Monday, July 6, 2015

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The Packers-Vikings Border Battle was always special to my Dad and I, as I’m sure it is to many fathers and sons on both sides of the river. The feelings and brain chemistry probably date back to prehistoric times when a father and his brood would share and bond over the hatred and disdain for a rival tribe and vice-versa. However our tradition wasn’t warring over the good pasture lands, but instead getting up to The Dome for the Packer-Viking game at least once every two years, starting when I was nine-years old in 1994.

2007 was the last one.

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Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

Andy’s off this week taking care of a baby that is apparently his. But we have a week full of classic Purple FTW! episodes for your rube ears!

This was an interview I did with former Vikings running back Darrin Nelson on Football Convos. We talked Vikings, Bud Grant, Bill Walsh, Stanford, being one of the first dual threat running backs in the NFL, and his election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Andy: Right Guard and Safety [Not Named Harrison]
With Fusco shifting to the left side, it’s been a gong show of potential right guard suitors with second-year Papa Yank rotating in with the two rookies Tyrus Thompson and TJ Clemmings. Clemmings seemed to be the favorite before OTAs, but now it’s anyone’s game. What is nice is the depth of young competition at what was a problem position group last season due to injury and ineptitude.

At the safety opposite Harrison, I’m just looking for anyone who passes the BTB (Better-Than-Blanton) Scale (patent pending). Boxscore scouts overrate Blanton because of his high tackle numbers, but we Vikings fans know. It’s easy to pad your tackle stats when your man is wide open and catches it in front of you. I’m not sure if Sendejo is anything more than a good special teamer at this point. Taylor Mays is a Zimmer guy, but he has always been a liability in coverage. But my two love interests are second-year man (and special teams penalty hobbyist) Antone Exum and undrafted free agent Anthony Harris. Like the guard spot, we have some young depth. May the best man win. Or at least pass the BTB Scale.

Brett: Strong Safety
Though there are multiple intriguing position battles as the Vikings prepare to head to training camp, I think the most interesting is at strong safety. I’m higher than most on Robert Blanton but would be lying if I told you I believe he’s the long-term answer opposite Harrison Smith. The Vikings drafted Antone Exum last year and picked up UDFA Anthony Harris this year. Both guys should push Blanton for a starting spot, especially if Blanton continues to be plagued by injuries. The unexpected release of Taylor Mays the morning of the first day of mini-camp means it’s up to one of the two younger challengers to unseat Blanton and break up the Fighting Irish tandem currently at safety.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Mike Zimmer may be the Vikings’ most visible coach, but his coordinators — offensive, defensive, and special teams — are just as important to the team’s weekly on-field success. After yesterday’s second mandatory minicamp practice, Norv Turner, George Edwards, and Mike Priefer each took the podium and addressed the local media.

Below, three quotes to keep in mind as training camp approaches:

Norv Turner — Offensive Coordinator

On the Vikings’ offense and adding to the playbook:

“We’re going to do everything we can on a weekly basis to win the game. There are always new trends, new things that people are doing, but if we’re going to be a good offense we have to be really good with our core, with the things we do day-to-day and we have to be able to execute against good people. The change-ups, the gimmicks, the little wrinkles, they happen when you get really good at the basics and you get really good at the fundamentals, then you have something to build on and you can create some different looks.”

George Edwards — Defensive Coordinator

On Scott Crichton’s development this offseason:

“I think that’s the biggest thing is now he’s comfortable with the calls, not having to think as much. The one thing we really like him coming out, how hard he plays, the effort he played with, has transferred. Now he’s playing outside at defensive end inside at tackle now he’s not thinking about his assignments he’s really lined up and able to play all out, so from that aspect of it, we think he’s ahead of schedule and look forward to watching him progress through training camp.”

Mike Priefer — Special Teams Coordinator

On the need for improvement from punter Jeff Locke:

“Well, Jeff’s got to be more consistent. We can talk about weather until we are blue in the face. It doesn’t matter. The opposing team’s kicking in the same weather and we were out punted a few times last year where I felt like we had the better punter. So punting’s got to improve, the snapping needs to improve. Some areas of protection we need to improve on. Coverage was really good last year; we just need to be more consistent. We do it all the time, not four out of five reps, but every rep.” 

And now, the best links and stories from the Vikings community:

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Andy’s off this week taking care of a baby that is apparently his. But we have a week full of classic Purple FTW! episodes for your rube ears!

Note: This is a throwback episode from August 5, 2014. Thoughts are still applicable though!

The Minnesota Vikings have a fresh start with new head coach Mike Zimmer and future franchise QB Teddy Bridgewater.

I believe the Vikings have a 4-year window to win a Super Bowl.

Listen in and find out why.

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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