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Vikings Make Several Changes To Roster

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 29, 2011 – 5:33 pm

There were no press conferences and players have the day off, but Tuesday was still a busy day at Winter Park as the Vikings made several changes to the active roster and the practice squad. After a rash of injuries, a few of which came in last Sunday’s game against the Falcons, the Vikings have placed 4 players on the Reserve/Injured (IR) list and signed 5 others to the active roster/practice squad.

S Husain Abdullah, WR Michael Jenkins, S Tyrell Johnson and long snapper Cullen Loeffler were all placed on IR. Jenkins, Johnson and Loeffler were all injured last Sunday, while Abdullah has missed the last two games after suffering a concussion against the the Packers in Week 10.

To fill those four roster spots, the Vikings signed WR Stephen Burton, long snapper Matt Katula, S Jarrad Page and S Andrew Sendejo. The team also signed TE Mickey Shuler to the practice squad. There was one opening on the practice squad after the Vikings promoted Allen Reisner to the active roster last Saturday and waived Burton to make room for the move.

Vikings fans will recognize the names of Burton and Shuler because both have been with the team recently. Burton was a 7th-round pick in last April’s draft and has been with the Vikings the entire season. Shuler was also a 7th-round pick of the Vikings (2010) but was claimed by the Miami Dolphins when the Vikings tried to clear him through waivers to add to the practice squad.

Page might also be a recognizable name because he’s a 6-year veteran out of UCLA who has spent time with Kansas City, New England and Philadelphia. He was a 7th-round pick of the Chiefs in 2006, was acquired via trade by the Patriots in 2010, signed with the Eagles in August of 2011 and then was released by the Eagles earlier this month.

Katula is a 6-year veteran out of Wisconsin who has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens (2005-09) and the Patriots (2010). New England signed Katula in November of 2010 and then waived him in August of this year.

Sendejo went undrafted out of Rice in 2010 and has spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and NY Jets. In November of 2010 Sendejo was signed to the Cowboys practice squad and then was promoted to the active roster just days later. In September of this year, Sendejo was claimed by the Jets off waivers, was later waived and re-signed, and was finally waived again on September 27.


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Hutchinson Hosts Early Thanksgiving Meal At Amplatz Children’s Hospital

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 24, 2011 – 7:00 am

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.


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Johnson, Sanford Continue Battle For Starting Safety Spot

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 30, 2011 – 3:18 pm

QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb have rotated starts and shared practice reps and playing time this preseason as the Vikings offensive coaching staff tries to make a determination about which guy will be the backup to veteran Donovan McNabb. The defensive coaching staff has employed a similar tactic in trying to determine who will start with Husain Abdullah at the safety position.

Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford are the two players vying for a starting role in Defensive Coordinator Fred Pagac’s scheme and their competition hasn’t yielded an answer, yet. But from the sounds of it, Pagac and the rest of the Vikings coaching staff will be ready to make a decision after Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Houston Texans.

“The guys have been fighting all of camp,” Pagac said. “I think both of them have done an excellent job. Obviously they’re going to continue to fight and we’re going to make a decision after this game. We’ll see how they do and I’ll tell you what, both of them have done a very good job so far.”

While Johnson or Sanford apparently haven’t been able to separate from the competition, it’s at least good news to know that both guys are competing and are playing well enough to remain in consideration for the starting job. Had either or both players been underperforming – and thus the coaching staff unable to name one of them the starter – then we would’ve seen other names emerge as possibilities, such as rookie Mistral Raymond or perhaps a player on the open market.

As it stands, expect both guys to see quite a bit of playing time on Thursday night against Houston. And also don’t be surprised if this is a competition that continues throughout the season, which will increase the level of performance from both players.


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5 Things To Watch Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 20, 2011 – 10:44 am

The Vikings will play their second game of the 2011 preseason tonight against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in downtown Seattle. Here are five things to watch during tonight’s game…

Improvement from Donovan McNabb, first-team offense
While it might not have satisfied the appetite of Vikings fans, the performance from the first-team offense last week was acceptable for a preseason debut. But a similar performance tonight against Seattle in preseason game #2 will not be acceptable. McNabb and Co. need to take a step forward and they appear ready to do that after a solid week of practice. McNabb is cautiously optimistic about the offense’s progress and we’ll find out tonight if that optimism is warranted. No, we shouldn’t look for perfection, but we should expect to see extended drives, minimal penalties, no turnovers, no sacks and maybe even a TD.

