Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Training Camp 2013 Cordarrelle Patterson
Photograph Credit: Chris Price

This fairy tale seemed more like a nightmare back on March 11th when playmaker Percy Harvin’s glass slippers were left behind in exchange for three draft picks. Credit GM Rick Spielman for turning a pumpkin patch full of draft picks into a magical New York night that not only landed the Vikings two defensive gems but also uncovered Cinderella in the process.

Cordarrelle Patterson, the 29th overall pick also known as “Flash”, is a fan favorite in Mankato. His golden colored dreadlocks hanging from under his purple helmet is a camp fashion highlight even a story book princess would envy. Patterson’s dynamic athletic highlights on the practice field are also wowing the eye of the beholders in Minnesota. Between his one handed grabs and his incredible ability to change direction and make defenders look silly, fans have plenty of reasons to cheer and not give another thought to Percy Harvin.

Okay, laughing about a guy’s painful injury and pending surgery is classless.  I just can’t help but think that Rick Spielman, who has never shown us anything to suspect he can be classless (right Antoine?), at least grinned a little as he laid his perfect head of hair on his pillow tonight.

News has broken that Percy Harvin, recently traded to Seattle for a bunch of draft picks, will require surgery on his torn labrum and is likely going to miss significant time this offseason.  The news will calm the nerves of some Vikings fans who felt Cordarrelle Patterson was not an adequate replacement for Harvin, while also making Spielman look like a damned genius.

While we can allow ourselves to be mildly entertained by this saga, and perhaps even give Spielman an extra exuberant high-five, PFT reports it wasn’t quite the heist we think it was.  Well, it was, but it wasn’t on purpose.  They say that Harvin was “100%” when the Seahawks traded for him, and that the injury he now faces was a result of offseason workouts.

While Spielman may not have swindled Seattle, he did swindle Seattle… just in a more ethical way.  In the end, this trade could end up going into the history books with a similar stigma as the Poison Pill fiasco and Walker Trade, especially if Harvin is never again able to regain the spark he had for four years in Minnesota, which is entirely possible with an injury of this nature.

In all seriousness, we wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in action soon.  The Vikings play Seattle in Week 11, however, so maybe he should consider giving that labrum some extra rehab time and sideline himself until at least December.

Last week, prior to training camp commencing, the fine folks at DraftSeason.com asked me to participate in a little exercise along with a handful of other fine blogs.  The mission was simple:  Predict what the 53-man roster will look like after final cuts are made.

I’m posting my predictions here, but the final results that include all of the various roster projections can be found by clicking here.

A few things about my projection will jump out at you:

  • I didn’t give wide out Greg Childs or Michael Mauti the benefit of the doubt regarding their injury status.  Keep in mind, this was written prior to Mauti being cleared for practice.  Regardless, I just couldn’t pretend to be a doctor, and had to leave them off the list until they prove that they are not only healthy enough to play in the NFL, but talented enough, too.  They are both guys I root for, but they didn’t make my pre-training camp roster.
  • Of the blogs polled, I was the only one to give the third running back spot to undrafted rookie Bradley Randle.  You all have known my desire for the Vikings to have a dynamic scat back longer than the world has known who Barack Obama is, but I think his true value lies on special teams.  He can produce a big hit, which has already been on display in Mankato, and just seems to have a lot more upside compared to his competition.
  • I was also the only blogger to dedicate a roster spot to cornerback Bobby Felder.  I was relieved when the Vikings managed to sneak him onto the practice squad last year, as I felt he had tremendous upside, and I think his year of practicing with the team will pay dividends as he faces off against the likes of Jacob Lacey and Brandon Burton.

Anyways, here is my final (okay, not really final, I bet) for what the roster will look like on opening day:

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2013 Training Camp - Christian Ponder
(Photo by Chris Price.)

Vikings players reported to training camp this past Thursday and two days in we already have some catching up to do. Though the first two sessions were without pads, there are still some interesting notes from Friday and Saturday.

  • Let’s talk health first… Through the first two days of camp, the Vikings have emerged relatively unscathed. The biggest piece of injury related news was that nose tackle Letroy Guion was forced to leave the first day of camp with a right elbow injury. Guion, who is presently in competition for his spot with backup Fred Evans, had x-rays done that night to determine the severity of the injury. Luckily, the images came back negative and he should be participating again soon.
  • Now on to Christian Ponder as he has been the primary focus of media and fans the first two sessions. The word out of camp so far isn’t good for #7. Talk has been that Ponder has struggled early with accuracy and often checking down to his tight ends. Ponder threw an interception to Blanton in passing drills, an almost-interception on a pass to Greg Jennings which was dropped by Jamarca Sanford, etc… And apparently, struggles in the passing game continued into Day 2. It’s worth noting that the weather has been nasty at Mankato with some pretty strong gusts. Of his performance and the weather, Ponder told reporters, “The first day was tough with the wind especially… On certain throws, you try to [put] touch on the ball, and if you do that it’s gone. A couple hung in the air and the wind took them away and it looked like some bad plays. It’s going to happen.” Kevin Seifert of ESPN North notes that Ponder did have some nice passes if you’re a glass half full kind of guy.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson has already become a fan favorite at camp with a pretty nice sideline, one-handed grab.

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Headed into the 2013 NFL Draft, it was obvious the Vikings needed to address their secondary. The loss of veteran cornerback and expert tackler Antoine Winfield left a gaping hole at the position and, in the eyes of many, skyrocketed the position into the primary need of the offseason. The most veteran player at the position now is Chris Cook who himself is quite inexperienced and only has started in 18 games since he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft.

The Vikings choose to draft Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes in the first round of this year’s draft. Xavier Rhodes is a big frame corner who excels at press coverage. In the NFC North where we have to deal with the likes of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, Rhodes will be critical to the success of the Vikings secondary.

Josh Robinson will likely attempt to move inside and replace Antoine Winfield in covering the slot. Robinson performed well in his 2012 rookie season despite a few missteps here and there. The speedster out of Central Florida had a combined 55 tackles and two interceptions in his rookie campaign. Not bad when compared to Chris Cook’s line of  35 combined tackles and zero interceptions. (Although, Cook only played in 10 games last season to Robinson’s full 16.)

The Vikings were able to land A.J. Jefferson from the Arizona Cardinals before the 2012 season for close to nothing and it’s safe to say that they got a decent return on their investment. Jefferson, not a shut down corner by any means, was able to hold his own for the most part and is a young player who should continue to get better.

Jacob Lacey was an offseason acquisition who has previously played with the Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts. While he hasn’t had a stand out career, Lacey does have more experience than some of the other corners currently on the roster.

Marcus Sherels and Brandon Burton round out the bottom of the depth chart. Burton and Sherels, both in their third season, will likely not see a whole lot of action but will fill in when  needed.

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