Report: Paymah To Become Free Agent

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 3, 2010 – 2:16 pm

Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune writes that the Vikings will not extend a qualifying offer to Karl Paymah, meaning the CB will hit the free agent market on Thursday evening at 11:01 p.m. CT.

As a 5-year veteran, Paymah was one of many players who had an expiring contract this offseason but would not become an unrestricted free agent because of the new rules that govern an uncapped year. But if the Vikings do not tender Paymah, he’ll become a free agent and can sign with any team.

The Vikings have several other players currently on the roster who have expiring contracts but also have fewer than the 6 required years to become unrestricted free agents (UFAs). They are: OL Ryan Cook, DE Ray Edwards, DT Fred Evans, S Eric Frampton, QB Tarvaris Jackson and FB Fahu Tahi. The Vikings have until 10:59 p.m. on Thursday night to extend qualifying offers to these players or else they, too, become free agents and can sign with any team beginning at 11:01 p.m. on Thursday.

Going back to Paymah, he was a free agent signing from last offseason and was involved in the training camp battle for the nickel back position. He saw most of his time on special teams and also saw the field after Antoine Winfield injured his foot against Baltimore in Week 6. Ultimately, Paymah played in 12 games for the Vikings but he didn’t crack the lineup after the Vikings Week 13 loss at Arizona.

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Vikings Secondary Will Be Tested Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 6:18 pm

All of the speculation can now go away – both the Vikings and Cardinals have submitted their list of inactive players. After all the dust settled, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner was active and will start tonight while the Vikings will once again be without CB Antoine Winfield.

As a result, the Vikings secondary will be further challenged tonight as they face an explosive offense that features an accurate and experienced QB (Warner) and a talented bunch of receivers, including Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Anquan Boldin.

With Winfield out of the game and given the Cardinals propensity to spread out their offense, the Vikings secondary depth will be tested tonight. Fortunately CB Benny Sapp, who was listed on the injury report this week, will be able to play. He’ll team with CBs Asher Allen and Karl Paymah to fill in for Winfield, something this trio of players has done well since Winfield has been out of the lineup.

But I also expect to see more of S Husain Abdullah. He is listed as a safety but Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has mentioned in the past that he trains at CB as well. If the Cardinals go to a lot of multiple-receiver sets, Abdullah could be tabbed to join some combination of CBs Cedric Griffin, Allen, Paymah and Sapp along with safeties Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams.

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Opportunity Knocked For Vikings DBs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2009 – 4:55 pm

Throughout the offseason and training camp, one position battle that was constantly analyzed was the nickel back/3rd corner position. The Vikings drafted Asher Allen in the 3rd round, signed Karl Paymah during free agency and brought veteran Benny Sapp back after he played well in 2008.

Prevailing thought was that one of those 3 players would win the job and would be the beneficiary of the vast majority of the playing time alongside starters Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield, relegating the other 2 players to either inactive duty and/or primarily special teams responsibility.

Well, as is often the case with prevailing thought, it turned out to be all wrong. Sapp, by all appearances, “won” that preseason position battle, but he hasn’t been the only member of that trio to contribute to the Vikings this season.

When Winfield went down with a foot injury in Week 6, the trio of DBs stepped in immediately and the Vikings defense actually hasn’t lost a step. Since Week 6, the Vikings rushing defense has climbed from 9th to 3rd, the passing defense has gone from 24th to 21st and the overall defense has gone from 18th to 12th. Perhaps most importantly, the Vikings scoring defense has remained #2 in the NFL.

Depth in the secondary has been key for the Vikings, clearly. Since Winfield’s injury, the trio of Allen, Paymah and Sapp have done more than just weather the storm.

“I think ‘weather’ means that you are just holding on, surviving,” Childress said on Monday. “I think that they have really embraced it. I think that it’s the old ‘opportunity knocks’ and I have seen those guys grab hold of it and really get a chance to compete.”

Childress said he’s noticed good practice habits out of the Vikings reserve DBs and those habits, along with the players’ versatility, have allowed them to fill in more-than-capably for Winfield, who was a Pro Bowler last year.

Allen and Sapp can play both the outside corner position and nickel back. Paymah might be more of an outside corner player, but he, along with Allen and Paymah, can also contribute on special teams.

In addition to their skills, positive practice habits and versatility, Childress also said their attitude has been important to their ability to contribute this season.

“Boy, you see it day in and day out,” Childress commented. “I think they just embraced it. Where Asher used to be sitting in my office, he used to be one of those eight guys (that was inactive on game day). He was going to be a guy that was down and he was down about being down, but I just promised him that somewhere along the line opportunity is going to knock.

