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Notes From Friday Walk-Thru And Practice; Solid Start For Offense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 27, 2012 – 5:19 pm

The first walk-thru and practice of 2012 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is in the books, as the Vikings conducted their one-hour walk-thru this morning and then worked for roughly two hours and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Coaches and players were available to reporters after both workouts, and Head Coach Leslie Frazier also met with reporters via press conference after the walk-thru.

There are a number of topics to touch on following Friday’s action, so let’s be brief with several topics rather than long-winded with just a few…

Peterson to Active/PUP; Burton, Shuler on NFI
Frazier announced during his press conference that RB Adrian Peterson will begin camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which simply means that he won’t take part in the walk-thrus or practices and will instead work on the side with the training and strength staffs. This is not an unexpected development. The Vikings can remove Peterson from the PUP list at any time. Two other players – WR Stephen Burton (toe) and TE Mickey Shuler (heel) – were both placed on the Active/Non-Football Injury list. Frazier both would be day-to-day because neither injury is considered serious.

Solid first practice for offense
The offense was slow-to-go in their first practice of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), but eventually hit their stride and showed great improvement. It was a much different start for the offense in training camp. For a first practice of camp, Friday’s workout went well for the offense. I saw a number of players make diving catches (John Carlson, Percy Harvin, Jerome Simpson), LB Chad Greenway was as vocal as I’ve heard him, OL coach Jeff Davidson was pleased with the way his offensive line worked during individual drills, etc. QB Christian Ponder told me while walking off the field after practice that Friday’s workout was probably better than any of the OTA practices they held during the offseason. Obviously there’s a ways to go, but Friday was a solid start.

Griffen focusing on LB
There was a lot of talk this offseason about the possibility of Everson Griffen transitioning from DE to LB. The talk is over now because it’s actually happening. Griffen worked with the LBs during Friday’s practice and Frazier said that’s where he wants Griffen to focus his undivided attention.

“He’s an outstanding athlete, was a great special teams player for us a year ago,” Frazier said. “Played in multiple positions for us a year ago at linebacker and then at defensive end. With his athletic ability, we want to try to find a way to get him on the field a little bit more.”

Griffen shed 18 pounds this offseason to get within the team’s ideal range for a player at his position, and Frazier described Griffen as extremely motivated to show what he can do at LB.

Competition at RG
Brandon Fusco opened camp with the first team at RG, an expected development. The position will be one to watch this camp and preseason as the Vikings look to solidify an offensive line that is poised to take a big step forward in 2012. Frazier indicated the competition would include Fusco, Chris DeGeare and Geoff Schwartz, and that ideally the team would name a starter by the third preseason game (at home vs. San Diego).

“We’ll let those guys compete and battle it out,” Frazier said, “and hopefully we’ll be a better team with whichever one ends up winning the job.”

Many competing for punt return duties
Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer said this offseason that he’s pleased with the number of players on the Vikings roster who have the ability to cleanly field kicks. He said he’s been to teams where they struggled to find one player who could consistently do it. This year in Minnesota, Priefer has a bevy of players competing for opportunities. On Friday the following players took turns fielding punts from Chris Kluwe: CB Bobby Felder, DB Reggie Jones, CB Josh Robinson, CB Marcus Sherels, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Nick Taylor, WR Bryan Walters and WR Jarius Wright.

Robinson is fast
Speaking of Robinson, there was a moment early in practice on Friday where he put his quick burst on display. It happened during a special teams period of practice where Robinson was in the rotation to field punts. A punt heading his way got caught up in the wind and tumbled down to the ground well short of where Robinson was positioned. It’s a cardinal sin for punt returners to let the ball hit the ground, and it only compounds the problem when a returner lets the ball hit the ground and then tries to pick it up after more than one bounce. In an effort to not let the ball bounce more than once, Robinson turned on the jets and covered six yards as fast as I’ve ever seen, getting his hands under the ball at the last second before it bounced a second time.

Later in practice, Robinson pulled up with what appeared to be a leg injury of some kind. No word on what kind of injury it is or how serious.


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Roster Rundown: Safeties And Tight Ends

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 19, 2012 – 6:40 am

The Vikings made key additions to the safety and tight end positions this offseason, but they utilized different methods in doing so. At safety, the Vikings looked to the draft to add young talent and infuse the position with competition. At tight end, the Vikings turned to free agency to bolster the position.

