Jenkins, Robison Visit Burnsville, Lakeville Chambers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 9, 2011 – 3:52 pm

As part of the Vikings “You Made the Team” Community Tour, Vikings personnel hosted a luncheon with the Burnsville and Lakeville Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday.

During the lunch, Vice President of Public Affairs and Stadium Development Lester Bagley addressed a crowd of civic and business leaders about the team’s passion for giving back to local communities, and he provided a stadium status report. In addition, KFAN-FM mid-day host and Vikings play-by-play announcer Paul Allen conducted a Q&A on the Vikings 2011 season with WR Michael Jenkins and DE Brian Robison.

The Vikings “You Made the Team” Community Tour was implemented in 2007 and is designed to connect with fans, community partners and local leaders while providing an update on the excitement of Vikings football. Thus far the tour has made 14 stops: Austin, Brainerd, Duluth, Fargo/Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Grand Rapids, Iowa City, Mankato, Marshall, Owatonna, Red Wing, Rochester, St. Cloud and Willmar.

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Late Run Falls Short, Vikings Lose 33-27 To Packers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 23, 2011 – 6:44 pm

Starting a rookie QB and facing an undefeated defending Super Bowl champion, the Vikings weren’t expected to give their opponents much of a challenge on Sunday. But as is the case so often in the NFL, the expected didn’t happen. The Vikings had the ball and a chance to win late in the 4th quarter, but saw their comeback attempt fall painstakingly short, allowing the Green Bay Packers to leave Mall of America Field with a 33-27 victory.

It was Christian Ponder’s first career NFL start, but it didn’t take him long to get right into this heated Vikings-Packers rivalry. On the game’s first offensive play, Ponder used a play-action fake and rollout to find a wide open Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for what was originally a 73-yard TD that caused the Mall of America Field crowd to burst into a frenzy. Officials took the TD away via replay, but just two plays later Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 2-yard TD and an early 7-0 lead.

Ponder made mistakes in the game – he threw 2 INTs and completed 40.6% of his passes – but ultimately he showed poise under pressure and got his teammates to play hard around him.

The Vikings scored 3 offensive TDs, and two of them were TD tosses from Ponder. The other TD came from Adrian Peterson, who carried the ball 24 times and gained 175 yards. With Ponder posing as a threat to move the ball through the air, Peterson found a little extra room in the running game and he took advantage, registering runs of 54, 29 and 25 yards.

Ponder spread the ball around, hitting 6 different targets for 219 total yards. Jenkins was Ponder’s most productive receiver, as he hauled in 3 receptions for 111 yards and 1 TD. Shiancoe had 4 grabs for 45 yards and the score, while both Greg Camarillo and Percy Harvin had 2 receptions; Harvin missed much of the 2nd half because of a rib injury.

Green Bay retaliated immediately after the Vikings scored on their first drive, going 91 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 7 on a 2-yard pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to FB John Kuhn. Rodgers guided a passing attack that methodically drove down the field against the Vikings on that first scoring drive, and it was a sign of things to come for Rodgers and Co. Rodgers completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and 3 TDs on the afternoon.

Following the Packers first score, Ponder responded by guiding another TD drive in the 2nd quarter that culminated in Peterson’s TD, and a 14-7 lead. The Vikings and Packers exchanged FGs after that, which led to a 17-10 Vikings lead at halftime.

Green Bay came out in the 3rd quarter and scored 20 points behind more precision from Rodgers in the passing game. The Green Bay QB found a wide open Greg Jennings thanks to busted coverage for a 79-yard TD right away in the 3rd quarter, and then the Packers scored only minutes later on a 2-yard strike from Rodgers to TE Jermichael Finley. The Packers added 2 more Mason Crosby FGs to take a 33-17 lead into the 4th quarter.

From there, though, Green Bay was done scoring. The Vikings defense held Green Bay out of scoring range and Ponder rallied from a poor 3rd quarter to nearly pull off an upset. He guided the offense 93 yards in 10 plays to score a TD - Jenkins hauled in a 24-yard TD pass – and bring the Vikings to within just 6 points.

