Happy Thanksgiving, Vikings fans. We here at vikings.com and the Vikings Entertainment Network hope you are able to enjoy Thanksgiving and football with family, loved ones and/or friends today.
As a side dish to a big Thanksgiving meal, here are some fun facts about your favorite football team as they prepare to play the Washington Redskins this Sunday.
– DE Jared Allen needs just 3.5 more sacks to reach the 100 sack mark for his career.
– With 4 more receptions WR Percy Harvin can move into 4th all time in Vikings history for most catches in first 3 seasons.
– Vikings LB Chad Greenway recorded 20 tackles last week against the Raiders, which is tied for 4th most in Vikings history. Greenway is averaging 10.7 tackles a game this season and is on pace to set a career-high in tackles ( has 107, career-high is 150 in 2008).
– Vikings QB Christian Ponder has shown grace under pressure by completing 63.3 % of his passes on 3rd down in his action this season, ranking as the 7th-best completion percentage among QBs with 20+ 3rd-down attempts on the season. Inside the red zone, Ponder has gone 8-of-9 with 3 TDs to lead the NFL among all passers in red zone completion percentage. Ponder’s 3 red zone TDs have gone to 3 diff erent players- Visanthe Shiancoe, Adrian Peterson and fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph.
– DE Kevin Williams had a 54-yard INT return for a TD on 9/9/07. 1 of his Vikings-record 4 defensive TDs.
– Over the last 5 years, the Vikings have had one of the best running attacks in the NFL, rushing for 10,263 yards. The team’s 138.7 yards per game average ranks #1.
– The Falcons and Vikings have had a common head coach, the Viking franchise’s 1st head coach Norm Van Brocklin who coached the Vikings from 1961-66 and went on to coach the Falcons from 1968-74.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Christian Ponder, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Kyle Rudolph, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 79 Comments »
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier met with reporters on Monday and he provided an update on RB Adrian Peterson, who was forced out of Sunday’s game in the 2nd quarter after injuring his ankle. Frazier says Peterson suffered a high ankle sprain and will be in a walking boot for the next couple of days.
Frazier added that there is some ligament damage, that the ankle sprain is a Grade 1 sprain, and that Peterson will try and practice on Friday to see if he’ll be able to play on Sunday.
“The good news is it’s nothing more serious than that, the fact that it is an ankle sprain and he’ll recover from it,” Frazier said. “It’s just the matter of the amount of time he’ll miss. We’ll have a better indication toward the end of the week.”
On other injury news, Frazier said that TE Kyle Rudolph has a quad contusion and will be day-to-day. Fellow TE Visanthe Shiancoe suffered a mild strain to his hamstring. Finally, Frazier had good news on the Erin Henderson front, saying the starting LB should be available for this Sunday’s game in Atlanta.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Erin Henderson, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All | 50 Comments »
Head Coach Leslie Frazier said on Monday that, after watching tape of last weekend’s game with his entire coaching staff, he feels the Vikings are “on the verge of getting things headed in the right direction.” It’s not an easy thing for fans to hear after the disappointing start to the season, but it will be interesting to see if Frazier is indeed correct when the Vikings return to Mall of America Field for a game against the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.
Beyond citing the fact that this weekend’s game is at home, Frazier didn’t go into specifics for why he felt a turnaround was in store for his team. But one reason I have to believe Frazier feels improvement is imminent is that we finally saw the Vikings get their TEs involved in the passing game. Both Kyle Rudolph and Visanthe Shiancoe were factors in the passing game against Kansas City, and hopefully that will prime the pump for Donovan McNabb going forward.
Shiancoe had his best outing of the season against Kansas City, hauling in 6 receptions for 56 yards; he had just 4 receptions for 36 yards and a TD over the first 3 games of the season. In addition, Rudolph caught 3 passes for 44 yards, giving the TE duo more than half of the team’s production from pass catchers.
More important than just the sheer numbers for Shiancoe and Rudolph were the situations in which McNabb leaned on them. McNabb favored Shiancoe on critical downs, as the two hooked up for two completions on 3rd downs and another on 4th down. In fact, all 6 of Shiancoe’s receptions resulted in 1st downs.