Tyrell Johnson’s performance at safety
There’s been great competition at the safety position during training camp, primarily between Johnson and Jamarca Sanford. But we also can’t count out rookie Mistral Raymond, who has put together a great training camp and is opening eyes. Tonight, Johnson will get the start and it’s important that he plays well. Johnson has all the physical tools to be a talented safety in the NFL. He’s also a smart player who understands the Vikings scheme. Now he needs to put it all together at once while he’s on the field, something he hasn’t been able to do consistently. If he can do that, I believe he’ll be the coaching staff’s choice as the starter. If he can’t do that tonight, then I think it’s a wide open race for the starting position among Johnson, Raymond and Sanford.

Who will step up at WR
Both Greg Camarillo and Percy Harvin have been declared out of this game, which means the Vikings coaching staff will get a longer look at a few players who normally wouldn’t see as much action. Both Camarillo and Harvin play primarily in the slot position, so I expect Juaquin Iglesias and Jaymar Johnson will be the guys who get the extra reps tonight. Both are roster bubble guys and both have recently been playing well. Iglesias has looked great in practice while filling in for Camarillo and Harvin. Johnson has worked his tail off to remain on this roster and then last week he ripped off a 40-yard punt return. Other guys who could get a few extra looks tonight in the slot are Manny Arceneaux and Devin Aromashodu – I view Aromashodu as more of an outside receiver but I also think he’s a polished enough receiver that he could play all three of the WR positions in this offense.

Christian Ballard at DT
Ballard’s best trait, in my eyes, is his versatility. He played and started in a lot of games at the University of Iowa at both DE and DT. So far with the Vikings, he’s played primarily at DT behind Kevin Williams at the 3-technique and his best moment of training camp came last week in Tennessee when he notched a sack from the DT position. If Ballard can continue to be a disruptive force tonight – even if it doesn’t result in a sack – it will go a long way toward convincing coaches that he can be a member of the DL rotation this season. It’s uncertain how well Brian Robison will play as the new starter at left DE and it’s uncertain if Williams will be available for the first four games of the regular season, so Ballard’s presence as a disruptive force in the rotation will ease a lot of the uncertainty.

Ryan D’Imperio creating separation at FB
One of my favorite position battles to watch so far during training camp and the preseason is at FB, where D’Imperio entered as the starter and Matt Asiata came in as an undrafted rookie free agent. D’Imperio was a draft pick in 2010 and the Vikings converted him from a college LB to an NFL FB. He spent last season on the practice squad and there’s no questioning the improvement he’s made in one year’s time. Asiata has also impressed, primarily because of his athleticism both in carrying the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. Tonight, though Asiata won’t play because of injury, which means D’Imperio can create more separation with a solid performance.


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Emptying Out The Notebook Before First Full Pads Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 4, 2011 – 10:08 am

It’s another perfect day at 2011Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Mankato. The Vikings wrapped up a morning walk-through at about 10:00 a.m. and now they’ll rest and recover before heading out for their first full pads practice at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Assuming a few issues with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are worked out before this afternoon, the 3:00 p.m. practice today will be the first time players with new contracts can practice.

The Vikings had several special visitors at this morning’s walk-through, including U.S. Senator Al Franken (Minn.). Franken addressed the team after the walk-through and also spent some time with vikings.com. He talked a little Vikings history, touched on the stadium situation in Minnesota, gave his opinion on the acquisition of QB Donovan McNabb and gave us his outlook for the season. We’ll have the interview with Franken posted shortly.

Also visiting practice today was NFL referee Jeff Triplette and his crew. An NFL officials crew visits Vikings training camp each year to go over new rules with coaches, players and the media.

Let’s empty out the notebook before I start filling it up again at this afternoon’s practice. Here are a few topics I’ve made notes on but haven’t mentioned yet…

– There is a vacant starting position at outside LB on the Vikings defense and head coach Leslie Frazier has said that Erin Henderson is penciled in as the starter. But he’s one player under a new contract, which means he hasn’t been able to practice yet. In his place, Jasper Brinkley and Heath Farwell have taken reps with the first team. This will be a position to watch as training camp rolls on and as we get into the preseason.

