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NFL Reacts To Williamses Ruling

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2009 – 4:38 pm

The case involving Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and their possible suspension arising from a violation of league policy has gotten plenty of pub over the past several months. And that only continued today (Friday), as it was ruled by a U.S. Court of Appeals that the Williams Wall will not be suspended in 2009.

We’ve already posted reaction from Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe addressed the issue during his live chat with fans today on vikings.com.

Now the NFL has also responded; click here to read a statement from the league. Thanks to Tim Yotter of Viking Update for pointing it out to us.


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Childress Reacts To Williamses News

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2009 – 3:38 pm

Earlier on Friday it was reported that Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams would not be suspended during the 2009 season.

One person who is happy to hear the latest developments is Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress, who has been asked weekly over the past several months about the pending status of his 2 Pro Bowl linemen.

“Well, I am excited for Pat and Kevin,” Childress told reporters today after practice. “For the time being, they can put that behind them. We have always respected the legal system and knew it was squarely in their hands. It was an unknown and now it’s a known and looking forward not looking backward.”


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Reports: Williamses Cleared To Play In 2009

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 11, 2009 – 11:17 am

According to multiple published reports, including both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune, Vikings DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will not be suspended this season after testing positive for a banned substance last year.

Today’s ruling came from a 3-judge panel with the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, who upheld  District Judge Paul Magnuson’s decision allowing the players to sue the NFL in state court for violating Minnesota state laws pertaining to workplace drug testing.

We will have more details on this development when they become available. The Vikings have not released a formal announcement.


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Sporting News’ Top 100 NFL Players

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 10, 2009 – 7:20 am

There is an exorbitant amount of prognostication in the NFL at this time of year. Television talking heads and over-caffeinated bloggers (like myself) are sounding off on which teams will over-achieve, who’s the favorite to win rookie of the year, etc., etc., etc.

But I came across a different kind of preseason activity that was done by Sporting News Magazine – a panel of 106 Hall of Famers, major award winners, executives, coaches and other football experts created a list of the top 100 football players currently in the NFL.

The Vikings tied the Steelers for most players on the list, with 7. Vikings players who made the cut were: RB Adrian Peterson (#3), G Steve Hutchinson (#14), DE Jared Allen (#21), DT Kevin Williams (#30), DT Pat Williams (#47), QB Brett Favre (#51) and CB Antoine Winfield (#76).

A few thoughts on the Vikings who were included:

– Peterson at #3 is understandable. Tough to put him any higher with QBs and perennial MVP candidates Peyton Manning (#1) and Tom Brady (#2) in the mix.

– Hutchinson at #14 might seem a bit too low considering he’s (in my opinion) the best player in the entire league at his position. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Tony Gonzalez (#10), Ray Lewis (#11) and Ben Roethlisberger (#12) and Dwight Freeney (#13), but Hutch would’ve been ahead of those players on my list.

– There are a lot of good players listed from #15 through Allen at #21, but I think the Vikings DE should’ve been ahead of Panthers DE Julius Peppers (#16).

– Kevin Williams at #30 is the one I was most surprised to see. I think that’s far too low for him. The Vikings have had the best rushing defense for 3 straight years and I think he could be the #1 reason for that. I won’t list their specific ranking, but here are the players listed ahead of Williams who I think should be behind him: Walter Jones, Osi Umenyiora, Shawne Merriman, Kurt Warner, Julius Peppers, Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis.

Other notes about the list:

– QBs were the most-represented position with 12 gusy making the list. DTs had 11 and both DEs and WRs had 10.

– Offensive players comprised the top 5 spots.

– Hopefully LB E.J. Henderson will make this list next year. I think he was on the way to making it last year before he suffered his season-ending foot injury.

– QB Mike Vick came in at #98.


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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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Analyzing Training Camp Battles – Backup Defensive Tackle

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 29, 2009 – 8:30 am

Training camp continues to creep closer, as we are now only about 48 hours from the 1st practice (as of this posting). Players have begun to arrive back in Minnesota, much of the Vikings football staff has migrated to Mankato and Brett Favre has made his decision. So now we just have to finish up our “Analyzing Training Camp Battles” series here in the vikings.com Blog.

