Friday, March 27, 2015
Blog Page 162

One of the key fundamentals of sharp quarterback play is precise footwook. Christian Ponder and Matt Casell on the surface may have similar stats and appear to play the same typical West Coast game-manager style, however, it is their footwork that separates the two and consequently paints a picture of inconsistent play.

 Cassel is a technician when it comes to his 5 step drops. The former Pro Bowl QB has sharp quick strides and he is able to consistently make his reads and release the ball a bit quicker than Ponder. I also think Cassel gets the hand off to the running backs slightly sooner as well. Now, with that said, after 5 steps all bets are off. Ponder is much better at stepping up in the pocket, throwing on the run or making a play when things break down.

by -
13

Before Fridays preseason opener against Houston, we took time to check up on how the Vikings three first round selections were fairing in training camp.  Wide out Cordarrelle Patterson impressed on offense and special teams during the contest, while defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd made a pair of splash plays before exiting with what is believed to be a minor knee injury.  Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was held out of the action for precautionary reasons, but the expectation is that he will play this week.

So, as we get a week deeper into the preseason, I wanted to move a little farther down our draft board and see how the next three rookies are doing thus far in their very young careers.

GERALD HODGES, LB

After spending a fourth round selection on the fairly celebrated Penn State linebacker, many Vikings fans were excited about seeing him compete for a starting job on the weakside.  Deals with Marvin Mitchell and Desmond Bishop might just delay that from being a year-one reality.  On Friday, Hodges was a part of a third string unit that didn’t hold up very well, but both Leslie Frazier and Rick Spielman went out of their way to praise him following the contest.  Spielman, however, stressed that both Hodges and Michael Mauti had put things on tape that weren’t so great and that they needed to learn from.  Hodges ended the game with three tackles, including one for a loss, and appears to be on the fast track to a special teams role and backup linebacker duties.

The Vikings took on the Texans Friday night, and after having watched it twice (while also celebrating my daughter’s first birthday) I have come to the table with a look at some of the key takeaways from the contest.  The Vikings lost by a score of 27-13, but it is preseason so the final score is as inconsequential as a training camp scrimmage.  Instead, we try to dissect certain aspects of what happened in an effort to predict things to come.

GRADE A

  • The Vikings are believed to have finished their first week of the preseason without any additional injuries, at least no super serious ones, which is probably the most important thing about the game.  Rookie Sharrif Floyd had a good debut, with a couple of flashy plays (batted pass and tackle for a loss), but gave us all a scare when he hit the ground with a knee injury and was unable to return.  While he will have an MRI today, he is expected to be okay.  Often times, the best teams in any given NFL season are the ones that can stay the healthiest, so it was nice to see them come out of this relatively unscathed.
  • By all appearances, the Vikings got exactly what they expected when they signed veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.  Cassel looked exactly like Cassel has looked almost his whole career, which is to say he looked decent but unspectacular, which is an improvement over Joe Webb’s postseason performance that is still fresh in our memory.  Cassel had some very poor play on the line in front of him, but he still managed a decent outing completing 12 of 19 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown, and one interception.
  • The combination of Zach Line (1 catch, 61 yards, 1 TD) and Bradley Randle (3 rushes, 16 yards) has me excited, I must admit.  I have thought all along that Toby Gerhart would finish out his rookie contract as a Viking, and still consider it likely, but if Line and Randle can continue to make things happen in the preseason then the Vikings might feel tempted to explore trade options for Gerhart.  Line’s rumbling touchdown was quite impressive and Randle pass blocked as good as any Vikings running back since the days of Chester Taylor.
  • One penalty.  10 yards.  The entire game.  That’s the type of discipline that wins football games!

by -
73

The drought is over and Vikings football has arrived! The Houston Texans visit the Vikings at Mall of America field for the first preseason game of the 2013 season.

We will have our live chats set up here at VT once the regular season rolls around, but for now, an open thread during the game for commenting is the route we’ll take.

Yes, it’s just Preseason. Yes, the guys will just be knocking the rust off tonight. Yet, I’m smiling ear-to-ear because football is officially back.

Enjoy the game! Go Vikes!

Advancing a 10-6 wildcard playoff team from a year ago into a Super Bowl contender this season will take a few blue collar players willing to step up to a larger and more productive roll in 2013. Here are three early camp standout performers that have their stock trending upward after experiencing limited rolls in 2012.

Jarius Wright was inactive for the first 9 games last season but preformed well in the final 7 starts filling in for the injured Percy Harvin. The 4th round pick from Arkansas has carried over that late season momentum to OTAs and training camp this year. Wright will get most of his playing time and production in the slot but has the ability to play on the outside if needed. His confidence and his comfort within the offensive system entering his second year are on full display early on. Wright will be a top target for Ponder whether he is throwing across the middle, deep down field or just looking for a short dump off. Wright is a do it all kind of player with great hands and speed. As a backup punt returner, he might even be called upon to catch a punt once in a while. Wright’s increased roll in the offense this year and his increased production will be a key component to a successful season.

John Carlson sat out all of 2011 with the Seahawks, and was not as effective as many had hoped in his first season with the Viking in 2012. An injury last year in camp limited his ability to develop timing and chemistry with teammates which ultimately set him back. After a healthy off-season, one which also included a contract restructure, Carlson’s play is now standing out in camp. The 12,000 fans that packed Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato for Friday’s annual night practice saw Carlson find the end zone 3 times. Carlson is a big redzone target at 6-foot-5 251 pounds which Ponder will look to connect with him more often this year. Carlson only caught 8 passes last season for the Vikings. Nonetheless, he is healthy and poised this year to regain the production he had in his first 3 NFL seasons when he collected 137 receptions.

Bobby Felder is an under the radar guy to most Viking fans, but he is quietly moving up the depth chart in camp. After going undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft, the cornerback from Nichols State impressed the coaches enough last preseason to land a spot on the practice squad. The Vikings have done a good job in the past of actively promoting from within the practice squad. After a year of hard work on the scout team, Felder is ready to step up to the 53 man roster. Felder has moved ahead of Marcus Sherels as the #3 nickel corner on the latest Vikings’ depth chart. The nickel spot is not the only position he is try to win. Felder has taken camp reps as a gunner on the punt unit (1st and 2nd team). He has taken 2nd team reps on the kick off team, kick return team, and also on the punt return teams.

Cristy Brusoe in her camp notes is impressed with Bobby Felder as a punt returner. She says “he has shifty feet and quickness that isn’t duplicated by anyone other than maybe AP.” Priefer may not be giving Felder many reps as a punt returner just yet, but Frazier might want to take a look him in a preseason game. In a recent interview with Vikings.com, Frazier talked about the punt returner competition behind Marcus Sherels. “We have a few different guys. We want to take a look at Stephen Burton a little bit. We’re probably going to give Bobby Felder a chance. We’re debating about whether or not we want (Cordarrelle) Patterson to have a chance to do it as well. Jarius Wright may get an opportunity. So we have a few candidates to potentially take a look at and we’ll just see how it goes as the games unfold.”

I can’t really say that the stock on Christian Ponder, Erin Henderson or Josh Robinson is up or down right now. So, unfortunately they didn’t make the list. With that said, the success of the Vikings will greatly depend on these players’ ability to improve upon their production from a season ago. I am not worried; odds are good they will all show signs of progress in 2013. I am optimistic that their stock will slowly travel in a more northerly direction as the regular season rolls on. Come playoff time, don’t be surprised if they are all enjoying “Rock Star” status in the state of Minnesota.

Get Social

2,719FansLike
4,643FollowersFollow