Thursday, January 29, 2015
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greg jennings

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The second week of OTAs got started on Tuesday with Jared Allen showing up, after missing last week, and Greg Jennings healthy after sitting out with an ankle injury last week.

According to 1500 ESPN, Allen did not participate in practices because he is still in the process of coming back from his offseason surgeries.  He was the only Vikings not present last week.

Tomorrow’s practice sessions will be open to the media.

At 6′ 4″ and 220 pounds, Joe Webb is an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than first round rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.  In fact, outside of long shots Rodney Smith and Chris Summers, Webb is the biggest wideout on the roster.  Both Webb and Patterson are considered raw, each potentially having the “project” label applied to them at Winter Park, and both could be competing for the same reps heading into 2013.

After failing miserably to get the Vikings a playoff victory last season, the Vikings have moved Webb to wideout, but the depth chart is suddenly very crowded.  Greg Jennings, when healthy, is sure to occupy a starters position considering his talent, experience, and the investment made to put him in purple.  Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright both have more experience than the young pair and seem to be locks to eat up roster spots heading into this season.  Stephen Burton is someone the Vikings haven’t given up on yet and Greg Childs could throw a wrinkle into things if he is deemed healthy enough to contribute in the preseason.

As of today, the Vikings have 12 wideouts on the roster, and it is safe to say that total will be cut in half by the time the regular season rolls around.  Jennings, Simpson, Wright, and Patterson will surely eat up four of those spots leaving Webb to compete for one or two of the possible spots that would remain.

Last season, when Webb was made to be the backup quarterback only, reports surfaced from beat writers that he was having trouble catching the ball and running routes in practice.  According to multiple reports from this week’s sessions that were open to the media, however, Webb displayed excellent hands and was consistently snatching the ball with the proper away-from-the-body technique.  According to Kevin Seifert, he even was helping rookies learn where they were supposed to line up, suggesting he has a solid grasp of the playbook at this point.

“He has very good hands. He knows the offense very well. He’s actually helping some of the young guys in where to line up at,” Leslie Frazier said of Webb. “Knowing how hard he works and knowing how much he wants to succeed as a receiver, he’ll have a very good chance of getting that done.”

Webb recently talked about how often he has had to change positions throughout his football career, including in high school and college, but he isn’t looking for any sort of sympathy.

“I just like football. I have a passion for the game. I’ve been playing it since I was a little kid. It’s a blessing to be out here on the field. Some guys graduate from college and don’t get a chance to come out here on an NFL field,” Webb said. “I’m just happy for the moment and just trying to take advantage of it.”

Patterson has already laid claim to one of the areas where Webb could potentially help the Vikings, as he has been named the go-to kick returner, and the nature of the NFL business means Patterson is likely to enjoy more chances to succeed at wideout than Webb because of where they were drafted.  Webb and Patterson, and Jarius Wright too for that matter, are essentially competing for the same reps within the offense.

Each possesses similar skills in the open field to Percy Harvin, and could be used the same way Harvin was on manufactured touches like bubble screens, but having three guys to fill this role would seem a little excessive despite the loss of Harvin to Seattle.  Webb is going to have to establish himself in some other fashion, perhaps as a redzone threat where he capitalizes on his height, in order to earn one of the few remaining spots on the depth chart.

Back in January, I suggested that Webb had value to the Vikings as a practice team quarterback capable of emulating any of the many mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, but using him in this fashion could also prevent him from focusing on being a polished receiver.  I still think Webb is an excellent option to run the practice team, and get the Vikings defense used to chasing down the likes of RGIII and Russell Wilson, but I am now less convinced that this will be enough reason to keep him on the roster.

The Vikings coaching staff, mainly receivers coach George Stewart, must really devote the time needed to find out just what they have in Webb.  It seems fair to say that we know he isn’t an NFL quarterback, so this preseason they need to give him all possible reasons to succeed as a wideout, or else it might be time to cut ties with one of the most popular players on the roster.