So far, we’ve taken a look at RT, nickel back and WR in this series. Next up is the backup DT position, followed in the next 2 days by the backup LB spot and QB.

The Vikings have led the league in rushing defense the past 3 seasons, a feat that has not been accomplished in the modern day NFL (since the 1970 merger). And the anchor of this dominant run defense is the Vikings excellent DT tandem of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Since Pat Williams signed with the Vikings in 2005, the tandem has appeared in 3 Pro Bowls together.

Given how important the Williams Wall is to the Vikings defense, it’s also important for the Vikings to have solid backup options in the event that the Williams Wall suddenly becomes the William Wall or no wall at all. This happened last year, when Pat Williams was injured and was forced to miss the final 2 games of the regular season.

As the team opens camp, there are 3 veterans who will be the primary candidates to backup the Williams Wall – Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy. As it stands right now, Evans is probably the most reliable option, given his presence in the DL rotation over the past 2 seasons. Kennedy, a former 1st round pick, was added as a free agent last year and Guion was a 5th round pick in the 2008 draft.

Guion is the wild card in this position battle because although he hasn’t played in many games since being drafted, he continues to be included in the team’s plans. He was inactive for 15 of the Vikings 17 games in 2008, seeing action at Tennessee in Week 4 and then also at Detroit in Week 14. Guion stands at 6-4, 303 pounds, so on paper he appears to have the physical stature to hold up in the trenches. Now, he must go to work during camp and prove that he can hold up on the field, too.

Aside from those 3 veterans, the Vikings also have a couple of undrafted rookies who will be added to this competition.  They are Antoine Holmes (NC State) and Tremaine Johnson (LSU). Both players are 6-2 and weigh in a roughly 290 pounds, and both players will look to learn behind a pair of Pro Bowlers. Holmes, who was a junior college transfer, played both DE and DT at NC State. Johnson played behind Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, a pair of 1st round DTs, during his career at LSU. As a freshman at LSU, Johnson was coached by Karl Dunbar, who is now the Vikings DL coach.

It’s always a numbers game for the coaching staff when it’s time to decide how many DL to keep on the 53-man roster. Given his past with the Vikings, look for Evans to be a favorite to get one backup spot. But any other spots that become available are wide open as the team is nearly set to open training camp.


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Scout.com’s Preseason All-NFC North Defensive Team

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 24, 2009 – 7:36 am

The Vikings were well-represented with 4 players on Scout.com’s preseason All-NFC North offensive team. On Thursday, the site unveiled it’s All-NFC North defensive team, and 3 Vikings were recognized. You can view the team by clicking here.

Even when looking at the division’s top defensive players with an objective lens, one would have to wonder how only 3 Vikings could be recognized. There are probably 3 players along the defenisve line alone that rank among the division’s best – Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. So where does that leave players such as Antoine Winfield and the talented corps of starting linebackers that play in Minnesota?

Well, if you check out the link to Scout.com’s team, you’ll see that Allen and Kevin Williams are included, and so is Winfield. Absent from the list is Pat Williams, with Chicago’s Tommie Harris in his place instead.

Personally, Pat Williams would be a lock on my preseason All-NFC North defensive team. He’s coming off 3 consecutive Pro Bowls and he is literally the anchor of a unit that has led the league in rushing defense for 3 straight years. Nothing against Harris, who has been a great player over the past 3 seasons (when healthy), but the absence of Pat Williams on this team seems to be a fairly significant sum.

Having said that, Scout.com did a nice job picking 3 LBs. Although no Vikings are on the list, the 3 players who are named – Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Julian Peterson – are legitimate players. You are familiar with Briggs and Urlacher, but those of you not familar with Peterson will become familiar with him this year. He was acquired by Detroit in the offseason via trade with the Seattle Seahawks and he will strengthen a group of NFC North LBs who already comprise a very strong group.

Just a few of the NFC North LBs who didn’t quite make the list include Chad Greenway, A.J. Hawk, E.J. Henderson, Ben Leber and Ernie Sims.


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