Safeties and tight ends are the subject of today’s Roster Rundown. Let’s begin with the safeties…

Four players listed as safeties will return from last year’s team. Jamarca Sanford, who started 15 games in 2011 and is entering his fourth season, has the most experience playing defense of the bunch. Eric Frampton, entering his sixth season, has been a core special teams player for the Vikings since 2007 and should retain at least that role in 2012. The two other returning players are Mistral Raymond and Andrew Sendejo. Raymond started five games last year and Sendejo was added to the active roster via free agency in late November 2011.

The Vikings added two safeties to the roster via the draft, using a 1st-round pick to select Harrison Smith and a 5th-round pick to select Robert Blanton. As a 1st-round pick, the expectation for Smith is that he’ll emerge from training camp with a starting role. Blanton is converting from cornerback to safety and will compete for time at the other safety position. Others who will compete for time at safety are Reggie Jones and perhaps Zack Bowman (he could rotate between cornerback and safety).

Safety is a position to watch during training camp and the preseason. The assumption is that Smith will hold down one starting spot while Blanton, Raymond and Sanford compete for the other position. But don’t be surprised to see others insert themselves into the mix, including Bowman and Sendejo.

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The Vikings shed a fair amount of experience at tight end this offseason, with 13-year pro Jim Kleinsasser retiring and nine-year pro Visanthe Shiancoe not returning. But now the position is full of youth and play-making athleticism. Not many teams used more multiple-TE formations than the Vikings a season ago, so this will be an important position to watch develop during training camp and the preseason.

Kyle Rudolph was a 2nd-round pick of the Vikings last year and he came on strong at the end of the season. He and QB Christian Ponder clearly have a good rapport, so it won’t be a surprise to see Rudolph take a huge step forward in 2012. As if one athletic, field-stretching TE from Notre Dame wasn’t enough, the Vikings added John Carlson to the mix during free agency. A Litchfield, MN native, Carlson is a proven talent in the NFL with a pair of 50+ reception seasons and a per-catch average of 11.1 yards for his career.

Behind Carlson and Rudolph, the Vikings have a pair of former Big Ten tight ends who are also talented pass catchers in Allen Reisner and Mickey Shuler. Both have two years of experience and both will have to display an ability to help on special teams as well as on offense to earn a roster spot.

The last player we’ll mention in this space is Rhett Ellison, even though he may eventually be listed as a FB. The Vikings selected Ellison in the 4th round of this year’s draft and he could be asked to fulfill a variety of roles on the Vikings offense, including as a tight end. Billed as a big, physical blocking-type of tight end entering the draft, Ellison displayed fluid route running and pass receiving skills at the Vikings rookie minicamp in May. A blue-collar, nose-to-the-grindstone player, Ellison will quickly become a fan-favorite in Minnesota, similar to how Kleinsasser’s career progressed.

Carlson and Rudolph will be the main threats at TE for the Vikings in 2012. While both are capable blockers, that is not their forte. That leaves opportunity for Reisner and Shuler to prove their worth during training camp; it will also be important for Reisner and Shuler to perform well on special teams during training camp and the preseason.


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Vikings Place Peterson On Reserve/Injured, Promote Caleb King

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 26, 2011 – 3:02 pm

The Vikings made 4 roster moves on Monday afternoon, with 2 involving RBs and 2 involving TEs.

RB Adrian Peterson was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, and rookie Caleb King was promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster.

TE Allen Reisner was waived, and TE Mickey Shuler was promoted from the practice squad to take his place.


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Vikings Make Several Changes To Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 29, 2011 – 5:33 pm

There were no press conferences and players have the day off, but Tuesday was still a busy day at Winter Park as the Vikings made several changes to the active roster and the practice squad. After a rash of injuries, a few of which came in last Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the Vikings have placed 4 players on the Reserve/Injured (IR) list and signed 5 others to the active roster/practice squad.

S Husain Abdullah, WR Michael Jenkins, S Tyrell Johnson and long snapper Cullen Loeffler were all placed on IR. Jenkins, Johnson and Loeffler were all injured last Sunday, while Abdullah has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion against the the Packers in Week 10.

To fill those four roster spots, the Vikings signed WR Stephen Burton, long snapper Matt Katula, S Jarrad Page and S Andrew Sendejo. The team also signed TE Mickey Shuler to the practice squad. There was one opening on the practice squad after the Vikings promoted Allen Reisner to the active roster last Saturday and waived Burton to make room for the move.

