Monday, April 27, 2015
Blog Page 177

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Perhaps no undrafted free agent is getting more attention right now than Vikings running back Bradley Randle. He has been very impressive in training camp and is quickly becoming a guy most Vikings fans are rooting for to make the final 53 man roster. I’m predicting he will.

Randle is only 5’7, but his speed has impressed many. He ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, and frankly after seeing him in person during training camp, I’m sold on the kid. Not only is he fast, but he runs hard, breaks tackles, and is very shifty. Randle also has return capabilities on kickoffs and/or punt returns, although at least one of those spots will most likely belong to fellow rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.

He will have to compete with several others for the 3rd running back spot, including Matt Asiata, Zach Line, and Joe Banyard, but if Randle continues to impress and has a good preseason, I think the spot is his. His potential reminds me of that of a Darren Sproles, and I think if the Vikings haven’t seen that already, they will.

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Football was life for Cris Carter.  Upon reaching the highest honor the game has to give, however, Carter spoke very little about playing it.

He didn’t talk catches or toe taps.  He didn’t reflect on individual touchdowns.  He had no championships to reflect on.  Instead, he passionately outlined the path it took for him to achieve greatness, which wasn’t as simple as a workout routine or practice regimen.  It was navigating life, real life, that made Carter’s journey to the Hall of Fame so intriguing and improbable.

Carter actively chose to honor those along the way that helped him.  Those, like his brother Butch, that taught him how to man up and take care of those he cared about.  His wife that put her dreams on hold because she believed in his.  His coaches in college and in the pros, including Buddy Ryan who had to cut Carter after a troublesome beginning to his professional career in Philadelphia.  He thanked a member of the Vikings ownership for putting him in touch with a friend that was able to get him sober, and keep him sober, from the moment he landed in Minnesota.  He thanked all of you, and said he is in debt to Vikings Nation, for making him feel comfortable and wanted in his time here.  He thanked Reggie White for being the first man ever, when Carter was 22 years old, to tell him he was loved.

The speech was incredible.  It was emotional and passionate.

In fact, the only thing wrong with it is that it was given about five years later than it should have been.

Thank you, Cris.  And well done, sir.

Linebackers coach Fred Pagac and the rest of the Vikings’ staff will have a tough time in camp and preseason trimming this group of linebackers down to the top 7 guys. The 2012 squad had 7 backers on it, so unless the Vikings eliminate the 3rd QB spot to make room for an extra linebacker this year, I think the Vikings will be forced to cut 3 of the 10 linebackers in camp.

At this point the only certainty is that 2012 All-Pro Chad Greenway will be back as the starting strong-side linebacker. The 2006 first round pick from Iowa started all 16 games last year and finished with 148 combined tackles which ranked 3rd in the NFL. Greenway’s leadership will be needed again this year as Pagac will probably rotate the other linebackers in and out as he did last season.

With some degree of certainty I can say that undrafted rookie Nathan Williams has no chance to make the 53 man roster. An ankle injury that required surgery in June has him sidelined on the PUP list which may put the screws to any opportunity show what he can do.

This off-season the Vikings moved Erin Henderson, last year’s starter on the weak side, to the middle linebacker spot. It looks like this move will stick through camp and preseason but I wouldn’t mortgage the farm that he will start all 16 games in the middle. Henderson was the Vikings 7th leading tackler with 50 solo stops last season on the outside. So far in camp Leslie Frazier is encouraged by Henderson’s transition to the middle, and Erin appears hungry to hold on to his new job. Some early camp notes and highlights include a couple big hits from Henderson and some overall solid play.

The Vikings have had a pleasantly quiet offseason, with nobody really being “that guy,” but Thursday’s news of DeMarcus Love’s four game suspension for violating the NFL’s policies against performance enhancing drugs is somewhat of a damper.

“I’m really hurt about it,” Love told Access Vikings after Thursday’s practice.

He should be.  Love was selected by the Vikings in the sixth round of the 2011 Draft, but was inactive throughout his entire rookie season, and then was placed on injured reserve for all of 2012 with a torn pectoral muscle.  This latest setback could very well spell the end of his run with the Vikings and could possibly end his career before he ever got to play a single snap.

“He won’t be on the field with us, won’t be able to practice with us, won’t be able to play with us,” Leslie Frazier said of the situation. “So that can’t help your development if you’re not on the field. But while he’s here, we’re going to work as hard as we can to help him come along.”

There as certainly no guarantee that Love would have made the final roster heading into September before this suspension, even with depth somewhat lacking at offensive tackle, as he was truly considered a “bubble” player that needed to have a good training camp as recently as yesterday.  It is for that reason, however, that I think Love’s chances of being a Viking in September may have actually been helped by the suspension.

If the Vikings are awarded a roster exemption during Love’s four game suspension then the Vikings would have very little, if anything, to lose by keeping him around until week five of the regular season.  They could push the decision to keep him or not off until he is eligible to return, which would be after four weeks of football have been played and four weeks of injuries have been sustained.  If the four weeks is up then they could easily part ways with him and his $550,000 salary.

If the Vikings don’t get a roster exemption and he still remains on the roster then that is a sign that the team both believe in his abilities as a player and also believe that his remorse over this situation is genuine.

“I was shocked, man,” Love said on Thursday. “I’ve never cheated and never will. Not intentionally. Unfortunate it’s something I can’t change. It happened. It didn’t work out in my favor and so I’ve got to face the consequences.”

He knows that the suspension could be detrimental to his career, but hopes that his tale will be one of caution to other players on the Vikings roster, at the very least.

“One thing about it is it’s bad for me,” he said. “But it also gives other guys a heads up so they know that you really have to watch what you put in your body. Because whatever it is, they’ll find it. And you’ll eventually have to pay for it.”

Love was given the same “heads up” when Kevin Williams had to face a two game suspension in 2011, Love’s rookie season, for the whole StarCaps saga.  That apparently wasn’t enough to keep Love from making a similar mistake.

The Vikings now, more than ever, have a glaring vacancy at the backup tackle position.

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