The Vikings defensed forced a Green Bay punt after just 4 plays on the ensuing drive, and Ponder took over from his own 2-yardline after a special teams miscue by the Vikings. Missing his best receiver (Harvin), Ponder willed the offense to a pair of 3rd-down conversions, but the Vikings couldn’t extend the drive on a 3rd and 10 play from their own 36. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier made the right move and punted the ball away, thinking his defense – armed with 3 timeouts and the 2-minute warning – could stop Green Bay’s attempts to drain the clock.

But the Packers executed better than the Vikings in the game’s final 2:30, and they were able to run out the clock and come away with a hard-fought 33-17 victory.

CB Asher Allen and LB Chad Greenway each finished with a team-high 11 tackles, while DE Jared Allen collected 2.0 sacks. Allen now has the Vikings franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack; he’s at 9 now, and surpassed the previous mark set by Jim Marshall and matched by Carl Eller.

The loss drops the Vikings to 1-6 on the season. And while moral victories don’t count in the standings, the Vikings and their fans came away from Mall of America Field on Sunday encouraged by what they saw from their rookie QB and a secondary that was over-matched against Rodgers and Co.

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Vikings Lead 17-13, Doleman Inducted Into Ring Of Honor At Halftime

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 23, 2011 – 3:51 pm

It was Christian Ponder’s first career NFL start, but it didn’t take him long to get right into this Vikings-Packers rivalry. Playing for the 101st time in series history, the Vikings jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead behind a pair of Ponder completions right out of the gate.

On the game’s first offensive play, Ponder used a play-action fake and rollout to find a wide open Michael Jenkins down the left sideline for what was originally a 73-yard TD that caused the Mall of America Field crowd to burst into a frenzy. Officials took the TD away via replay, but just two plays later Ponder found TE Visanthe Shiancoe for a 2-yard TD and an early 7-0 lead.

Green Bay retaliated immediately, driving 91 yards in 9 plays to tie the game at 7.

Ponder guided another TD drive in the 2nd quarter that culminated in an Adrian Peterson TD, and a 14-7 lead. The Vikings and Packers exchanged FGs after that, which led to a 17-10 Vikings lead at halftime.

Credit goes to DE Jared Allen, who already has 2.0 sacks of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Allen’s first sack of the game set a new franchise record for consecutive games with at least a .5 sack, as Allen is now at 9. The previous record of 8 was set by Jim Marshall and Carl Eller.

Speaking of sacks by a DE, the man who ranks 4th all-time on the NFL sacks list is Chris Doleman, a former Vikings great. He was honored at halftime and was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor, becoming just the 19th individual to join this elite class of Vikings.

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Vikings Drop 22-17 Road Decision To Chiefs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 2, 2011 – 4:25 pm

The Vikings went to Kansas City this weekend looking for their first win of the 2011 season, but they came up short in their attempt as the Chiefs defeated them 22-17 at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It’s another frustrating loss for the Vikings because they held advantages in TDs scored, 1st downs, red zone scoring efficiency, rushing yards and time of possession, yet came away with their 4th consecutive loss.

Another solid outing from the Vikings defense kept Kansas City’s offense in check for much of the afternoon. The Chiefs entered the red zone three times on the afternoon, yet never scored when threatening. K Ryan Succop was called upon to convert a career-high 5 FG attempts, and he also nailed a career-high 54-yarder along the way. The Chiefs only TD came on a 52-yard bomb from QB Matt Cassel to playmaking WR Dwayne Bowe.

The Vikings offense, meanwhile, did find the end zone twice on Donovan McNabb TD tosses to Devin Aromashodu early and Michael Jenkins late, but they were unable to outscore the Chiefs. Kansas City’s #1 defensive priority was clearly to stop RB Adrian Peterson - he had 80 yards on 23 carries – but that allowed the Vikings to attack creatively in other areas, such as with Percy Harvin on end-arounds and with TE Visanthe Shiancoe through the air. Harvin had 67 rushing yards on 4 carries and Shiancoe had 6 receptions for 58 yards.

Ultimately, though, the Vikings couldn’t drive for a TD late in the game and Kansas City was able to pickup a 1st down when they needed it most, allowing them to run out the clock on the Vikings defense. The Chiefs came away with the win, their first of the season. The loss for the Vikings dropped them to 0-4 on the season as they return home this week to prepare for a contest against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday at Mall of America Field.

