We were able to get a breakdown from Mike Priefer on Adam Thielen’s tackle at the end of the 2nd half on Friday. Below:
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We were able to get a breakdown from Mike Priefer on Adam Thielen’s tackle at the end of the 2nd half on Friday. Below:
Without a doubt, Captain Munnerlyn proves one of the biggest intrigues at this year’s Vikings training camp.
Munnerlyn signed a three-year free agent deal with Minnesota on March 13 after spending five seasons with the Carolina Panthers. In 2013, the 25-year-old intercepted two passes and returned both for touchdowns. He also tallied a career-high 74 tackles and 3 ½ sacks.
At 5’9”, Munnerlyn has been considered undersized for his position. However, as the numbers indicate, his size poses no disadvantage. “I’ve been shutting up the critics since I got to Carolina,” Munnerlyn said. “They’ve been saying I’m too small, I’m too slow, I’m not big enough. I just go out here and play football and prove to people that they were wrong about me.”
The South Carolina alum also proved he was right about himself; he is more than capable of playing this position.
As far as dedicated, driven athletes go, few compare to cornerback Marcus Sherels.
His name may not be among the media buzz, but that’s just fine with Sherels. For the fourth-year CB, it’s all about football—and his main goal remains working hard and earning his spot on the roster.
Coach Zimmer stated in his August 4 press conference that he tends to keep more corners on the roster than might be expected. When asked about this, Sherels expressed that it really has no direct impact on him—his mentality will remain the same regardless. “I have no idea how many [cornerbacks] they’re going to keep,” Sherels said. “I just come out every single day and compete.”
Sherels’ effort has certainly paid off so far. In March, the 26-year-old signed a two-year deal with Minny. He was the first free agent the Vikings signed during the offseason. While his path to the NFL has not been easy, Sherels never complained. He played. Minnesota signed the undrafted Sherels to the practice squad in 2010, and he played in his first pro game in 2011. His most memorable NFL moment thus far occurred in 2012. Ironically on his 25th birthday, the Sept. 30 game against the Lions will forever be a highlight for Sherels: “my birthday game was pretty special. I scored my first punt return touchdown, and the Vikings won [over Detroit]. It was a great game.”
Vikings fans hope to see more of those returns in the upcoming season, and Sherels shares the enthusiasm. He seems optimistic about how things are going at camp thus far, and it’s obvious he is raring to go:
“I’m just looking forward to coming out, competing, and trying to win every game. We have the new coaching staff here and it’s been great so far [...] I focused a lot on stretching and getting my speed back [during the offseason]. The coaches are doing a great job of teaching us—the more reps we get, the more we improve.”
Not only does Sherels see his dream fulfilled of playing for the NFL, but he also feels blessed to play for his home state. A native of Rochester, MN, the CB grew up rooting for the Vikings with his family. Now, he is one. “It feels great [to play here],” Sherels said. “I don’t know anything other than Minnesota. I love it here [...] it’s absolute dream come true.”
During the 2013 season, Sherels set a Vikings record with a 15.2 punt return average and became the first Vikings PR man to have two returns of 50+ yards in a season. He is also only the third Viking to have multiple punt return TDs in a career.
The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart Tuesday afternoon, and Sherels is currently penciled in at LCB behind Captain Munnerlyn and Josh Robinson. Besides any action Sherels sees at corner, it will also be interesting to see how he is utilized at special teams.
Aside from a handful of examples including the Brett Favre signing, the Vikings have never been a team to make flashy free agency moves during the off season. However, with ownership and the front office lead by Zygi Wilf and Rick Spielman, the team has been aggressive when there are specific players they’ve identified as priority additions.
This past off season was a great example of this with the Vikings quickly coming to agreement with former New York Giants nose tackle Linval Joseph.
Joseph is a young and talented player entering his 5th year in the league and is positioned to be a mainstay within a Vikings overhauled defensive line. Not only does Joseph add much needed talent to a defensive front seven, but he also fills a role the Vikings have been in search for since the departure of Pat Williams.
