Friday, January 19, 2018

Monthly Archives: December 2011

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Rookie Stephen Burton contributed two catches for 38 yards against the Broncos last week. 

He was unable to make any contributions to the offensive efforts this Sunday, and won’t be able to help out for the rest of this season after injuring his MCL.  The injury will not require surgery and Burton figures to be at Vikings training camp next year.

Taking his place on the active roster will be former CFL receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux who joined the Vikings last offseason and has been on the team’s practice squad.

The next question, of course, is who the team will find to take Arceneaux’s place on the practice squad.  My recommendation would be to find a young, speedy running back to join Caleb King in pressuring Lorenzo Booker for his job.  Booker fumbled twice on Sunday.

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Last week, Leslie Frazier hinted that some in the secondary could lose their jobs after they allowed Tim Tebow throw the ball at will.  Nobody lost their job last week.

This week, Cedric Griffin made comments that could have been interpreted as an acknowledgement that he will be cut before the 2012 season.

“I’m going to do the best that I can do and do what I do,” Griffin said after the Lions game in which he was benched. “But that’s on the team (to make that) decision. So, I’m going to make my decision, what I’ve got to do after the season and they’re going to make their decision.”

I’m not convinced, however, that the Vikings are going to part ways with their once-promising cornerback that easily.  After all, they have made quite an investment into Griffin in both recovery time and cap space.

In 2009, the Vikings gave Griffin a five year deal worth $28.5 million, with $10.5 million in guaranteed money.  Prior to the 2011 offseason, he was the only Viking committed to through the year 2014.

After knee surgeries in two consecutive seasons, the thought is that the Vikings could give up on Griffin despite the $14.55 million that remains on his contract. 

“He is a guy who has worked extremely hard for us and battled back from some tough injuries,” Leslie Frazier said of the situation. “He had some moments that were a little bit difficult, but I haven’t given up on him and I hope he hasn’t given up on himself. We will revisit things this week as we prepare for our next opponent and just see where he fits at that point. But he is not in my doghouse at all.”

Frazier seems to be willing to give Griffin more chances and also seems to think that Griffin’s recent struggles have more to do with confidence than talent or health.

“(That has) been something that has kind of been ongoing,” Frazier said. “He and I have talked about it on different occasions during the year. About just playing with the confidence that I know he is capable of having, because he has made some plays for us and at times has made some plays for us this season.

“I don’t ever want him to get down at that position. It’s hard to play corner in our league when you don’t play with confidence. You are going to get beat sometimes, but you have to believe in yourself and your abilities in order to be successful at that position.

“If for some reason you are not executing, we don’t want it to be because of lack of confidence.”

Despite the theory that Griffin might ask for, and might receive, his release this offseason, I am betting he at least makes it to training camp next season.

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I have seen plenty of comments around the internet following Sunday’s game that indicate the “close” nature of many 2011 Vikings losses has led a number of fans to believe this team is better than their 2-11 record indicates.

If they are better than that, they sure have a funny way of proving it.

There is no doubt that there were a number of positive things to take away from Sunday’s loss in Detroit.  Jared Allen notched three sacks and is having the best season of his career with 17.5 sacks through 13 games.  Joe Webb performed well as a replacement for the benched Christian Ponder, running with ease and seemingly showing improvement as a passer.  Percy Harvin had 109 yards from scrimmage, a touchdown, and a 47 yard kickoff return.  Toby Gerhart ran for 90 yards and showed competence as a receiving back, especially on his two yard score.  Heck, even Benny Sapp looked good at times.

Then we must look at the bad.  And, boy, was there ever some bad stuff to look at.

Christian Ponder was benched after throwing three picks and fumbling twice, and two of those turnovers were defensive scores for the Lions.  Cedric Griffin was benched after being torched for a touchdown by rookie Titus Young.  Lorenzo Booker fumbled the ball twice, despite only touching it three times.  Rookies Mistral Raymond and Stephen Burton exited with injuries.  Left tackle Charlie Johnson gave up a few big plays, while right tackle Phil Loadholt never seemed even capable of making a play of his own.  Four sacks were given up for 43 yards.  Asher Allen and any of our various safeties were constantly out of position.  Meanwhile, both of the Henderson brothers were nearly invisible.

Oh yeah, and in case you missed it, there was a very interesting non-call on the final play of the game.

“For me to come in and blame it on a facemask — we had way, way, way worse things go wrong in that game,” Percy Harvin said after the game.

I have to agree. 

Until the Vikings show they are capable of winning games on their own merits, nobody should be claiming they are losing them because of anyone other than themselves.

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While a majority of fans seem to believe that rookie Christian Ponder is the Vikings quarterback of the future, there is still a small group who are not quite sold on him yet. 

Well, legendary Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton isn’t one of them. Tarkenton is a believer

In a video interview with Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere, Tarkenton essentially went ‘all in’ with his opinion of the young quarterback stating he would take Ponder over any of this year’s rookie QBs. Tarkenton says, “If I had my choice between any of the rookie quarterback this year, including Cam Newton, from what I’ve seen, I’d take Christian Ponder. You got a winner there.

Tarkenton believes with some hard work, lots of studying (which he feels is the most important key to his success) and a better supporting cast, Ponder “has a chance to be really great.” 

He then went on to say, “…I think he will be the Vikings quarterback for the next 15 years.”

That’s a pretty big statement and one I desperately hope is true. Ponder hasn’t been perfect in his first year as the Vikings quarterback but he has shown moments of brilliance and true potential. “He can move in the pocket – outside the pocket. And he’s got a brain. And he thinks well. And he throws well,” Tarkenton adds. 

That, coming from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, has got to make Ponder feel good.

Check out the video below to hear Tarkenton lavish more praise on Christian Ponder. 

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You know your secondary is in pretty rough shape when inserting Asher Allen into the starting lineup is considered a major upgrade.

Regardless, that is where the Vikings are at this year, and it appears Allen will indeed be able to play against the Lions this week.  Allen is thought to be on pace to start against the Lions after being limited in Wednesday’s practice because of a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined last week against the Broncos.

Steve Hutchinson was surprisingly absent from practice and has been listed with an “illness.”

Adrian Peterson (ankle), Christian Ponder (hip), and Brian Robison (concussion) each did not take part in practice.

Allen (shoulder), Everson Griffen (quadriceps), Chad Greenway (elbow), and Visanthe Shiancoe (hand) all practiced on a limited basis.  Meanwhile, E.J. Henderson (shoulder) and Anthony Herrera (knee) were able to fully participating.

After Sunday’s debacle against Tim Tebow and the Broncos, head coach Leslie Frazier gave some a reason to believe that some players in the secondary could be losing their jobs.  I also expected the Vikings, who have obviously been eliminated from any post season play, may also add some players to their injured reserve to increase their recovery times for varying injuries.

Instead, the Vikings have not yet made a single transaction this week and it appears the roster will remain unchanged heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions. 

According to the NFL’s transaction page, the Vikings have made 32 transactions since the start of the 2011 season.