Also, McNabb found Rudolph down the left sideline for 41 yards when the Vikings were backed up on their own 15-yardline early in the 2nd quarter. That drive ended in a turnover, but until that point Rudolph’s long reception looked to be the key play in what would become a scoring drive that would’ve increased the Vikings lead to double digits.
Click here to watch a video highlight of Rudolph’s catch.
It’s a negative situation to start the season 0-4, but in looking for a bright spot here and there you can’t help but notice the improvement from Shiancoe and Rudolph in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how Arizona defends this aspect of the Vikings offense, and what other areas of the Vikings offense will open up as a result.
Tags: Donovan McNabb, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 145 Comments »
Most Vikings first-teamers didn’t play in the team’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday night at Mall of America Field, but those Vikings that did play made sure to entertain everyone watching. QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, along with a host of other young Vikings, impressed in the final game of the preseason and put together a 28-0 victory.
With so many starters out of action, the main storyline heading into Thursday night’s game was the fact that Ponder was making his first start. The 1st-round pick did not disappoint, going 10 of 17 for 83 yards with 1 TD and no INTs; Ponder also had 61 yards rushing on 8 carries, frequently utilizing his athleticism to avoid pressure and escape the pocket. Ponder’s TD toss went to fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph.
Webb also looked solid and led scoring drives of his own, guiding the Vikings on an 11-play, 59-yard drive that culminated in a Caleb King rushing score early in the 4th quarter and then leading another drive late in the 4th quarter that also ended with a King rushing score. For the game, Webb was 5 of 6 for 43 yards with no TDs or INTs; he also had 1 carry for 12 yards.
Another positive development was the play from the team’s RBs. Minneapolis native and Iowa State University product Alexander Robinson scored on a 4-yard run in the 3rd quarter and then King, an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Georgia, scored twice in the 4th quarter. Tristan Davis got the start on Thursday night and rumbled for 25 yards on 8 carries. In total, the 3 RBs rushed for 135 yards on 34 carries. Robinson averaged 6.9 yards per carry and King was the leading rusher among the three with 62 yards.
The Vikings offense saw a lot of opportunities for success because the defense and special teams played so well. The Vikings defense surrendered only 14 first downs on the night and held Houston to a 33% third-down conversion rate. The Vikings kick coverage units were solid once again, as they have been all preseason, and allowed just 9.0 yards per punt return. P Chris Kluwe put 3 punts inside the 10, including one at the Houston 1-yardline in the 1st half.
Rookie CB Brandon Burton, who has flashed a bit over the past two games, notched an INT in the 2nd half and continues to make a strong case for himself. DE Adrian Awasom, who has lined up with the second-team defense all of camp and the preseason, registered a pair of sacks on the night and newly acquired DE Stylez White also had a sack. Reserve S Ryan Hill tallied a pair of special teams tackles and also led the team in defensive tackles with 5.
The victory over Houston concludes the Vikings preseason and now they’ll prepare for their regular season opener against the San Diego Chargers on September 11.
Tags: Adrian Awasom, Alexander Robinson, Brandon Burton, Caleb King, Chris Kluwe, Christian Ponder, Joe Webb, Kyle Rudolph, Ryan Hill, Stylez White, Tristan Davis
Posted in All | 50 Comments »
Vikings QB Donovan McNabb met with reporters after practice on Wednesday, just three days before the Vikings suit up for preseason game #3. Typically the third preseason game is when starters see the most playing time, so Saturday night’s contest against the Dallas Cowboys should give us a pretty good glimpse into just how much progress the Vikings offense has made.
Remember, coming off a lockout that canceled all Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps in addition to a new Offensive Coordinator and starting QB has the Vikings a bit behind the 8 ball. But the Vikings won’t use that as an excuse for poor play, largely because many other teams are enduring the same or similar disadvantages and also because there’s a sense among many on this team that the offense is making strides.
“We’re getting very close, we’re getting very close,” McNabb said about the chemistry developing between himself and the receivers. “I’m excited with where we’re at right now and those guys kind of have a feel of where I may place the ball [when] they come out of their routes. I have a feel of how they’re going to come out of their routes.
“But again, each game is different and it’s a learning process for all of us and hopefully once the whistle blows come Game One we’re right where we want to be.”
That’s the goal – to be ready to go once Week 1 rolls around and then to continue getting better from that point forward. It seemed as if the Vikings offense made a step forward in that effort on Wednesday. During one full team period of practice, I was standing just behind Musgrave and I heard him complement the Vikings offense a number of times on their spacing and timing.
