Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Minnesota Vikings have signed Brandon Fusco to a five-year, $25 million contract extension on top of his current (expiring) deal. This gives Fusco an average of $5 million for the final five years of the deal, which ranks 16th among all guards in average salary, according to Spotrac—though only 3.7% of the salary cap at signing, unlike those around him who largely committed their teams to over 4% of their salary caps at signing. $6 million of Fusco’s contract is guaranteed, which sounds like a signing bonus with first year’s salary guaranteed.

Brandon Fusco Cropped

Fusco has quietly become one of the best guards in the country after beating out an injured, but better, Geoff Schwartz in a camp competition two years ago to become the starting right guard after Anthony Herrerra would not longer fulfill that role. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the top right guard in 2013, and center John Sullivan said Fusco was the best-performing lineman of last year when I talked to him in camp.

Pro Football Focus called Brandon Fusco a “secret superstar,” which I wrote about here. Two GIFs from that piece:

Fusco Block - Chicago 2 Fusco Block - Chicago 1

Great signing by the Vikings. Offensive guards are extremely difficult to find, and are one of the shallowest position groups in the NFL.

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Sorry for the delay on this post, but the Vikings Week 1 Injury Report is out.

Three Vikings are reported to be out: Michael Mauti (Foot), Brandon Watts (Knee) and Zach Line (Ankle). With that, two players are questionable—Everson Griffen (Illness) and Mike Harris (Shoulder). Jabari Price (Shoulder) and Rodney Smith (Neck) are probable.

Despite being listed as questionable and not participating in practice, Everson Griffen has confirmed that he will play. I suspect that Mike Harris will be on the inactives list, along with Mauti, Watts and Line (which means we only have to figure out the other four if we were so inclined). Here’s the practice report from the website:

NAME POSITION INJURY WED. THU. FRI. GAME STATUS
Griffen, Everson DE Illness DNP DNP Questionable
Harris, Mike T Shoulder LP LP LP Questionable
Line, Zach FB Ankle DNP DNP DNP Out
Mauti, Michael LB Foot DNP DNP DNP Out
Price, Jabari CB Shoulder FP FP FP Probable
Smith, Rodney WR Neck FP FP FP Probable
Watts, Brandon LB Knee DNP DNP DNP Out

As of right now, the full, four-person roster at safety is healthy.

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IMG_4908I consider it an honor and a privilege to run this website.  Not only do I have a hobby that allows me to write about my favorite football team, and surround myself with the best Vikings writers on the internet, but I feel particularly proud of the quality of human beings that make up our little community here at VT.

I’ve never been prouder of my little corner of the internet, and the people that make it what it is, than I’ve felt over the last few weeks.

In case you missed it, I decided to continue my tradition of raising funds during the offseason for a worthy cause by gathering an unprecedented amount of donations.  The money was to go to Dakota, who is diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, and her family that had to relocate from Colorado to Ohio because of the impact elevation has on her condition.

The original article goes into greater detail, and I encourage you to read it here, but I am so proud to announce that we exceeded our goal of $1,000 in a very short amount of time.  This proves, once again, that the Vikings fans that hang around in these parts are some of the greatest people you are going to find anywhere.

A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of going to Dakota’s house and presenting her with your collective generosity.  First, Dakota and her little brother, Conrad, were presented with authentic jerseys that were customized with their names and favorite numbers.  I then gave her parents, Isaac and Laura, a check for the remainder of the money that they will be able to put towards medical and travel expenses.

IMG_4912The smiles were priceless and Dakota assured me that, even though she was born a Broncos fan, that their entire household will always be cheering on the Vikings from this point on (unless, maybe, they play Denver in the Super Bowl… we’ll cross that bridge when we get there).  I received word that Conrad was so impressed with his jersey that he wore it to bed that night.

So, to Manuel, Tony, Rob, Richard, Adam R., Fran, Erik, the people who donated to Arif’s training camp fund (and Arif), and the number of you that donated anonymously: THANK YOU!

The entire Schonlau family expressed a lot of gratitude to me, but I was sure to let them know I’m just the figurehead, and that it was your generosity that really made this happen.

The contributions will make a big difference in the life of a little girl who deserves the kindness of strangers an infinite amount more than she ever deserved to have such serious struggles at such a young age.  What is more, as her parents pointed out, Dakota’s original article got well over a thousand reads and they are excited to have that many more people aware of this horrible disease.

So, thank you all again, and I hope everybody is as thrilled as I am knowing there will be a few extra smiling faces cheering on our beloved purple this season.

SKOL

As we have mentioned a number of times, it has been a great honor to be invited to take part in the Vike Fans audio previews of the coming season.  Tom Moore and the gang have one heck of an operation going over there and we encourage you to check them out on a regular basis and also register for their forums to join in on their many, many discussions.

Last in the series, but certainly not least, are these two great season preview segments from VT’s own Lindsey Young and Carl Knowles.  Lindsey is on offense and Carl is taking the defense.  Enjoy!

With five days to go until the season opener, it seems like the Vikings have finalized their practice squad, changing a few things from initial reports along the way. As it stands, the practice squad looks like the following:

Player Position
Mike Remmers OT
Joe Banyard RB
Chase Ford TE
Kain Colter WR
Donte Foster WR
Chris Greenwood CB
Zac Kerin C
Justin Trattou DE
Isame Faciane DT
Austin Wentworth OT

Since it was last announced, the list has two new additions: Chris Greenwood, a cornerback from the Detroit Lions and Austin Wentworth, who was in camp at offensive tackle and before being cut in favor of Mike Harris, was the backup tackle—a fact that worried more than a few Vikings fans. Kendall James’ status as a draft pick didn’t protect him, and it looks like the Vikings are relatively happy with the developmental corps they have at cornerback to move forward.

Chris Greenwood is a cornerback out of Albion College, drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. Appealing are his measureables—he’s a 6’1″ corner with decent length (31.5″ arms, which are just above average for a cornerback), a 40-yard dash time between 4.38 and 4.41 at his Pro Day, and incredible explosion (an astounding 43″ vertical leap and 133″ broad jump). With that are above-average agility scores (6.99 three-cone and 4.15 short shuttle) and a good bench press for his size (16 reps).

His play at Albion didn’t match his measureables—an issue for a DIII athlete—and he was relatively slow to gather, plant and drive. His East-West showing wasn’t great, and he mistimed jumps, gave up separation, and couldn’t keep up at the breaks, showing limited fluidity. A lot of this could be resolved by sinking lower in his backpedal, but he’s certainly a project. At his best, he reacts well to receivers and gets his head turned around in man coverage while also reading the quarterback with good anticipation when in zone. He has shown flashes of elite explosion, but those are more evident in the weight room than the film room.

The rest of the practice squad you’ve become familiar with, so there aren’t many new faces to talk about. Two players from last year’s practice squad made the team this year (Adam Thielen and Rodney Smith) and others were in good contention to (Justin Trattou, Kevin Murphy and Joe Banyard) while Chase Ford figures to make the roster at some point this year.

The practice squad will change throughout the year. Of the eight who made the practice squad on the initial cut last year, three were promoted (Rodney Smith, Joe Banyard and Chase Ford), one found himself on another roster (Everett Dawkins), and another was cut (Travis Bond). There were five new faces on the practice squad by the end of the year, and one of them (Justin Trattou) was himself promoted.

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