Although they weren’t fully padded up and there was no tackling to the ground, Vikings players were competing about as hard as you’ll see during a training camp practice on Thursday morning and it was a delight to watch. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress had his squad working on game-ending and hurry-up situations, which ramped up the competitive atmosphere and probably provided some great tape for the coaches to go in and digest early this afternoon.
In 2009, the Vikings had 2 game-winning drives on offense and 1 game-winning drive on defense. The game-winning offensive drives came in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers (Brett Favre to Greg Lewis ring a bell?) and then in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens (Longwell 31-yard FG), and the game-winning drive on defense also came in the Baltimore game when the Ravens were forced to try a 44-yard FG to pull out a win.
“A good little segment today,” Childress said in his opening remarks while meeting with the media after practice. “A couple of two-minute situations that we faced here in the last four or five years. You can’t get enough of that work and just as we reviewed last night, the teams that are coming one way to beat us or we were trying to go one way to beat somebody else, games in this league come down to that quite frequently.”
The first 2-minute situation called upon the 1st-team offense to drive from their own 37-yardline in 2 minutes with 2 timeouts, needing a TD to win the game. Tarvaris Jackson guided the offense down the field and a laser to TE Visanthe Shiancoe put the offense right around the 10-yardline. Jackson hurried the offense down the field to kill the clock, and then with time for 1 final play Jackson hit WR Greg Lewis in the endzone for the TD.
The second 2-minute situation charged the 2nd-team offense with driving from the 80-yardline with 2 minutes to go and 2 timeouts, needing a FG to win. On the 1st play of the series, the play was blown dead because of a sack and loss of 10 yards. Three plays later on 4th down, LB Ben Leber broke up a pass but was called for pass interference, which extended the drive. Another pass interference call several plays later pushed the offense into scoring range and K Rhys Lloyd ultimately came on to split the uprights on a 48-yard FG as time expired.
“Any situation we deal with (in practice), we want to make it game-like,” Jackson told me after practice. “We want to make it as close to the real game as possible so when you get in that situation it’s not new to us.”
A few other notes from this morning’s practice…
– During the early parts of practice, the offense installed its hurry-up package and all 3 teams had an opportunity to execute it against air. Not surprisingly, Jackson looked the most comfortable of the 3 QBs during the drill, Rosenfels was not quite as comfortable and rookie QB Joe Webb struggled the most.
– NFL officials joined the team for practice this morning and will be with the team over the next couple of days. I’m sure this is a common ritual around the league and it’s something the Vikings have done every year under Childress. The officials work with the players and coaches during practice answering questions or pointing out points of emphasis for the coming season; they even call penalties during the team portions of practice.
“We invite those guys into all of our meetings at night and we don’t have any secrets,” Childress said. “If they’ll share with our people – how they’re looking at things and how they’re calling things – it’s their expertise so we don’t make it a closed-door affair. It’s an inclusive deal and they can jump in with offensive linemen, or the secondary, or the wide receivers, wherever they can get better. We’re glad to have them here.”
– One of the Vikings “special categories” periods of practice was an all 3rd-down session. The 1st team offense picked up 1st downs on 3 of 4 plays, the 2nd team was 2 for 4 and the 1st team was 1 for 4.
– I watched the defensive line vs. the offensive line during the 1-on-1 period of practice. Individuals who stood out while winning their 1-on-1 battle were: C Ryan Cook, DT Fred Evans, DT Letroy Guion, LG Steve Hutchinson, LT Bryant McKinnie and DE Brian Robison.
– There was a spirited session of the inside skeleton passing drill between the LBs/Ss and RBs/TEs. In the final matchup of the drill, LB Chad Greenway went up against Shiancoe. Greenway forced an incompletion and the LB group broke out in over-emphasized rejoice to chide Shiancoe. As the players began running away to the next drill, Childress held everyone up and asked for Greenway and Shiancoe to have a rematch. So the 2 players lined up again, this time with the whole team present to watch. At the snap, Shiancoe made a nice move on Greenway to release from the line of scrimmage and wiggled his way open. But Greenway didn’t quit and was able to catch up to Shiancoe and rip the ball from his arms to force another incompletion. The LB group broke out in cheers again and Shiancoe took it very well. It was a fun part of practice and a great display of competitiveness.
– Players who were out of action today included: WR Percy Harvin (personal), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Benny Sapp (illness), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP), RB Darius Reynaud (leg), RB Adrian Peterson (leg) and LB J Leman (leg).
– With Harvin and Rice experiencing extended time away from camp, WR Greg Lewis has gotten reps exclusively with the 1st team offense and he’s taking advantage of the situation by making a positive impression on Childress. When asked about Lewis’ performance so far during camp, Childress referred to Lewis as a “jack of all trades” and a “crafty” player at his position.
