Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Blog Page 183

As we continue to go through the motions of Christian Ponders second offseason as the Vikings anointed starter at quarterback, we should all be clamoring for progress reports on the young signal caller that is facing a do-or-die type of season.  Leslie Frazier calls the middle linebacker position the “quarterback of the defense” and that is the position, however, that seems to be generating the most interest.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN detailed a play during today’s OTA sessions in which Ponder lofted a pass over the head of Henderson, who has been most criticized for his coverage skills, which landed in the hands of tight end Kyle Rudolph who was running a seam route (didn’t realize Bill Musgrave knew tight ends could run those) and came away with a big game.

As Seifert noted, it is only fair for readers to realize that this is one of the hardest plays to cover (hint, hint, Bill Musgrave) for a mike linebacker, especially in a practice session in which there is no pass rush.

Henderson once again bristled at the notion that he will struggle to transition to his new position and, in fact, partially dismissed the idea that he will be taking on a role different from what he has played in the past.

“It’s still football and still the same game,” said Henderson. “The majority of the game is played from nickel, so I’ve seen it from that perspective.”

“You guys have forced me to look at it as a position shift,” he said of the media attention being paid to him this offseason. “It’s definitely not exactly what you’ve done before. I can understand why it would be a big deal and why it would be looked at like a different position. But I’ve been asked to learn this position since I’ve been here and it really isn’t that different for me.”

When Jasper Brinkley’s struggles persisted throughout 2012, Henderson did play more of the mike role in nickel situations, as he indicated.  Still, this is his first year where the “quarterback of the defense” role is his to lose, as he has never really been a full-time, every-down player.  While Frazier is at least playing it off as there is a competition at the position, with Audie Cole and Michael Mauti both being mentioned, fellow linebacker Chad Greenway gave Henderson a vote of confidence on Wednesday.

“He’ll have to catch up on the pass-coverage part because it wasn’t as common of a thing for him to do before. But he’ll be fine,” Greenway said of Henderson. “I’m telling you: He’ll be great.”

If Henderson can be “great” as Greenway indicates, then the Vikings defense should be in pretty good shape this season, but if he struggles find success in the middle and the Vikings have to implement some sort of “plan B” scenario, then Rick Spielman’s unwillingness to invest heavily in the linebacker position over the last two offseasons could end up being this roster’s achilles heal.

Of course, that “quarterback of the offense” position is still pretty darn important, too.

One of the biggest keys to the success of a football team is their ability to stay healthy, as well as prove deep enough at any given position to help cover for the unhealthy, and so it is important to keep tabs on the injuries plaguing the Vikings roster even as early as OTAs in May.

For the second day in a row, Jared Allen remains the only player absent from OTAs, but there is no indication that his absence has anything to do with injury.  As we mentioned yesterday, Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN says Allen had family obligations this week, and it isn’t particularly abnormal for him to miss OTAs.

Wide out Greg Jennings faces big expectations in 2013 as he tries to improve on his last two injury riddled years in Green Bay.  That is why it is disappointing to hear that Jennings was a scratch only two days into OTAs with an ankle injury suffered yesterday.

“His ankle’s a little bit sore,” Frazier said to 1500 ESPN. “But he’ll be fine. Nothing serious. He’s on the side working with (head athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman.”

Meanwhile, fellow wide outs Greg Childs and Chris Summers were also unable to participate.  Childs is really no surprise, considering he tore both patellar tendons during the 2012 preseason.  An inspirational return from Childs would certainly be a welcomed surprise, but getting any sort of contribution from him in 2013 would indeed be a, well… surprise.  Summers has the potential to compete for a roster spot at the bottom of the depth chart, but he will have to recover from his ankle injury in short order to avoid another season spent on the practice squad.

NFL MVP running back Adrian Peterson had surgery for a sports hernia on February 7th, but that isn’t expected to slow him down much, as it did little to slow him down as he played with the injury for weeks prior to the end of last season.  Peterson says he is “pretty much 100 percent” and was able to fully participate in all the drills and 11-on-11 skirmishes.  Minnesota’s offense lives and dies with Peterson so the importance of his health status simply cannot be stressed enough.  It is a good sign to hear that he is doing so well at the end of May.

Center John Sullivan had microfracture knee surgery this offseason and is not currently participating in OTAs.  After a season that arguably landed him among the top the centers in the league it will be a major disappointment if he has to miss any time, or doesn’t start the season at 100%, but that is not expected to be the case.

Linebacker Michael Mauti, drafted in the final round of this year’s Draft, was expectedly unable to participate.  Mauti’s list of past injuries is so long it can only be written on a scroll, but he could also represent one of the true steals of this class if he can recover from his latest knee reconstruction and stick to the Vikings roster, and he has the talent to challenge for a starting role in the future.  The first order of business, however, will be to get the Penn State product back to full health.

That might seem like a lengthy list of injuries, but outside of Childs and Mauti there is no indication that we need to consider any of them overly serious, and this is the time of year when displays of toughness will often take a backseat to precautionary measures.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated should any other developments surface.

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A surprisingly successful 2012 season for the Minnesota Vikings was continuously explained, by both players and coaches, to have been in the works since offseason activities began and the very good attendance they experienced.

