Sunday, May 24, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "chris carr"

chris carr

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In their first preseason game, the Vikings looked just okay as they traveled to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Last week, in their second preseason game, the Vikings looked much, much improved. You know what? I’ll just say it: The Vikings looked great against the Bills at home. This week, the Vikings will get another chance to show that they are an improved unit when they host the Chargers tonight at Mall of America Field.

As it is the third preseason game, the starters will likely play an entire half. (And maybe even a drive into the second half.) We should get a really good idea of what our team could look like come the first regular season game September 9th. With that being said, I just found out this morning that neither Phillip Rivers or Antonio Gates will be starting for the Chargers so our defense will be working against backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

So, as we head into the game tonight, here are some things I’ll be specifically looking for. Don’t forget to check back here sometime after the game for my notes and analysis.

Can Christian Ponder keep it up?

I know this probably seems like a cop-out. And I know you’re probably tired of hearing us talk about on VT about how this year is about Ponder. Blah, blah, blah… But really, Ponder had a great game last week. It was very, very impressive in my opinion. And since tonight’s game will be the preseason game that is most like a regular game, I’ll be watching him closely again. Almost as a confirmation that what we saw last week wasn’t some sort of fluke or something. The poise he showed in the pocket. The decisions he made. The way he went through his reads and directed hot routes at the line. Those are all things that I want to see again tonight through the first half.

I’ll also be watching to see how he does with Jerome Simpson being on the field less. Leslie Frazier said earlier this week in a press conference that the Vikings were going to start throttling his involvement because of his three game suspension at the beginning of the regular season. All indications at this point are that Ponder and Simpson seem to have a pretty good connection and have done well together. It will be interesting to see what happens when Simpson is absent and another wide receiver (Aromashodu?) needs to step up.

Audie Cole and Jarius Wright

Kind of two different stores with these guys so far, huh? On one hand, you have Audie Cole who has been very splashy so far in preseason. Last week he had two interceptions returned for touchdowns (within 17 seconds of one another). The prior week he had a sack against the 49ers. Jarius Wright, on the other hand, has been incredibly quiet. He hasn’t had a single reception and has only returned one punt for decent yardage.

I’ll be looking for Audie Cole to show more this week. While I doubt he’ll get much playing time in the first half, if he can come out in the second half and make some big plays again, I think it is a lock that he will make the roster.

Jarius Wright just needs to show some sign of life if he is going to make this team. I was high on the Wright pick in this year’s draft and I’m really hoping he turns out to be a weapon for this team. Hopefully, in the second half of tonight’s game he can come down with a few grabs and/or show some of that speed on a punt return.

Who will be RB3?

There are a lot of names in the basket for the third running back spot on the roster. The Vikings Age pointed out that Rick Spielman has said he would prefer the third running back to be a running back/full back hybrid. While you would think Lex Hilliard would fill that role quite nicely, he hasn’t really shown anything in the preseason to solidify his place. Matt Asiata, on the other hand, looked really good last week against the Bills (as I mentioned in last week’s notes and analysis). If he can come out and have another really good game, I definitely think he deserves consideration for the role.

Other quick notes

  • There is a battle going on at the tight end position. With John Carlson out with an injury, other guys like Allen Reisner, Mickey Shuler and rookie Rhett Ellison have been stepping up. One of them will probably end up getting cut in the next couple of weeks, though. Who will it be?
  • Is Erin Henderson really being pushed by Marvin Mitchell for the Will spot? I’ll be watching these two tonight.
  • Chris Carr will get to start in place of Chris Cook who is out with concussion concerns. Carr has looked pretty bad so far in preseason. Can he improve tonight as a starter?
  • Who will get the nod at backup quarterback tonight? Joe Webb has looked ghastly in preseason so far. Does he get another shot tonight or does the team decide to give veteran Sage Rosenfels a shot for the QB2 position?

 

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While the Vikings first preseason game against the 49ers wasn’t horrible, it definitely left fans wanting to see something more. A sign of improvement. A glimpse of development. Well, I think Vikings fans got that and then some as the Vikings defeated the Bills 36-14 at Mall of America Field Friday night. There was definitely more positive than negative in this week’s exhibition game. I think there may be a feeling in the air now that this team could cause more problems in the tough NFC North than given credit for by most NFL analysts. (Something I’ve been saying here for a while now). With that being said, let’s get moving on the notes and analysis I have from the second preseason game of the year. We’ll start off with a summary of the injuries suffered in yesterday’s match up.

Injuries

The Vikings managed to get through another exhibition game without any major injuries. Kyle Rudolph suffered a laceration behind his ear and was evaluated for a concussion but the tests came back negative. Chris Cook suffered a concussion on a play where he stripped the ball from a Bills receiver. Both players will be fine but I wouldn’t expect either of them to start in the next preseason game against the Chargers. If it was the regular season game, I wouldn’t be so sure. But as it is just an exhibition match up and both players are crucial to the Vikings roster, I would be surprised if Cook (Rudolph is more likely) saw playing time. Then again, it remains to be seen if Adrian Peterson will play next week so, really, who knows?

