Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Infamous for his flip over a defender and his extra curricular activity with a funky leaf, Jerome Simpson’s now scores some “honest” credit for a recent off-season workout. Simpson was spotted running sprints and catching passes at the private training camp of the All-Everything wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) doesn’t allow players to use team facilities during this time period before the start of training camp, so Fitzgerald brings his camp home to Minnesota. Every July since 2009, The University of Minnesota has allowed Larry and 25 to 50 of his friends to workout and use the stadium, practice fields, weight rooms and other facilities.

This camp is known for being very intense with conditioning, lifting in the weight room, and the competition on the field. Fitzgerald has a reputation for being a workout warrior, so I’m hoping some of that work ethic will rubs off on Simpson. Wide receivers at the camp also get quality instruction on route running techniques by former Vikings’ great Cris Carter.

Sidney Rice had a Pro Bowl season in Minnesota after attending his first Fitzgerald camp in 2009. Last year Everson Griffen attended the camp and he went on to have a solid year collecting 26 tackles and 8 sacks in a rotational roll.

Jerome hopes that his time at the Fitzgerald camp will be a step in the right direction for him as well.

“I wanted to work with one of the greats,” Simpson said, via Chip Scoggins. “I got an opportunity to come down here and work with him so I wanted to take full advantage of it.”

“I’m trying to pick his brain while I’m here and try and get in the same position that he is,” Simpson said. “He’s a great receiver. When I was in college, I always looked up to him. It’s an honor to be able to train with him.”

Last season Simpson had 26 catches for 274 yards for the Vikings. Can Simpson “flip” those numbers into something more productive this year?

Spoiler Alert:  Barring injury (or murder charges), Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson are guaranteed spots on the opening day roster for the Vikings.  Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright may not have the same amount of security as those two guys, as the Vikings have invested considerably less in them, but they also seem close to “locks” for opening day.

That leaves a whopping eight wide outs vying for a remaining one, or maybe two, roster spots.  Watching the depth chart at receiver shake out as training camp progresses should be quite entertaining.  Whether it is evaluating Joe Webb’s chances in his new(ish) position, tracking Greg Childs and his progress in his comeback attempt, following local boy Adam Thielen, or simply waiting for someone to unexpectedly emerge, the battle for those last spots will provide plenty of intrigue.

So, I want to hear from you.  How will this all end up?  The poll below allows for you to select as many receivers as you like.  Check the box if you think the player will survive through the final roster cuts.  Keep in mind, however, the Vikings are likely only going to keep five or six wide outs.

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Buried at the bottom of my bucket list, right above win a mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars, is a desire I’ve been craving for nearly 40 years – watch the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl World Championship. If I believe what Adrian Peterson is saying, and I have no reason not to, I just might be checking one of those items off my list in the near future.

Last year at this time, I was hearing Peterson say he was planning to come back better than ever by week one. My heart was telling me “that sounds great,” but my mind was focused on how good Toby Gerhart was going to play while filling the gap until I actually saw a healthy #28 on the football field. Little did I realize that Peterson was speaking the truth. Toby would be nothing more than an afterthought as Peterson chased Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.

At the Pro Bowl, Peterson predicted he would win the NFL’s MVP award. He was right. On that special night in February when All Day accepted his MVP trophy… he told the world he was going to win it again next year, then looked at coach Frazier with a twinkle in his eyes and added, “I’m going to win the most important award, the team award, the Super Bowl.

A couple months later, Peterson told Maggie Gray of Sports Illustrated in a video interview, “I want a couple of rings. We’ve got to start at one and we need to get it this year. We have the potential to get to the Super Bowl and win. It’s all about coming together”. The big quote that stole the show was when Peterson said “I’m going to let the chips fall. I got my bar set at 2500 yards. If that happens, the record will be shattered.”

Adrian Peterson has earned the right to talk. In 2012, he had one of the greatest seasons in NFL history falling just nine yards short of Dickerson’s rushing title. Unfortunately for Viking fans, all the experts are saying Peterson’s goals can’t be reached. They say the odds are stacked against the Minnesota Vikings and their superstar. The consensus is the goals are simply too unrealistic even for the immortal Adrian Peterson.

Nope, I’m not buying that. No way. No how. ESPN and all the naysayers need to take notice. Adrian Peterson and the upstart Minnesota Vikings will contrive the greatest multi-game sports event since Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire battled it out for the MLB home run title in 1998. One thing is for sure, America will slow down this fall to soak it all in.

