Sunday, April 19, 2015
Blog Page 168

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Well, I made it back from vacation just in time for kickoff.  About 2,000 miles, a fish or two, and one emergency room visit later I am ready to watch some Vikings football to top off a great week.

The Vikings have announced Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, safety Mistral Raymond, rookie linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti, guard Jeff Baca, defensive end George Johnson and defensive tackle Kevin Williams will all be inactive for today’s opener in Detroit.  Letroy Guion, not rookie Sharrif Floyd, will be starting in Williams’ place on the defensive line.

Don’t forget to join our live chat to enjoy the action with a bunch of other rowdy fans.  Click here to chat it up.  Enjoy your Vikings football!

SKOL.

The Lions have won their last two opening games by scoring 27 points each against the Rams and Buccaneers over the past two seasons. I don’t think the Vikings offense is ready for a shoot-out in the Motor City, so let’s hope the defense and special teams can keep us in the game.

 The Lions lost their final eight games of the season last year to end a disappointing 4-12 campaign after making the playoffs in 2011. You can bet Jim Schwartz will have his team fired up and ready for a fresh start on Sunday.

 Detroit has averaged 26 points in 4 preseason games and could be on the brink to a fast start in 2013. Detroit has scored 11 touchdowns and converted 72 first downs compared to 8 touchdowns and 65 first downs for the Vikings over the last 4 weeks.

 The good news for the Vikings is Mathew Stafford only connected on 49% of his passes in preseason. So, if the Vikings’ defense can set the tone early and disrupt the connection between Stafford and Calvin Johnson, they might have a chance to grind out a win.

 In week four last year at Detroit, the Vikings sacked Stafford 5 times and the special teams returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns to steal a 20-13 victory. Can the Vikings dial up a similar game plan again this week?

The Lions added another weapon this off-season in RB Reggie Bush. Stafford might look to dump the ball off to Bush a lot to help relieve some of the pressure from our front four. It is no secret the Vikings’ corners will need to do a great job covering Calvin Johnson, but I think the linebackers and safeties will also need to do a good job containing Bush and TE Brandon Pettigrew if the Vikings want to leave Detroit with a win.

The Vikings signed defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo to the eight-man practice squad joining RB Joe Banyard, G Travis Bond, DT Everett Dawkins, TE Chase Ford, OT Kevin Murphy, WR Rodney Smith and Adam Thielen.

Cornerback Bobby Felder and defensive end D’Aundre Reed were waived/injured and placed on injured reserve after clearing waivers. Both players have ankle injuries sustained in the final preseason game.

Okpalaugo is a 6-foot-4 260 pound defensive end from Fresno State that has the tools to play standing up and with his hand on the ground. The undrafted rookie had a good preseason for the Dolphins racking up 3 sacks, 8 tackles, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Okpalaugo is a unique versatile prospect with long arms and explosive leaping ability. He shows good change of direction movement and can drop back into zone coverage and be used in multiple formations.

Okpalaugo was a fan favorite in Miami this preseason, but he was playing one of the deepest positions for the Dolphins. Miami may have been trying/hoping to hide Okpalaugo on thier practice squad, but Rick Spielman will stick it to the Dolphins any chance he gets.

Chase Baker, George Johnson and Troy Kropog were long shots to make the roster just four weeks ago, but hard work and consistent effort paid off for these young players.

 Chase Baker might have the best chance to stick. The undrafted rookie from Boise State had 11 tackles during preseason working on the inside of the defensive line. Standing at 6-1 298 pounds, Baker has just enough meat on his bones to earn a few snaps as a backup rotational depth player this season. During camp and preseason, he has been asked to learn the three-technique position while also staying focused on the nose tackle spot as well. Jared Allen said, “He has probably grown the most of all the young guys I’ve seen in camp. That is good because he just might be asked to play a role on this team. We’re hurting at D-tackle right now.” 

Lady luck has been on Baker’s side as Christian Ballard left the team for personal reasons, Sheriff Floyd and Kevin Williams have been banged up a bit which opened the door for Baker to get plenty of reps needed to win a roster spot. After spending his rookie year on the practice squad, Baker might be ready to take the next step in 2013.

George Johnson, the 6-4 265 pound 4th year DE beat out D’Aundre Reed and Lawrence Jackson to win the 4th and final DE roster spot. Johnson was promoted to the Vikings 53 man roster in late December of 2012 and has impressed the coaches enough this off-season to make the final cut in 2013. In 2010, Johnson was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. Johnson worked his way up to playing in 2 games for the Buccaneers in 2011 before an injury put him on IR. Johnson looks to build on his 7 total career NFL tackles. Johnson’s 5 solo tackle in preseason lead all Vikings’ DEs, but in the regular season he will have a hard time taking snaps away from Jared Allen, Brian Robison or Everson Griffen.

Troy Kropog won the swing tackle position, at least for the next four weeks until DeMarcus Love comes back from his suspension. The 6-6 308 pound tackle from Tulane has been in the NFL for 4 years. Kropog was drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Vikings promoted Kropog from the practice squad to the 53 man roster last season when Percy Harvin was placed on IR. Kropog has played in 7 games with 0 starts in his NFL career. It will be interesting to see what the Vikings do with the backup tackle position in the next few weeks. Will Kropog stick when Love comes back, or will the Vikings look to upgrade the backup tackle position by signing a free agent? Frazier had talked about finding a swing tackle in the 2012 draft, but that did not appear to have happened. Was that just a smoke screen? Do the Vikings have confidence in Love or Kropog? Stay tuned… I don’t think this story has reached the final page.

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Prediction #5: Cordarrelle Patterson wins rookie of the year.

Vikings rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has a lot to prove in the NFL, but all of the skills and talent needed to do so. With his unbelievable speed and quickness, good hands, and return capabilities, He should be able to become a big time receiver in this league. The only huge knock on him is his lack of experience in Division I football, having only played one year at Tennessee. The Vikings traded back into the first round for a reason; They knew talent when they saw it. Patterson has had an okay preseason thus far, although I am a little upset about Jerome Simpson playing ahead of him. I definitely think that will change throughout the course of the season, if not week one. Patterson almost took the opening kickoff of the preseason for a touchdown as well.

No matter where his spot ends up being when we open up against Detroit, I expect Patterson to emerge quickly. His route running still needs some work, and I really feel Ponder and Patterson needed to develop more in-game chemistry over the course of the preseason, but there’s no doubt in my mind that chemistry will develop quickly. I think Patterson will finish in the area of 60 catches, 760 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 kick return touchdowns. He is going to be a very fun player to watch this year, and I have a feeling we’ll see some spectacular plays.

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