Thursday, July 30, 2015

Antone Exum

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

Thursday’s an off day for the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings in Mankato, but we’re still on the grind with our man Daniel House (@DanielHouseNFL) of Vikings Corner. He stops in to recap the first week of Vikings Training Camp, show a little love to the nice surprises of camp (Danielle Hunter, MyCole Pruitt, Mike Wallace, Gerald Hodges, and Antone Exum), as well as some of the not so great surprises. (You’ll never guess who…)

All that and other “Is Yankey International?” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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(Photo Courtesy of Luke Inman)

Training Camp is a time to figure things out. I have a laundry list of things I want to shake out in Mankato and I’ll rattle a few off on the podcast. We’ll also talk about our production schedule for this week (at least one episode a day!), as well as rough outline of our Mankato adventure this weekend, and us singing the praises of Boulder Tap House. A place ya’ll should come swarm us after each Vikings practice. Do it.

A Few of the 37 Things I Want to Figure Out in Mankato Include
• Nothing about Adrian
• “How does Teddy look?”
• How much does Chad Greenway have left?
• That Zimmer Hellfire Defense in year two.
• Who wins at right guard? Harris – Berger/Yankey/Thompson/Shepherd/ FUSCO?
• With Clemmings staying at tackle, could he be the eventual replacement for Loadholt/Kalil?
• What’s Stefon Diggs gonna be?
• What’s the deal with Spielman’s arms?
• Will Trae Waynes even start as a rookie?
• Cordarelle has one strike left. Will he strike out?
• Tune in for the other 27!

All that and other “Love Me Some Mankato” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

In Minnesota, it’s hard for sports fans to be optimistic. For years, they’ve watched team miss playoff after playoff, or go on to finish seasons with losing records after losing records. It hasn’t been an enjoyable run, but things seem to be getting brighter in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

At the shiny new Courts in Mayo Clinic Square, Timberwolves rookies Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones are invigorating the franchise with excitement, buoyed by the early success of second-year player Andrew Wiggins. Down the road at Target Field, minor league call-up Miguel Sano is launching home runs to help the Twins to a 45-39 record. And in the Excel Energy Center, the Wild look to make another playoff run after signing goalie Devan Dubnyk to a six-year contract last month.

But this isn’t a Minnesota Sports site — it’s Vikings Territory! How are things up in Winter Park? Most fans would say they’re great; Adrian Peterson is back, Mike Zimmer is leading the charge, and the defense is finally capable of stopping the offenses of the NFC North. Given the team’s unfortunate history, though, it’s no surprise that Teddy Bridgewater is serving up slices of humble pie, per USA Today’s Tom Pelissero:

Personally, it’s refreshing to see such a young player handle the pressure so elegantly. For many Bridgewater’s age, the limelight can be a difficult place to live, and he’s proven he’s comfortable under the stressful spotlight — or should I say, “Great Under Major Pressure”? In interviews throughout OTAs and minicamp, Bridgewater’s been deferential, heaping praise on his teammates and attributing the team’s heightened expectations to the coaching staff and front office.

Sure, Vikings fans have had it rough for years, but this may be the season our luck changes. When the time comes, we can celebrate, but for now, I’m comfortable watching Teddy operate like a pro — on and off the field.

And now, some of the most popular Vikings links from around the web!:

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Maybe the football gods were trying to tell us something this morning when they aired the Vikings-Packers MNF game from November 6, 2000; the game where Brett Favre heaved a pass down the field that was seemingly broken up, but miraculously hauled in by a falling Antonio Freeman. If you need to jog your memory, here’s the play:

His catch sealed an overtime victory for the Packers and stands as one of the worst examples of secondary play by any Vikings team. More than that, it’s a reminder that the Vikings have been a historically sub par defense against the pass — most notably in the past 20 years. Remember when Josh McCown (THAT Josh McCown) knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs in 2003? Remember the Vikings’ 31st-ranked pass defense in 2013?

Things are looking up in Mike Zimmer’s current secondary, though. Take last season for example; the unit improved to 7th-best pass defense in the league, allowing just under 225 yards per game. Their quick turnaround can be attributed to Zimmer’s scheme and the improved play of two key players — cornerback Xavier Rhodes and free safety Harrison Smith.

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[Editor’s note: This is another GIF-heavy article from Darren Page. Previously, some readers have indicated that they have had trouble loading pages that have this many GIFs embedded at once, so a mobile-friendly version with the GIFs implemented as links instead of embedded images is available here - Arif]

The Minnesota Vikings made their first of multiple secondary selections by drafting Virginia Tech’s Antone Exum in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Exum started 32 games between both the safety and cornerback positions going into his senior season at Virginia Tech.  A torn ACL and lateral meniscus in his right knee suffered during a pick-up basketball game cut into his final season in Blacksburg. He would return for two full games in 2013 as a shell of himself. An ankle injury suffered against Miami in his third start ended his season.

The shame of it was that Exum was coming off a heralded junior year in which he was named second team All-ACC in a talented group of cornerbacks that included current Viking Xavier Rhodes. Exum led the Hokies with five interceptions. He also logged 48 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 16 pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Exum won time at both free safety and a “rover” position during the 2011 season. He was technically a safety ever since he arrived at Virginia Tech, only platooning at cornerback the one season. That experience at safety will be important, because Exum is listed as a safety for the Vikings.

Let’s dig into the meat of Exum’s cornerback play in 2012 and translate it to safety play before looking at how the Vikings may plan on using him.

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