Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Today, the Vikings have the always difficult task of trimming their roster down to 53 players. A week or so ago, the Vikings made the jump from 90 to 75. The players cut in the first round are listed below. Today, though, we are focused on the final cuts that will fit the roster within the NFL’s roster requirements.

I’ll do my best to keep up with the cuts as they come. Keep checking back for more.

(Edit: The official announcement of cuts has been made by the Vikings. See the list below for the players who were released/waived today)

First round:

  • Bridger Buche, Guard
  • Derrick Coleman, Running Back,
  • Grant Cook, Guard
  • Solomon Elimimian, Linebacker
  • Corey Gatewood, Cornerback
  • Levi Horn, Offensive Tackle
  • Anthony Jacobs, Defensive Tackle
  • Kamar Jorden, Wide Receiver
  • A.J. Love, Wide Receiver
  • Tyler Nielsen, Linebacker
  • Ernest Owusu, Defensive End
  • Tydreke Powell, Defensive Tackle
  • Chris Stroud, Cornerback
  • Kerry Taylor, Wide Receiver
  • Bryan Walters, Wide Receiver

Today’s Cuts:

  • Ryan D’Imperio, Fullback
  • Chris DeGeare, Offensive Guard
  • Emmanuel Arceneaux, Wide Receiver
  • Nick Reed, Defensive End
  • Jeff Charleston, Defensive End
  • Trevor Guyton, Defensive Tackle (rookie)
  • Lex Hilliard, Running Back
  • Kevin Murphy, Offensive Tackle
  • Sage Rosenfels, Quarterback
  • Jordan Todman, Running Back
  • Chris Carr, Cornerback
  • Eric Frampton, Safety
  • Chase Baker, Defensive Tackle
  • Bobby Felder, Cornerback
  • Tyler Holmes, Offensive Guard
  • Reggie Jones, Cornerback
  • Corey Parades, Linebacker
  • Austin Pasztor, Offensive Guard
  • Quentin Saulsberrry, Center
  • Mickey Shuler, Tight End

Placed on IR:

  • DeMarcus Love, Offensive Tackle

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5

The Houston Texans were able to hold off the Vikings last night 24-28 in the final preseason game of the 2012 season. The Vikings had a late push to take the lead late in the fourth quarter but ultimately fell short failing to convert a fourth down in Texan’s territory. Overall, it was a pretty sloppy game but fun to watch, in my opinion. It was cool to kind of watch a game with no expectations. Not really expecting anyone to come out and perform well. Instead, you just get to watch a bunch of guys putting their hearts and souls on the field in what could be the last time they play in a NFL game.

I’ll be honest – I don’t have tons of notes from yesterday’s game. I’ve been under the weather and wasn’t watching as attentively as I normally do. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts from the fourth and final preseason match-up.