“We had a good day today,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after practice, speaking about his entire team. “I really believe we got better in some areas. We worked a little bit of short yardage, some goal line and some two-minute. Great weather again for us to practice in, which really helps a lot as you’re trying to mold the team and get the team ready for our third preseason game.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Frazier continued. “This game on [Thursday] night will give us a better indication of where we are and how far we have to go to be ready for our first regular season game.”
Here are a few observations from practice…
– The Vikings worked for roughly two hours on Wednesday in full pads and in warm, breezy conditions.
– Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe, who returned to practice from a hamstring injury on Tuesday, was not out on the field taking part in practice on Wednesday. Frazier said Shiancoe incurred a setback, but said it was not a major setback. The Vikings ultimately decided to hold him back on Wednesday rather than risk further injury.
– With Shiancoe on the sidelines, rookie TE Kyle Rudolph saw a few more reps. He’s had a tremendous training camp so far and he was very good on Wednesday. The one aspect of Rudolph’s game that I notice the most is how sure-handed he is; you rarely, if ever, see him take his eye off the ball before he secures it and moves upfield. He also rarely traps the football against his body to catch it.
– There was some pretty good action in the goal line portion of Wednesday’s practice. On three straight plays, the Vikings defense made stops against the scout team. On the first play, DT Letroy Guion penetrated and stopped a run in the backfield. On the second play, the offense used a play-action fake to try and fool the defense but LB Erin Henderson did not bite and was able to tip the pass and cause an incompletion. On the third and final play of the series, DT Christian Ballard and CB Cedric Griffin combined to stop a run short of the goal line.
– WR Percy Harvin made the play of the day on a pass from rookie QB Christian Ponder. Harvin was flying down the left sideline and was able to catch up to and dive under a pass that Ponder had launched downfield. Harvin came up with the ball, secured it all the way to the ground and then quickly got to his feet and completed the play by dashing to the endzone. This was one of the plays when Musgrave complemented Ponder and Harvin on “great timing.” In fact, Musgrave made the “great timing” comment as Ponder’s pass was in the air and about 75% of the way to where Harvin ended up making the catch.
Tags: Bill Musgrave, Cedric Griffin, Christian Ballard, Christian Ponder, Donovan McNabb, Erin Henderson, Kyle Rudolph, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 127 Comments »
While winning games is always nice, teams strive for improvement during the preseason. On Saturday night in Seattle, the Vikings accomplished both objectives. Coming off a 14-3 loss to Tennessee in their preseason opener last week, the Vikings took a step forward this weekend and notched a 20-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
Another outstanding effort from the entire special teams group and a solid performance from the defense anchored the Vikings effort against Seattle. But the improvement made by the Vikings first-team offense should not go unnoticed, especially considering both WR Percy Harvin and TE Visanthe Shiancoe were missing from action.
The Vikings first-team offense didn’t see much of the field in the 1st quarter – they had just two minutes of possession and ran just 3 plays. But a goal line stand by the second-team defense set the stage for Donovan McNabb and Co. to hit their stride for about half the quarter.
Following the goal line stand, the Vikings first-team offense took over 1st and 10 from their own 1-yardline. Despite the fact it’s a preseason game, beginning a drive on your own 1-yardline on the road with the crowd screaming for a safety is not exactly the most comfortable position. But McNabb, a 13-year NFL veteran, handled the situation with poise and guided the offense downfield.
The first play from scrimmage was a 2-yard completion to Adrian Peterson, which gave the offense a little bit more breathing room. The second play from scrimmage was another pass, and McNabb stood tall in the pocket and delivered a 17-yard completion to rookie TE Kyle Rudolph. That got the Vikings out to the 20 and it set up TE Jim Kleinsasser for a 23-yard reception on the next snap. In a matter of moments, McNabb guided the Vikings from the shadow of their own goal post to midfield.
A few Peterson carries left the Vikings with a 2nd and 10 from the Seattle 45, which is when McNabb stood in the pocket again and found WR Michael Jenkins down the left side. Jenkins positioned himself beautifully on the play, as he cut in front of the CB and made a back shoulder grab while falling to the ground. A penalty two plays later eventually stalled the drive and the Vikings settled for a FG.
