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Some of us think that Rick Spielman has put together a roster that potentially has the ability to surprise NFL observers as soon as this coming season.  Heck, if you look into the darkest corners and the deepest abyss, you might even find a Vikings fan that thinks the Vikings could soon be in contention for a Super Bowl.

From what I have seen out of the Vikings coaching staff this offseason, however, I think that they are having trouble believing in themselves and instead want to pull every trick out of the hat possible in an effort to simply do well enough to not get fired.

First, as Brett passed along in the post below this one, the team is allowing Adrian Peterson to rush himself back into action.  Sure, they are parading Peterson out in front of the press allowing him to talk about his “vision” and make himself out to be some sort of Superman capable of making this comeback in short order.

If Peterson were actually Superman, his knee never would have been shredded in the first place.

Allowing him to push himself during the rehab process is one thing.  Allowing him to run with the reckless abandon we all know and love during a meaningless preseason game, or even early in the regular season, is quite another.  Make no mistake about it, this is shaping up to be the biggest gamble this team has taken since they swung a certain trade with a certain Texas franchise to obtain a certain high profile running back.

And it could backfire.

Another sign that the coaching staff is in self preservation mode is the handling of Everson Griffen.  Griffen was shaping up to be an above-average defensive end that could push Brian Robison for playing time, and also made an impact as the NFL’s biggest special teams gunner.  So, they switched him to linebacker for a spell in an effort to give him more snaps.

Now, I have no problem with experimenting and trying to play to the strengths of your roster, but this particular experiment went too far.  They have already canned the idea of Griffen playing at linebacker, but not after he shed a significant amount of weight to try and win a job there.  Making that type of change to your body in an effort to win a position you clearly weren’t meant to play is just ridiculous.

I am even more perplexed that they would move Griffen away from the end spot while at the same time make a big deal out of putting Jared Allen on a pitch count.  Griffen, by all appearances, was at least the third best pass rusher on this roster last season and should be an obvious choice to spell Allen if that truly is the plan.  Now, I am concerned that Griffen’s weight loss will at least temporarily hinder his ability to be productive at that spot, let alone as a part of the defensive tackle rotation.

The handling of these two very different situations follow a troubling pattern that cause me to flash back to my objections to the handling of Joe Webb, Donovan McNabb, and Chris Cook.

Troubling patterns are the worst kind, and the fact that I am starting to notice them is giving me an uneasy feeling.

A continuation of the news roundup from training camp.  Day three came and went, and here are the top 10 items that you should know:

1.  Michael Jenkins Is Feeling Good

30 year old receiver Michael Jenkins might have an uphill battle when it comes to making this roster, but if he is cut it won’t be because of his torn meniscus from last November.  Jenkins pronounced himself fully recovered from his surgery, which had seemed to hamper him earlier this offseason, on Monday.

2.  Chris Stroud In, Nick Taylor Out

Training camp has claimed its first victim.  A torn labrum landed cornerback Nick Taylor on the injured waivers on Monday, and the Vikings replaced his spot with rookie cornerback Chris Stroud out of Webber International.  Stroud had participated in the Vikings rookie minicamp back in May.  You might remember that Taylor was the “point guard” that Rick Spielman took a lot of grief for signing somewhat early into free agency.

3.  Jared Vs. Matt

The much anticipated matchup between Jared Allen and Matt Kalil got its first action on Monday.  Allen was able to put the moves on Kalil only once during their first head-to-head session, and Kalil largely held his own over the course of the day.  All accounts are that Kalil looked the part of a top five left tackle, and in being compared to Charlie Johnson’s first day on the job is an obvious and immediate upgrade at the position.

4.  Robinson’s Hammy Still Hurtin’

Third round pick Josh Robinson has the skill set to contribute to the Vikings defense, perhaps as a starter.  However, his hamstring injury is causing the Vikings to take a cautious approach and he has been missing practice time and that could continue for a while.  The Vikings and many others view Robinson as a valuable player to have, but he is missing important repetitions that could stunt his growth from a learn-the-game standpoint.

5.  Vikings Are Copy Cats Part I

The Vikings want to copy their divisional rival Chicago Bears when it comes to at least one phase of the game.  Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer admitted on Monday that when the Vikings signed Zack Bowman, a key member of Chicago’s annually fantastic special teams, he jumped on the chance to “grill” Bowman about Chicago.  He intends to not only use the information as a resource when playing against the Bears, but to also perhaps try and emulate the league’s best unit in recent years.  What did Bowman tell Priefer?  That it helps to have a really good returner (i.e. Devin Hester) on your team.  Zack Bowman’s new nickname here at VT is officially Captain Obvious.

6.  Vikings Are Copy Cats Part II

Last year, the tight end duo of the New England Patriots was insane.  Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Henandez combined for 169 catches, over 2,200 yards, and 24 touchdowns.  Talk about trend setting.  A number NFL teams would love to duplicate those stats and the Vikings are one of them, which had to play into their decision to invest so heavily in John Carlson this offseason despite the presence of Kyle Rudolph.  The Vikings gave their own duo a set of game tapes from Patriots games and asked them to study the way the Patriots use their tight end, which has Rudolph all excited about things to come.

7.  A Cautionary Tale

Today is July 31st which means it is the 11th anniversary of the saddest day in Vikings history:  the death of Korey Stringer.  Peterson’s seafood issue on Monday surely scared a number of people that have been with the organization to remember Stringer’s death which was caused by heat stroke.  It is hot right now in Mankato, and we have all read the stories year after year since Stringer’s passing, but you know that today’s date carries special meaning to those guys practicing today.

