The launch of the Offseason Program means a return to Winter Park for many Vikings players. But it also marks the arrival – for the first time – at Winter Park for other Vikings players. There are several veteran players who are new to the Vikings, and they’ll begin the process of assimilating to their new team this week.
Vikings fans are familiar with Christian Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, Everson Griffen and Chad Greenway. They are not familiar with Matt Cassel, TJ Conley, Greg Jennings, Greg McCoy and Roderick Williams. Now is a great time to get to know them.
Here’s a look at a few fresh faces now playing for the Vikings (you’ll get to know all of them as the offseason program progresses)…
We got Greg!
The Vikings reached across the Minnesota-Wisconsin border to nab a big-time Packers playmaker once again this offseason, signing WR Greg Jennings to conclude the first week of NFL free agency. After being a thorn in the Vikings side for the past 7 seasons, Jennings will now be a helping hand for the Vikings. He instantly upgrades the receiving corps and provides that group of players on the roster with a leader. The signing of Jennings was met with wild excitement from a Vikings fan base that has watched the former Packers pass-catcher torch them for 63 receptions and 10 TDs in 15 games vs. the Purple.
Calling for backup – Cassel signed
On the same day the Vikings made a big splash in signing Jennings, they also secured another QB to add to the mix behind Ponder. The Kansas City Chiefs released Matt Cassel early in free agency, and the Vikings immediately swooped in to pick him up. Cassel is an experienced passer in the NFL (62 starts) who was Tom Brady’s backup in New England when the Patriots went 16-0 and advanced to the Super Bowl in 2007. Also, when asked to play, Cassel has responded. He guided the Patriots to an 11-5 record after Brady went down with a knee injury in Week 1 of the 2008 season and he was also a Pro Bowler as the Chiefs starter in 2010, passing for 27 TDs and authoring a passer rating of 93.0.
From North of the border to the NFC North
The Vikings have reached into the Canadian Football League (CFL) with success in the past. Bud Grant became the second head coach in franchise history after leading the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to 4 Grey Cup titles over 10 seasons. This offseason the Vikings once again reached into Canada to try and improve the franchise, signing CB Roderick Williams. He measures in at 5-10, 180 pounds and he’s 26 years old. Williams is technically an undrafted rookie because this is his first NFL contact, but he’s played at a high level in the CFL for 3 seasons, collecting 11 INTs and 1 all-star honor for the Edmonton Eskimos in that time.
Edmonton released Williams, who attended the same school as Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier (Alcorn State), from his contract specifically so he could pursue an opportunity in the NFL. That opportunity will be with Frazier and the Vikings.
An extra leg
It’s not uncommon for teams to carry an extra kicker or punter during the offseason program and training camp, and the Vikings moved early in the offseason to add a punter to their roster in TJ Conley. An undrafted free agent in 2009 after playing college football at the University of Idaho, Conley joined the NY Jets from 2009-2011 and was a free agent in 2012. He was the Jets starting punter in 2011, the only year he recorded statistics, and in that season he punted 92 times in 16 games for a gross average of 42.7 and a net average of 38.8. None of his punts were blocked and none were returned for TDs, while 32 of them landed inside the 20 and 32 were returned for an average of 7.5 yards.
The real McCoy
Sometimes one team’s trash is another team’s treasure. The Vikings will test that theory with CB/return specialist Greg McCoy. He was a 7th-round pick of the Chicago Bears out of TCU in 2012 and was cut on final cutdown day heading into the regular season. McCoy then spent time on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. He had 7 INTs in 51 career college games at TCU and he was named his conference’s special teams player of the year in his final season after averaging 30.6 yards per return and scoring 2 TDs on 37 kickoff return attempts.
Tags: Greg Jennings, Greg McCoy, Matt Cassel, Roderick Williams, TJ Conley
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 73 Comments »