  • I had the misfortune of listening to the Texans announcers for the game. They weren’t terrible or anything but something they kept saying irked me. On multiple occasions they announced that, outside of Percy Harvin, the Vikings had no other, I quote, “NFL caliber receivers” on the roster. That’s one heck of a claim to make. Now, I by no means think wide receiver is a definite strength of this team… But really? Only one NFL caliber receiver? Maybe they overlooked Jerome Simpson? But even then, are you really going to make the claim that Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Jarius Wright, etc… aren’t NFL caliber receivers? I thought that was quite an ignorant statement to make.
  • On that note, I think Jarius Wright finally stepped up and showed that he can be a real weapon for this team sometime in the future. I still think he’s looked just mediocre on punt returns. He hasn’t really shown the burst I thought he had. But he was dangerous last night as a receiver.  Back when we did our introductions for the Vikings 2012 draftees, I noted how I thought Wright could be more than just a dangerous slot receiver. How I thought he had the speed to be one of those guys that could stretch the field and take it to the house. Last night, Wright either backed that belief up or just got lucky on a blown coverage when he caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. As a fourth round pick, it wasn’t likely he would be released… But after last night’s performance, I’m almost positive he’ll make the final roster. (I would also like to point out that my prediction on how Wright would fit into this offense has been spot on so far. I’m not gloating or anything… I’m just not right that often so I’m pointing out this rare exception.)
  • Audie Cole had another good night both on defense and special teams. There is now no doubt in my mind that he should (and will) make this team. He had six tackles last night and just seemed to be always near the ball. He looked like a mad man on special teams and was able to get an additional two tackles there. It will be exciting to see how this young linebacker develops on the Vikings roster.
  • I’m not quite sure what you do at quarterback at this point. The Vikings will likely cut one of the four quarterbacks currently on the roster and I’m just not sure who it should be. Joe Webb has the explosiveness and can be a game-changing backup if Ponder goes down during a game. Sage Rosenfels is someone I would rather have as a long-term backup, though. Someone that I think will do better when he’s preparing for a game and the opposition is game planning for our back-up. Rosenfels is older, though, and doesn’t offer any benefit long-term to the Vikings. (Other than providing leadership and instruction to younger quarterbacks, maybe.) McLeod Bethel-Thompson hasn’t looked amazing in preseason games  but he hasn’t looked bad either. He has a strong arm and shows a lot of determination… Who knows how good he could develop to be? It’s going to a be a tough decision for the Vikings front office and I’m glad that I’m not the one making it…
  • Running back Jordan Todman stepped up last night and had a huge 76-yard touchdown run. A lot of people think that play alone should guarantee him a spot on the roster and maybe a spot as the third running back on this team. Not me, though. If I’m making the decision for who should be the third running back after everything we’ve seen and heard through the offseason, I’m picking Matt Asiata. He leads the Vikings in rushing for preseason yards and has a very exceptional 5.8 yards per carry. I think his explosiveness, speed, strength and vision have earned him the role. That’s not to say I think Todman should be cut. I’m just saying that if I had to choose between the two right now, it would be Asiata.
  • I think it’s obvious that we don’t have a lot of depth on offensive line. So, let’s cross our fingers and hope our starting front-five can stay healthy throughout the year. Regardless of what quarterback was taking snaps last night, the one thing they had in common is fear for their life after hiking the ball. Yes, it looked that bad at times.
  • Blair Walsh missed another field goal – that makes one in the last three games. Despite all of them being from 40+ yards, I’m just a tad bit nervous now headed into the regular season. Hoping the misses don’t cause him to lose confidence and affect us negatively throughout the year.
  • Cornerback Reggie Jones hurt his stock last night when he dropped a punt return and then was called for holding in the end zone within just a few minutes of one another. It can’t say I’ve seen him perform really good or bad this preseason but it will be interesting to see if he makes the roster.
  • It was nice to see Aromashodu step up last night, too. We’ll need him to do the same while Jerome Simpson is suspended for the first three games of the year. Interesting note: Which receiver had the most yards this preseason? Stephen Burton is first with 135 yards on six receptions. Jarius Wright is second with 122 yards from his six receptions last night. And Devin Aromashodu in third place with 117 yards on eight receptions.
  • Another interesting note: The Vikings had the third most productive offense this preseason with an average of 370 yards per game. The Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions were first and second, respectively.
  • On  more thing: Our defense allowed 320.8 yards per game which ranked 19th in the league this preseason.

Alright, that’s all I got for this game. Overall, I would say we had a pretty decent preseason this year. Like most of you, I absolutely can’t wait for our first real game next weekend against the Jaguars at home. I plan on continuing these types of posts into the regular season with one major difference: I plan on including much more detailed analysis. Once the regular season starts, I will able to see the all-22 (also known as Coach’s tape) film from each game. This will allow me to actually see what players are doing on each play… Something that currently is very difficult with the standard recording.

What did you guys think about the game? Who would you keep on the 53-man roster? Who would you cut and why? Let us know in the comments below. The final roster has to be in tonight so we will be back soon with an update on what the final roster looks like.

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17

I know it’s a little delayed, but here are my notes from Friday’s game against the Chargers. Its tardiness can be attributed to the game blackout that pretty much ruined my Friday night. There’s nothing like getting pumped and prepped for a game and then realizing that you won’t be able to watch it.

I think everyone knows by this point that it wasn’t a very promising game. Yet, the fact remains that it was still just a preseason game. And I’d rather the team make some mistakes and learn from them now rather than be perfect now and make the mistakes later when the games count.

