Monday, March 30, 2015
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andrew sendejo

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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 sixth article, focusing on the safeties.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterbacksrunning backs, tight ends, fullbacks and specialists.]

There is an enormous talent gap between Harrison Smith and the next most talented safety currently on the Vikings roster, whomever that might be.

Smith is a dominant force that doesn’t get enough recognition, yet, on the national level. Soon he will almost certainly sign a blockbuster extension that not only gets him the money he deserves, but also the ink.

Smith is set to have a $2.271 million cap hit in 2015, but his new contract could come at any time. I would be very surprised if the Vikings let the contractual matter play out into next offseason, where they would risk having to use the franchise tag to ensure Smith remains a Viking. The good news is that Smith has recently stated he plans to remain a Viking.

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There were a handful of positive individual performances on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Bears and, as a team, the Vikings played very poorly.  The team came out of their bye week very flat, with deficiencies on both sides of the ball, and the rest of the 2014 schedule will tear them apart of they don’t get better.

The past winners of the “Player of the Week” votes are:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

 

The nominations are a bit underwhelming this week, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.  If you think I missed someone worthy of the nod then please feel free to hit the “other” button and leave your write-in vote in the comments section.

The nominations are…

Photo courtesy of Jason Barum
Photo courtesy of Jason Barum

Vegas to Minneapolis to Mankato all in the matter of a few hours (Okay, maybe like six or seven). Running on an hour of sleep right now but there is no place I’d rather be.  I have to be honest with you… Standing on that field just a few feet away from all these incredible athletes was pretty surreal. Hard to be objective and analytical when you’re stuck just trying to take it all in.

Nevertheless, I did jot a few notes down (below). I’ll be back out on the field for the afternoon practice in just a few hours and will report back then. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, follow me on Twitter where I’ll be providing updates. Also, Arif’s Twitter List of training camp coverage is a great resource to be current with what’s going on. Plus, all those guys are pros. I’m just a rube who’s starstruck during his first training camp experience.

A couple of notes from the morning walk through:

  • Josh Robinson did not participate in the morning’s activities. Robinson was taken out of practice a couple of days ago as a precaution when dealing with a hamstring related injury. Defensive Coordinator George Edwards was unwilling to provide an update on the status of Robinson’s injury and deferred to Zimmer on the issue.

It’s been a couple of days since we’ve had a training camp update here on VT. I’ve scoured the internet and curated it below. I will be in Mankato Friday and Saturday at Vikings Training Camp and will have more content to share with everyone at that time. I’ll also be tweeting furiously so make sure to follow me (@brettAnderson87) if you aren’t already.

Quarterback Trio - Vikings Training Camp 2014
Photo courtesy of Chris Price

Injuries

Let’s get the injury related news out of the way starting with Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson, dealing with a foot injury, was a full participant today for the first time this training camp. The injury is not believed to be serious and Patterson’s absence comes off as precautionary. Still, it’s a good sign he’s back with the team.

Captain Munnerlyn, who is dealing with a minor hamstring injury, was activated off the PUP list but was not a participant in team drills. Like Patterson, the injury is not believed to be serious.

Unfortunately, Robert Blanton got added to the injury list today. Blanton pulled his hamstring during blitz drills. Zimmer did not share with media how long Blanton would be out but it’s bad news for Blanton who had been taking most first-team reps alongside Harrison Smith.

Andrew Sendejo, who had offseason back surgery and hasn’t participated in practice to date, could return as soon as Monday, per Zimmer.

Other injury casualties include Josh Robinson who cut practice short with hamstring tightness and AC Leonard who had a headache. Zimmer did refer to Josh Robinson’s early departure as “preventative.”

Quarterbacks

Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Everyone wants to know about how the quarterbacks are faring so far. Everything I’ve heard or read is that Teddy Bridgewater has been super impressive and slowly closing (bridging?!) the gap separating himself and Matt Cassel. During last night’s team practice, Bridgewater dazzled many fans and members of the media going 12-for-13 with his only incompletion coming from a drop at the hands of UDFA AC Leonard. Bridgewater’s performance earned him first-team reps in today’s practice.

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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