“No Huddle”

  • Let’s start off with Ponder because, let’s face it – if a certain rookie, seventh round linebacker hadn’t stole the show in the fourth quarter, the main thing we’d take away from this game is that Ponder looked excellent. He showed great accuracy, led receivers, stepped up in the pocket to make throws and was able to get away from pressure when needed. Moreover, he really just looked the part. Looked comfortable in his own skin. He had the time to go through his reads and was able to find the open man. Ponder finished the night 10-13 for 136 yards (with an almost equal passer rating) and a touchdown. Amen.
  • Jerome Simpson knows how to get high. I mean really, really high. I guess this is both a great thing and bad thing for the Vikings, though. On one hand, Simpson will go over just about anyone in an effort to get to the endzone. On the other hand, it means he’ll miss the first three games of the year. Something I saw that I thought was really awesome about the Simpson play below is how friggin’ fast Matt Kalil is. Watch the full highlight on NFL.com and notice how Kalil is seriously right behind Simpson as he flies down the field. Big guy has speed.

    (Image courtesy of SB Nation.)
  • I thought Toby Gerhart showed some great speed in Friday’s game. We’re used to seeing Gerhart plow through people to get the first down. There were a couple times though that I thought he showed great agility and burst to get through the first wave of defenders. It’s comforting knowing that even without our starred franchise player Adrian Peterson, we could still have one of the better ground attacks in the league.
  • Though Ponder was sacked twice on the opening drive, neither of them came as a result of rookie Matt Kalil being beat. Kalil, who had an above average first NFL game last week, showed us again why he was worth a fourth overall pick.
  • On the second offensive drive, the Vikings managed to come away with a field goal thanks to rookie kicker Blair Walsh after the drive stalled in front of the Bills’ goal line. I think it’s worth noting though that, if it was a regular season game, we probably would have been forced to punt instead. The Vikings went for it on fourth and short near midfield and got a first down allowing them to continue the drive… It’s unlikely they take that risk in the regular season.
  • I really don’t care for flea flickers (unless they work, of course). They just take too long to develop and I rarely see them end well. The Vikings attempted to run a flea flicker during their second offensive drive and the play ended up incomplete as Ponder was forced out of the pocket and had to throw it out of bounds down field. The pressure came from the left side after Matt Kalil basically stopped blocking Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay. Not sure what happened on that play… But again, flea flickers… They just don’t do it for me.
  • The real test for rookie kicker Blair Walsh will come when the Vikings are down by 2 at Lambeau Field with five seconds left on the clock. With that being said, he had another great game, Friday. Not only was he booming kick offs again (the guy managed to put one through the uprights on a kick off) but he was nailing difficult field goals. Walsh accounted for half of the Vikings 38 points against the Bills and was 5/6 on field goals. The kick he missed was from about 47 yards out and was wide right. With that being said, he also nailed another 47 yard field goal right down the middle later in the game.
  • Harrison Smith seemed to have a pretty good game. He only had a couple stand out plays – one of which being a beautiful blitz where he batted a throw down at the line. More importantly though, he didn’t have any biffs that I noticed. I guess it’s a good thing when you aren’t constantly hearing a safeties name because typically it means they are being beat, missing tackles, etc… I think it’s safe to say that Smith has secured a starting spot on the roster this year. Now we’ll just have to see who starts beside him. Personally, my vote is for Mistral Raymond after Friday’s game. Raymond was on fire and definitely made a statement after struggling last week (and publicly being called out for it by the front office) against the 49ers.
  • Chris Carr and Eric Frampton. Yikes, these guys looked bad.
  • Josh Robinson didn’t look spectacular but he also wasn’t glaringly bad. Which, I guess, is about as much as you could ask for from a rookie in his first game coming off of a hamstring injury. He did get beat on a bomb down the left side of the field but his blazing speed allowed him to catch back up with defender and put some pressure on him causing an incompletion. He also had a dropped interception but at the very least managed to interrupt the ball in the air.
  • Joe Webb has another impressive game as a running back. As a quarterback? Not so much… With that being said, I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m not giving Joe Webb a fair shot? While I do think he is inaccurate, unable to read a defense and prefers to run first when there is any sign of pressure, he is working with the second stringers. And from everything I’ve seen in preseason, there is a huge disparity between the starters and the back ups. Yet, the fact remains that I just don’t think Webb can be a starting quarterback for this team. If he could look as comfortable throwing as he does sprinting down the field, he would look like Peyton Manning. But the fact is Joe Webb was never a quarterback and I’m still convinced that he is not one. Not an an NFL level anyway.
  • When the Vikings drafted Jarius Wright I was pumped. As some of you know, I spent a good amount of time “scouting” the receivers in this past draft class and Wright was one of my later-round favorites for the Vikings. While some just consider him a “poor man’s Percy Harvin,” I thought he could be much more than that. Not only does he have the speed, agility and evasiveness of a great slot receiver, but, in my opinion, he has the breakaway speed that could make him a deep threat (despite his short stature)and a threat in the return game. Unfortunately for Wright, though, he hasn’t really stood out much this preseason so far. And I’m not sure if it’s because maybe he’s not as good as I thought he was or he just hasn’t really had the opportunity yet. Wright hasn’t been targeted much as a receiver so far. In fact, he didn’t have a single catch against the Bills. You know who did have a reception, though? Fourteen other players! That has to be kind of scary if you’re Jarius Wright. He really needs to show in the next two games why he deserves to be on this team and what he’s capable of. Wright also hasn’t gotten a real opportunity on any returns yet either as most of the punts he’s been back to receive ended in a fair catch.
  • Matt Asiata, who the Vikings are looking at as a potential fullback, looked really great to me. In fact, I think he could potentially be someone the team looks out to add depth at running back. The guy showed great speed and vision. Asiata had a couple of big gains on the ground where he looked much quicker and more agile than your typical full back.
  • Other than a long, perfectly passed bomb to Emmanuel Arceneaux, Sage Rosenfels didn’t really do much to show why he should be the second QB on this roster. Then again, I’m not sure he really cares much as he is a [very] veteran player who was likely just brought back to provide an experienced perspective at the position. What do I know, though? Maybe he’s dying to have an opportunity to get back on the field if Ponder goes down during the year. If that’s the case though, he’s got some more work to do.
  • Audie Cole. Audie, freakin’ Cole. He’s all anyone is talking about after having two interceptions for touchdowns within 16 seconds or so in the fourth quarter. It definitely added a spark to an otherwise pedestrian second half. I don’t know that I would go as far as anointing him as the steal of the draft, though. Let’s not forget that he was going up against Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith – the fourth “quarterback” on the Bills roster. (And I use the term quarterback loosely, here.)  Both quarterbacks basically made the same horrible read two times in a row and Audie Cole just managed to capitalize on it. With that being said, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think what Cole managed to do was easy or undeserving of recognition. If anything, I think it should definitely earn him some more playing time to see what else he can do. But a guaranteed spot on the roster? I’m not so sure…