Williams was a fan favorite for years among Vikings faithful and for good reason. Williams was a disruptive force in the middle of a very good Vikings run defense. He consistently absorbed double teams while blowing up an offensive line, leaving plenty of space for his Williams counterpart, Kevin and Jared Allen to wreak havoc.
William’s ability to make offenses account for him is a luxury for his defensive teammates. Something Vikings defensive end Brian Robison touched on when he spoke with reporters after Sunday morning’s walk through.
“I can see the similarities with Pat,” Robison noted when asked about Linval. “His ability to take on double teams opens up space for others to play under him and get to the quarterback.”
Joseph has notable size and athleticism, and for a man weighing close to 325lbs, has a quick first step that helps him disrupt an offensive line and create pressure in the backfield. Joseph will undoubtedly help in stopping the run and as noted previously, head coach Mike Zimmer will make stopping the run a priority for the Vikings defense. Joseph’s presence and physicality will certainly help create that kind of mentality along the defensive line.
With training camp well underway, the position battles are starting to heat up. The highly popular battles like linebacker and quarterback are getting a lot of attention and commentary; however, there are battles that could impact the 2014 team that might be seen as under the radar at the moment.
With tight end Chase Ford entering camp on crutches and the PUP list, the depth chart behind Kyle Rudolph and his new 5 year contact gets a little foggy. Versatile 3rd year man Rhett Ellison is a shoe in to make the team and be a strong contributor with his ability to play either tight end or full back.
The battle for the 3rd tight end spot is currently up for grabs. During my time in Mankato over the weekend, a player vying for that 3rd spot immediately jumped out to me.
Undrafted rookie AC Leonard from Tennessee State seems to be making the most of his opportunity to climb the depth chart while getting plenty of time with the 2nd team offense. Oddly enough, I did not see former undrafted addition Allen Reisner get many reps at all over the weekend. I found this curious if nothing else because of how highly the Vikings thought of Reisner after picking him up from the University of Iowa. Reisner received a lot of attention for ‘catching everything’ as a relatively unknown rookie and after spending time on the Vikings practice squad and with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Reisner was resigned by the Vikings. I think this says something about what Leonard has been able to do with the team in a very short time.
Leonard is an intriguing prospect for a variety of reasons, but he is clearly talented. After starting his college career at the University of Florida, Leonard was atop the Gators’ tight end depth chart that included current Washington tight end Jordan Reed.
Leonard’s time in Gainesville was short lived, however, and he left the program prior to the 2012 season. While at Tennessee State, Leonard displayed his athleticism and receiving ability while hauling in 85 receptions for 1,214 yards and 11 touchdowns over his two years with the Tigers.
There is no doubting Leonard’s receiving ability. Leonard has displayed a nice release off the line and seems to be fluid and athletic in route running. He also possesses the type of speed and acceleration needed to get behind a defense and stretch the field from the tight end position.
After yesterday’s practice, I asked Leonard what type of player he was and what he felt he brought to the Vikings. Continue Reading →
Courtesy of our friends over at VikeFans.com, a fun look at a future that, well, isn’t yet ruled out.
I realize it is mid-July and the dog days of summer are still ahead of us. Yet, with training camp opening a week from today, we’re approaching the 2014 season rapidly.
There are a lot of new faces with the Vikings entering this season. Coupled with a nearly entirely new coaching staff, the Vikings have a slew of new draftees and free agents added to mix.
Adding to that is the transition from playing inside the former Metrodome to an outdoor field at TCF Bank Stadium. Although the Vikings spent two decades playing outdoors in the 60s and 70s, the thought of bearing the winter elements for the next two seasons provide reasons for concerns.
