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Childress: Acquiring Moss A “Rare Opportunity”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 6, 2010 – 4:05 pm

Because the Vikings passing attack was ranked 8th in the NFL a year ago with WR Sidney Rice and now ranks just 24th in the NFL without Rice, many are concluding that Rice’s absence is a critical component to the slow-to-go passing game.

Consequently, many are also wondering if the acquisition of Randy Moss on Wednesday is an indication that Rice’s recovery from a hip injury that has bothered him since last year’s NFC Championship Game is going a bit slower than anticipated.

Speaking with an assembled group of reporters for the 1st time since his team acquired Moss, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress indicated the move to bring Moss back to Minnesota is a product of trying to improve the quality of the roster and not a response to the progress of Rice’s recovery.

“I can’t say that we’ve been wringing our hands about where Sidney Rice is at (in his recovery),” Childress explained on Wednesday. “He’s about where we thought he’d be; exactly as they advertised, that he was going to be on crutches for six weeks. That was a given. It was a rare opportunity for us to be able to take advantage of a guy who is arguably a Hall of Fame player and still has pretty good tread on the tire.”

The Vikings will look to utilize the tread remaining on Moss’ tires to stretch the field. Moss remains one of the game’s most lethal deep threats and possesses an uncanny combination of size, speed and ability to out-work defenders to the football. Minnesota fans fell in love with Moss’ skillset when he broke into the league in 1998 as a Viking and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

Aside from his physical abilities, though, Childress told reporters that another attractive attribute of Moss’ is his football IQ. Moss is in his 13th season and he’s seen every defensive tactic in the book.

“I think the other thing is he’s not a rookie,” Childress said. “He’s been to handling school. He gets coverages. He’s an extremely smart guy when you watch what he does. By all accounts he’s a pretty good student of the game.”

Childress was also asked how he felt about the manner in which Moss would be welcomed back into the Vikings locker room. Moss was traded away from the Vikings following the 2004 season.

“Good players are generally accepted very well in the locker room,” the Vikings head coach said. “I just saw Antoine Winfield in there. There are six or seven guys that played here with him and are tickled to death. I know Antoine’s got a grin from ear-to-ear.”

Judging by what Moss’ new teammates have been telling us in the last few hours, Childress is correct in that the Vikings newest offensive weapon will be welcomed to the locker room with open arms.

“We’re always looking for an opportunity to make this football team better,” Childress said. “Our organization and our ownership is committed to that. You try to be as resourceful as you can and I’m happy that obviously they supported this move.”

A few other notes from Childress’ press conference…

– Moss signed a 3-year contract extension with New England a few years back and that deal expires following the 2010 season. Childress was asked if an extension of Moss’ contract was in the offing, but he declined to delve into the details and said the Vikings would “cross that bridge when we get there.”

– Childress, who spoke with Moss early Wednesday while the WR was taking his daughter to school, said Moss was “in a good frame of mind.”

– Because the Vikings have already had their bye and the Patriots will have theirs this week, Moss is slated to play in 17 games this season.

– Moss will become just the 2nd player in NFL history to play in a Monday Night Football game in back-to-back weeks. Last week the Patriots played at Miami on MNF and this week the Vikings will travel to New York for a MNF showdown with the Jets.

– Childress downplayed any role QB Brett Favre may have played in the process of acquiring Moss. Favre and Moss have been linked together repeatedly in the past with trade rumors.

– I thought one of the best statements Childress made during his presser was in response to a series of questions that surrounded some incidents Moss has had with coaches, teammates or others in the past. Childress said, “I’m just satisfied to judge him, not backwards, but judge him going forward and what he does with us here at the Vikings now.”


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Vikings WRs: Rehabbing, Relieved and Restless

Posted by cjsiewert on September 15, 2010 – 6:46 am

The Vikings came into the preseason confident in their group of WRs, on both the talent available and the depth it possessed. Things have changed since that time with marquee WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice missing extended time recently. This forced the Vikings to make a few moves and eventually settle on and trade for the sure-handed Greg Camarillo from the Miami Dolphins.

Camarillo, Harvin and Rice are all in different phases of getting exactly where they want to be both mentally and physically for the season, but the 3 have the same goal in helping this team reach its highest potential.

Rehabbing

Rice, who will miss the first 6 weeks of the season because of his placement on the Physically Unable to Perform (reserve/PUP) list, has continued to rehab his surgically repaired right hip at Winter Park. The Pro Bowler’s recovery is expected to last longer than the 6 week period but he’s optimistic about returning to full health.