Today, the Minnesota Vikings officially will open training camp in Mankato, and there will be plenty of storylines to follow on offense as chronicled here.

The defense provides even more intrigue and drama for us to follow, however, as there is a surplus of jobs up for grabs across the board.  Here is my look at the top five storylines to follow on the defensive side of the football in the coming weeks:

5.  The Alan Williams Show

“Hey, Alan, I have a job for you.  I want you to come to Minnesota and coach up the defense that, outside of Jared Allen, was atrocious last year.  Oh, by the way, I want you to supervise the guy you are replacing and also try to get Singletary to keep his pants on.  Thanks, see you soon.”

New defensive coordinator Alan Williams inherited a mess, to be frank, and the unique arrangement of the coaching staff could prove to be a point of drama moving forward.  It will be mighty interesting to see how he responds to the challenge and how his players respond to him.

When you look at this offseason’s free agent class for the Minnesota Vikings, you will be hard pressed to find a likely starter in the bunch besides fullback Jerome Felton.  Jerome Simpson is likely, too, but not during the first three weeks when he will be serving his suspension.

After those two guys, I think the most free agent signing most likely to win a starting job has to be cornerback Chris Carr (setting aside injury scenarios).

The 29 year old cornerback has had a solid seven year career up until last season’s hamstring injury ended a 96 game playing streak.

“If you’re out of the mix long enough, you might just be left out,” Carr said about his demotion in Baltimore last season. “It’s like you have to reprove yourself all over again. It feels pretty good now that I have that chance.”

Carr knew he had the skills to continue playing in the NFL, however.

“If you’re versatile, you’ll always find a job somewhere,” Carr said.

By “versatility” Carr means that he can play both inside and outside effectively, and he could be asked to do just that in Minnesota.  Chris Cook seems certain to man one of the starting spots on the outside, but a combination of Antoine Winfield and Carr seems likely for the other outside spot and nickel duties.

There has been some good debate in the comments section about what exactly Winfield’s role will be this year, and I personally believe that the answer will greatly depend on Carr’s ability to step up as a solid starter.

Jason La Confora reports that former Ravens cornerback Chris Carr will sign a one year deal with the Vikings.

The 28 year old veteran has played in seven NFL seasons after being signed by the Raiders as an undrafted rookie in 2005.  Up until last season, Carr never missed a game in his time with the Raiders, Titans, and Ravens.

Last season, however, Carr fell out of favor when injuries limited his action and younger Ravens cornerbacks emerged.  He was cut earlier this season as a result of being out played by younger and less expensive talents.

He has 27 career starts, seven forced fumbles, 24 defended passes, six interceptions, and is a fairly dependable tackler.  He is a smaller corner at 5’ 10” and 182 pounds.

The return of Antoine Winfield and Chris Cook to the Vikings lineup, combined with the free agent additions of Carr and Zackary Bowman, suggests that the Vikings may not intend on targeting cornerback help early in the Draft later this month.

That doesn’t mean the secondary couldn’t stand to see some more improvement, however.

After all, Jamarca Sanford is currently this roster’s best safety… and I don’t mean that as a positive thing.

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