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All Hands On Deck For Battle Against Lions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 25, 2011 – 6:39 am

The Vikings are at 0-2 after a pair of tale-of-two-halves losses to begin the season and today they have an NFC North matchup against the 2-0 Detroit Lions. On many different levels, this is a big game for the Vikings.

The good news is it looks like the Vikings will have all hands on deck for today’s battle.

The Vikings had 8 players listed on the Friday injury report, but 7 of them were given the “probable” designation and just 1 was “questionable.” CB Chris Cook is listed as questionable with a groin injury, but Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said he made it through the week just fine and should be good to go for today.

A pair of starting defensive linemen – Jared Allen and Kevin Williams – were on the injury report, with Allen feeling soreness in his shoulder and Williams still dealing with a foot injury. Both players are probable for the game, and Williams was a full participant in practice all week while Allen was limited on Wednesday but was a full participant on Thursday and Friday.

WRs Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins should both be good to go. Harvin missed Thursday’s practice with an illness but was back at full strength on Friday, while Jenkins is listed with a groin injury but didn’t miss any practice over the week.

The other 3 players listed were LB E.J. Henderson (knee) and CBs Asher Allen (toe) and Marcus Sherels (chest). Allen and Sherels both finished the week as full participants in practice and Henderson, who was limited all week in practice, is expected to play and start today.

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In Red Zone And 2nd Half, Vikings Need To Finish The Job

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 19, 2011 – 7:53 am

The biggest source of frustration for the Vikings and fans coming off a pair of disappointing losses to open the season is the fact that the Vikings held leads at halftime of both games. The inability to finish games in the 2nd half has cost the Vikings two losses against two very good teams.

Yes, the Vikings need to do a better job of finishing games in the 2nd half. Before that, though, the Vikings need to do a better job of finishing off drives in the 1st half.

Against the Chargers in Week 1, the Vikings began a drive late in the 1st quarter on their own 8-yardline. They drove down to the San Diego 19 and had a 1st-and-10. From there, though, the Vikings gained just 4 yards and had to settle for a FG. Against the Buccaneers on Sunday, the Vikings had four 1st-and-goal situations but were able to score TDs on just two of those opportunities.

Do the math in all three of those situations, and you can see how easily the outcomes in both games could’ve been different had the Vikings executed properly in the red zone and near the goal line.

“That’s one that gets frustrating for us because getting in the red zone area is big for us and everything that we did to get there we need to solidify by scoring touchdowns instead of field goals,” QB Donovan McNabb said after the game. “It would have been a different ballgame if we were able to score a touchdown instead of kicking field goals in the second half.”

The good news is the Vikings have the personnel in place to execute on the goal line. We know Adrian Peterson can bang his way through for scores – he did it twice on Sunday. And we know Michael Jenkins can wiggle open in the end zone and make a play - he did that against the Chargers in Week 1. Now it’s a matter of the Vikings working on this facet of their offense and going out this weekend against Detroit and making plays.

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Vikings Offense Takes Step Forward Saturday Night

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 27, 2011 – 10:28 pm

The Vikings ultimately didn’t win Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys at Mall of America Field, but the first-team offense took another step forward in their development under new coordinator Bill Musgrave.

QB Donovan McNabb was 12 of 18 for 156 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT on the night. He hit speedy WR Bernard Berrian over the top of Dallas’ defense for a 49-yard score in the 1st quarter and he found Percy Harvin four times for 29 yards in the 1st half. New WR Michael Jenkins also got in the mix during the 1st half with 2 receptions for 22 yards, including a 17-yard grab on the play right before McNabb’s interception; the interception came on a deflected pass.

While it was encouraging to see the passing game take flight against Dallas, there’s no question that the bread and butter of this offense will be the running game. Adrian Peterson took handoffs on five of the Vikings first six plays, which set up Berrian’s long TD score to cap the team’s opening drive. In total, Peterson gained 81 yards on 14 carries and looked explosive the entire night.