– Staying with the defense, there is also competition for starting positions at safety. Husain Abdullah is a likely starter, but he is under a new contract and hasn’t been able to practice yet. Taking reps with the first team has been Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford. Also, don’t discount rookie Mistral Raymond as someone who could earn some playing time. Right now, I’d guess that Abdullah is a favorite to start and then the other starting spot will come down to Johnson and Sanford.

– This is a tough environment for coaches because many of their players have not been allowed to practice and because contact was prohibited in practice for the first three days of camp. Compounding the difficulty, of course, is the fact that the lockout wiped away all offseason practices, such as minicamps and OTAs. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spoke with reporters on Wednesday and I thought he gave an interesting explanation of what it’s been like for coaches around the NFL, particularly new coaches who are trying to get acclimated with their teams. Here is his quote:

“It’s unchartered territory. We’ve never been through anything like this whether as a coach or a player so we’ve tried to be smart and whittle down the volume we present to the players. We want to be difficult and diverse to defend on offense but at the same time we want to know what we’re doing. We also want to get these guys back in football shape and not just work hard mindlessly. We want to work smart. We’re bouncing all of those factors with our eye on September 11 down in San Diego. Fortunately we do have the month of August and we’ve planned as such I believe.”


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A Look At Rounds 2 Through 7 Under Spielman And Co.

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 2, 2011 – 5:18 pm

In the previous blog entry about G Chris DeGeare, we made the point that: “There’s no doubt that hitting home runs with 1st-round picks is key to success in the NFL. But if you do some research, you’ll see that selections in rounds 2-7 and also the signing of undrafted rookie free agents are just as important.”

In the previous blog entry, we also said we’d take a closer look at some of those 2nd- through 7th-round picks in the next posting. While the group isn’t full of Pro Bowlers or future Hall of Famers (yet), it is a group of players that represent at least a part of the core of the current roster. There are 10 players who’ve started games for the Vikings on the list and obviously there will be many, many more starts from this list in the years to come.

Here we go…

CB Asher Allen - A 3rd-round pick in 2009, Allen struggled at times as a starter in 2010. But over his 2 Vikings seasons, Allen has flashed some potential. With the return of Cedric Griffin in 2011, Allen will be in a position to contribute in the nickel and dime packages where he’ll be more successful.

LB Jasper Brinkley - A 5th-round pick in 2009, Brinkley stepped in as the starter when E.J. Henderson went down to injury at the end of the 2009 season. It’s easy to take this for granted, but keep in mind the Vikings had the NFL’s top-ranked defense and Brinkley was a rookie starting in the middle of the defense. The Vikings defense missed Henderson, but Brinkley was solid in his place and the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship Game. On top of that, Brinkley has been a solid special teams contributor during his career in Minnesota.

CB Chris Cook - A 2nd-round pick in 2010, Cook had a tremendous offseason and training camp heading into his rookie season. But then a pair of knee injuries that both required surgery slowed and eventually halted his rookie season. Cook is a big, physical CB who fits what head coach Leslie Frazier wants his defense to do. The upside on Cook is big and the Vikings defense will benefit from his return.

FB Ryan D’Imperio - A lot of factors were working against D’Imperio during his rookie season in 2010. He was a 7th-round pick (#237 overall), he switched positions from college LB to NFL FB and he had an established starter in front of him on the depth chart. But D’Imperio impressed enough to stick around and was a member of the practice squad in 2010. During the offseason and training camp this year he’ll have a chance to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

G Chris DeGeare - The blog entry below this one tells DeGeare’s story.

RB Toby Gerhart - At first I think Vikings fans are quick to point out disappointment in Gerhart’s rookie season, but I don’t see it that way. He had a tough go during training camp and the early part of the season, but he continued to improve as the season went along and he had an impressive showing in a start against the Bears in Week 15 when he rushed for 77 yards on 16 carries. For the season, Gerhart average 4.0 yards per carry. Given how productive he was in college and how aggressive the Vikings were in trading up to select him in the 2nd round last year, I’m willing to give Gerhart more time to develop into a productive NFL RB.

