Thursday, May 28, 2015
Blog Page 126

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The 2014 Minnesota Vikings are coming together.  Well, as much as possible for the 2nd day of training camp.  I’ve tried to summarize the major talking points from today’s practices.

Norv Turner Press Conference

  • Turner spoke extensively about wanting the Vikings to have an explosive offense.  Of all the words Turner used in his 20 minutes at the podium, explosive was likely used the most. There is no doubt that he intends to stretch the field and this offense will look very different from years past.

“We want to pick up first downs on 1st and 2nd down. We want to be a team that runs a lot of plays” Turner noted.

I found this pretty telling.  Since drafting Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have traditionally run the ball on 1st and 2nd down.  I sounds like Turner wants to keep defenses on their toes.

  • Turner also mentioned he thinks Peterson can hold his own not only catching the ball out of the backfield, but also in pass protection.  Turner did note, however, that defensive ends are bound to give any running back trouble in terms of pass protection.
  • On that topic, Turner went to great lengths to explain that Matt Asiata has really shown what he can do not only catching the ball, but also in pass protection.  Turner added, that Asiata is a great athlete and can be a running back who can really “pound it.”
  • Turner noted that the Vikings want to be a physical football team, and that will extend to the offense. Full back Jerome Felton is going to ‘block, block, block’ Turned commented and added that he will get Felton carries as well.  Something Felton saw very little of in Bill Musgrave’s offense.

The Vikings announced through their official twitter account that they waived receiver Josh Cooper and tackle Matt Hall (both of whom were at walkthroughs) to sign receivers Tyrone Walker and Andy Cruse.

Ty Walker is a smaller receiver, leaving Illinois State (Mike Zimmer’s alma mater) 5’10” and 189 pounds. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, had a 39″ vertical and ran with a 4.41 short shuttle and a 6.99 three-cone, relatively impressive until you consider his weight. Here’s a scouting report from Draft Insider:

School: Illinois State

Position: WR

Bio: Senior total included 90 receptions/1319 yards/9 TDs after 64/787/8 the prior year.

Positive: Dependable small-school receiver with poor size/speed numbers. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, easily adjusts to errant throws, and makes the reception in stride. Fights with his hands to separate from defenders, displays outstanding hand/eye coordination, and competes to make receptions. Stays in bounds running after the catch and gives effort trying to pick up positive yardage.

Negative: One-speed receiver who lacks a quick release off the line. Minimal skill running after the catch.

Analysis: Walker was a reliable receiver with a nose for the end zone at Illinois State. He’s an undersized possession receiver by NFL standards, yet his natural receiving skills will get him looks for a West Coast offense.

He had previously been with the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers for a short time. Walker had expected to make the Green Bay roster after a very good preseason last year:

Walker finished with a team-high 11 receptions for 78 yards in the preseason. He has been far from perfect. The undrafted wideout had a pair of drops at St. Louis. At the end of Thursday’s game, Walker fumbled the ball, scrambling to poke it out for a teammate to recover. But overall, he has made the most plays among the rookies. On Friday, he hung onto a slant for 14 yards.

“Just the effort that I put out here,” Walker said. “I feel I deserve to be on the team.”

It helps that Walker has caught his share of passes from Aaron Rodgers in practice. The quarterback has shown confidence in Walker to make go-to plays within the offense. He hasn’t been doing his damage in camp solely with and against back-ups.

“That’s always good that I’ve caught passes from him,” Walker said. “He feels that he can come to me and throw me a ball, if he trusts me, I believe they’ll be able to trust me. It’s just how the numbers shake out.”

He drew plaudits from more than one publication.

Andy Cruse has one year of experience and has been on the Houston Texans roster. He’s taller at 6’3″ and 212 pounds. He ran a 4.66 40, a 4.22 short shuttle and 6.89 three-cone while jumping 34 inches in the vertical. The scouting report from Draft Insider:

School: Miami-Oh

Position: WR

Bio: Four-year starter who posted 74 receptions/681 yards/6 TDs as a senior after 43/391/4 the prior year.

Positive: Reliable pass catcher with NFL size. Displays good awareness on the field, comes back to the ball to make himself an available target, and consistently finds the soft spot in the defense. Uses his frame to shield away defenders, extends his hands, and works to make receptions away from his frame. Possesses soft hands. Makes difficult catches in a crowd, takes a big hit then holds onto the throw. Quickly transitions from making the catch to running after the reception. Gives effort blocking downfield.