Let’s get this thing started:

  • Alright, first things first – let’s begin with the play of quarterback Christian Ponder. There seemed to be quite a bit of doom and gloom after Friday’s game against the Chargers – a lot of concern out there about the way Ponder looked. Maybe some fear cropping back up that he is not the answer at quarterback? I don’t know… Whatever it is, I don’t know that it’s really justified after that game. In my opinion, Ponder didn’t look that bad. His throws were pretty darn accurate for the most part. That long ball to Percy that was dropped right before the goal line? Come on, that was beautiful! While Ponder was sacked five times, are we really going to put that on him? I think the longest he held onto the ball on one of those plays he was sacked was five seconds. The other ones were in the area of three seconds. Sure, he needs to try and get rid of the ball a little sooner but it would also help if you could count on guys like Jenkins and Aromashodu and didn’t have to target either Harvin or Rudolph. Ponder did not have a perfect game by any means… But I really don’t think Ponder was as bad as some people were making him out to be. I still think he has a much better year. I still think we have a much better year.
  • It’s pretty awesome having one of the best punters in the league. Kluwe had some beautiful boots Friday night. (It’s worth noting that I thought the coverage was pretty good as well.)
  • Overall, I thought our defense looked pretty solid. And rightfully so… Our first teamers were working up against a mix match of Charger’s starters and backups. Only allowing four field goals and no touchdowns after four turnovers? Can’t ask for much more than that.
  • Josh Robinson had a nice play where he was covering Malcolm Floyd and was almost able to get a pick again. It’s great to see him covering like that… Sucks to see him not come down with those interceptions, though.
  • Toby Gerhart was never really able to get anything going on the ground. I think that can be attributed more to our offensive line working against a 3-4 defense. It seems like the line as a whole was just a little confused the entire night. That’s not a good sign though as I think we have six matchups this season where the opposing team employs that style of defense. (Don’t quote me on that…)
  • Was anyone else a little frustrated with the playcalling the first few drives? Brought back some run-run-pass nightmares. I felt like it was one of those things again where we set ourselves up for a difficult third and long.
  • More passes through the hands of our wide receivers… Joy.
  • Chad Greenway had a missed tackle on a third down that could have easily stopped the Chargers drive and forced them to punt. Disappointing to see but it doesn’t worry me much. Just glad he got that one out of his system before the regular season.
  • Has anyone ever seen so many defensive holding calls in a game? There was a weak defensive holding call on Chris Carr that really ended up aiding one ofSan Diego’s drives. That’s all I’ll say about the officiating…
  • Where was the intensity on defense? Either people were tired or they were just bored. The defensive unit just seemed out of it Friday night. Anyone else get that?
  • Did anyone else notice on the Chargers second drive that our line could not seem to get pressure through on the interior? It was like every snap they tried to run out and around their respective offensive lineman. This ended up basically clearing the line and opening up everything for Whitehurst to see. Throwing lanes galore.
  • Took us a while to get a first down, didn’t it? The first one didn’t come until four minutes were left in the first quarter.
  • Yes, Kalil was beat by Larry English on a play. I think Kalil has been beat one good time in each of our first three preseason games. Does that concern me? Not at all. Overall, Kalil has been very impressive, in my opinion. He’s been going up against some very capable defensive ends and holding his own. When this guy gets a little more experience – beware. There is still no doubt in my mind that we got a franchise left tackle in Kalil.
  • Another preseason missed field goal for Blair Walsh. It was from about 45 yards out and just left of the goal post. The kick had tons of distance and could have easily gone from 55+ (in my very scientific estimations). I’m still not concerned about Walsh at this point. His true test will come in his first game-on-the-line kick in the regular season.
  • Gerhart was replaced by Lex Hilliard on a drive where Hilliard got to work with the first teamers. Hilliard fumbled both the ball and potentially his shot to be the third running back on the roster.
  • Somebody give Jarius Wright an Oscar. That guy really sold that fake punt reception… And just about got leveled in the process. The penalty was nice, I guess, but I’d rather our guys not get destroyed in exchange for 15 yards.
  • If I had to select the third running back for the roster today it would be Matt Asiata. He has shown speed, explosiveness, power and an eye for the hole during preseason matchups. It’s unfortunate that he fumbled right at the goal line Friday night because if he doesn’t, I think he would have been a lock for the spot (in my opinion). Fortunately for him, though, all of the third running back candidates fumbled. The Vikings final preseason game should tell us more as it’s likely Asiata, Jerome Felton and Lex Hilliard will be the only backs getting work. At this point though, I have to lean towards Asiata.

