Tuesday, February 9, 2016

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(photo used with permission)

People who can honestly say they are working their dream job are few and far between. But Joe Lemke is one of those people. The Twin Cities native is a life-long Vikings fan and a professional photographer; last year, he got the opportunity to combine the two into one pretty sweet gig.

At 27 years old, Lemke has been taking photos professionally for seven years, but he has been supporting the Vikings for as long as he can remember. Need proof? The first jersey he owned was none other than Warren Moon!

The photographer has extensive experience—regularly shooting editorial, portrait and wedding content as his own business and also working as one of two concert photographers at the Xcel Energy Center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium. However, he had never done much sports photography and always thought it would be an incredible job to work for the Vikings.

Lemke decided to go out on a limb, reaching out to full-time team photographer Andy Kenutis. As a fan, Lemke loved the action and intensity of the player shots Kenutis often posted on Vikings.com and via social media. As an artist, he admired the detail and impressive quality of Kenutis’ work.

Lemke contacted Kenutis, sending him a link to his own portfolio.

“Honestly, I was just hoping to meet for lunch and pick [Andy’s] brain about his football shots,” he admitted. “He wrote back to me, liked my work, and we got lunch. He’s a great dude.”

Ultimately, Kenutis offered the Vikings fan the opportunity to attend mini camp and work on taking some photos of practice. Lemke captured some unique shots over a few days at camp; before he knew it, Kenutis brought him on as a part-time member of the photography team.

“Getting to walk out onto the practice field at Winter Park for the first time was amazing.  Standing on the field with many of the players that I watch every Sunday during the regular season was a pretty surreal experience.”

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

There was a flurry of Vikings noise and news on Thursday when the team put newly promoted Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren in front of a speaker phone.

Warren, formerly the team’s legal counsel and Chief Administrative Officer, last made headlines in November when reports surfaced that he was opposed to Adrian Peterson returning to the Vikings and that he was actively working against it.

With Warren’s promotion came the opportunity to clear the air, or perhaps perform some strategic posturing, in regards to the ongoing Peterson saga.

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Espn draft expert Mel Kiper, thinks Parker is talented enough to potentially challenge Alabama’s Amari Cooper as the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft.

What makes Parker one of the elite pass-catchers in this talented class of receivers?

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

It was announced today that the Vikings will square off with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s annual preseason kickoff.

By playing in the Hall of Fame game, the Vikings will have 5 preseason games in 2015 and will have plenty game time to get a feel for their roster. Believe it or not, I do think this does give the team a bit of an advantage going into the season. Entering the season with what will likely another young roster, the extra time in game situations will help in development and give the Vikings plenty of time to evaluate their team.

Although we likely won’t see much of the 1st team, this game gets a national audience and allows the NFL to showcase a former Viking center Mick Tingelhoff and former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis who will be entering the Hall of Fame.

Traditionally, the Hall of Fame game is played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

For the second time in a row, the Vikings will meet the Steelers in a unique setting. In 2013, the two teams played in London with the Vikings winning 34-27.

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Image courtesy of vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the seventh article, focusing on the wide receivers.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterbacksrunning backs, tight ends, fullbacks, specialists and safeties.]

The 2014 season didn’t exactly pan out as planned for the Vikings when it came to the position of wide receiver. Going into training camp, there was tremendous belief that second year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson would have a break out season while taking his game to another level.

Patterson did take his game to another level, but unfortunately, it was a regressed level of play, which eventually caused Patterson his starting role on the offense.

The silver lining to the Patterson storyline is that the Vikings may have found a diamond in the rough in second year man Charles Johnson. Originally, a 7th round pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2013, Johnson seemingly developed promising chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater right out of the gate and ended up providing the Vikings with their most consistent threat through the air.

Although Johnson seems to be a player with a lot of promise, the uncertainty of the position created a belief that the Vikings should add a wide receiver to bolster Teddy Bridgewater’s arsenal.

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