– Childress was also asked about DT Letroy Guion and the kind of camp he’s having. Here was his response: “He’s had a good camp. He looks like he’s matured. He came in a couple pounds heavy, but nothing to write home about. I think that’s probably balanced out. I think he understands more about what we’re doing and what we’re asking of him defensively. I think he’s doing a better job rushing the passer and he’s always been stout in the run game.
– The offensive line has looked much better the past 2 days with C John Sullivan back in the fold.
Tags: Ben Leber, Greg Lewis, John Sullivan, Letroy Guion, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 10 Comments »
Practice #2 of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp was highlight-filled, as the squad begins to hit full stride here in Mankato in preparation for the upcoming season. The team practiced for approximately 2 hours in warm and partly cloudy conditions.
All 3 Vikings coordinators held press conferences following practice, so stay tuned for quotes and comments from that. Also, CJ got together with LB Jasper Brinkley and will have a report on him and the Vikings defense later today.
Tonight is Football and Fireworks Night at Verizon Vikings Training Camp, as the team will practice under the lights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:55 p.m. and then fans will be entertained with a fireworks display right after practice.
Let’s run through a few highlights from this morning’s practice…
– You’ve heard the expression “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” several times in the past. The expression typically represents a moment when an NFL rookie experiences a “wake up” call during practice, usually a big hit that jars them a bit. Rookie RB Toby Gerhart got his “Welcome to the NFL” moment today…a couple times. DT Pat Williams got him first after the RB caught a pass in the right flats and then Brinkley jolted Gerhart a few plays later as he waited to catch another pass. Neither hit was malicious and Gerhart wasn’t the least bit shaken up by them, but it did generate a reaction from the crowd and you know that Williams and Brinkley got a little joy out of the moment.
– There is a drill called the “inside skeleton” where QBs, RBs and TEs work together in a passing exercise against LBs and Ss. In the early part of an inside skeleton drill, both Chad Greenway and Ben Leber stepped in front of passes to nab INTs. Greenway’s came off of rookie Joe Webb and Leber’s came off of veteran Sage Rosenfels. But Rosenfels bounced back right away to complete a pair of nice passes, the first to TE Garrett Mills over Jamarca Sanford and the next one to RB Darius Reynaud over LB Heath Farwell.
– Speaking of Reynaud, the converted RB ran with the 3rd team offense primarily today, with Gerhart and 3-year veteran Albert Young rotating between the 1st and 2nd teams. It’s too early to glean much off of the rotations right now, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
– While we’re on the topic of depth charts, one spot I’m curious to watch develop during training camp and the preseason is DT. This morning, Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy took the most reps with the 2nd team defense.
– CB Antoine Winfield generated some laughs from the crowd this morning. He was standing on the sidelines while WR Greg Lewis and CB Marcus Sherels went head-to-head in the 1-on-1 portion of practice. Lewis and Sherels got locked up right off the line of scrimmage at the snap and eventually Sherels was on the ground and Lewis was running away with a reception. Seeing Sherels thrown to the ground, Winfield tossed his sweat towel in the air to signify a pass interference penalty flag, right in front of the bleachers off of field #1. The crowd got a kick out of it.
– Later during 1-on-1s, CB Lito Sheppard locked up WR Marko Mitchell with an impressive display of press coverage and DeAndre Wright made a nice play on a deep pass down the left sideline that was intended for Logan Payne.
– One of the most impressive offensive plays of the day came when QB Tarvaris Jackson threaded the needle on a pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe down the right seam during 7-on-7 work.
– And finally, during team work near the end of practice, S Husain Abdullah stepped in front of a Jackson pass to notch an INT. On the play, Jackson executed a play-action fake and then bootlegged to the right. He slipped and tried to get a pass out to the flats anyway, but Abdullah was there to jump the route and pick off the pass.
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber, Chad Greenway, Darius Reynaud, DeAndre Wright, Fred Evans, Husain Abdullah, Jasper Brinkley, Jimmy Kennedy, Lito Sheppard, Pat Williams, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 9 Comments »
The Vikings QB situation – from the status of Brett Favre to the mystery that is Joe Webb – is at the forefront of Vikings chatter among fans as training camp quickly approaches. The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins has a few quotes from Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress regarding his QBs.
In regard to Favre, Childress told Scoggins that the 20-year veteran will need “two or three weeks” of time to prepare, an amount of time similar to what he had last season before guiding the team to a 12-4 record and throwing 33 TDs. The Vikings open the regular season with a game on Thursday, September 9 at New Orleans.
While Favre is away from the team, Childress told Scoggins that Tarvaris Jackson will get most of the reps with the 1st team and that Sage Rosenfels will also get a few look. Rookie Joe Webb will work primarily with the 3rd team.
