Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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When the Vikings selected Jerick McKinnon in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL draft, I don’t think there were many fans who knew what kind of player they were getting in a former quarterback from Georgia Southern.

Word of McKinnon’s speed and athletic ability quickly spread, as did comparisons to Darren Sproles, a former component of Norv Turner’s offense when in San Diego.

There is little doubt the Vikings saw tremendous potential in McKinnon when selecting him 96th overall, choosing to select a little known running back over filling other positions on a team full of needs.

Going into the draft, McKinnon was thought to have excellent speed coupled with tremendous strength and versatility. However, everyone assumed the Vikings drafted McKinnon because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, a skillset often heavily used in Turner’s offense. With only 10 receptions in college, though, McKinnon’s ability to be a receiving threat is still relatively unknown.

The Minnesota Vikings announced yesterday that they would partner with TRIA Orthopedic Center to provide certified athletic training coverage for all high school football programs within the Minneapolis and St. Paul School districts this season. As you can imagine, Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Famer and HydroWorx Award Winner Eric Sugarman will be involved.

The Vikings and the NFL will provide $50,000 for proper care of the 600 football players in the two districts. The nature of that coverage, quoted below:

The high school football programs will receive certified athletic training coverage from TRIA for camps, practices and competitions. TRIA will also conduct neurocognitive baseline testing as a tool for concussion management, offer ACL injury prevention programs and coordinate physician coverage for varsity football games. Additionally, Total Luxury Limousine has joined the partnership to provide medical transportation for athletes of need that require a physician’s visit.

In addition to that, there will be injury transportation services provided.

Ben Goessling at ESPN has more:

“I think that’s a really big deal,” Sugarman said. “We are not only going to cover varsity football games — we are going to cover JV games, ninth grade games, we are going to cover preseason practices and practices during the season. (It’s) care that these kids have never had. We hope that this is care that they are going to expect to get and it will be very beneficial. Nearly 50 percent of high schools in our country do not have a fulltime certified athletic trainer. This is a very, very big task and a very important thing that we are doing.”

The Vikings recently announced a commitment to youth football and player safety among younger football participants in Minnesota with the hiring of E.J. Henderson as their youth football director of development. This looks like one of those initiatives, and it’s great news.

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Over at Vikings Journal, I’ve posted a 53-man roster and an explanation for some of the picks, as well as a practice squad. In order to prevent this from being pure insufferable clickbait, the roster is below:

53-Man Roster Prediction

Be sure to check out the explanations and struggles at Vikings Journal.

UPDATE: of course, hours after I publish, my boldest pick to make the 53 gets cut. Mike Higgins is no more.

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The Vikings made headlines for a number of reasons on Monday (naming your starting quarterback will do that), but it was how head coach Mike Zimmer decided to end his opening statement that actually added some shock value to the day’s events (naming Matt Cassel your starting quarterback doesn’t bring much shock value).

Zimmer went out of his way to talk about his feelings towards Pro Football Focus, the internet’s most popular source of football analytics, and the message was seemingly directed at media outlets and Vikings fans.  Since I technically qualify as both, and Zimmer is kind of scary, I listened to him.

“The last thing that I want to talk about before I let you guys go is this Pro Football Focus thing,” Zimmer said, as transcribed by S.I. “I know everybody wants to get the scoop on this, but quite honestly there’s not really anybody… I look at the grades and I can’t tell you what a 0.7 is or anything like that, but I know that the people that are grading our games and our defenses and our offenses, they don’t know if the tackle gets beat inside, if we weren’t sliding out to the nickel or who our guys are supposed to cover. I guarantee they don’t know who is in our blitz package and what they are supposed to do. I would just ask everybody to take that with a grain of salt, including our fans. We as coaches get paid a whole bunch of money to do the jobs that we do, evaluate the players that we evaluate and grade them how we grade them and not based on someone else.”

“That’s off my chest,” he said before prompting the Q&A portion of his presser. “Go ahead.”

The Minnesota Vikings have announced their roster cuts, and there’s only one surprise among the group of them, though we’ll get down to it in a second. At the same time, they have activated Chase Ford from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Who's going to prove themselves in the game's third phase?
The bottom of the roster is shaping up

Cut outright:

  • Pierce Burton
  • Erik Lora
  • Tyler Scott
  • Jake Snyder
  • Brandan Bishop
  • Andy Cruse
  • Ty Walker
  • Kamar Jorden
  • Robert Steeples
  • Kevin Murphy
  • Kheeston Randall
  • Derek Cox
  • Kory Sperry

They also waived Mistral Raymond with an injury designation, allowing them to put him on injured reserve if he clears waivers. We can break down their camp performances below.


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