“Right now I’m just focused on getting in here every morning and doing my rehab and doing what it takes to get back out there on the field,” Rice said.

It’s been tough for Rice to sit out and watch his teammates play without him because he wants to contribute to a WR core trying to find its niche. Rice’s absense from the field in Thursday’s season opening loss to the Saints was apparent as the Vikings WRs combined for 56 yards on 4 catches.

Relieved

Usually when someone’s heart stops for any period of time it’s great cause for concern, but the 2009 Rookie of the Year was relieved to find out that the latest diagnosis for his reoccurring migraines is the result of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes brief stoppages of breath during sleep.

Since the diagnosis, Harvin has not suffered from any more migraines and the types of treatments used may be the solution. Doctors have given Harvin an oxygen mask to wear while he sleeps and the 2-year veteran has expressed that the mask has made a 100% difference in the way he sleeps and feels in the morning.

Restless

Getting a shot at playing your former team is an opportunity that most players relsih and Camarillo is no different. After being traded away from the Dolphins to the Vikings late in the preseason for CB Benny Sapp, Camarillo has had little time to adapt to a new offensive scheme and that may have been the reason why he saw limited action against the Saints with just 1 catch for 29 yards. That limited action is something Camarillo hopes to change in Week 2′s matchup against his former team as the Vikings will square off against the Fins in the home opener.

“It’s so early, it’s great,” Camarillo told Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune on playing his former team. “Last week how the whole team felt about the Saints and wanting to get their second swing at them, that’s how I feel about the Dolphins. It’s all my friends. No ill will toward the team, but I want to come out there and kick their tail.”


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Injuries Adding Up In NFC North

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 14, 2010 – 12:44 pm

Perhaps it’s no worse than any other division, but the injury situation in the NFC North is beginning to add up and make an impact quickly in the 2010 regular season. We are barely 1 week into things and already 3 of the 4 teams in the division have lost at least 1 starter for an extended period of time due to injury.

It began with the Vikings prior to the season, as they are missing starting WR Sidney Rice and a pair of CBs in Chris Cook and Cedric Griffin. Then this past weekend, other NFC North teams lost starters.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Green Bay Packers starting RB Ryan Grant will be placed on IR, ending his season after just 1 game. In Detroit, the Lions are unsure how long starting QB Matthew Stafford will be out with a shoulder injury, but reports indicate it could be as long as 6 weeks before he’s back under center. Fortunately for the Chicago Bears, they have not lost any starters to injury. [UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports that Bears starting LB Hunter Hillenmeyer is out for the season (illness).]

Although the Vikings are competing against the other 3 teams in the NFC North on a weekly basis, you hate to see players suffer injuries and you especially hate to see them miss extended periods of time because of those injuries. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game and all teams are in the same boat in that they must be dealt with on a weekly basis.


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Monday Morning Practice Notes

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 16, 2010 – 12:57 pm

The Vikings practiced for about an hour and 20 minutes late Monday morning on the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park as they recuperate from Saturday night’s game and get ready for Sunday night’s contest at San Francisco. Temperatures were moderate and the breeze was brisk, providing a nice change from the conditions that came with training camp in Mankato.

The big news of the day was that WR Percy Harvin was back with the team after an extended absence due to the death of his Grandmother and another battle with migraines. Harvin looked fit while practicing and was targeted by QB Tarvaris Jackson several times. Harvin did not meet with reporters following practice but will likely do so later this week.

Sidney Rice, who hasn’t practiced with the team during training camp because a hip injury has him on the PUP list, worked with trainers and strength staff on the side. In speaking with reporters following practice, Rice said he’s had a setback or two in his recovery but that he continues to improve and feels comfortable running in a straight line. He declined to put a percentage on his health at this point.

Another guy on the PUP list – CB Cedric Griffin (knee) – was also working out on the side, as he’s been doing all of training camp. Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress described Griffin’s progress recently as rapid and said it’s almost to the point where they’d like to remove him from the PUP list so he can participate in individual drills during practice, something he’s prohibited from doing under the rules of the PUP list. Childress also said Griffin is “chomping at the bit” to get back, something that became apparent near the commencement of training camp when Griffin disclosed he was hopefully he’d be able to participate in camp rather than go on the PUP list.