Yes, the Vikings offense needs to convert those drives with TDs and it was disappointing to see a false start penalty ultimately stall the drive. But given the current circumstances – new QB, new offense, no Harvin or Shiancoe – it was good just to see the Vikings march 81 yards in 13 plays and chew up more than 7 minutes of the game clock. Additionally, we saw a great illustration of a veteran QB guiding the offense through a tough situation – backed up against your own goal line on the road.
As we said after last week’s game against Tennessee, the effort by the offense tonight was acceptable and encouraging. Now, the key is to see improvement this week during practice and a step forward in next weekend’s preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field.
Tags: Donovan McNabb, Kyle Rudolph, Michael Jenkins
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 49 Comments »
It’s natural for offenses to come along slower than defenses in training camp and the preseason, largely because offenses rely on rhythm and timing. Add in the fact that the lockout took away minicamps and OTAs, and offenses are at an even greater disadvantage.
The Vikings are certainly no exception to that rule, especially with two new QBs and a bunch of new WRs added to the mix since the end of the 2010 season. Individual players have performed well quite often at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, but as a group there is still plenty of progress to be made.
The good news is that progress is being made and Vikings coaches are pleased with the way the team is working. Things are going in the right direction.
“I think the guys are getting better each day,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said on Tuesday. “They’re starting to absorb the concepts and the techniques that we’re teaching. We haven’t had a lot of time and we’ve acknowledged that, but they’ve done a superb job of getting better every day, focusing on an area of improvement every day rather just going out there and mindlessly working through practice.”
Musgrave credited head coach Leslie Frazier for the way he’s organized this training camp, especially in light of the unusual CBA-related circumstances that surrounded the beginning of camp.
“The practices are structured where we are covering each and every situation,” Musgrave explained. “The players feel prepared, we feel prepared as coaches, we’re just scratching the surface of in terms of having enough turns at our plays where we’re real precise and good at them.”
The next big step in the offense’s progression will come on Saturday night when the Vikings play at the Tennessee Titans for the preseason opener. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a crisp, mistake-free performance by the offense. But it’s certainly fair to expect the offense to continue its progression and the bottom line is the offense must be “all systems go” by the time the regular season rolls around.
Musgrave certainly understands that.
“We’re not anywhere close to where we need to be in terms of the precision of the passing game,” Musgrave said. “I think guys know what they’re doing, but in terms of having the number of turns it takes to be good at it, we’re not there. But fortunately we’ll have until September 11 to get good at those things.”
The current status of the Vikings offense is nothing about which to be alarmed. In fact, Vikings fans should take solace in the fact that they’ll have a 13-year veteran QB in Donovan McNabb at the helm and there will be plenty of talent around McNabb to get the offense firing on all cylinders.
Here are a few notes from Wednesday morning’s practice…
– The Vikings worked for over two hours in ideal weather conditions. The heat has been dialed back several notches, the sun is shining and the blustery winds from Tuesday have vanished. Frazier had his team in shorts, shoulder pads/jerseys and helmets for the workout.
– Another outstanding crowd packed the bleachers and standing-room only sections of 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. I know I’ve mentioned this countless times during camp, but I can’t say enough about how great Vikings fans have been to the team over the last 10 days. All the practices are well-attended, the Northland Ford Dealers Autograph Zone is constantly buzzing, Vikings Village is rocking and the support from the local Mankato community has been terrific.
– The Vikings have practiced “the little things” a lot during this camp. It might sound like a foregone conclusion that this is the case, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how important some facets of the game can be, even though we only see them on occasion. For example, I saw special teams coordinator Mike Priefer working with his group on Tuesday in the back of the endzone. They were practicing punting while backed up and they also worked on situations where the team would intentionally take a safety (winning by six points, backed up on your own 1-yardline with less than a minute to go). Other “little things” I’ve seen the Vikings working on recently: Hail Mary, rushing onto the field to kick a FG with time running out, onside kick, punt after safety and diving to save a touchback on a punt.
– S Husain Abdullah was absent from practice on Wednesday as he attends the annual Iftar Dinner at the White House on Wednesday night, celebrating the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Rookie S Mistral Raymond got most of the work with the first-team, which is an interesting development.