Tags: Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 23 Comments »
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.
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.”
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Cedric McKinley, Erin Henderson, Everson Griffen, Jeff Dugan, Logan Payne, Mickey Shuler, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 2 Comments »
The Vikings have concluded their 2nd OTA of the week and had another day of ideal weather conditions, practicing for approximately 90 minutes again on the outdoor fields at Winter Park. A few of the veterans who participated on Tuesday were not participating Wednesday, but by and large it was a similar group of players and a similar practice format.
Wednesday’s practice was also open to the media and Head Coach Brad Childress met with reporters following the workout, so we’ll have reaction from Childress as well as highlights from practice posted on the site this afternoon.
Reporters were able to speak with players as they walked off the field following practice and the most popular interviews included QBs Tarvaris Jackson, Sage Rosenfels and rookie Joe Webb. Each player was surrounded by reporters and cameras following the workout.
Webb of course was the Vikings 6th round pick (#199 overall) in last month’s draft and has experience playing both QB and WR at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The Vikings drafted Webb because of his versatility and supreme athleticism and left open the possibility of him playing both/either positions in the NFL. Following rookie minicamp, Webb expressed optimism that he would be able to take some reps at QB as the offseason program moved forward.
And that’s exactly what he was doing during Wednesday’s practice. When asked about taking snaps at QB during OTAs, Webb, who wears jersey #14, said “it felt great to be back under center” after playing a lot of WR in college and that both offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and QBs coach Kevin Rogers have been doing a great job with him as he focuses on mechanics.
When asked what he preferred between QB and WR, Webb gave the diplomatic (and appropriate) answer of saying he’d work on whatever it is the coaches asked.
Much of the discussion with Jackson centered on QB Brett Favre and his pending return to the club. Favre is under contract for 2010 and hasn’t announced his retirement, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about his future. Jackson said he had a gut feeling about what Favre’s decision would be for 2010 but declined to share it with reporters. Jackson did say, however, that he felt he learned a lot from Favre during the 2009 season and that he’s exchanged text messages a couple of times with the future Hall of Famer.
We’ll have more from OTA #2 this afternoon, so stay tuned to vikings.com today and the rest of the week.
Tags: Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 24 Comments »
UPDATE: Barely an hour after this entry was posted, the Browns traded QB Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos in exchange for FB Peyton Hills, a 6th round pick in 2011 and a conditional 2012 draft pick.
Since he was hired as Browns President, Mike Holmgren has given the team’s QB position quite the makeover. He’s acquired Seneca Wallace from Seattle via trade, released Derek Anderson and now he’s signed veteran Jake Delhomme.
All of those moves indicate Holmgren has a plan to fix the QB position in Cleveland, and that plan doesn’t seem to involve Brady Quinn, a 1st round pick from 2007.
Although the Browns don’t seem to value Quinn as much as they once did, the former Notre Dame standout will still have trade value and it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that Holmgren and the Browns are currently shopping the 25-year-old. So it will be interesting to see what the Browns do with Quinn and which teams might be interested in acquiring him.
The Vikings plan at QB currently revolves around Brett Favre’s decision on whether to play or not in 2010. After Favre, the Vikings also have Tarvaris Jackson Sage Rosenfels on the roster. But Favre’s decision not withstanding and even with Jackson and Rosenfels in the fold, a long-term solution at QB is still an issue for the Vikings.
I don’t know what the Vikings personnel department and coaching staff thinks of Quinn, but I do know that Quinn at least represents an option to consider for the Vikings and any other team in search of or interested in a QB with long-term potential.
With the developments in Cleveland that appear to be leaving Quinn out to dry, watch for rumors and reports to surface linking Quinn with various NFL teams that might have spot for the QB on their roster.
Tags: Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 16 Comments »
With team officials from the Vikings mulling over their prospect options at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, one question is sure to still be looming after the Combine is complete: Who will be under center for the Vikings come training camp?
The Vikings would love to see future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre back for his 20th NFL season, but there has been no indication from Favre or his agent, Bus Cook, on whether or not he will return this fall.
When asked by reporters about the absent indication from Favre on his return, Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman showed no agitation to the question.
“Brett will make his decision when he makes his decision,” he said.
Although many people may feel uneasy about the Vikings giving Favre as much time as he needs to make a decision on his future with the team, Spielman does not feel that this puts the organization in a difficult position.
“I don’t think it’s tough,” he said. “I think everybody feels comfortable with T-Jack (Tarvaris Jackson) and with Sage (Rosenfels). We have stated that we would love to have [Favre] back, but we’ll just keep on going about our normal business and continue building our team as we go through these processes over the next six months and see where we end up.”