Vikings fans will recognize the names of Burton and Shuler because both have been with the team recently. Burton was a 7th-round pick in last April’s draft and has been with the Vikings the entire season. Shuler was also a 7th-round pick of the Vikings (2010) but was claimed by the Miami Dolphins when the Vikings tried to clear him through waivers to add to the practice squad.

Page might also be a recognizable name because he’s a 6-year veteran out of UCLA who has spent time with Kansas City, New England and Philadelphia. He was a 7th-round pick of the Chiefs in 2006, was acquired via trade by the Patriots in 2010, signed with the Eagles in August of 2011 and then was released by the Eagles earlier this month.

Katula is a 6-year veteran out of Wisconsin who has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens (2005-09) and the Patriots (2010). New England signed Katula in November of 2010 and then waived him in August of this year.

Sendejo went undrafted out of Rice in 2010 and has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and NY Jets. In November of 2010 Sendejo was signed to the Cowboys practice squad and then was promoted to the active roster just days later. In September of this year, Sendejo was claimed by the Jets off waivers, was later waived and re-signed, and was finally waived again on September 27.


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3 More Draft Picks Officially Sign; 2nd Rounder Cook Reportedly Agrees

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2010 – 10:02 am

It’s been rumored and reported for several days, but now it’s become official – 4th round DE Everson Griffen, 5th round OL Chris DeGeare and 7th round TE Mickey Shuler have all signed their contracts and will report to training camp on time.

Those 3 rookies join 5th round LB Nate Triplett, 6th round QB Joe Webb and 7th round FB Ryan D’Imperio as Vikings draft picks who’ve signed their contracts. Only 2nd rounders CB Chris Cook and RB Toby Gerhart remain unsigned.

The Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad is reporting that Cook has agreed to a 4-year deal as of Thursday morning, which is good news for the Vikings and would leave Gerhart as the only unsigned draft choice. Zulgad said terms of the deal were not available but he did point out that the players selected right before and after Cook had signed contracts, with OT Rodger Saffold agreeing to a 4-year, $6.3 million deal with St. Louis that includes $3.9 million in guarantees and DT Brian Price receiving a 4-year, $5.32 million deal with $3.55 million in guarantees.

Zulgad also points out that players selected right before and after Gerhart have signed their contracts, indicating the Vikings and Gerhart shouldn’t have a difficult time agreeing to a deal.


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Update On Draft Pick Signings; QB Webb Signs

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 28, 2010 – 12:09 pm

With training camp only 2 days away, now is the time for any remaining unsigned picks to put pen to paper on their rookie deals. To date, 3 Vikings have officially signed their contracts – FB Ryan D’Imperio, LB Nate Triplett and QB Joe Webb, who just signed his deal today.

There are several reports out there indicating that other Vikings rookies have signed their deal. And while those reports likely have validity to them, we can’t officially confirm a signing until pen meets paper. Once that happens, we’ll post it here on the blog.

In the meantime, here’s an update on some of the reports regarding Vikings draft picks and their contracts…

DE Everson Griffen – According to ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert, Griffen has agreed to terms with the Vikings.

OL Chris DeGeare – Our friends at the Star Tribune are citing NFL sources as saying DeGeare and the Vikings have agreed to terms.

TE Mickey Shuler – The website http://www.nationalfootballpost.com cited a source as saying Shuler has agreed to terms.

That leaves 2nd rounders CB Chris Cook and RB Toby Gerhart, both of whom I expect will be to camp on time. We’ll update this list when appropriate, so stay tuned.


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Vikings Wrap Up OTA #10, Host Special Olympics Minnesota Athletes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 2, 2010 – 12:40 pm

The rainy conditions subsided in time for the Vikings to work outside during OTA #10 and then host a group of Special Olympic Minnesota athletes at Winter Park on Wednesday. The Vikings went through a typical OTA practice and then several members of the team, including Head Coach Brad Childress, stayed after practice to visit with the SOM participants and take part in a Punt, Pass and Kick clinic.

Prior to the clinic and meet and greet, the SOM group watched OTA #10 from the sidelines, often times cheering after highlight-caliber play.

After the SOM event, Childress met with reporters and addressed a number of topics, and you can view his presser by clicking here.  Also, check out these images from earlier at today’s practice.

For now, here are a few highlights from Wednesday’s action at Winter Park…

– Rookie 4th round DE Everson Griffen was one of the most engaged players during the SOM event following practice. He signed autographs immediately after practice concluded, assisted the participants in the Kick portion of the clinic and then stayed after the SOM event to visit and pose in photos. We talked to Griffen after the SOM event and we’ll include his comments in the video recap of the event that will be posted later this afternoon.

