Friday, January 30, 2015

Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Back in March, the Minnesota Vikings traded versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. At that time, the trade was somewhat polarizing to Vikings fans. Some people thought that Harvin was too much of an offensive weapon to part ways with. Others felt that the compensation was more than enough for a player who has struggled with injuries throughout his career and was not a true number one wide receiver. Only time would tell if Rick Spielman & Co. made the right decision in trading away Harvin.

That time may have come sooner than anyone anticipated.

Originally reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Percy Harvin has a “slight tear” in the labrum, a ring of tissue that lines the outside rim of the hip joint socket. ProFootballTalk later learned that the injury could result in Harvin having to undergo surgery.

Harvin and the Seahawks are going to be seeking a second opinion before deciding to have surgery.

In a press conference Thursday, head coach Pete Carroll told media, “We need to get more information right now. We don’t know enough right now. We will just have to wait and see. The good part is it’s really early. We have a long time to get him ready… We have to be really diligent about the process right now.”

If Percy Harvin does require surgery, the Seahawks shiny new acquisition could be sidelined for quite some time this season, leaving Rick Spielman and Vikings management on top for choosing not to maintain Harvin’s services.

The Vikings avoided taking a hit to their depth at defensive tackle this offseason by renegotiating the contract of veteran Kevin Williams.  Additionally, they bolstered the position for this season, and into the future, by spending one of their first round picks on Florida standout Sharrif Floyd.

The also spent a late pick on Florida State tackle Everett Dawkins in an effort to proactively ease the inevitable transition the front four will see very soon.  Dawkins may have an uphill battle to make the roster, but it is obvious the Vikings are preparing to move on from at least some of their current veterans, such as Williams.

While nose tackle Letroy Guion had a disappointing first year a starter, veteran Fred Evans showed up big on a number of key plays last season, and they should continue to compete for each other’s playing time.  Fourth year player Christian Ballard has been largely mediocre throughout his career so far, but even he has shown some flashes that provide some intrigue heading into 2013.

Second year player Chase Baker, along with undrafted rookie Anthony McCloud, round out the competition for spots on the bottom of the depth chart.

Age and injuries seem to be catching up with Williams, as he hasn’t played at an all-pro level for a few years now, but he can still get the job done and the hope is that being fully health will actually result in some improved play.  It can’t hurt that he is now in the final year of his contract with the Vikings and has publicly stated his intention to play beyond 2013.  He will almost certainly go into the season as a starter, albeit rotated out of the lineup more often than we are used to seeing, but his presence will likely prove to be quite valuable as the season wears on.

The Vikings return all 4 defensive ends from the 2012 squad. The top of the depth chart is loaded with talent but Rick Spielman still signed guys that could steal that final roster spot away from D’Aundre Reed. Reed was a 7th round pick by the Vikings in 2011 but has yet to earn a single tackle in 2 regular seasons with the team. As a matter-of-fact he has collected only 1 solo tackles in the preseason games. The writing might be on the wall for D’Aundre because the Vikings signed free agent Lawrence Jackson from Detroit in the off season. Jackson was a 1st round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2008 NFL draft. Jackson started 51 games at USC… Phillip Rivers is the only other NCAA player to accomplish that statistic. The 6 year pro is listed at 6’4’ 271 pounds and has played in 69 NFL games. Jackson has 19.5 sacks and 141 total tackles in his career. Yea, I would say that’s and upgrade.

The Vikings also signed undrafted rookie free agent Marquis Jackson from Portland State. Last season Marquis had 36 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Prior to Portland State, he racked up 14 sacks and 36 TFL in 2 seasons with Texas Southern. Marquis has terrific movement skills and explodes at the point of attack. At one time he was highly rated player that just didn’t play with consistent urgency in 2012. USC had interest in Marquis, but academic problems stop him from becoming a Trojan.

At the bottom of the defensive end depth chart is undrafted free agents Collins Ukwu and George Johnson. The good news is the Vikings will not need to play Jared Allen, Brian Robison or Everson Griffen much in preseason so those 2 might see some playing time. The bad news is Ukwu and Johnson are long shots with the Vikings.

The Vikings return all 5 starters on the offensive line that was ranked 2nd in the NFL in rushing last season. In 2012, under second year offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, the big boys up front took important steps forward in production and consistency. The team saw all 5 guys as a unit start all 16 games, while giving up just 32 sacks compared to 49 the previous year. I would not be surprised to see all 5 guys win the starting jobs again this year and continue to improve as a unit.

Center John Sullivan, a 6th round draft pick in 2008, is the longest standing offensive lineman on the team and has been the leader and anchor in the middle as a starter since 2009. If Sully can stay healthy, he might have a chance to earn a spot in the Pro Bowl before his career is over.

Tackle Phil Loadholt owns the next longest tenure as a Vikings’ lineman. The Mammoth 2009 2nd round pick made headlines this off-season by signing a new 5 year contract. Loadholt is one of the top run blockers in the league and will lock down the right tackle spot again this season.

The left tackle spot belongs to 2012 first round pick Matt Kalil. The former USC star was chosen for the Pro Bowl after debuting as a rookie starter. The Vikings are counting on Kalil to have another Pro Bowl year protecting Ponder’s blind side.

We’re burning our way through the offense, and Carl will top it off by previewing the offensive line tomorrow morning, and there has been a theme throughout this “Camp Battles” feature:  Most of the competition involves the bottom of the depth chart.  The tight end position is really not much different as there projects to be very little movement near the top of the positional depth chart.

Kyle Rudolph doubled his catch total (53) in his sophomore season,  while nearly doubling his receiving yards (493) and he tripled his touchdown mark (nine).  Rudolph has been one of Christian Ponder’s favorite targets since day one and he projects to be one of the league’s better tight ends in 2013.  Not only will he remain atop the Vikings depth chart, I highly recommend adding him to your fantasy team, as well.

The oversized contract of John Carlson was restructured this offseason which should help him remain on the roster.  The Vikings signed him hoping to replicate some of the success that other teams, namely the Patriots, had been experiencing with two pass catching tight ends on the field.  “Underwhelming” is a kind way of describing Carlson’s 2012 season with the Vikings.  He only notched eight catches for 43 totals yards.  He threw a number of nice blocks throughout the season, but that wasn’t enough to keep him from being a running joke within Viking-fan circles.

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