It was good to see so many of the players putting in extra time after practice, working on various areas of the game. Harvin and Greg Lewis were running routes with Jackson throwing to them, TEs Jeff Dugan and Garrett Mills were hitting a blocking sled, various players were fielding kicks, Marko Mitchell was working with WRs coach George Stewart and TEs Visanthe Shiancoe and Mickey Shuler were doing drill work with TEs coach Jimmie Johnson.

The team will have lunch and meetings the rest of the afternoon and will return to the practice fields late Tuesday morning.


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Reinforcements At WR For Vikings In 2010?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 11, 2010 – 11:32 am

Another day of training camp practices, and another day of no Percy Harvin or Sidney Rice on the practice field. We’ve written about this a couple of times here on the vikings.com Blog during 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and the prevailing positive spin on this situation is that the absence of 2 of the club’s top 3 WRs is giving others on the WR depth chart a chance to showcase their abilities.

That’s true. But now I want to take it a step further.

Who is making the most of that opportunity? I’ll qualify my opinion by reminding you that we’re far from being able to make a final judgment on the matter because we haven’t even played 1 preseason game yet. This decision won’t ultimately be made until after the 4th preseason game, which is in early September.

For now, though, I’d point to Jaymar Johnson and Logan Payne as 2 players who might be able to carve out a roster spot for themselves in light of the unavailability of Harvin and Rice during camp. Both Harvin and Rice should be ready to go once the regular season comes around, and both Bernard Berrian and Greg Lewis have had good camps and will be on the roster. But I wonder if the absence of Harvin and Rice for such an extended time during training camp might cause Vikings brass to consider keeping 1 more WR than originally planned.

If so, a solid camp from Payne and 2+ years of experience in this system from Johnson make them the top candidates to land the job, in my eyes. Johnson is slight in frame, but he’s continually improved since the Vikings grabbed him with a 7th round draft pick in 2008. Johnson was at Winter Park on a daily basis this offseason and he possesses the straight-line speed and shifty feet necessary to compete for a roster spot. Payne has slowly worked his way into a good training camp, plodding along in the early days but picking up steam along the way. He carries himself well on the football field and doesn’t seem to miss any assignments. I’ve also noticed him on kick coverage units, which is going to increase his chances.

As we stated, there’s a long way to go before this decision is made. But for the time being, don’t sleep on Johnson or Payne just yet.


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Young WRs Catching A Good Opportunity

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 10, 2010 – 12:55 pm

The Vikings entered 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp with WR being one of their strong points. As it turns out, 2 of the top 3 WRs have missed all or most of training camp and several younger or more inexperienced players have been given more opportunities as a result.

Sidney Rice, who had a breakout season in 2009 and earned his 1st Pro Bowl, was placed on the PUP list to begin camp because of a hip injury that has hindered him since the NFC title game. Rice still isn’t practicing and his return doesn’t seem imminent. Then on Tuesday morning, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress disclosed to reporters that WR Percy Harvin, last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, is dealing with migraines. The migraine issue is one that bothered Harvin last season and it comes at a time when Harvin is also grieving the death of his Grandmother.

So with 2 of the top 3 Vikings WRs off the field, things have gone a bit differently than expected for WRs coach George Stewart’s group. A trio of veterans have done what’s expected of them. Bernard Berrian has stepped up and had a great camp, both in on-field production and in leadership ability. And then 2 other veterans – Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis – have also been there to take on an extra load with Harvin and Rice out of action.

But what’s been just as pleasing to see is the progression of the Vikings young WRs, such as 2nd-year pro Taye Biddle and former Golden Gopher Logan Payne.

“They’re getting opportunities,” Stewart said of his young and inexperienced receivers. “And that’s what you want to see. To practice and show the coaching staff what you can do. These young guys trying to make the football team, it’s important for them to get work and they’re making the most of their opportunities.”

Berrian, who’s had the best camp of any Vikings WR, agrees with Stewart’s assessment.

“They’re doing a great job coming in, especially the new guys, and adjusting to the playbook and learning plays,” Berrian explained. “They’re being thrown in there, still being young and having to learn things, they’re doing a good job of making plays.”

It’s an encouraging sign that individuals such as Berrian and Stewart have been pleased with what they’ve seen from the young WRs, but the proof will be in the pudding when the Viking suit up for preseason action. The team’s 1st preseason game will be this Saturday in St. Louis.

That’s when we’ll see if the Vikings WRs are catching on.