– I spoke with Dave Dorn, President of Special Olympics Minnesota, during practice and he was once again thrilled to have the event at Winter Park after a practice. Dorn said commented that the Vikings have been a great partner throughout the years and that the Punt, Pass and Kick Clinic was an event that began with former Vikings FB Tony Richardson and has continued with the support of both Childress and superstar RB Adrian Peterson.

– Two highlight-caliber plays stuck out to me during practice. One was registered by LB Erin Henderson in the 2nd-to-last play of the inside skeleton drill. He jumped a pass in the middle of the field that was intended for TE Jeff Dugan and thrown by Sage Rosenfels. Henderson caught the pass smoothly and would’ve glided into the endzone for a TD. On the very next play, though, Rosenfels went back to Dugan at the very same spot and the duo completed the pass. The other highlight-caliber play came from QB Tarvaris Jackson and rookie 7th round TE Mickey Shuler. Jackson took a 5-step drop and rifled a pass to Shuler down the right seam. Shuler, who’s made some impressive catches during OTAs, hauled in the pass and continued down the field.

– Players were made available to the media following practice and one of the most popular interviews was WR Logan Payne, a former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher. Payne was signed this offseason after spending time with a few different NFL teams. A few interesting comments from Payne: 1) He said even as a guy whose made an NFL roster in the past, there isn’t much room for error for him and he’s making the most of this opportunity, 2) He had a few other teams interested in bringing him in this offseason but he took a look at the Vikings team and coaching staff and felt comfortable being with the Vikings, and 3) As he comes back from an injury, he feels as fast as he’s ever been during his career.

– While we’re on the topic of former Golden Gophers, I spent a few minutes after Tuesday’s practice with DL Cedric McKinley. He joined the Vikings this offseason as an undrafted rookie free agent and he told me that after playing mostly DE in college he’s been playing a lot of 3-technique here with the Vikings. He also went on to explain that he’s been watching a lot of Kevin Williams’ film and he’s also been impressed with the work ethic Williams has. “I’m having a great experience so far,” McKinley said, “and it’s really a blessing to be a part of this team right now.”


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Vikings 2010 NFL Draft Selections

Posted by cjsiewert on April 24, 2010 – 2:52 pm

The Vikings have now finalized their selections in the 2010 NFL Draft and here is the list of the 8 draft picks made by the Purple:

Round 2, Pick 2 (34) (Trade from Lions) – Chris Cook, CB, Virginia
Round 2, Pick 19 (51) (Trade from Texans) – Toby Gerhart, RB, Stanford
Round 4, Pick 2 (100) (Trade from Lions) – Everson Griffen, DE, USC
Round 5, Pick 30 (161) – Chris DeGeare, OL, Wake Forest
Round 5, Pick 36 (167) (Compensatory selection) – Nathan Triplett, LB, Minnesota
Round 6, Pick 30 (199) – Joe Webb, QB, UAB
Round 7, Pick 7 (214) (Trade from Lions) – Mickey Shuler, TE, Penn State
Round 7, Pick 30 (237) – Ryan D’Imperio, LB, Rutgers

As always, stick with us here on vikings.com as we will be sure to bring you further analysis on the Vikings 2010 NFL Draft selections as well as comments from VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman and Head Coach Brad Childress’ post-draft press conferences.


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Vikings Select TE Mickey Shuler In 7th Round

Posted by cjsiewert on April 24, 2010 – 1:59 pm

The Vikings used their 7th round (213th overall) selection on former Penn State TE Mickey Shuler.

In 2009, Shuler recorded 11 receptions for 89 yards and 2 TDs.  Throughout his 3-year career, the 6-4, 251-pounder has compiled 27 receptions for 300 yards and 4 TDs.  Shuler also has good football bloodlines with his father having played in the NFL as a TE.

Here is the NFL.com analysis of Shuler: “Shuler has good speed and prototypical size and bulk. Releases clean and runs precise routes. Heady player that finds holes in zone coverage. Goes over the middle and makes difficult catches in traffic. Takes good blocking angles and finishes. Has inconsistent hands and will drop catchable balls. Lacks explosiveness and is not much of a threat to gain extra yards after the catch. Struggles to get separation out of breaks and takes too long to reach top speed.”


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