Favre, who has not made any sort of public appearance since the devastating loss to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, is scheduled to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 4. Without question, most Vikings fans will tune-in to next Thursday’s airing of the late night talk show hoping for an answer on his future with the Vikings, but nobody can be certain given Favre’s unpredictability.
Spielman mentioned that Favre’s scheduled appearance was news to him and that he would probably be sound asleep at the time the show airs (10:35 p.m.).
“I’m an early riser and early to bed guy,” he said.
Tags: Rick Spielman, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 5 Comments »
The Vikings have announced the active/inactive players for today’s season opener in Chicago Cleveland and WR Bernard Berrian, who has been battling a hamstring injury and whose status for today’s game was in question, is among the 45 active players for the Vikings.
Inactive for the Vikings today will be: QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Jaymar Johnson, WR Greg Lewis, S Jamarca Sanford, LB Erin Henderson, C Kory Lichtensteiger and DT Fred Evans. Rosenfels will be the 3rd (emergency) QB today and Tarvaris Jackson will backup Brett Favre.
It’s interesting that both WRs Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis are inactive. That leaves the Vikings with 4 receivers active for today, indicating that Berrian isn’t expected to be hampered by the injury. Berrian was listed as questionable in the Vikings injury report on Friday.
It’s also interesting that Evans is inactive. Looks like Letroy Guion, a 5th round draft choice last year by the Vikings, will get a chance to play significant minutes today behind Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.
Tags: Bernard Berrian, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 12 Comments »
Perhaps the best way to summarize the Vikings QB situation over the past several seasons is to call if fluid. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress acknowledged as much on Monday while speaking with reporters at Winter Park.
“I would just say that we’ve been to the third quarterback for all the years that I’ve been here,” Childress said.
Describing the Vikings QB situation as fluid is not a blanket indictment of the caliber of play. In fact, there has been solid and even spectacular play from Vikings QBs recently. But the position has also experienced its share of adversity.
For now, though, the starting position seems to be in good hands with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre at the helm. The backup position, however, still remains fluid.
With Favre as the team’s starter, both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels will battle for the backup job. Childress wouldn’t declare a backup for this Sunday’s game at Cleveland and he also stated that it might remain a fluid situation throughout the season.
“It might (change), it might by opponent, without giving you any leads on it,” Childress acknowledged. “Yeah, I think it could change from time to time.”
Childress also explained the advantage of having 3 players at the position with the ability to step into the lineup and win games. The Vikings currently enjoy that position, with Favre being backed up by veterans Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels.
“All you’ve got to do is look at the numbers of guys with starts in the league, how many started all 16 games, and I think it was sixteen out of thirty-two,” Childress said. “You don’t want (to play multiple QBs in a season), that’s not your first preference. But you need to have good players at that position and those two guys (Jackson and Rosenfels) are good players, as well as number four (Favre).”
Tags: Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 5 Comments »
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said on Wednesday that part of the reason he’ll rest his starters on Friday night is to give some of the younger players who are fighting to make the 53-man roster a chance to play. But there is at least one veteran who will receive significantly more playing time on Friday night because Favre, an 18-year veteran himself, will be resting.
That player is Sage Rosenfels, who is competing with Tarvaris Jackson for the team’s 2nd-string job. Asked by reporters about the “uncertainty” that seems to exist surrounding his position on the depth chart at this late stage in the preseason, Rosenfels was unphased and was clearly focussed on playing well when his opportunity to play arises.
“I feel certain that I can play well in this league. That’s what I feel certain about,” Rosenfels said. “I feel like if and when this team needs me, I can play at a very high level. I think I’ve played pretty well this preseason, I think I’ve played well since we left Mankato and obviously I think at the end of Mankato I think I’m playing high quality football. My goal is to continue to play at a high pace and continue that.”
Rosenfels is 12 of 16 for 117 yards so far this preseason, and he’ll have an opportunity to add to those numbers on Friday night against the Cowboys. Childress said he has not decided who will start the game, but that didn’t seem to phase Rosenfels, either.
“I don’t know,” Rosenfels said when asked how much he’d play Friday night. “I don’t anything. I just always try to prepare to play as much as the team needs me and try to execute when I’m out there, whether it’s the beginning of the game, end of the game, somewhere in the middle, I just try to execute in all phases.
“I think I’ve done a lot of good things when I’ve been in there. I’ve made very few mistakes and that’s half the battle as a quarterback is to not make mistakes. I’m just trying to execute the offense and I think I’ve done a pretty good job when I’ve been in…we’ve moved the ball for the most part. The key is to just make the most of each play you’re out there.”
As for Jackson, he and Rosenfels split reps during Wednesday’s practice. Jackson has put up solid numbers so far this preseason as well, even registering a perfect passer rating against the Chiefs at the Metrodome on August 21. His totals through 3 games are: 21-32 passing for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.
Tags: Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 26 Comments »