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Vikings Work Through Sweltering Heat In AM Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2010 – 11:01 am

The Vikings practiced for approximately 2 hours on Monday morning as the final week of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is officially underway. Temperatures were in the low 80s but it felt much warmer because of the humidity, but that didn’t prevent the team from having a solid practice.

“It was a hot one out there,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said to reporters following practice. “But that’s a great thing for the players. It gave them an opportunity to fight through the heat and the main thing that they need to do is focus on their assignments, focus on what they were doing, and I think the guys did a nice job of that. They were sharp in their assignments and it shows that they had some mental toughness.”

Bevell’s offense was without some key players on Monday morning. WR Sidney Rice remains on the PUP list and the following players were also not practicing – Percy Harvin (personal), RB Darius Reynaud (leg), G Anthony Herrera and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Instead of fretting about the missing starters, Bevell instead pointed out that it provides an opportunity to see other players perform.

“There are a lot of young guys and some younger veterans even that are getting opportunities to show us what they can do,” Bevell said. “That’s what’s going to happen in a game. You’re only going to have so many guys. If one guy isn’t there, if you’re starter isn’t there, someone’s got to step up.”

Bevell mentioned C Jon Cooper and WR Logan Payne as guys who’ve seen increased reps because of starters missing time. Rookie OL Chris DeGeare is another player who’s seen increased reps. He plays LG when Steve Hutchinson is out of the lineup and then on Monday DeGeare played RG in place of Herrera.

Bevell was also asked about Harvin, who has missed extended time this training camp as he grieves the loss of his Grandmother. Bevell said there is no timetable on a return for Harvin and he also said that he’s not too concerned about the absence because Harvin takes good care of his body and is a hard worker.

The Vikings will practice this afternoon from 2:45 p.m. to 4:05 p.m. The team was in helmets and shoulder pads this morning, so I’m anticipating they’ll be in shells and helmets this afternoon.


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A Few Training Camp Trends 1 Week Into The Action

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 6, 2010 – 10:49 am

Practice #1 of Friday is in the books as the team worked out from 9:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. in front of another packed training camp crowd in Mankato. Jared Allen and the rest of the defensive line were signing autographs after practice, which is a major reason for the boosted attendance this morning.

The Vikings had a spirited 9-on-7 period that saw the offensive line and RB Toby Gerhart dominate early and then saw the defense, specifically LB Jasper Brinkley, pick it up toward the end and shut down the offense. Brinkley has had an outstanding camp to this point and it’s clear the strongest part of his game continues to be stopping the run. He can fill holes and stun a ball carrier with his aggressiveness and suddenness.

The Vikings will hold a special teams practice this afternoon from 2:10 to 3:15 p.m. and then will hit the fields 2 more times tomorrow before taking the day off on Sunday. Speaking of special teams practice, that’s where RB Darius Reynaud injured his ankle the other day. I saw Reynaud walking around the sidelines today during practice, so that’s a good sign. Hopefully he can recover quickly and get back out on the field; he has had a very nice training camp to this point.

Other guys who missed practice today included: WR Percy Harvin (personal), WR Sidney Rice (PUP), CB Benny Sapp (illness), CB Cedric Griffin (PUP), LB J Leman (leg) and C John Sullivan (leg).

CJ will chime in later today with a few more observations from today’s practice and a report on rookie DE Everson Griffen.

I’m going to head out of Mankato and begin my journey to Canton, OH for enshrinement ceremonies of John Randle and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010. Before I do that, though, I wanted to list a few trends I’ve noticed now that we are a week into 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Here it goes…

– Players who, in my eyes, are having solid training camps are: WR Bernard Berrian, LBs Jasper Brinkley and Kenny Onatolu, OT Patrick Brown, CB Chris Cook, OG Chris DeGeare, DT Letroy Guion, RT Phil Loadholt and RB Albert Young.

– The position group I’ve seen improve the most over camp has been the offensive line.

– The position group that has been the most impressive since Day 1 of camp is the LBs.

– I am confident in the way the Vikings medical and strength staffs are handling the injuries of CB Cedric Griffin and WR Sidney Rice.

– The Vikings had a true one-two punch in previous seasons with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. But I’m wondering if the one-two punch philosophy will be modified slightly in 2010 to include a few RBs in the rotation along with Peterson.

– RB Toby Gerhart has gotten better every day, struggling right out of the gates and having perhaps his best practice on Friday morning.