The performance by the Vikings first-team offensive line should not go unnoticed. The group welcomed back starting RG Anthony Herrera following his recovery from a serious knee injury that ended his 2010 season prematurely. Herrera stepped in and the rest of the line displayed improvement, as Peterson burst past the first line of the Dallas defense on multiple occasions.

“We got into a good rhythm,” RT Phil Loadholt said after the game. “We were moving guys up front, got in a good rhythm and we were able to move the ball. As an offensive line, we love it when we hear that run call. The momentum, once you start putting drives together like that, you can see it in the defense that things are going well for us. It feels good once you get that momentum.”

The Vikings first-team offense strung together drives of 83, 51, 56 and 45 yards on Saturday night, largely thanks to the protection and run blocking provided by the line. In his postgame press conference, Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said he was impressed with the offensive line early in the game and he also said Herrera’s performance was encouraging. Asked if Herrera would be able to play in the regular season opener on September 11 in San Diego, Frazier said the feisty veteran had “a chance,” which is good news as Herrera comes back from that knee injury.

All in all, we’ll temper the enthusiasm because the Vikings lost the game and there were still productive drives that didn’t end with TDs. At the same time, it was encouraging to see the offensive take yet another step forward in their development. McNabb stretched the field vertically with Berrian and Jenkins, and then Harvin and Peterson did their work underneath.

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McNabb, Vikings Offense Take Step Forward

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 21, 2011 – 6:05 am

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.

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Vikings Offense, Defense Look Good Early In Win

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 20, 2011 – 10:26 pm

The defense took care of the 1st quarter and the offense handled much of the 2nd quarter as the Vikings built up a 13-0 lead through the first half of Saturday night’s preseason game against the Seahawks in Seattle and went on to win by a 20-7 score.

Seattle’s offense, featuring former Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson and WR Sidney Rice, was on the field for 13 minutes in the 1st quarter, yet they were unable to muster any points. It was the Vikings defense that scored a TD, in fact, as CB Marcus Sherels picked off a deflected pass from Jackson and returned it 64 yards for the score.

The 2nd quarter was a much different story and it was the Vikings offense that hogged the ball early. QB Donovan McNabb led the Vikings on an 81-yard drive in 13 plays that consumed over 7 minutes and began on their own goal line after an impressive stand by the second-team defense. McNabb hit new WR Michael Jenkins for 21 yards on the drive, but eventually the offense stalled and Ryan Longwell came on to kick a 36-yard FG.

McNabb was 6 of 8 for 81 yards with no TDs or INTs on the night (106.8 passer rating) and RB Adrian Peterson finished with 16 yards on 6 carries and 2 catches for 11 yards. Ponder, who came in after McNabb, was 6 of 12 for 63 yards with no TDs and no INTs.

Late in the fourth quarter and leading 13-7, rookie RB Tristan Davis made the most of his one carry on the night as he scampered 35 yards to ice the game for the Vikings, who moved to 1-1 on the preseason with the victory.

Next up for the Vikings are the Dallas Cowboys, who make their way to Mall of America Field on Saturday.

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Get To Know Michael Jenkins

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 7, 2011 – 2:11 pm

He wasn’t on the team last year and he wasn’t allowed to practice until Thursday, but WR Michael Jenkins is a player Vikings fans should get to know. At 6-4, 214 pounds, Jenkins will provide Vikings QBs with a big target in the passing game and his familiarity with the offense will make him a leader in the WR group both on the field and in the meeting room.

Should he be the #1 WR on your fantasy team? Maybe not. But he should be a player you get to know because I think he’ll be a factor for the Vikings this season and hopefully for many seasons down the road. I wrote last night that he was a player who stood out in Saturday night’s practice and I anticipate he’ll continue to standout this training camp and the preseason.

Here is a quote from Musgrave on Jenkins: “I think both (WRs coach) George Stewart and I are excited about the prospect of acquiring Mike Jenkins. He’s a solid player. He’s accountable. You get his best every day. He has his strengths and limitations like all of us in every facet of life. We’re excited because he knows our system a little bit better than everybody else because he’s had more time on task over the last three years.

Also, we caught up with Jenkins after practice last week for a quick interview. Check it out by clicking here.

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