“If you feel like you are getting in the co-pilot seat, if you feel like you are kind of riding along and you don’t keep that mental edge, you are going to snooze at the wrong time and somebody is going to say ‘you’re in.’ I think those guys have done a really good job of attacking that thing.”

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Winfield Not Playing Today; Sapp To Start

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 22, 2009 – 10:44 am

The Vikings released their list of inactive players for today’s tilt against the Seahawks and for the 4th straight game CB Antoine Winfield will not suit up.

Winfield is of course dealing with a foot injury that he suffered in Week 6 against Baltimore and it appeared he had a decent chance at playing today after practicing the last 2 weeks. But, the Vikings have decided to give him 1 more weekend off and now it looks as if #26 will make his return next week for a big divisional showdown with Chicago.

CB Benny Sapp will start in Winfield’s absence again and both Asher Allen and Karl Paymah will also see extended time again. Paymah was also dealing with an injury this week and was listed as questionable on Friday, but he’ll suit up as part of the committee to replace Winfield.

Considering how important Winfield is to the Vikings defense because of his cover skills and tackling ability, this trio of CBs listed above have done a nice job in Winfield’s stead. They will be tested today, however, because the Seahawks have Matt Hasselbeck at QB and a talented corps of receivers that include TE John Carlson and WRs Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Hasselbeck has been to the Pro Bowl and his receivers this year rank 3rd in the NFL in % of receiving yards coming after the catch (54.2%).

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3rd CB Spot Still Up in the Air

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 5:45 pm

Heading into training camp, one position battle receiving a fair amount of attention was the 3rd CB/nickel back position. It’s a position battle with several dynamics and, according to Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, it’s a position battle still up in the air.

“It’s still a very competitive spot,” Frazier responded when asked about the nickel back position. “We have familiarity with Antoine Winfield because he’s done it before and had a lot of success. The fact that Benny (Sapp) has also played the nickel position gives us some leeway there. But we’re still trying to ascertain where Asher Allen and Karl Paymah are. The fact that Marcus McCauley wasn’t able to play this past week threw a wrench in things, so now we get him back to become part of the evaluation process. It’s still up in the air to a degree.”

As Frazier mentioned, the extra dynamic at play in the nickel back competition is that the veteran Winfield has shown he has the skill set to excel in that role.

“He has made a ton of plays in that nickel spot, a la Ronde Barber in Tampa,” Frazier explained when asked if he would consider moving Winfield inside to play the nickel. “Just because of how effective he is in the run and the pass and matching up against some of the other teams third wide receiver. Either way he has been so effective for us both outside and inside. So we can handle it either way.”

When Winfield is positioned as the nickel back (covering the slot receiver on the inside), it opens up a spot at an outside CB position. As a result, the winner of the 3rd CB position needs to show an ability to play both inside (as a possible nickel back) and outside (as a possible CB while Winfield plays the nickel).

“Ben Sapp is doing a good job for us,” Frazier said. “Asher Allen has come in and done a great job. We know Antoine Winfield can do it if he has to and Karl Paymah made some good plays the other day as a third corner. We’re still in the position where we’re evaluating and deciding who’s going to be that third corner. The way it’s going right now is great for us. They’re all playing so well that whoever wins that spot should make us better.”

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Defending “a Blade of Grass”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2009 – 3:24 pm

We mentioned earlier today, and linked to a video of, the Vikings late-game goal line stand against the Chiefs last Friday night that preserved a 17-13 victory. Kansas City had driven down to the Vikings 1-yardline with 55 seconds to play, but the Vikings stood firm thereafter and denied the Chiefs on 4 consecutive plays from only 3 feet away.

Following today’s practice, Vikings assistant coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was asked about the way his defensive reserves performed in those final 55 seconds last Friday.

“It’s huge,” Frazier said. “As a defense, we talk about defending a blade of grass. Just give us a chance to defend a blade of grass. For the young guys to buy into that this early and go out and do what they did gets you excited and makes you feel good about those guys.”

Immediately after the 4th-down play, a pass that was ruled incomplete after Karl Paymah pushed a Chiefs WR out of the endzone, several Vikings defenders rushed onto the field to celebrate the victory with their teammates. But prior to that snap, Frazier said it was good to see plenty of other starters rooting their teammates on in the game’s most crucial moment.

“It was awesome to see Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and all those guys cheering for them and rooting them on,” Frazier said. “We’ve seen our number ones do that before and now to get the young guys winning as well is great for our defense and our team.”