Negative: One-speed receiver with limited quickness. Despite his size, has never been a great red-zone threat.

Analysis: Cruse showed terrific improvement as a senior and he’s a receiver who does the little things well. Unlikely to be selected at any point during the seven rounds, Cruse could catch on as a fifth receiver in the NFL.

Cruse’s preseason was not nearly as interesting, but his attention to detail is well worth noting.

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We’ve got some depth chart news, but it’s basically fake. With Captain Munnerlyn on the PUP list (it’s a hamstring tweak, so not for long), Andrew Sendejo still nursing his back injury from the offseason and Chase Ford dealing with a broken foot, things are a little out of wack.

First Team O-D 7-25-2013Second Team O-D 7-25-2013

Expect movement upwards from people like Anthony Barr, who Zimmer is keeping on the second team right now because of his extensive absence in the offseason due to UCLA’s quarter system. The middle linebacker position is also in a lot of flux. Though Jasper Brinkley took the majority of the reps today and in the offseason at the Mike, there has been enough rotation here that it seems fairly relevant to indicate that these are soft charts at best.

Jamarca Sanford basically missed all of the offseason as well, due to an injury of his own, so he may move into the first team as the safety opposite Smith. McKinnon may end up taking Asiata’s spot before long.

As camp begins, a few football-related stories have emerged that help clarify the situation for the Vikings as they head into their first preseason with head coach Mike Zimmer.

Like any football team, there are concerns about heading into camp (and out of the preseason) with injuries that severely limit the team or end careers. In this case, there were concerns about those who had been held out of participation in OTAs and minicamps as a result of injuries: Matt Kalil’s knee surgery, Andrew Sendejo’s back operation, Josh Robinson and Jamarca Sanfard’s pulled muscles and Linval Joseph’s shoulder surgery.

When asked today before camp started, Zimmer told gathered media that one player would start camp out on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but wouldn’t say who. It turned out that it was Chase Ford who would most likely end up PUP’d—he has a stress fracture in his left foot and had surgery on it recently, and shouldn’t be able to participate in practices for some time.

This was the reason they chose to sign tight end Mike Higgins, formerly of the New Orleans Saints and release Spencer Nealy, who Spielman said was not released because of his looming suspension.

Matt Kalil says he’s been 100% cleared for three weeks now, and is ready to go. He acknowledged his “average” season last year and said he didn’t like the way he moved or prepared in the offseason going into last year. He says he’s trained better this year.

Matt Cassel is currently the number one quarterback, but it is still a three-way competition to be the starting quarterback come opening day. That competition will extend into the early preseason.

The Chris Kluwe/Mike Priefer situation rolls on. The Vikings have confirmed that he will be suspended for three weeks to begin the season. Like player suspensions, this means that Priefer will not be in the building, nor be allowed to contact the team, for three weeks, beginning Monday before the first game.

There were some other clarifications to be made before becoming tight-lipped.

  • Mike Priefer apologized again (specifically in regards to how the distraction affected the team and family). He said he failed the standard he sets for himself. He will not change how he coaches, but will be cognizant of sensitivity.
  • The Vikings would be hiring an external firm to conduct sensitivity training (with whom they’ll discuss progress in order to determine whether or not to reduce the suspension by one game)
  • The team mentioned that they are still determining how to handle the practices and games during the suspension, going so far as to say bringing and interim special teams coach from outside is a possibility (which means that Ryan Ficken, the assistant special teams coach, is not a lock to take over during the suspension).
  • The thread throughout the team pressers on this issue has been “he’s made a mistake and has owned up to it.”
  • There has been no comment regarding whether or not Les Pico shared details with Rick Spielman of the incident.
  • The Vikings would not discuss whether or not they considered firing Mike Priefer.
  • The team would not indicate why it is not releasing the full report or summary.
  • Chris Kluwe tweeted out that he and the team have resumed discussions.
  • Cullen Loeffler said he and Chris Kluwe both laughed at the comment, and never thought it was serious.

There are rumors that Harrison Smith will build a blanket fort in the dorms. As of this moment they have not been denied (or, if we’re getting technical, confirmed).

Those who donated to my camp fundraiser expecting a training camp guide: my apologies on the delay. The final pieces should come together tonight and it will be compiled tomorrow. Those who requested a PDF should receive it some time then, while the print copies should arrive slightly later.

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