DE Everson Griffen - A prospect with 1st-round talent who dropped to the 4th round because of off-field concerns, Griffen flashed potential on defense and productivity on special teams as a rookie. He’s in line to get more playing time on defense in 2011, especially if the Vikings are unable to reach contract agreements with either Ray Edwards or Brian Robison.

DT Letroy Guion - When the Vikings used a 5th-round pick on Letroy Guion in 2008, he was only 20 years old. He came in and didn’t produce right away, but now he’s progressed into a member of the defensive line rotation. As is the case with Griffen, Guion may be in line for even more playing time depending on what happens with potential free agents ahead of him on the depth chart.

WR Jaymar Johnson - Another 7th-round pick (2008) who remains on the roster, Johnson was in the midst of another solid offseason and training camp when he injured his wrist and was put on Injured Reserve before the 2010 season got going. Johnson will be in another battle to make the roster this offseason, but his return capabilities will help him.

S Tyrell Johnson - A 2nd-round pick in 2008, Johnson has moved in and out of the starting lineup during his 3 seasons in Minnesota. With the safety position still a bit in flux, Johnson has a chance to reclaim a starting spot if he can perform well in the offseason and in training camp. He’s a tremendous athlete who needs to polish his skills in coverage.

RT Phil Loadholt - Another 2nd-round pick, Loadholt stepped into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2009 and was one of the team’s best offensive linemen. The Vikings offense averaged 29.4 points per game during Loadholt’s rookie seasan and the 6-8, 343-pound mauler showed that he could be a talented player in this league for a long time.

WR Sidney Rice - The 2nd-round picks keep rolling in. Rice was a 2nd-rounder in 2007 and exploded for a career season in 2009 with Brett Favre under center. A hip injury slowed his 2010 season and now Rice will look to bounce back in 2011 with another strong showing. His leaping ability and sure hands are his best qualities, and they’re qualities a rookie QB would love to have in a starting WR.

DE Brian Robison – An All-Rookie honoree who was 3rd among all NFL rookies with 4.5 sacks in 2007, Robison has been a productive player for the Vikings and figures to be an important member of the defensive line rotation in 2011. He was a 4th-round pick in 2007 out of the University of Texas and one of the great aspects of his game is that he can slide inside to play DT in certain situations.

S Jamarca Sanford – With Heath Farwell, Sanford is one of the most valuable special teams contributors for the Vikings, specifically in the kick and punt coverage units. He has also logged playing time on defense and has also been a starter at safety. Considering Sanford was the SEC’s leading tackler during his 4 years at Ole Miss, it’s hard to believe Rick Spielman and Co. found him in the 7th round. But that’s what they did, and that makes Sanford one of the more under-rated Vikings draft picks in recent years.

C John Sullivan – Sullivan’s 2nd year was better than his 3rd, but I’m guessing his 4th year will be the best yet. He sat behind Matt Birk as a rookie in 2008, then stepped into the starting lineup at center for the 2009 season and helped the Vikings offense to a 29.4 points-per-game average. In 2010 Sullivan’s season was disrupted by injuries and he dealt with the passing of his father. Certainly Sullivan won’t use those as excuses, but you have to think it impacted him in some form or another.  Sullivan should enter the 2011 season in full health and he’ll have a shot to solidify his standing as the team’s anchor in the middle.


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Vikings Tweak Roster Heading Into Sunday’s Game vs. Lions

Posted by Mike Wobschall on January 1, 2011 – 5:27 pm

The Vikings tweaked their roster on Friday and Saturday in advance of Sunday’s contest in Detroit against the Lions. Here are the details…

On Friday the team placed S Madieu Williams on Injured Reserve and then filled the open roster spot by promoting CB Marcus Sherels from the Practice Squad to the 53-man roster.

On Saturday, the Vikings placed another safety on Injured Reserve – Tyrell Johnson. The Vikings signed WR Juaquin Iglesias from the Chicago Bears Practice Squad to take the roster space created by placing Johnson on IR.

Iglesias was a 3rd-round pick of the Bears in 2009 but wasn’t able to grab a full-time 53-man roster spot. He played college football at the University of Oklahoma from 2005-2008.


