Vikings All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson continued his tradition of providing holiday meals at childrens’ hospitals this week by hosting an early Thanksgiving meal for young patients and their families – approximately 100 people – at the new University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
In a Vikings-themed room at the hospital, the meal (turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn and pies) was served buffet style. Joining Hutchinson were Vikings OT Patrick Brown, TE Jim Kleinsasser, S Tyrell Johnson, C John Sullivan, WR Kerry Taylor and QB Joe Webb. The players also visited children in their rooms who were not able to attend the Thanksgiving meal.
I’d like to send a special “thank you” to Jennifer Amundson of U of M Amplatz Children’s Hospital media relations for passing along the photos.
Tags: Jim Kleinsasser, Joe Webb, John Sullivan, Kerry Taylor, Patrick Brown, Steve Hutchinson, Tyrell Johnson
Posted in All | 13 Comments »
Tonight marks the 3rd preseason game for the Vikings as they host the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field in a game scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT. The 3rd preseason game is considered the “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams as they make final preparations for the regular season, so tonight is a good time to keep a keen eye on the squad.
With that in mind, here are a few things I’ll be specifically watching tonight…
Unquestionably the position fans were the most displeased with coming out of the 2009 season. I’m not sure they played as poorly as many thought, but there is definitely room for improvement. Madieu Williams has one of the starting spots nailed down, but the other spot is still up in the air, with both Tyrell Johnson (last season’s regular starter) and Jamarca Sanford battling it out. My sense is that Johnson has an edge in this competition, but Sanford did start last week in San Francisco and Johnson didn’t come in until the 3rd quarter. I’m not sure how to read into that, but tonight’s rotation and performance from each guy will go a long way in determining who will be the Week 1 starter.
Probably the position fans are the most displeased with currently, especially after the sack QB Brett Favre took last week. I’m less concerned with the starting 5 and more concerned about the depth behind the starting 5, specifically at OT. Rookie G Chris DeGeare should provide adequate depth on the interior line, but I think Patrick Brown and Drew Radovich have a lot to prove as reserve OTs. They’ll get their chance tonight in the 2nd half as well as in next week’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos.
Another area to watch will be the starting C position, where John Sullivan has made it back from a leg injury and should see substantial time tonight. But last week starting RG Anthony Herrera played some at C, so it will be interesting to see if the Vikings offensive staff plays Herrera at C again tonight, even with Sullivan back in the lineup and able to play. If Herrera does play C tonight, this might be a development worth watching over the next couple of weeks.
Both Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker should see their 1st game action as Vikings tonight. Walker was brought in via free agency earlier in the week and Camarillo was brought in via trade a day later. My sense is that Camarillo has a real shot to be a factor in the Vikings passing game this season. He caught 55 and 50 passes in consecutive years with the Dolphins, a run-heavy team, and he’s never played with a QB at the level of Brett Favre, so perhaps Camarillo will be a productive possession receiver with the Vikings. Walker is a bigger target than Camarillo and also brings with him a rapport with Favre from their days together in Green Bay. Walker also knows the offense better than Camarillo at this point, which is why I expect Walker to look better tonight.
It’ll be interesting to watch both of these guys play and I’m specifically interested to see what my initial impressions of Camarillo are after tonight’s game.
I’m also looking forward to watching WR Bernard Berrian in extended time tonight with Favre. Even before issues with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice arose, I thought Berrian was poised to have another big season for the Vikings. In 2008, Berrian fulfilled expectations as a big-time free agent signing by leading the NFL in yards per catch. Then last season, with Favre under center, Berrian missed the opportunity to develop early chemistry with #4 because of a nagging hamstring injury. With Berrian healthy and Favre back in the fold, I expect the speedy #87 to be a big factor in this year’s passing game. We’ll get a glimpse as to what the future holds tonight.
The 6-6, 285-pound DE has been written off by many Vikings followers over the year, partially because a knee injury ruined much of his time in Minnesota. But earlier this week assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Mitchell is now showing no ill-effects from that knee injury, and Mitchell’s play recently is bearing that out. He’s had a nice training camp and an even better preseason. After his 1st solid preseason performance against the St. Louis Rams, I said I needed to see him do it again before I jumped on-board. Then that’s exactly what he did against San Francisco last week. So I’m on-board with Mitchell making the squad for now, but we still have 2 preseason games to play. Hopefully Mitchell stays healthy and puts on another good show tonight. He could provide the Vikings with excellent depth behind Ray Edwards.
Tags: Anthony Herrera, Bernard Berrian, Drew Radovich, Greg Camarillo, Jamarca Sanford, Javon Walker, Jayme Mitchell, John Sullivan, Patrick Brown, Tyrell Johnson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 41 Comments »
Thursday afternoon’s practice saw Vikings players wearing just helmets and soft shoulder pads, so although there wasn’t full-on contact, the men in purple continued to hold an up-beat practice. Also, the afternoon practice ran for just an hour, giving the team a lighter workload after a morning session filled with game-ending and hurry-up situations.
Even with the afternoon practice running a bit on the lighter side, I kept my eye on the men in the trenches to see how the battle between the offensive linemen was fairing. Not being able to go full contact diminished the ability to gauge how each individual offensive lineman was performing, but it was a good opportunity to see the hand and footwork of each player.
It is easy to say that the regular starter’s mechanics – LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan, RG Anthony Herrera and RT Phil Loadholt – were up to par, but I was equally impressed with a pair of lesser-known OL, 2nd-year T Patrick Brown out of Central Florida and 3rd-year T Chris Clark out of Southern Mississippi
Both Brown and Clark participated on the 2nd-team offense by rotating with each other at LT. It was good to see this pair of Ts competing during practice but it was even more encouraging to watch them stay after practice, along with Loadholt, to work on their conditioning.
“It’s your job on the line every day,” Brown acknowledged of his extra efforts to improve. “I think about it every time I come out here. Every mess up is something that’s gonna stick in the coach’s mind.”
Brown has an obvious awareness of what is at stake during training camp but he also mentioned that getting his rookie year out of the way and gaining close relationships with the veterans on the team has allowed him to have a tighter focus on making the 53-man roster.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable,” Brown said. “Rookie year is always a whirlwind, you have a lot of nerves. You hear all the stories about all the vets and seeing them at the Pro Bowl. Here, Steve Hutchinson and John [Sullivan] have helped me out a lot.”
Since Thursday afternoon’s practice wasn’t the best time to gauge the battle down in the trenches, I’ll have a more detailed analysis once the team holds another “live” practice, but until then stay tuned to vikings.com.
Tags: Chris Clark, Patrick Brown
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 6 Comments »