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Tough Days Of Decision-Making Ahead For Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 2, 2011 – 9:35 am

The couple of days immediately following the preseason finale is always a tenuous time inside an NFL team’s facility. The Vikings are no exception this year. There were several areas of deep competition on the Vikings roster throughout training camp and the preseason, and now it’s decision-making time for Vikings coaches and scouts.

By 5:00 p.m. CT time on Saturday, NFL teams must reduce their active roster to 53 players. The Vikings currently have 80 players on the roster, which means 27 roster moves must be made in advance of the deadline for the Vikings to comply with the NFL’s roster requirements. That makes for some tough decisions, especially following Thursday night’s performance from many of the Vikings youngsters.

“Our guys really fed off the energy of the crowd and now, probably the real tough part of this job begins,” Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier said after Thursday night’s finale against the Houston Texans. “With such a great effort by so many tonight, it’s going to make it tough for our staff to finalize that 53-man roster, which is a good problem to have.”

A lot of Vikings players stood out last night, from DE Adrian Awasom tallying to 2.0 sacks, to Greg Camarillo playing well on special teams, to DE Stylez White flashing a couple times, to solid performances from backup RBs and offensive linemen. And what about LB Larry Dean, who has stood out all of preseason? Or FB Ryan D’Imperio, who continues to progress? Lots of players with solid potential, but not enough roster spots to keep them all.

I’m going to stop short of calling the Vikings roster situation an embarrassment of riches; that’s not the case. It’s just that there was good competition at a lot of spots on the roster and in many of those spots there wasn’t a lot of separation between the guys who should make the roster and the guys who just fell short.

“There were a number of positions coming into this game that we had questions about,” Frazier said. “We’ll sit down, and I was talking to Rick Spielman earlier about just that fact, we’re going to have some strong discussions tomorrow at certain positions and we’ve got to be able to make some good decisions and I realize that there may be some good football players that may not make our team, but there are some good football players that will.”


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Vikings Impress During Preseason Finale, Shutout Texans

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 1, 2011 – 9:41 pm

Most Vikings first-teamers didn’t play in the team’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans on Thursday night at Mall of America Field, but those Vikings that did play made sure to entertain everyone watching. QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, along with a host of other young Vikings, impressed in the final game of the preseason and put together a 28-0 victory.

With so many starters out of action, the main storyline heading into Thursday night’s game was the fact that Ponder was making his first start. The 1st-round pick did not disappoint, going 10 of 17 for 83 yards with 1 TD and no INTs; Ponder also had 61 yards rushing on 8 carries, frequently utilizing his athleticism to avoid pressure and escape the pocket. Ponder’s TD toss went to fellow rookie Kyle Rudolph.

Webb also looked solid and led scoring drives of his own, guiding the Vikings on an 11-play, 59-yard drive that culminated in a Caleb King rushing score early in the 4th quarter and then leading another drive late in the 4th quarter that also ended with a King rushing score. For the game, Webb was 5 of 6 for 43 yards with no TDs or INTs; he also had 1 carry for 12 yards.

Another positive development was the play from the team’s RBs. Minneapolis native and Iowa State University product Alexander Robinson scored on a 4-yard run in the 3rd quarter and then King, an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Georgia, scored twice in the 4th quarter. Tristan Davis got the start on Thursday night and rumbled for 25 yards on 8 carries. In total, the 3 RBs rushed for 135 yards on 34 carries. Robinson averaged 6.9 yards per carry and King was the leading rusher among the three with 62 yards.

The Vikings offense saw a lot of opportunities for success because the defense and special teams played so well. The Vikings defense surrendered only 14 first downs on the night and held Houston to a 33% third-down conversion rate. The Vikings kick coverage units were solid once again, as they have been all preseason, and allowed just 9.0 yards per punt return. P Chris Kluwe put 3 punts inside the 10, including one at the Houston 1-yardline in the 1st half.

Rookie CB Brandon Burton, who has flashed a bit over the past two games, notched an INT in the 2nd half and continues to make a strong case for himself. DE Adrian Awasom, who has lined up with the second-team defense all of camp and the preseason, registered a pair of sacks on the night and newly acquired DE Stylez White also had a sack. Reserve S Ryan Hill tallied a pair of special teams tackles and also led the team in defensive tackles with 5.

The victory over Houston concludes the Vikings preseason and now they’ll prepare for their regular season opener against the San Diego Chargers on September 11.


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Vikings Make Roster Moves, Sign DE Stylez G White

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 22, 2011 – 1:56 pm

The Vikings made a pair of roster moves on Monday.

Offensive lineman Scott Kooistra injured his neck in Saturday’s preseason game against Seattle and has been placed on the Reserve/Injured list. With the roster opening, the Vikings tried out and signed DE Stylez G White.

The injury to Kooistra comes at a time when he was moving up the depth chart and playing multiple positions along the offensive line. He was taking reps with the first-team offense at RG and even started in that spot against the Seahawks. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier described Kooistra’s injury as serious.

White was at Winter Park today and if his names sounds familiar it’s probably because you remember him from his time playing at the University of Minnesota. White was a 7th-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2002 and has played for the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Orlando Predators and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


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