denver). He was kind of caught in the numbers game (in Denver). I will be interested to watch him with pads on, how he carries his pads. He did not have practice squad eligibility, so that was kind of the thing that pushed it the way it went. But anyhow, I think he is a big body. He’s a smart kid, an intelligent kid, and an aggressive kid. You like some of those things.”

Asked if Cooper would be considered for the practice squad, Childress said: “I really don’t have any strong feelings either way, except that I still love Coop. He’s a competitive guy and that doesn’t change at all how I feel about him. There was another different guy out there that fit the bill and had to be a part of our 53 and didn’t have practice squad eligibility.”

– WR Percy Harvin was limited somewhat in the preseason because of injury, but Childress didn’t seem to have any trouble with the idea of Harvin participating in the return game going forward.

“I don’t really have any trouble with him settling under a ball either way, punt or kickoff return,” Childress said. “We have some good candidates to be able to do that. With Jaymar (Johnson), with Darius (Reynaud), you’ve seen Chester (Taylor) back there before. You’ve got to be able to move those pieces of the puzzle around. (Bernard) Berrian can return punts. You have got to have a lot of guys be able to do a lot of things. With 45 (active players) you don’t know who is going to be there and who is not.”

– Browns Head Coach Eric Mangini and RB Jamal Lewis will participate in a conference call with Twin Cities media on Wednesday. We’ll be sure to check in with you here on the Blog and give you an update on what they had to say. I’m guessing that Mangini will be asked quite a bit about working with Brett Favre last year in New York and also about his pending QB situation involving Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. Jamal Lewis will probably be asked a lot about RB Chester Taylor. Lewis and Taylor played together for 4 seasons in Baltimore.

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