Saturday, July 4, 2015

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Both ProFootballTalk and Jay Glazer both reported that the expedited non-injury grievance hearing for Adrian Peterson will be scheduled on November 17th, the Monday after the Vikings’ game against the Chicago Bears. That the NFL waited the longest possible amount of time the CBA allows to grant the hearing is a little disingenuous, but it allows the NFL to collect all of the information they feel they don’t have but need in order to make a ruling on his suspension as soon as they need to lift the exemption on Peterson.

As PFT reported, the hearing will likely not take long and the arbitrator will not have to use all five of his allotted days to come to the conclusion that the NFL breached the written agreement it had made with Peterson to restore his roster status as soon as his legal issues ran their course. Even if the arbiter took all of his allotted time, Peterson would be theoretically active in time for the home game against the Packers in two weeks, though it would more likely mean that the NFL would be forced to roll out its punishment of Peterson then.

The NFL Players Association has filed an expedited, non-injury grievance against the NFL on behalf of Adrian Peterson to remove him from the exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, per multiple reports. According to Adam Schefter, they released the following statement:

We asked the NFL to honor the terms of that agreement last week and as of now, they have failed to respond or comply. It is our obligation to protect all players’ rights, and we will pursue any and all breaches of any contract between a player and his team or the NFL

It is the NFLPA’s contention that there was an agreement to take Adrian Peterson off the exempt list as soon as all of Peterson’s legal issues were resolved, contrary to Andrew Brandt’s report that the agreement was never made (for what it’s worth, Pro Football Talk argues the opposite). That the NFLPA contends that there was an explicit signed agreement is damning for the NFL, who reneged on an agreement made with a player.

Something that may be delaying the NFL’s decision may be reports of internal divisions within the Vikings—Ian Rapaport argues that the executives on the team are divided about whether or not he should play. On the other hand, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk argues those reports are specious. It seems more likely that Rapaport’s report on this situation is true, if only because it is difficult to believe reports after the fact that internal divisions do not exist.

Per Florio, “a hearing could be held and the case could be resolved before Minnesota’s next game on Sunday, at Chicago.” Should the NFLPA win their grievance, Peterson will be cleared to play immediately, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be suspended when the NFL finally does make a decision. One interesting benefit to the league: they can functionally test the waters on a potential Adrian return if they lose their grievance while shielding themselves from criticism from sponsors, by pointing out that they tried to keep Peterson out.

The NFL will argue that they are still gathering materials to review. The NFLPA has a right to four expedited grievances a year, and the CBA spells out that both parties are supposed to work in “good faith” to resolve the grievance as quickly as possible.

The Vikings had earlier released the following statement on the Peterson situation:

In regards to Adrian Peterson’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines. As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend’s game against the Bears.

As for whether or not Peterson is in game shape, there are conflicting reports of that as well. Jason La Canfora at CBS says that the Vikings “harbor serious concerns” about Adrian Peterson’s physical and mental state. “Peterson … has not been working out nearly to the degree he would have if he were playing.”

This seems harder to believe, and Florio’s sources take the opposite tack, arguing that Peterson is definitely in game shape. Given his history of playing with a light load at training camp and skipping the preseason, it seems like we have more circumstantial evidence that Peterson would be ready to play.

UPDATE: The NFL has responded, per Adam Schefter.

We have received the NFLPA’s grievance on behalf of Adrian Peterson. We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved. When Mr. Peterson decided not to contest criminal charges, we promptly advised both him and the NFLPA that we were prepared to consider what, if any, discipline should now be imposed under the Personal Conduct Policy. We asked Mr. Peterson and his representatives, including the NFLPA, for relevant information. We have not received any of the requested information, but remain prepared to schedule a hearing and make a determination as quickly as possible based on as much information as available.

That the NFL hasn’t received any requested information is a little surprising, even knowing that the records are sealed. They may have to proceed without it, which could be worse for Peterson than better.

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On Sunday, I had the opportunity to represent Vikings Territory on Kare 11’s Vikings Extra show. I received a message from sports producer Dan Edwards, and I jumped at the opportunity to make my television debut. It was an absolutely fantastic experience. The entire sports crew at Kare 11 was fantastic—down-to-earth, welcoming, and just plain fun.

Every week, Vikings Extra features a writer/media person, a football fan, and a Minnesota athlete (former or current). Last night’s panel featured myself as the writer, Apple Valley football coach David Paradeise, and former San Antonio Spur and Minnesota native Rich Melzer. Eric Perkins facilitated the panel discussion; the three main topics covered during the TV portion were the following: (1) what will the second half of the Vikings season look like? (2) the AP situation, and (3) who is your biggest disappointment on the Vikings roster thus far?

A six-minute edited segment played on Kare 11 following the Sunday Night Football game, and the entire piece is online. Watch below and comment!

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Last season, Josh Robinson was called on to replace Vikings veteran Antoine Winfield in slot coverage—and the results were less than impressive. This year, however, the story could not be more different. With a new coaching system under Mike Zimmer and the addition of new defensive players to the roster, Robinson is able to play primarily outside and is really finding his groove.

Offseason transactions brought in Captain Munnerlyn to play the slot, and Robinson looks much more natural playing on the outside. Additionally, he fits better in Zimmer’s defensive scheme that utilizes more man coverage and boundary corners.

“I believe [Coach] Zimmer is doing a great job with a lot of things, which are all helping us become better players,” Robinson said. “Teaching players techniques that work and stressing the importance of accountability and consistency are the biggest contributors to our success.”

“Zimmer came to Minnesota with a reputation for being able to get the most out of defensive backs, and Robinson is probably the team’s most improved player,” said Star Tribune‘s Matt Vensel. “He is a young player with speed and cover skills, and his play this year is a reminder of the dangers of writing off a player after he struggles early in his career.”

Robinson’s 2014 numbers are certainly impressive. At the end of October, the CB was allowing one completion for every 12.4 coverage snaps, compared to 6.9 last season. Robinson also continues to demonstrate improved play-making skills, already notching seven pass breakups and two interceptions.

The more significant of the two picks—if it is fair to say that—occurred on Sept. 7 against the Rams. St. Louis set up at its 19-yard line with 1:13 remaining in the first half, and the play proved pivotal in the game. Robinson executed his coverage of Rams tight end Jared Cook, and the CB was able to intercept the pass and keep his feet in bounds on the way down. The Vikings capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown to go up 13-0 at the half, and they continued on to win the game. Robinson referred to Game 3 as the “most consistent and confidently” played contest of his career, and it’s clear these qualities were not a single-game fluke. The 23-year-old attributes several things to his sudden upswing in performance.

With a 4-5 record, the Vikings enter their bye week in third place within the NFC North.  Certain aspects (ahem, offensive line) have been disappointing enough that the words “Vikings” and “playoffs” are not mentioned in the same sentence very often these days.  Still, there is a lot to be excited about with the way this team seems to be headed, and certainly plenty of storylines to discuss.

Here is the best from around the internet we could dig up on this week off.  Click the link, read the words, and tell them who sent you:

 

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