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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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Vikings Conclude Practice No. 1

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 31, 2009 – 12:31 pm

The 1st practice of 2009 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is officially in the books. All 79 players who’ve reported to camp were on the field in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts for the 120-minute practice. To begin camp, the offensive players are wearing white jerseys and the defensive players are in purple jerseys.

 With temperatures in the mid-70s, minimal wind and plenty of sunshine, conditions were near ideal for players and fans alike. Vikings fans filled both sets of tall bleachers located adjacent to the practice fields and on several occasions were stirred to cheers by a long completion or impressive interception.

“We always enjoy coming here to watch training camp,” said Dan, a citizen of Mankato who enjoys bringing his 2 kids to camp every year. “These are the guys we watch on TV all year long, so to get an up-close look at them like we can here is really fun.”

After speaking with the media on both Wednesday and Thursday, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress didn’t have much to say following today’s morning practice. He did meet with the media several minutes after practice, however, and seemed even-tempered about his team’s work during the 1st practice.

“First day, not a lot to report,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said immediately after practice. “It’s good to get those guys out there and getting used to their pads. It’s always interesting for me to go and look at the tape and see how guys move around and how they’re carrying their pads, particularly interested to look at some of those rookies to see how they did. We’ve got a lot to work on but we’ve got a little time to do it.”

The Vikings will get back to work this afternoon, as they have a 2nd practice scheduled for today at 3:00 p.m. In between the morning practice and afternoon session, the players will grab lunch, head to meetings and replenish their bodies. Following today’s afternoon practice the entire team will be introduced to fans at Blakeslee Stadium. The event is scheduled to begin around 5:00.

Several other players spoke after practice today, including both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. We’ll have updates of what they had to say posted here on the Blog in a little while.

A few highlights from today’s practice included:

– CB Karl Paymah playing tough press coverage against WR Nick Moore. Paymah brought Moore to the ground during 1-on-1 drills this morning, but then Moore got back up and hauled in a reception against Paymah on the next snap.

– LB Heath Farwell surged through the offensive line to make what would’ve been a huge hit on the RB during the 9-7 inside running drill.

– Rookie LB Jasper Brinkley also found a way to break through the line to make what would’ve been a jolting stop on rookie RB Ian Johnson.

– I didn’t see, but the crowd broke out in ovation after CB Derrick Roberson made an interception during 1-on-1 drills.

– CB Cedric Griffin made an outstanding play during 7-on-7 drills when he dove and deflected a pass from Sage Rosenfels to Bernard Berrian.

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Analyzing Position Battles – Nickel Back

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 20, 2009 – 12:09 pm

Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin have the starting CB positions on lock down (barring injury, knock on wood). But a defense always has more than 2 starting-caliber CBs on the roster. In fact, many plays require a defense to have 3 or more solid CBs on the field at a time.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Vikings nickel back situation. This will be a hotly-contested training camp battle, and one that will be vital to any success the Vikings defense will have this season.

We’ll begin with Marcus McCauley. His time with the Vikings so far has been a bit tumultuous. He was a 3rd round pick in 2007 and had a nice rookie season, but then inconsistent play and injuries derailed him a bit last year. But perhaps things are looking up for him now. With Winfield absent during OTAs and minicamps this offseason, McCauley took most of the 1st team reps. This doesn’t mean he’s locked the job down or is even a favorite, but it does make sense to note who filled in for a starter.

There are 3 other serious contenders for this job. They are Benny Sapp, Karl Paymah and Asher Allen. The Vikings coaching staff liked enough of what they saw from Sapp last year to bring him back this year. He was re-signed this past offseason. Sapp was an interception machine during training camp a year ago, and a similar performance this year in training camp may be enough to give him the nickel job full-time. Paymah was brought in from Denver as a free agent. He has good speed, lots of special teams experience and a big desire to transcend the role of a special teams player and become a regular contributor on defense. Allen was a 3rd round draft pick this year and was a standout during his time at the University of Georgia. He doesn’t have protoypical Cover 2 CB size, but neither does Antoine Winfield.

Lastly, we must mention Charles Gordon, who is recovering from a serious ankle injury, as well as Marcus Walker, who is one of a few young players who will compete hard to make the Vikings roster. Gordon fulfilled multiple roles for the Vikings last season before his injury. Aside from being the team’s 3rd CB, he also contributed in the return game. If he can get back to his normal playing ability after the injury, then he’s the favorite for the nickel job. But at this point there’s no guarantee that’ll happen.

Prediction: This position battle won’t be determined until late in the preseason, but right now I’m thinking Sapp and Allen will be in the mix as the regular season approaches.

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