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18

In their first preseason game, the Vikings looked just okay as they traveled to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Last week, in their second preseason game, the Vikings looked much, much improved. You know what? I’ll just say it: The Vikings looked great against the Bills at home. This week, the Vikings will get another chance to show that they are an improved unit when they host the Chargers tonight at Mall of America Field.

As it is the third preseason game, the starters will likely play an entire half. (And maybe even a drive into the second half.) We should get a really good idea of what our team could look like come the first regular season game September 9th. With that being said, I just found out this morning that neither Phillip Rivers or Antonio Gates will be starting for the Chargers so our defense will be working against backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

So, as we head into the game tonight, here are some things I’ll be specifically looking for. Don’t forget to check back here sometime after the game for my notes and analysis.

Can Christian Ponder keep it up?

I know this probably seems like a cop-out. And I know you’re probably tired of hearing us talk about on VT about how this year is about Ponder. Blah, blah, blah… But really, Ponder had a great game last week. It was very, very impressive in my opinion. And since tonight’s game will be the preseason game that is most like a regular game, I’ll be watching him closely again. Almost as a confirmation that what we saw last week wasn’t some sort of fluke or something. The poise he showed in the pocket. The decisions he made. The way he went through his reads and directed hot routes at the line. Those are all things that I want to see again tonight through the first half.

I’ll also be watching to see how he does with Jerome Simpson being on the field less. Leslie Frazier said earlier this week in a press conference that the Vikings were going to start throttling his involvement because of his three game suspension at the beginning of the regular season. All indications at this point are that Ponder and Simpson seem to have a pretty good connection and have done well together. It will be interesting to see what happens when Simpson is absent and another wide receiver (Aromashodu?) needs to step up.

Audie Cole and Jarius Wright

Kind of two different stores with these guys so far, huh? On one hand, you have Audie Cole who has been very splashy so far in preseason. Last week he had two interceptions returned for touchdowns (within 17 seconds of one another). The prior week he had a sack against the 49ers. Jarius Wright, on the other hand, has been incredibly quiet. He hasn’t had a single reception and has only returned one punt for decent yardage.

I’ll be looking for Audie Cole to show more this week. While I doubt he’ll get much playing time in the first half, if he can come out in the second half and make some big plays again, I think it is a lock that he will make the roster.

Jarius Wright just needs to show some sign of life if he is going to make this team. I was high on the Wright pick in this year’s draft and I’m really hoping he turns out to be a weapon for this team. Hopefully, in the second half of tonight’s game he can come down with a few grabs and/or show some of that speed on a punt return.

Who will be RB3?

There are a lot of names in the basket for the third running back spot on the roster. The Vikings Age pointed out that Rick Spielman has said he would prefer the third running back to be a running back/full back hybrid. While you would think Lex Hilliard would fill that role quite nicely, he hasn’t really shown anything in the preseason to solidify his place. Matt Asiata, on the other hand, looked really good last week against the Bills (as I mentioned in last week’s notes and analysis). If he can come out and have another really good game, I definitely think he deserves consideration for the role.

Other quick notes

  • There is a battle going on at the tight end position. With John Carlson out with an injury, other guys like Allen Reisner, Mickey Shuler and rookie Rhett Ellison have been stepping up. One of them will probably end up getting cut in the next couple of weeks, though. Who will it be?
  • Is Erin Henderson really being pushed by Marvin Mitchell for the Will spot? I’ll be watching these two tonight.
  • Chris Carr will get to start in place of Chris Cook who is out with concussion concerns. Carr has looked pretty bad so far in preseason. Can he improve tonight as a starter?
  • Who will get the nod at backup quarterback tonight? Joe Webb has looked ghastly in preseason so far. Does he get another shot tonight or does the team decide to give veteran Sage Rosenfels a shot for the QB2 position?