– LB Jasper Brinkley has been working mostly with the second-team defense, but he’s a candidate to earn a job with the first-team if he can outperform Erin Henderson during camp and the preseason. Right now Henderson is the favorite to fill the role vacated by Ben Leber’s departure, but Brinkley has been good in camp and he helped himself today by intercepting a pass during 7-on-7 drills.
– The offense bounced back immediately after Brinkley’s INT, though. Ponder zipped a pass in to WR Greg Camarillo on the next play for what would’ve been a large gain down the left seam. On the last play of 7-on-7, Ponder and Camarillo connected again, this time on the right side of the field.
– There were three great catches that I noticed during the team’s two-minute drill part of practice. The first one was an all-hands catch by TE Kyle Rudolph. He had a defender draped all over him and the pass was thrown perfectly by Joe Webb to his outside shoulder. Rudolph lunged for the ball, got his hands underneath it and hauled in the catch while maintaining possession all the way through the play. The second great catch was by WR Devin Aromashodu down the sideline. He was led perfectly by Ponder and also got two feet in bounds before crossing the boundary. The third catch was on a pass from Webb to WR Manny Arceneaux down the right side that put the offense in FG range with less than a minute to play.
– Passing the eye test today: WR Devin Aromashodu, QB Christian Ponder, S Mistral Raymond and TE Kyle Rudolph.
– A group of political leaders from Ramsey County was at practice and both Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf and VP of Public Affairs/Stadium Development Lester Bagley spoke with reporters after practice.
– The defensive line signed autographs in the Northland Ford Dealers Autograph Zone.
– The Vikings have a one-hour walk-through Wednesday afternoon beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Tags: Bill Musgrave, Christian Ponder, Devini Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo, Joe Webb, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Manny Arceneaux, Mistral Raymond
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 43 Comments »
Over the next five days on the vikings.com Blog, we’ll breakdown the Vikings roster position-by-position to give fans a comprehensive assessment of the team as the first preseason game – this Saturday night in Tennessee – approaches. Click here to read Monday’s breakdown of the offensive line. Up next is the defensive line and tight ends.
From the moment the Vikings acquired DE Jared Allen before the 2008 season, the defensive line has been a strength and it’s a position that fans didn’t really worry about watching during training camp. The starters were set in stone and any talented players beyond the starters were just gravy.
Heading into the 2011 season, the Vikings still have Allen and fellow Pro Bowler DT Kevin Williams, but gone are former starters DE Ray Edwards and DT Pat Williams. Beyond inserting Brian Robison as Edwards’ replacement and signing DT Remi Ayodele to help Williams in the middle, the Vikings are reassessing their depth behind the starters and also bringing along a couple draft picks.
We’ll begin with the two new starters – Robison and Ayodele. They’ll team with Allen and Williams to form the four down linemen in coordinator Fred Pagac’s 4-3 scheme. Ayodele is a run-stuffing DT that will fill the role vacated by Pat Williams. Robison will fill the role vacated by Edwards; he’s earned the opportunity after four productive seasons as a reserve.
Beyond those four players, the Vikings have a bushel of linemen fight for spots in the rotation. And the Vikings defensive line this year will truly be a rotation. Right now the depth chart is not well-defined with first-, second- and third-team units. Rather, several players are rotating in and out of different groups, which creates several different combinations and will allow the defensive line to have fresh legs late in games. When assessing the depth behind the starters, we also have to keep in mind that Williams could be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, which means a starting spot will be available.
Here are a few observations from the last two days and throughout last week on the Vikings defensive line rotation…
— Allen is having a tremendous training camp, but so is fellow DE Everson Griffen. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft and played just occasionally last year. This year, though, I think he’ll be a guy who plays at least 10-15 defensive snaps per game. After Allen, Robison and then Griffen, the next DE in line to play is Adrian Awasom, who has shown some flashes during camp.
— Fred Evans and Letroy Guion seem to be in line after Williams and Ayodele at DT. I’ve also seen Christian Ballard – a fourth-round pick this past April – and Tremaine Johnson take reps with the second-team, but it’s been mostly Evans and Guion. Evans is a guy VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman picked up from Miami early in his tenure with the Vikings. Guion was a fifth-round pick of Spielman’s in 2008 and has developed steadily during his career. He may finally be blossoming into a regular member of the DL rotation. Both guys have taken reps with the first-team on occasion but spend most of their time with the second-team.
