Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Vikings have announced that they have waived linebacker Dom DeCicco with an injury designation and have claimed linebacker Justin Jackson off of waivers.

DeCicco underwent a hip “procedure” this past week and until then had been a third string outside linebacker before then. Recently, Larry Dean had been seeing third team reps while he was out and DeCicco only took four snaps in the preseason (Week 1, against the Raiders).

The first many heard of him was in Bruce Feldman’s annual “Freaks List,” where Jackson was profiled as one of the top twenty athletes in college football.

12. Justin Jackson, Wake Forest, OLB: A linebacker who minors in dance, Jackson’s nifty footwork is also quite evident on the field and in all the drills Wake Forest tests in. The 6-1, 230-pounder has been timed in the 40 at 4.44 and a broad jump of 10-8 to go with a hang clean of 400 pounds.

Indeed, he does pop athletically. Of all the athletes who have gone to the NFL Combine between 1999 and 2014, Jackson’s weight-adjusted scores rank him 105th of 3379, or in the top three percent. Ranked 104th is Khalil Mack. Other linebackers ranked near him are Zavier Gooden and Keith Bullock, while the Vikings’ own Jerick McKinnon ranks 109th. Assuming all combine scores are equal, adjusting for weight makes Justin Jackson is more athletic than Jerick McKinnon, the single most athletic player at Vikings camp.

Creating a pseudo-mockdraftable radar graph for him brings the point home:

Justin Jackson Mockdraftable

While his pure athleticism compares immediately to Khalil Mack’s his specific athletic comparisons best fit Zavier Gooden, Jamar Chaney, Ernie Sims, Patrick Willis and Seattle’s fourth-round pick, Kevin Pierre-Louis. This heavily implies that because he’s more agile than explosive that he’s not a hybrid pass-rush/linebacker but a rangy off-ball player.

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On Monday morning, Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press tweeted the following:


While it may be humorous and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, an element of [harsh] truth exists.

Cornerback Josh Robinson has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, and we have yet to see him in full action. It is already clear that head coach Mike Zimmer holds all his players to high standards, but he seems even more strict when dealing with the defensive backs. Zimmer has several CB’s on the roster, and his patience with Robinson’s rather slow comeback looks to be wearing thin. Robinson sits on the proverbial bubble anyway, after a inconsistent performance last season.

The young corner shows a lot of potential and could be much improved in a different defensive system; however, the longer he sits out, the more uncertain his role becomes. It is in Robinson’s best interest to return to the field as soon as possible.

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The Vikings look like a team plenty capable of putting points on the scoreboard.  The first two preseason games under Norv Turner have been encouraging, Adrian Peterson will be ready to do his thing in Week One, and Cordarrelle Patterson will once again be returning kicks.

Actually, that last part is speculation at this point, and an item worthy of debate.

As a rookie, Patterson established himself as the NFL’s most electric kick returner last season, and regularly gave the Vikings offense an advantage via stellar field position.  He ended up returning 43 kickoffs for 1,393 yards (32.4 yard average) and two scores.

Patterson hasn’t been returning kicks in the preseason, as it is one of the quickest ways to get a player injured in the modern NFL, but Mike Zimmer said last month that he was still the guy.  Given Patterson’s increased role and prominence in the offense, however, some might argue that his usage on special teams should be restricted.

Thus, our “Poll of the Week” will hopefully lead to some interesting debate in the comments section.

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Published over at a new site where I am a Senior Writer, Vikings Journal, is a game review of the preseason showdown between the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals. I’ve recently been asked to be part of this project, where I will post three days a week. I’m not going to draw down here at Vikings Territory, it’s just a new place to get Vikings content, with a different format in mind. I’ll post here whenever new content there goes up so I can keep you all up to date.

All that said, my game review there is up:

Cassel started off the game with some errant throws, throwing behind Cordarrelle Patterson and Jerome Simpson on two occasions, and overthrowing Cordarrelle on another. But he also carried qualities that the Vikings faithful have been missing from their quarterbacks. Cassel consistently moved through his progressions, and did it quickly. He avoided pressure well. His pre-snap reads of the defense were spot on.

With him were an offensive line whose best players from last year—John Sullivan and Brandon Fusco—continued their absolutely stellar play on the interior, creating space on running plays and keeping the passing lanes clear. Matt Kalil had a slightly rougher outing, but it was by no means bad and Phil Loadholt was a little more questionable. Once again, unfortunately, questions at left guard allowed several hurries and hits to come through the interior, and Charlie Johnson’s topped-out play can limit the offense.

I encourage you to read more.

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Throughout training camp, the wide receiver battle seemed to have settled early. The first four receivers, in some order, were going to be Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright and Jerome Simpson. To that, Adam Thielen nearly solidified himself, as concretely as one can early in camp, as the fifth receiver, with a bevy of players behind him. With Rodney Smith’s performance in camp as of late, he may be able to make the case as the sixth receiver—or even unseat Thielen’s hold on the fifth spot.

Rodney Smith Touchdown

Credit – Vikings.com

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