 

Football season is nearly here which means I am once again allowed to write about things that are, you know… interesting.  My old pal Darren Campbell from Kick Ass Blog asked me to do a little Q&A session with him and, of course, I was thrilled to do so.

We did six total jottings about various subjects.  There are three in this post and the other three can be found at his blog by clicking here.

4. Jerome Simpson – what will his stats be at the end of the season?

Adam: Should his stats be measured in yards or ounces?

Zing!

All kidding aside, it is hard to get overly excited about a guy that will play no more than 13 games during the regular season. Heck, if this season turns out anything like last year, the franchise could be in complete shambles by the time he is even allowed to play.

He certainly has an ability to stretch the field and adds in some jaw dropping athleticism, but consistency has always been his issue. The drops need to stop. I’m going to be optimistic here, however, and say that he tops 800 yards on the season and throws in two or three touchdowns.

Darren: Oh, Adam, way to pick the low hanging fruit. I’m penciling Simpson in for 49 catches, 680 yards and five touchdowns. Not fantastic numbers, but enough to earn him a long-term contract in 2013 (whether that will be with the Vikings is another question). Like Adam said, consistency is an issue with Simpson. And is he physically strong enough to beat jams off the line and get open to make those big plays down the field for the Vikings? This team really needs a wide receiver (other than Percy Harvin, who is a completely different kind of player) they can pencil in for five-to-seven catches for 80-100 receiving yards every game. I see Simpson as the kind of player who will have some big games, but in other games will disappear.

5. What rookie has been the most impressive during training camp and the preseason?

Adam: It is hard to argue with Audie Cole at this point. A Vikings defender that takes advantage of bad throws? Then has the presence of mind to return it for a score?  Twice? In back-to-back plays?  Again, a Vikings defender?

That is just unheard of in recent years and I have to say those two plays alone have made him stand out more than any other rookie, including Kalil and Smith, and I hope he gets a chance to move up the depth chart to see if he can hang with the elite talent or not.

Darren: I like Cole, but kicker Blair Walsh has been the Vikings rookie who has looked the best to me. I did not like this pick at all in April. It’s hard for me to diss it now. He’s made, what, eight of nine field goals and he’s consistently booting kickoffs five-to-10 yards into the end zone – a nice change after watching Ryan Longwell’s kickoffs barely make it to the opposing team’s 20-yard line for six years. Walsh has been better than advertised. I do wonder, though, how he will react if he has a stretch where he misses three or four makeable field goals over a short period. Will he get the yips? That’s my concern with Walsh right now.

6. What unheralded Viking player has stood out the most so far?

Adam: I have only ever known two Dolphins fans in my life, but they both happen to be my best friends.  So, as a result, I have seen a Fins game or two over the years. That is why I was somewhat excited to hear that the Vikings had signed Lex Hilliard.

Hilliard had always struck me as an underrated back with some deceiving moves and nifty hands that was underutilized in Miami because of their addiction to the Wild Cat. To me, he appears to be the exact sort of Mr. Dependable that the Vikings need in their backfield as an insurance policy and a nice change up from time to time. His versatility is something Spielman surely considered when signing him, and I consider him a lock to make the roster at this point, which makes me feel pretty comfortable with the run game even with Peterson still on the mend.

Darren: I’m surprised to read that Adam thinks Hilliard’s stood out because I think he’s looked like garbage. There’s no burst there. No wiggle. No anything. I understand he’s a solid special teams player, but even giving him that, at this point I wouldn’t want to see him make the team. Matt Asiata looks much better to me as an option as the Vikings third running back.

But rather than continuing to rag on Adam’s selection, I should write about my own. Defensive end Nick Reed is a guy who has surprised me in the two preseason games. He’s tipped a couple of passes and against the Bills he consistently generated pressure from the outside. He’s bounced around the league a bit, and at 6’2 and 250, he’s pretty small even for a pass rushing DE. I don’t expect him to make the team; all I know is I’m noticing him every time he’s on the field. He might be a guy worth stashing on the practice squad. You can never have too many DEs who can get after the quarterback.

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