Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This has been a depressing season with plenty of losses to inspire some very critical things written on this blog, and elsewhere, about the Vikings.  So, after weeks of being a negative nelly, I decided to devote an entire post to some positives to take away from Thursday Night’s win against Washington.

1.  Sendejo Steps In

With Harrison Smith and Jamarca Sanford both injured the Vikings tested their secondary depth and the results were not as bad as many would have expected.  One guy that stuck out to me for the second straight week was reserve safety Andrew Sendejo who has a knack for the big hit.  Sendejo led the Vikings with eight solo tackles and was tied with Chad Greenway for a team-leading 16 total tackles.  His coverage skills need work, but he certainly made a case for himself to remain the starter, no matter how badly Jamarca Sanford wants to play against Percy Harvin.  Sanford will likely get his starting gig back this week, but it won’t be from a lack of effort on Sendejo’s part.

2.  Progression From Ponder

Whether or not Christian Ponder is able to progress enough over the long run to be the answer at quarterback remains to be seen, but there is no doubt he “progressed” in the short term.  Thursday night we saw a Christian Ponder that looked far better than we had seen from him since the end of last year.  He completed 17 of 21 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception prior to leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder.  His lone interception was ugly and all too familiar, but Ponder looked as cool and comfortable as he has in quite some time.  If he could play like he did Thursday on a more consistent basis then I have no doubt the Vikings fans would be far more welcoming than they have been of late.

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Christian Ponder dove for the endzone during Thursday night’s victory against Washington and came up just shy of the touchdown and with a dislocated shoulder.  Luckily for him the injury was sustained on his non-throwing arm, he now has a long week to recover, and Adrian Peterson scored the touchdown for him one play later.

Ponder’s durability problems has again become a long-term concern since he has had to miss time twice now this season, but the short-term outlook may not be too shabby.  On Monday, Leslie Frazier said Ponder could start Sunday, but that they don’t want to put him in a position where he can’t protect himself and where he could do more damage.

Ponder described himself as “day to day” and said his range of motion was much better on Monday than it was on Friday.

Already missing tight end Kyle Rudolph, whichever quarterback starts on Sunday may have to be without the team’s leading receiver, as Jerome Simpson’s apology for his DWI may not be enough for the NFL or the Vikings to let him suit up.  One receiver that is looking healthy and ready to go is Percy Harvin, however, this time he is suiting up for the opponent.

The Vikings retain Phil Loadholt, but have to cut Antoine Winfield as a result.  Kyle Rudolph scores a touchdown and then suffers a serious injury.  Christian Ponder plays the best game of the season, but can’t finish it.

Now, the Vikings win their first game on this side of the Atlantic Ocean and the celebration has been cut short due to Jerome Simpson being arrested for Driving While Intoxicated.

I guess it is just one of those seasons.

Simpson is currently the leading receiver for the Vikings with 33 catches and 491 yards.  He has certainly played better than in 2012, but he may have played his last game in purple.  Of course, everything is just speculation at this point, but this isn’t his first run in with the law which could land him a hefty suspension from the NFL as a repeated offender of the league’s conduct policy.  His previous offense occurred when two pounds of marijuana was shipped to his home and he served a three game suspension last year, and is still serving three years of probation.

Early Saturday morning, Simpson’s car was stalled on I-394 and a trooper arrived on the scene.  Simpson performed a field sobriety test and was arrested, despite his denials that he had been drinking.  He refused a breath test at the Hennepin County jail and was booked.  This afternoon he was released on a $12,000 bond.

Simpson is playing under his second consecutive one-year deal with the Vikings.  He now has a number of obstacles to somersault over if he wants to continue playing for the Vikings, or any other NFL team, beyond 2013.

I have previously touted Leslie Frazier’s ability to keep his players out of trouble as a reason to keep him at the helm beyond this season.  That argument for Frazier just got a whole lot weaker, as have so many other arguments for Frazier these days.

There is little we fans find more frustrating about our Vikings than their willingness to sit on young players, hoping they develop into quality players via practice rather than rushing them into action before their ready.  The frustration is compounded when we never get a chance to see what the player has on game day and Audie Cole is the latest example.

In a curious move, just prior to Thursday night’s matchup against Washington, the Vikings decided to waive their young linebacker and promote offensive tackle Kevin Murphy from the practice squad.  With Phil Loadholt missing time, and Charlie Johnson also out, I can see the sense in needing more depth up front.  Still, making Cole the casualty just doesn’t seem to add up.

Tonight’s inactives are:  Cornerback Chris Cook, right tackle Phil Loadholt, guard Charlie Johnson, safety Jamarca Sanford, running back Matt Asiata, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and defensive tackle Fred Evans.

Surprisingly LeTroy Guion, who was listed as “doubtful,” is active for tonight’s game.  He will not start, however, and rookie Sharrif Floyd will be filling in.

Please make sure you join us in our VT Chat Room to discuss tonight’s action, including a Hall of Fame ring presentation for Cris Carter, with all the Vikings fans that hang out in these parts.

 

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The Vikings were hoping some of the dings and dents suffered on Sunday would heal quickly enough to not impact Thursday night’s matchup against Washington.  It is looking like that is just wishful thinking.

The Vikings have already ruled out defensive backs Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford.  Defensive tackle Fred Evans has also been ruled out while starter LeTroy Guion is listed as doubtful, giving way for Chase Baker to see extensive action.  Xavier Rhodes is listed as probable and will likely start at cornerback across from Josh Robinson, with Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton filling in for Raymond at safety.

On offense, Christian Ponder will have the odds even more stacked against him as he will likely be missing two starters on the offensive line, not to mention tight end Kyle Rudolph.  Phil Loadholt has already been ruled out and J’Marcus Webb will be filling in at right tackle.  Charlie Johnson is listed as doubtful, so Joe Berger is likely to get the start in his place.  Tight end Rhett Ellison is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has caused him to miss time and backup running back Matt Asiata will miss another game while dealing with the tragic death of his father.

The Indigenous People of the Potomac Region, however, have only one rookie backup running back (Chris Thompson) listed as questionable.  Five others are on their injury report, but they are all listed as probable.

In short, the Vikings are hurting far worse than the Redskins as we forge into the second half of a very, very long 2013 season.

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