Thursday, October 8, 2015

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Photo courtesy of

On the 2nd defensive play of the 2014 season, safety Harrison Smith blitzed off the left side of the St. Louis Rams offensive line. With his athleticism, Smith was able to force Rams quarterback Shaun Hill to check down to Tavon Austin behind the line of scrimmage.

Although Early into the season, this play was indicative to the  style of defense Mike Zimmer was going to run. A defense that, at times, will show exotic formations and different coverage and blitzing schemes. Zimmer is able to run such a defense due in part to Smith, who’s versatility and nose for the football allows the Vikings to be creative and dare I say, fun to watch?

As a heads up, this is pretty video heavy, but oh so worth it.

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(photo provided and used with permission)
(photo provided and used with permission)


“Hey—are you ready to play some football?”

This was the phone call quarterback Chandler Harnish received from his agent Sunday night. By Monday morning, he was in Minnesota to join the Vikings practice squad.

Harnish does have one Minnesota connection–he played under current Gophers coach Jerry Kill at Northern Illinois–but he has spent his NFL career in Indianapolis. The Colts drafted Harnish with the last overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. While he played the first five games of his career on the active roster, he spent a majority of his time on the practice squad. On Aug. 30 of this year, Indy released Harnish.

The 26-year-old is not the type to get discouraged, however. Rather, being perceived as the underdog motivates Harnish to work even harder, and he is grateful for each and every opportunity he gets.

“Some people make light of the practice squad, but ultimately I’m just very proud to be part of a team,” Harnish expressed. “There are not many guys out there who can say that. [The NFL] is hard. You can’t take this for granted. Whether you’re part of the active roster or the practice squad, it’s something you can hang your hat on.”

Harnish gained invaluable experience while in Indianapolis, specifically mentioning a strong coaching staff and working under the mentorship of veterans such as Matt Hasselbeck and Reggie Wayne. Harnish also spent the last few seasons with starting QB Andrew Luck. These specific scenarios and teammates taught Harnish not only on-field strategies for the game of football, but also how to approach preparing for a game and keeping himself healthy and ready to go—both mentally and physically.

Harnish gladly accepted this transition. Despite joining the Vikings only two days ago, he feels confident in his ability to strengthen their roster in whatever way needed.

“The nice thing about football is that a lot of it overlaps,” he said. “A lot of offenses overlap; there are very similar types of plays—you just have different words for them. Everyone has different systems, but I think I have experience with a lot of the types of throws we’re trying to make in Minnesota. I’m just excited to take on this opportunity.”

The Vikings may not have planned to need an additional passing arm, but they are happy to sign Harnish. With original starter Matt Cassel out for the season and rookie Teddy Bridgewater recovering from an ankle sprain, the QB situation for Thursday’s matchup against Green Bay remains questionable. If Bridgewater is unable to play, third-string Christian Ponder will be called upon. Harnish and McLeod Bethel-Thompson are on the practice squad.

Bridgewater started his first game as a rookie last week, when he led his team to a 41-28 victory over Atlanta. Harnish already has nothing but positive things to say about his new teammate:

“Teddy is just a really cool kid. He’s young […] he has already proven that he can play at this level. He came out and had a phenomenal game [against Atlanta]. He has a ton of upside; everyone is excited about him […] He takes notes, he learns, and he knows what’s going on. He has an incredibly bright future.”

In addition to Bridgewater, Harnish expressed enthusiasm for working with the entire Vikings coaching system and roster. “I can already tell it’s a tight-knit group of guys,” he said. “I’m just excited to move forward and get to know these guys better, to continue to work with them.

Regardless of in a game or in practice, the QB is ready to fill his role in the purple and gold.


The Vikings are short-handed thanks to Adrian Peterson’s legal issues and a sudden injury invasion.  However, through a quarter of the season now, they have performed almost exactly how Brett, Arif, and myself predicted prior to the start of the season.  This leaves us with plenty of optimism, thanks in large part to Teddy Bridgewater, and lots to discuss. Here is a look around the web at what is being said about our beloved Vikings with the Packers on deck:


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Our previous polls have awarded “Player of the Game” honors to:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO:  Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

After a Week Four team win against the Atlanta Falcons, we have some new names to throw into the mix, which is an encouraging development considering the injuries and other issues facing this roster.  A lot to choose from here, so weigh your options carefully.  The nominees are:

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER:  Man, the kid looked sharp, didn’t he?  Aside from looking the part, Bridgewater led the Vikings to one of their best offensive performances in recent memory, which ended in a 41-28 victory over Atlanta.  He ended the day prematurely with an ankle injury that will also put his Thursday night status in jeopardy.  Before exiting, however, he threw 19 completions on 30 attempts for 317 yards and a quarterback rating of 98.9.  He didn’t throw for any touchdowns, but he had a beauty of a run that resulted in score.  Bridgewater ran a total of five times for 27 yards/

JERICK MCKINNON:  With Adrian Peterson on a couch somewhere, it was nice to see the offensive line and reserve running backs step up to the plate on a very productive afternoon.  Jerick “Jet” McKinnon showed his athleticism on Sunday with 135 yards on 18 carries (7.5 yard average).  He also had a single catch (on three targets) for 17 yards.

MATT ASIATA:  This is a guy that may not have the home run potential that McKinnon does, but he did his job on Sunday, and did it well.  Asiata carried the ball 20 times for 78 yards (3.9 yard average) and scored three times from inside the red zone.  Asiata also caught three of his four targets and contributed 22 receiving yards.

JARIUS WRIGHT:  If you are going to pick an offensive player for your vote, it is pretty tough to look past Jarius Wright.  With attention being paid to Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, Wright was the go-to guy as evidenced by his team leading eight receptions for 132 yards.

JOHN SULLIVAN:  Maybe this option should read “the entire offensive line” after they dominated the Falcons front four all day long, but the group was led by their best player in center John Sullivan.  Sullivan and company provided Bridgewater with a clean pocket nearly the entire time, with no sacks being allowed, and played a major role in the rushing production enjoyed by Asiata and McKinnon.

XAVIER RHODES:  It is becoming increasingly clear that Rhodes is a liability against shifty route runners, like Julian Edelman, but is absolutely capable of containing the big, strong receivers that the NFL has to offer.  Rhodes was all over the field, deflecting a whopping four passes, and adding a nice run stop behind the line of scrimmage.  The Falcons gained plenty of yardage through the air, but it could have been much worse, as defensive backs of Vikings past can attest.

HARRISON SMITH:  The Vikings have two wins this season, and in each of them Harrison Smith has delivered a “dagger” interception late in the action.  After a 2013 season where the Vikings seemingly had no ability to close out a winnable game, this is so welcomed.  Smith also had six total tackles, five of which where of the solo variety.


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In order to make room on the practice squad for quarterback Chandler Harnish, the Vikings have cut receiver Donte Foster from the practice squad. Right now the Vikings practice squad looks as follows:

Player Position
Josh Kaddu Linebacker
Chris Greenwood Cornerback
Kain Colter Wide Receiver
Zac Kerin Center
Isame Faciane Defensive Tackle
Justin Trattou Defensive End
Zach Line Fullback
McLeod Bethel-Thompson Quarterback
Ryan Otten Tight End
Chandler Harnish Quarterback

The Vikings currently have seven receivers, including Colter, on hand. Just like when the Vikings cut Mike Remmers from the practice squad and chose not to re-sign him when space opened up, there is a good chance that once the quarterback injury situation gets resolved that Foster may not come back, even if the Vikings do cut one of the two QBs on the practice squad.

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