— DE D’Aundre Reed is a player to watch this preseason. He’s passed the vikings.com Blog Eye Test a few times during training camp and he’s even been mentioned by head coach Leslie Frazier during a press conference. He stands at 6-4, 260 pounds and is a talented pass rusher. He could improve against the run but I think he’s shown explosion in pressuring the QB from the edge. He’s spent a lot of time with the second-team but is also bouncing down to the third-team at times.
— Former Gopher Cedric McKinley and new pickup Colby Whitlock are primarily third-team DTs and David Akinniyi plays DE on the third-team.
To go any further than that at this point is probably jumping the gun. There are 14 defensive linemen in camp right now and I’m guessing the final number on the 53-man roster will be somewhere between nine and 11. Once we get a couple preseason games under our belts, we can make a better guess as to which players will round out the DL rotation.
Let’s jump quickly to the TEs, where Visanthe Shiancoe enters atop the depth chart and second-round rookie Kyle Rudolph follows. I anticipate the Vikings will use multiple TE sets regularly this season, which means we’ll see Rudolph and Shiancoe on the field at the same time. Shiancoe has had a solid camp and Rudolph has impressed me quite a bit with the camp he’s put together.
Rudolph and Shiancoe aren’t going to blow anyone away with their blocking, though. But that’s part of the reason why the Vikings still have Jim Kleinsasser. He’ll be on the roster and will be a valuable part of this offense, as an option at TE and also as a pseudo member of the offensive line.
If the Vikings keep more than three TEs, which is certainly possible, Jeff Dugan offers consistency and familiarity with the franchise. Then youngsters Ed Barham and Allen Reisner enter the picture and could be fighting for spots on the practice squad. Reisner is out of the University of Iowa and has shown flashes of solid pass-catching ability while Barham has done the same and is a hard guy to tackle after the catch.
As is the case with all positions at this point in training camp, we need preseason games before we further judge.
Tags: Brian Robison, Jared Allen, Jim Kleinsasser, Kevin Williams, Kyle Rudolph, Remi Ayodele, Visanthe Shiancoe
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 81 Comments »
An overflow crowd packed Blakeslee Stadium on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato to watch the Vikings conduct a spirited 2.5-hour practice on Saturday night. The unofficial estimate is that Saturday night’s crowd was the largest-ever for a Vikings Saturday night training camp practice.
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier addressed the crowd immediately after the practice and thanked the fans for their support. Frazier also met with the media after practice and reiterated how much he values the tremendous fan support the Vikings receive in Mankato.
Frazier also said he was pleased with the tempo of practice and is encouraged by the fact that the team is getting a little bit better each day. As is typically the case this early in training camp, the defense is ahead of the offense, which is something Frazier probably enjoys a little because he was this team’s defensive coordinator. But Frazier also knows that the offense will catch up eventually, especially after they install more of their playbook.
“You almost expect that early in camp,” Frazier said. “As our offense puts more things in, they’ll catch up in that regard. In most cases, that’s the way it is. Early in camp the defense is usually a little bit ahead.”
A few mini-scrums broke out in practice, which is probably to be expected after nearly a full week of practicing against the same guys day-in and day-out. Frazier said he doesn’t mind a small breakout here and there, as long as it ends quickly and players aren’t doing things that would result in a personal foul in a game.
“I think it was good tonight,” Frazier said of the physicality. “We still have some other things we want to get done. There’s a fine line between being real physical in practice and taking people to the ground, but yet getting them to be ready to tackle in games because you don’t want injuries. But I think we’re doing the right things and we’re being smart about what we’re doing.”
A few notes from practice…
– The defense is ahead of the offense, but I can’t say enough about how well the Vikings first-team front seven is playing. LBs Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson are playing particularly well. I’m anxious to see how DT Remi Ayodele continues to fit in as well. He’s looked better each practice and could be a force for the Vikings in the run game.
– On the offensive side, WR Michael Jenkins and TE Kyle Rudolph continue to stand out among the pass-catchers and they were particularly good on Saturday night. Jenkins is sure-handed and strong and will be a factor for the Vikings in the passing game this year. He’s versatile because he can stretch the field on the outside and he’s as good or better at catching intermediate passes in the middle of the field. Rudolph seems to have a knack for wiggling open down the seam and he, too, can make catches in traffic with defenders draped all over him.