– I’m certain that Vikings fans will set a training camp attendance record this year; the crowds have been great.

– The Vikings defensive line led the league in sacks last year, and this year during training camp the unit looks improved.


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Griffin, Rice Start On Active/PUP List; Henderson On The Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 30, 2010 – 5:54 pm

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress disclosed moments before his team’s opening practice of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp that 2 players – CB Cedric Griffin and WR Sidney Rice – would begin camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

There are 2 versions of the PUP list – Active/PUP and Reserve/PUP – and the details of each are confusing. After conversations with Rob Brzezinski and Rick Spielman, I’m now aware of the distinctions between the 2 lists. The details are too much to get into right now on the blog, so let’s just keep going.

Basically, Griffin and Rice are unable to participate in practice for now but can be removed from the Active/PUP list during camp, which will allow them to fully participate in training camp and the preseason.

Griffin landed on the PUP list because he’s coming off a knee injury that he sustained in the NFC title game last year. Childress said Griffin has “done a great job with his rehab” but that placing him on the PUP list for now is the prudent move.

Rice is on the PUP list because of hip injury he suffered at some point in the playoffs last year. The injury bothered him enough to cause him to miss the Pro Bowl and then Childress said the injury had flared up throughout the offseason. Although Rice was able to participate in some of the team’s mandatory minicamp, it’s caused enough discomfort that surgery was considered at one point after the minicamp. Ultimately, Rice will begin camp on the sidelines but it sounds as if he could return soon.

The good news, though, is that MLB E.J. Henderson was on the field, just 7 months after fracturing his femur. Childress has praised Henderson’s attitude and work ethic all offseason and did so again on Friday.

“From the first day he told me ‘I’m going to change the protocol with the way this injury is rehabilitated,’ I thought, ‘Wow, there is a mouthful.’ He has his jaw locked right from the beginning.

“He has been religious about his rehab, almost to the point where you have to hold him back. We will continue to hold him back until he gets out there and does football type of movements. He is right where he needs to be at with his complete health.”

Childress also said that Henderson has completed the entire offseason manual that every player receives and that the veteran LB will be eased back into a practice routine.

CJ Siewert, who many of you may remember from his time writing for vikings.com around draft time, will have more on Henderson’s recovery and his 1st practice back with teammates in a story that will be posted Saturday.


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Michael Irvin On Sidney Rice: He Has To Be “The Main Man”

Posted by Mike Wobschall on July 7, 2010 – 10:40 am

Hall of Fame WR Jerry Rice and future Hall of Fame WR Cris Carter were invited to Minnesota last summer by Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., who has an annual tradition of inviting other young NFL players to train with him in Minnesota during the offseason.

This summer, Fitzgerald – a MN native and graduate of Holy Angels – asked Hall of Fame WR Michael Irvin to drop by the summer workouts to offer his insight into playing football at the highest possible level.

Vikings WR Sidney Rice, who emerged last year as a budding star in the NFL, participated in Fitzgerald’s workouts last summer and said during the team’s mandatory minicamp last month that he would be doing so again this summer.

The Star Tribune’s Chip Scoggins caught up with Irvin while he was in Minnesota to talk, among other things, about Rice and the challenges that are ahead for the 4th-year WR.

“Maintain on a different fear,” Irvin told Scoggins. “The first fear was, ‘I’ve got to prove that I belong. I have to go out and all my workouts [say], I’m going to prove that I belong. Nobody believes in me.’ OK, you’ve proven that. Now, you’ve got to prove that you belong to stay on top. That I am here to stay on top, and that’s a different monster.”

Irvin acknowledged that the presence of talented WRs Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin will help Rice produce at the level he did last year, but he also maintained that Rice needs to be the Vikings main pass-catching threat.

“But [Rice] still has to be the main man. Here lies the problem. Nobody cares, nobody wants to hear that the safety is rolling over on you. They want to know, why are you not making the same plays? ‘Well, I’m getting double teamed.’ No, we don’t want to hear that.

“Don’t tell us how rocky the waters are. Why are you not docking the ship? That’s all we want to know. If he doesn’t dock the ship, you guys are going to be writing about it and I’m going to be talking about it. The object is to dock the ship. It becomes a little more difficult when you’re the main guy and people are game-planning you.”

Scoggins also discussed Brett Favre with Irvin, so be sure to check out the link I included above. But then get back here to vikings.com.


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