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Active Night For Vikings Defense

Posted by Mike Wobschall on September 3, 2010 – 9:51 am

I came away from training camp and the preseason impressed with and excited about the Vikings 1st-team defense, specifically with the health and strength of the front 7. I think they are poised to have another dominant effort in 2010.

But coming away from Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Denver Broncos, I’m also impressed with what I saw from the reserves on defense, and again it was particularly the front 7 that caught my eye.  On the night, the Vikings defense forced 4 fumbles, tallied 3 sacks and 7 tackles for a loss, held Denver to 2.7 yards per carry, held the Broncos scoreless on 3 of 5 trips in the red zone and they even had a goal line stand.

“Those guys have played that way all year long, all training camp long, and they’ve played consistently,” Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress said after the game. “Whether you’re talking about Letroy Guion, or Jayme Mitchell, Fred Evans. Any of those guys. Brian Robison. They’ve all made plays at different times throughout training camp, and it’s (defensive line) probably one of the stronger positions on our football team right now.”

While the defensive line as a group played particularly well all preseason, it was a pair of LBs and a starting S that starred in Thursday night’s victory. Erin Henderson led the club with 9 tackles and also added a pair of fumble recoveries, one of which he returned 35 yards for a TD. Jasper Brinkley also impressed from the LB position, tallying 7 tackles (1 for a loss) and also forcing a fumble. And S Tyrell Johnson had a nice night, hauling in an INT off of Tim Tebow and also adding 6 tackles (1 for a loss).

Speaking of Tebow, the rookie QB flashed some positive signs for the Broncos. But he also endured some rough spots. Here is how Tebow’s 8 series ended: fumble, INT, fumble, fumble, goal line stand (turnover on downs), TD, TOD, TOD.

The most impressive part of the night for the Vikings defense began with Henderson’s fumble return for a TD and ended when the Vikings were able to register a rousing goal line stand following an INT off of Joe Webb that was returned to the Minnesota 6-yardline. From there, Denver ran 4 plays and never got into the endzone, with the 4th down play resulting in a 2-yard loss on a rushing attempt.

In fairness, I must point out that the Vikings gave up 27 first downs, 21 points and 437 net yards. But the victory, 4 turnovers and the 4th-down and goal line defense more than made up for the negatives and, more importantly, it should yield even more confidence in a Vikings defense that already looked quite formidable.


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What 2 Watch 4 Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2010 – 12:29 pm

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…

Safety
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.

Offensive Line
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.

New WRs
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.

Jayme Mitchell
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.


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Frazier: Johnson, Sanford “Nip And Tuck” In Safety Competition

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 25, 2010 – 1:50 pm

One of the most-talked about position battles heading into 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp was the starting safety position opposite Madieu Williams, with Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford being the primary candidates to fulfill the role. Johnson has been the starter in that role over the past year, but near the end of the 2009 regular season Sanford was given more playing time and even started 1 game for Johnson.

Johnson, selected in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft, is entering his 3rd year with the club. He was thrust into the starting lineup as a rookie when Williams was sidelined with an injury. Once Williams was healthy again, Johnson reverted back to a reserve role. Then when Darren Sharper left the Vikings via free agency, Johnson was elevated to starter.

Sanford was selected by the Vikings in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft and quickly impressed the Vikings with his special teams ability. Eventually his effort and production on special teams yielded some time on the field with the defense, where he impressed again to a point where he could earn a starting spot for the 2010 season.

Both players, along with fellow S Husain Abdullah, have been rotating in and out of the 1st- and 2nd-team defenses, and Sanford started at S against the San Francisco 49ers in last weekend’s preseason game. The team’s next preseason game is on Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks at Mall of America Field, and Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says that game will be the next step in determining who will start at S for the Vikings.

“We’re going to use this next ballgame as another part of the evaluation and we’re trying to make a decision prior to that September 9 game (season opener),” Frazier explained. “They’re still nip and tuck; Ty (Tyrell Johnson) will get some reps this week, Husain (Abdullah) will get some reps there and Jamarca will as well. Hopefully after this ballgame we’ll come to a conclusion.”

It’s too close to call right now, but expect Johnson to get many of the 1st-team reps on Saturday evening because Sanford got those reps last weekend. How Johnson performs against Seattle will likely resolve the nip and tuck race that is going on right now.


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