Keep talking Adrian. I believe. Coach Frazier and your young impressionable Vikings’ teammates believe… and the world will soon follow.

As Adrian speaks, so may it be written and so shall it be truth!

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Training camp is only ten short days away, and there is no question all eyes will be on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. As we all know, Ponder had the very definition of an “up and down” season in 2012. He started off great during the team’s first five games, recording no interceptions and leading the charge in a huge week 3 upset over San Francisco, a game in which he completed 21 of 35 passes for 198 yards, 2 touchdowns, and scored on an incredible 23 yard rushing touchdown.

Luck seemed to distance itself from Ponder after week five where, over a ten game span, Ponder failed to reach 200 passing yards seven times, and even failed to reach 100 passing yards three times. The Vikings as a team hit a slump as well because of this after starting off 4-1 in their first five games, ending up 6-6 after twelve games. We all know how the story goes from there, winning the next four games in a row and making the playoffs, and although Adrian Peterson was the main reason for that success, Ponder’s play over those last four games speaks, as well. He threw 4 touchdowns against just 1 interception over the last four games, and had the best game of his career in week 17 at home against the Packers, throwing for 234 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Ponder finished the season with 2,935 yards, 18 passing touchdowns (2 rushing), 12 interceptions, a completion percentage of 62.1%, and a quarterback rating of 81.2.

Although it was not a great season for Ponder, improvement was made in almost every category. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in each of his first two seasons, and with a great offensive line, a new and extremely talented group of receivers, and blossoming Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, I don’t see how Ponder can’t succeed this year. Will he continue making mistakes? I’m sure we’ll still see some boneheaded passes here and there, but talent surrounding him should give him confidence and allow him to have a legitimate chance at displaying his full potential.

I think Ponder will finish the season with 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and 3,581 yards (3 rushing touchdowns).

This will be a make or break year for Christian Ponder, and he knows it. He’s a smart guy.

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Don’t be fooled. Zach Line might be listed as a 230 pound fullback on the Vikings roster, but the undrafted star from SMU has the versatility, production and work ethic of a featured running back. As a matter-of-fact, the more I read about him, the more I believe he has the talent to make the Vikings 53 man roster. Greg Maiola Senior Analyst for Bleacher Report called Line the best kept secret in the 2013 draft. Maiola also writes that Line fights through and breaks tackles like Mike Alstott. He is patient like Arian Foster and pass block as well as Joseph Addai did with the Indianapolis Colts.

In June Jones’ spread offensive attach, Line proved to be a versatile workhorse earning 2012 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year Honors as a senior. His outstanding career would see him tie the great Eric Dickerson with 47 touchdowns and surpass him in total all proposes yards with 4715.

SMU Head Coach June Jones was planning on using Zach as a linebacker early on, but after watching him as a lead blocker, Jones moved him to fullback. Line looked good as a freshman fullback helping lead the way for Shawnbrey McNeal to rush for 1,188 yards. The SMU coaches promoted Line to be the featured back after McNeal departed for the NFL. And Line didn’t disappoint, rushing for 3 straight 1,000 yard seasons for the Mustangs.

Jones is outspoken about Zach’s character. “If Bill Walsh were still alive, Bill would take this kid right now, and he would be a star. You cannot have too many Zach Lines on your football team, and that’s why he’s going to make it in the NFL.”

Zach knows he will need to compete and work hard to earn a roster spot in the NFL. He prides himself on the effort he spends preparing for a game. “My practice habits and work ethic are unmatched. I train like I play.” Line’s hard work shows in the passing game as he proved to be a reliable target catching 75 balls out of the backfield over his career. This old-school football player also mastered the craft of pass blocking in a high octane offense.

The big knock on Line is that he is not fast enough to be a featured back in the NFL. With Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart at the top of the depth chart, the Vikings don’t need Line to be the head-line back anyway. But just for the record, Zach Line’s 4.77 combine forty-time is identical to Matt Asiata’s combine time… yet Zach is 2 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier. It might also be worthy to note that Line out performed Asiata in the bench press with 26 reps to 22.

Zach did have fumbles against Baylor and TCU as a senior. So, Zach must convince the coaching staff that this opportunity is not too big for him and that rookie mistakes like fumbles, drop ball and missed assignments will not be a part of his game. If Line can find a way to contribute consistently on special teams during camp and preseason, he just might have chance to steal the #3 running back job away from Matt Asiata.

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