8.  Cook Standing Out

There are a number of good tidbits in this post from the Daily Norseman, who have a man on the ground at training camp, but one stuck out to me in particular.  Chris Cook, according to the report, is looking like a very good corner now that his off-field issues are (hopefully) behind him.  Cook looked decent before his mid-season arrest last year, and finding a true talent to play with Antoine Winfield and company could be a huge boost to this defense.

9.  Receivers Getting Some Attention

I’m not sure if this is a good sign for our defense, but I am encouraged by the sheer number of good reports coming out of camp about the Vikings receivers.  Jerome Simpson seems to be as advertised, Percy Harvin has been tearing it up, and every time I turn around another receiver is getting praise.  On Monday a Jarius Wright touchdown turned some heads (see below for more), Devin Aromashodu made the play of a day with a leaping catch, and even tight end John Carlson is getting praise from the local media.  Greg Childs was the only one to stand out in a negative way on Monday, as he dropped a wide open pass after burning a defensive back.

10.  Shocker:  Allen Is Vocal

A funny story originated from one of the final plays of Monday’s practice.  The third string offense, led by Sage Rosenfels, had a first down at the one yard line with eight seconds remaining on the clock.  Rosenfels lobbed a pass to rookie receiver Jarius Wright who caught the lob in the back corner of the end zone and stretched to get his feet down.  It was apparently a close call, but the referee on hand signaled it was a touchdown, and then all hell broke loose.  The offense celebrated while the defense argued, spearheaded by Jared Allen who wasn’t even in on the play.  “This is not college! This is not college! This isn’t high school,” Allen hollered as he got in the refs face, in good fun. “You gotta have two feet in!”  Mike Wobschall has a number of other great moments to check out right here.

Chris Cook’s felony charges from last year prevented him from playing any games, or participating at all with team activities, following his initial arrest.  Now, he is eager to get back to the field of play.

“I’m more excited than I ever have been to come back to Mankato,” Cook said.

Cook apparently recognized how serious the charges were and how poor behavior off the field could impact his career.

“I definitely had doubts that I would even be playing football again,” Cook said on Thursday. “I’m just blessed to be in this position and very thankful for the position that I’m in and to be able to play football again.”

Cook also talked about how hard it was for him to not be on the field with his teammates, after recognizing in previous interviews that he made things difficult on his teammates by landing himself behind bars.

The Vikings showed incredible patience and generosity in sending Cook home with pay following the incident with his girlfriend, and the best possible outcome of the way they handled that situation is for Cook to truly be a changed man moving forward.

Another off-field issue that continues his pattern of finding himself in trouble, however, will almost certainly end his career as a Minnesota Viking.

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.

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Mike Wobschall from Vikings.com makes some observations from OTA #7. In one note, “Wobby” describes plays where both Christian Ponder and Joe Webb are scrambling to the right. Don’t like to hear that our QBs are still fleeing from pressure but glad that they’re able to if their hand is forced. There are also some great notes for OTAs #4-6.

Jared Allen is awesome. Watch Allen’s latest charitable event “Night Ops Golf” here on Youtube.

Stop the press. Everyone’s favorite hip-hop entrepreneur Bryant McKinnie showed up to camp phat. (See what I did there?) Will he even make the Raven’s roster this year?

I missed this one over the course of the week. Apparently, NFL Comissioner, Roger Goodell, sent out a memo to all teams addressing recent DUIs and reminding team players and personnel to “be responsible.”

The folks over at Pro Football Focus have been looking at each NFL team and determining that team’s “Secret Superstar.” Who was their selection for the Vikings? Go check it out. Who should we look out for on the Packers, Bears and Lions according to PFT? Linebacker D.J. Smith, cornerback Tim Jennings and defensive end Willie Young, respectively.

I really can’t stand this idea that the NFL is strictly a passing game and running the ball has lost its importance in the NFL. Adam and I will have to take the topic up in our next “Coin Toss.” Nevertheless, National Football Post has a good article up discussing the topic, using the Vikings lack of success even with Adrian Peterson as a prime example.

Although ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski expects Christian Ponder to “improve significantly this season” he still has Ponder ranked 28th out of 30 on his “Top QBs” list. Kevin Seifert from ESPN’s NFL North blog further inspects Jaworski’s analysis.

Vikings.com has some great OTA videos. Definitely check those out.

Our buddy Gil over at The Vikings Den landed a writing gig with Rant Sports. He’ll continue writing for TVD though and we wish him the best of luck. In this particular post, TVD looks at if the Vikings missed out by not signing linebacker Rocky McIntosh.

While the Vikings run play-action more than almost every team in the NFL, it turns out they’re not very good at it. (This is always something that has bothered me. With such an incredible running back, you think our play-action would be much more effective. I absolutely hate it when a quarterback doesn’t know how to sell the play-action. I think a good “just kidding” hand-off can really screw up a defense. Hopefully this is something Vikings QB Christian Ponder has been working on this offseason. Okay, rant over.)

Today is Father’s Day. And despite the fact that Chad Greenway’s father was recently diagnosed with leukemia and is now receiving hospice care, the Vikings linebacker still decided to host a Father’s Day fundraising 5k run. Please keep Chad and the Greenway family in your thoughts through these trying times for them.

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