Monday, August 31, 2015

I could have swore the Winter Olympics just ended, but it must have been two years ago because the internet is telling me to care about soccer, and that is only supposed to happen every four years during the Summer Games, right?

If you are like me, however, and would much rather nerd out on the NFL offseason than watch one single minute of soccer, then I’m here to help you out.  Our Monday look around the NFC North for this week:


I never liked Brett Favre playing for the Vikings, which is well documented by some of my earliest work, because I felt that he would always be a Green Bay Packer.  Nix that, I thought he was the Green Bay Packer… posing as a Viking.  As expected, time will prove this to be absolutely true and history will greatly favor his 16 year career with the Packers over his stints with the Falcons, Jets or even the Vikings.  The Packers and Favre have apparently been improving their relations and the future Hall of Famer says he would soon like to make his return trip to the land of cheddar.  The Packers have made it clear that they would like to retire Favre’s jersey number prior to his (super likely) Hall of Fame induction in 2016.

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In order to fill the roster spot recently vacated by the injured Lestar Jean, the Vikings have signed former Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cooper.

Cooper came out of Oklahoma State in 2012, catching passes from Brandon Weeden, before going undrafted and signing with the Cleveland Browns (to catch passes from Brandon Weeden).

Cooper is not a physical specimen, as NFL receivers go. At 5’10” and 190 pounds, running a 4.65 40-yard dash at his Pro Day didn’t bode well (though a 1.58-second ten-yard dash isn’t bad). Decent but not great numbers in the short shuttle (4.35) and three-cone (7.12) reinforce this, as did his play on the field.

A saving grace could have been the fact that his hamstring was likely still injured when he ran through those tests (he had to skip the NFL Combine because of it).

His scouting report from Draft Insider sells his brains over his athleticism:

School: Oklahoma State

Position: WR
Bio: Two-year starter who had 71 receptions/715 yards/3 TDs as a senior and 68/736/5 as a junior. Experienced return specialist.
Positive: Reliable pass catcher who plays a tough brand of football. Sells routes, works hard to come free and goes over the middle to make the difficult reception. Solid route runner who quickly gets into breaks and stays low on exit then positions himself to make the reception. Displays good awareness on the field and consistently finds the soft spot in the defense to make himself an available target. Solid underneath receiver who lays out or extends to make the difficult reception.
Negative: Displays minimal quickness and speed in his game. Struggles battling larger defenders. Marginally effective running after the catch.
Analysis: Cooper is a slot receiver/return specialist and brings both toughness and intelligence. He has the skills necessary to make it as a fourth or fifth receiver and should stand out on both sides of special teams.

I’m not so sure, based on what I saw of him coming out, that I would have called him a “solid route runner,” as he’s been sloppy in his running and wasn’t necessarily sharp going into or out of cuts. He was relatively easy to defend (though his system helped) as a result. His best asset is his after-the-catch vision, probably a product of his experience as a returner. There are no parts of his game that stand out as better than most drafted receivers, and in fact he fell short of many undrafted free agents in this regard in quite a few categories.

He’s definitely a hard worker, and he probably deserves his reputation for intelligence if Norv Turner is willing to bring him on (likely in part due to his experience with Turner’s system). He has seventeen career receptions for 166 yards, mostly out of the slot. There’s a better chance than not this does not affect the receiver battle for the fifth or sixth spot very much at all.

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The Minnesota Vikings are working to be a more fit, more agile, and more productive team.  According to an ESPN article, the Vikings have collectively shed 170 pounds of body fat and gained 70 pounds of muscle.

Earlier this spring, buzz surrounded rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd as he worked to build a healthier lifestyle. Floyd is preparing to compete for the starting nose tackle job previously held by Kevin Williams. You can view a video highlighting his efforts here.

Floyd isn’t the only member of the franchise making changes, however. One of the first things Coach Mike Zimmer did when joining Minnesota was take high-fat items out of the Vikings’ menu. “I’m eating fish every day for lunch,” said Zimmer. “That’s a new thing for me.”

In addition to diet changes, the team has also changed its offseason weight-lifting program. The new regiment is helping players trim the fat while building muscle.

Zimmer acknowledges that the extra adjustments have been a “collective effort” by the team, and it seems like everyone is on board. Thus far, Floyd is showing the most significant results. Since starting his personal lifestyle changes and also taking part with Zimmer’s program tweaks, the tackle has lost 25 pounds from where he was at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Floyd said the following:

“I changed a lot of things this offseason. I stopped eating meat. I started eating just seafood and really focusing on my diet, and everything leads into what I do on Sunday. [Giving up meat was] really hard. I lived off pork. I thought pork made the world go around. […] That was just me [making the decision]. Do I want to keep putting this stuff in my body or do I want to get right? So I decided to give up things that I love that are not really good for me right now. My body feels great. I’ve been telling people my body hasn’t felt this way since I first started playing football.”

With the roster working together to follow Floyd’s example, Vikings fan can be assured that these guys will be ready to go come September 7.

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Per Ed Werder at ESPN, Kevin Williams has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Seahawks worth just over $2 million.

Williams was in talks with the Seahawks, Giants, Patriots and Vikings.

Anyone who is surprised by this news has not been following the Vikings or the NFL for some time, as the Seahawks have made it a habit of rostering former Vikings, though they haven’t made a huge impact as of yet.

Still it should be interesting following the former defensive end-turned under tackle-turned temporary nose tackle. At Seattle, he will likely play a rotational three-technique role that should provide them with excellent depth at a position where they don’t have much (unlike Winfield, who entered a Seattle team that had a stacked secondary with incredible depth).

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The Minnesota Vikings have waived-injured former Texans and Florida Atlantic receiver Lestar Jean, per the NFL transactions report. It’s not clear what injury Jean suffered from, and as far as I could tell he didn’t show up in any of the injury reports put out by ESPN, 1500ESPN, the Star Tribune or the Pioneer Press.

It must be a serious injury if the Vikings weren’t willing to wait it out for camp, as they don’t have an answer for the fifth or sixth receiver spots on the roster. “Waived-injured” is a specific designation teams must give a player if they intend to put that player on injured reserve. Unlike the process during the season, a player must go through waivers if a team intends to put him on injured reserve, and expose him to other teams.

The designation lets other teams know that this player is injured, and they very rarely claim those players as a result (a famous exception being when the New England Patriots claimed an injured Jake Ballard).

If they do not put Jean on injured reserve and he is not claimed by a team, he will be subject to an injury settlement that the team and his agent will agree to. That injury settlement is pay for the time the player is expected to miss while healing, and he can only claim it if he does not sign with a team until that date.

I don’t expect this to have a huge impact, and not just for the simple reason that he would be competing for a bottom receiver spot—I expected Erik Lora, Rodney Smith or Adam Thielen to compete for that spot, with some shots by Kain Colter.

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