– Primary returners tonight included Stephen Burton, Jaymar Johnson and Cord Parks on punts and Lorenzo Booker and Percy Harvin with kickoffs.
– Passing the eye test tonight were: DEs Jared Allen and Everson Griffen, WR Michael Jenkins and TE Kyle Rudolph. I already explained how well Jenkins and Rudolph are playing, but Allen and Griffen are a big part of why the Vikings front seven is playing so well right now. Both guys were constantly in the backfield being disruptive.
Tags: Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Michael Jenkins
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 40 Comments »
Given the CBA/lockout situation we all endured over the course of this past offseason, it was only appropriate that we had to wait just a little longer than anticipated to finally see a full pads practice at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
Policies within the new CBA prohibited players operating under new contracts from participating in their team’s training camp until the CBA was ratified, something that was widely expected to happen by this morning. But as things tend to go in situations such as collective bargaining, there was a hang up.
The Vikings had a full pads practice scheduled for 3:00 on Thursday, but 3:00 came and no players were in sight on the practice fields. As it turned out, the CBA had not been ratified and therefore players with new contracts were still unable to participate. Finally the locker room doors opened and players filed outside to the fields, but even still the players with new contracts didn’t participate in the early part of practice.
Eventually – about 30 minutes into practice – Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman gave the thumbs up to his players while in between two of the practice fields, and Donovan McNabb and Co. hopped into the action and participated in their first practices of training camp.
“We were like little kids at Pop Warner who didn’t make weight,” McNabb said during his post-practice press conference. “We were just standing around. But you know the whole thing about it, the guys who were off on the sideline awaiting that opportunity have been working extremely hard the last couple days just getting the mental reps and then spending time together working out and pushing each other. Just trying to perfect our craft.”
Speaking of perfecting the craft, McNabb began the practice perfectly, connecting on his first three passes of full team work. McNabb’s first completion was a deep pass down the left sideline to WR Bernard Berrian, who fought off a defender and hauled in the pass for a 50-yard TD. A huge applause from the packed crowd ensued and practice was off to a great start.
McNabb held a press conference after practice and we’ll have the full version of that in on-demand format for your viewing pleasure, so stay tuned.
The overall energy and intensity of practice remained high and the fact that the guys were in pads for the first time was certainly a big reason. The Vikings have a one-hour walk-through scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and then they’ll practice in full pads once again tomorrow afternoon at 3:00.
Odds and Ends
– RB Adrian Peterson did not participate in practice but is expected back tomorrow.
— S Jamarca Sanford, competing for a starting position, intercepted a pass during the first team period of practice. The pass was thrown by McNabb and TE Visanthe Shiancoe was the intended target, but Sanford jumped the route and made a nice play.
— McNabb looked sharp, especially considering it was his first practice with the team. He completed his first three passes of the day before the Sanford INT and then he began 7-on-7 drills going four of four.
— Frazier said after practice that rookie QB Christian Ponder and Joe Webb are rotating in and out of the second string QB role.
— Rookie TE Kyle Rudolph had the catch of the day – and maybe the catch of training camp – when he was able to collect a one-handed grab while running down the right seam in a full team portion of camp. But he wasn’t done there. When practice concluded, Rudolph and Visanthe Shiancoe stayed several minutes after to work with TEs coach Jimmie Johnson and then on their way to the locker room Rudolph and Shiancoe took a few minutes to stop and sign autographs for fans.
The Eye Test
Our new feature this year – the eye test – has gotten pretty good reviews actually, so I’m going to keep it going. Passing the eye test from today’s practices were: RB Lorenzo Booker, WRs Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins and S Jamarca Sanford.
For those of you keeping score at home, the only player to pass the eye test in all four full practices is Harvin. LB Chad Greenway has been mentioned after three practice and CB Cedric Griffin, DE D’Aundre Reed and Sanford have passed it twice. It should also be noted that Jenkins passed the eye test in his first opportunity and I probably should’ve included McNabb, but we have high expectations of him and I know he’ll be a regular mention in this part of the notes down the line.
Tags: Bernard Berrian, Chad Greenway, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Rudolph, Michael Jenkins, Percy Harvin
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