There aren’t many examples of teams who have traditionally played indoors only to move outdoors for the construction of a new stadium. This is likely because most teams don’t construct the new stadium in the exact same location of the previous stadium. The closest example I can think of is when the University of Minnesota moved from the Metrodome to TCF Bank Stadium. That comparison seems unfair, though, because the Gopher program was terrible at the time.
Because there is little historical precedence for comparison, it is difficult to gauge how well the Vikings will make the transition outdoors. We can however, look at their performance in outdoor stadiums over the last handful of years.
Generally speaking, the Vikings have struggled when playing in outdoor stadiums posting a 2-14-1 record during the 2011-2013 seasons when playing in open air. There is no doubt the Vikings are a better team at home than on the road, however, you have to wonder how they will fair after the leaving the comfort of dome.
The Vikings do have some advantages when looking to play outdoors, however.
Firstly, this is still very much Adrian Peterson’s run first football team. A team that is designed to excel in running the ball with power will find more success playing in the Minnesota climate than trying to play a finesse offense.
I realize this seems counter intuitive when we’ve watched teams like Green Bay, Chicago, Denver and New England thrive outdoors in similar climates. However, I think it’s safe to say that the running game is important to those teams as it is to the Vikings. There is a reason the Packers have drafted a handful of running backs recently (including 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy) and power running back LeGarrette Blount had such an impact on New England’s run in the playoffs last year.
When the wind is blowing or the temperatures dive into single digits, there is nothing better than having a trusted running back to help move the chains.
Most Viking fans remember how poorly the first Vikings game at TCF Bank Stadium went. The Vikings were dominated by the Chicago Bears on turf so frozen it essentially ended Brett Favre’s career. Thankfully the Vikings and University of Minnesota agreed to add technology that would heat the field and keep the turf clean and forgiving.
This should come as a relief for a team who has a workhorse running back who will soon be turning 30 years old.
Something that might be over looked that could certainly be used to the advantage of the Vikings is the fact that teams will likely not be able to strategize against kick returner and do it all wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. When playing in the Metrodome, teams eventually stopped kicking it to Patterson, opting to boom it through the back of the end zone.
Viking fans should be hopeful that the elements make this strategy more difficult to employ. One would think it would be difficult for a team to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone with the wind and temperatures that will likely come hand in hand with TCF Bank Stadium. As we’ve seen, Patterson isn’t afraid to take the ball out from 9 yards deep.
Speaking of Patterson, and the other wide receivers on the roster, they seem to all excel at making plays after the reception and are great at amassing yards after the catch. Essentially this means if the weather is horrid, the offense won’t have to rely on deep passes for big gains.
There is something to be said about the mentality of a team playing outdoors, as well. Head Coach Mike Zimmer is on record saying his defense will be geared to stop the run.
“That’s because we’re going to play the run,” Zimmer told KFAN.com. “It’s just what I believe in.”
Looking at the moves the Vikings have made in free agency and the draft, an aggressive and physical front seven will help enforce this mentality.
My final note that I believe suits the Vikings well for playing out doors is the quarterback. I do believe Matt Cassel will start the season behind center. Although everyone is eager to see Teddy Bridgewater in action, Cassel presents a very nice option for the team to rely on. Cassel has the type of arm strength that will thrive in an outdoor environment where extra zip on passes might be necessary to combat the elements.
Cassel obviously played outdoors in both Kansas City and New England and had arguably one of his best seasons of his career while playing in the cold weather in New England. Notably, Cassel posted a 105.1 QB rating while playing at Buffalo in late December.
Because of all of this, I think the Vikings are poised to become the type of team that can have success while playing in cold environment where the weather can be bipolar. If they can prove to be true to their identity of a hard nosed team who runs the ball with power and uses the pass wisely, they can prove to be equally dangerous offensively no matter the environment. I think playing outdoors will only help our defense, and will allow us to embrace the type of intense mentality Zimmer is installing.
In the meantime, I’m looking for a Vikings jersey lined with a fleece hoodie. The team might have to embrace the cold weather, but I’m not going to.