This year, the Vikings are getting off to a similar start, as every player was present for the kickoff of OTAs with only one exception.

Jared Allen reportedly was a no-show.  Allen has rarely participated in OTAs in the past and, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN, had a family obligation.  He, of course, is also still in the rehab process for his offseason shoulder injury and is entering the final year of his current contract.

There was no real news resulting from Day One, but the media also didn’t have any access on Tuesday.  That should change tomorrow and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on any developments coming out of OTAs.

Greetings everyone.  Sorry for the lack of content this weekend but I just figured it was best not to compete with the holiday weekend or the return of the Bluth family.  Of course, it is also possible that I was too busy enjoying my holiday weekend and the return of the Bluth family.  Anyways, some people did decide to write some stuff these last few days, and I’ve compiled it all right here:

  • There are some rational reasons to not be worried about the middle linebacker position this season.
  • Chad Greenway didn’t hesitate to say he wanted to play his entire career with the Vikings.
  • Some members of the Vikings secondary decided to do the Harlem Shake in a sauna.  Yikes.
  • A fire destroyed land owned by Bud Grant and he says he won’t live to see it grow back.
  • Joe Webb will be battling for his roster spot from the receiver position this year.
  • Some people seem really convinced that Jared Allen is going to be an overrated player moving forward.  I don’t.
  • Is another year of insane productivity a fair expectation of Adrian Peterson this season?
  • DB Bobby Felder and WR Chris Summers are two players to keep an eye on throughout the offseason activities.
  • Qualifications to be an NFL Reporter in 2013:  Willingness to ask every player you come across how they stand on the gay marriage issue.
  • Brett Favre settled some of his lewd texting lawsuits from back in the day.
  • Harrison Smith made a name for himself as a rookie, and now ESPNexpects big things from him as a sophomore.
  • Rookie Gerald Hodges might have taken one too many shots to the head in college as signs are starting to show:  He looks forward to taking on Adrian Peterson.
  • The Governor of Minnesota wants to put “butts in seats” at the new Vikings stadium.  He also wants to help pay for that stadium by charging you through the butt for some butts.  How many butts is that?  A lot.
  • A look at the process behind the new stadium design.
  • The Vikings come up a lot when you discuss the best defensive tackle duos of all time (scroll down), but I was really surprised not to see the WilliamsWall included in the list.
  • Our new punter is pretty interesting.  Pretty close to being as interesting as the old one, actually.
  • Jared Allen has no idea where he will be playing football in 2014.
  • A good list of five areas the Vikings most need to see improve during this upcoming season.
  • OTAs are set to begin Tuesday and here is a breakdown of what will take place.
  • And, here it is, your moment of Zen:

 

Jared Allen is in the final year of the contract he signed in 2008, after being traded from Kansas City to Minnesota, and there are a number of reasons we thought the team might approach him about a contract extension.

First, outside of some recent injury troubles, Allen has shown little in the way of regression and continues to be one of the NFL’s more exciting players to watch on Sundays.  He is still a game changer, and provided one of my favorite moments ever in a Vikings game this last season (crappy video here), and still produces like an elite pass rusher is expected to.  Despite being 31 years old, and having some talented younger options on the roster, Allen is a really good player to simply let become a free agent in 2014.

Second, and most importantly, Allen will earn a $14.28 million salary this season and carries a cap hit of $17 million.  In an offseason where the Vikings were perceived to have more needs than the cap could cover many of us speculated that he would be an obvious option for a reduced cap hit via a contract extension.  “Restructuring” was brought up a lot by some, but the fact is that if a player is in the final year of their contract then a restructuring instead of an extension equates to nothing more than a pay cut.

And it sound like Allen recognizes this.

“You use the word restructure and that to me makes it feel like they’d want me to take a pay cut,” Allen told Dan Wiederer of Access Vikings.  “And if anybody asked me to take a pay cut, I’d be through the first door out of there. So no. We haven’t talked one iota. It is what it is. And we’re going to go about our business and play good ball and try to win a Super Bowl. And like I said the business stuff? We take care of that in the offseason. I have people to do that. That’s why I don’t get into it. You’re not going to hear it from me. I won’t complain. I go about my business.”

Allen taking a hard stance on his financial situation should not surprise anyone.  After all, it was that same stubbornness, after being franchised by the Chiefs after his rookie contract expired, that got him traded to Minnesota in the first place.  Allen has played better football in Minnesota than he did with the Chiefs, and has also put his DUI problems deep into the past, so it is no wonder that he doesn’t consider his value to be decreasing from the day he signed that $73 million contract.

Barring a disaster of some sort in 2013, it seems unlikely that the Vikings would simply let Allen leave next offseason, as he is a team leader that helps recruit free agents (such as Greg Jennings) to join his team’s crusade for a Super Bowl victory.  The fact that the Vikings haven’t even approached him about his contract status, however, doesn’t give me any warm and fuzzies in regards to Allen finishing his career in purple.

The lack of warm and fuzzies might be exactly what the Vikings want, though, as it’ll be just that much more motivation for Allen to give 110% to this upcoming season.

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