The news isn’t exactly hard to keep up with these days, because there isn’t much of it, but that didn’t stop us from digging up some good stuff to pass along this weekend:

  • The Vikings seem to have a thing for tall defensive backs these days.
  • A look at what undrafted quarterback James Vandenberg might bring to the #3 quarterback competition.
  • The Vikings finalized their agreement to play at TCF Bank Stadium and there are some interesting details regarding the situation.
  • Nick Reed may not have lasted long with the Vikings, but that hasn’t stopped him from having a bad ass career path.
  • A year after “experts” failed to give the Vikings a chance at the playoffs it appears they are now gaining some respect.
  • An old cohort of mine is now running Vikings Gab.  Congrats to Chris Boynton 0n his new gig.
  • A look at how the post-Draft depth chart is shaping up at the linebacker position.
  • Cris Carter has finally been voted into the Hall of Fame so we are now left to wonder who the next Viking to receive that honor will be.
  • Count Governor Mark Dayton as one of the clueless who think the Vikings weren’t justified, in terms of football reasons, to draft Chris Kluwe’s replacement.
  • Rick Spielman recently said Christian Ponder deserves as much credit as Adrian Peterson in the franchise making the playoffs last year.  Seriously.  He said that.  With word.  From his mouth.  And he wasn’t drunk.
  • The Vikings have 39 players on their roster right now that they drafted which ranks 7th in the NFL.
  • Linebacker Michael Mauti has a lengthy history of dealing with injury, but so does Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman.
  • The Vikings have started yet another community oriented campaign called “WE DAY.”
  • Rick Spielman is making it clear that he expects Ponder to make a big jump this season.
  • Vegas is not being kind to the Vikings when it comes to predicting their 2013 chances.
  • If the Vikings had their own “Mount Rushmore” who would you put on it?
  • And now, here it is, your moment of Zen:

We continue to formally introduce you to our newest Vikings with our in-depth series.  If you missed the one on Sharrif Floyd then click here and you can click here for the article on Xavier Rhodes.

Up next is Tennessee wide out Cordarrelle Patterson who we identified as a possible Vikings target back in January.  Shortly after that article came about, Patterson began to skyrocket in terms of his perceived draft stock.  Despite growing concerns about his lack of experience, football intelligence, and general maturity, Patterson remained near the top of his class and was one of only three wide outs selected in the first round.

CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, TENNESSEE

ATTRIBUTES

Height:                   6′ 2″

Weight:                  216 pounds

Arm Length:         31 3/4″

Hands:                   9″

COMBINE RESULTS

If Patterson’s game tape hadn’t caught the attention of NFL front offices, then his performance at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine should have done the trick.  Despite his size, Patterson was clocked as the sixth fastest wide out in the forty yard dash.  He also tied for the fifth highest vertical jump and the sixth longest broad jump.  As was expected to be the case, however, Patterson’s athleticism could not mask some inconsistencies in the positional drills.

Forty:                      4.42 seconds

Vertical Jump:      37″

Broad Jump:         128″

The Vikings were among the teams that met with Patterson at the Combine, and there are mixed reports about how well his interviews went, but we do know that he scored an “11” on the Wonderlic test which has led to the “dumb” label being applied often and heavily by anyone with access to the internet.  Patterson, however refuses to accept that label and has a simple answer for why we shouldn’t be concerned about it.

“You can’t judge anything on the Wonderlic,” Patterson said plainly. “That has nothing to do with football.”

Keyshawn Johnson also scored an 11 on the Wonderlic, prior to being the #1 overall pick of the 1996 NFL Draft, and he came to Patterson’s defense prior to the Draft.

“If somebody is using the Wonderlic to determine if a player can play football, then the scouting department needs to be checked,” Johnson said.  “…But I played 11 years, and was always accused of being one of the smartest players on the team.”

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The Minnesota Vikings receiver depth chart took a big hit when Percy Harvin was traded to Seattle.  Now, there is hope that they took a few steps forwards when they signed veteran receiver Greg Jennings and drafted rookie wide out Cordarrelle Patterson.

Another boost to the passing game could come from the return of Greg Childs, drafted by the Vikings last season, who tore tendons in both knees before even being able to appear in a 2012 regular season game.  His timeline for return was often brought up throughout the free agency and Draft periods of this offseason, but his status has largely remained a mystery.

While Childs refuses to publicly state an expectation for his full recovery it was visible to reporters on Wednesday that he has come a long ways.

Childs could be seen running sprints at Winter Park as part of his rehabilitation.

“I’m doing a lot of cutting, some jumping, some sprinting,” Childs told reporters. “All the necessary things I need to be doing, I’m doing now.”

Childs admits he isn’t close to 100% healthy and while he is determined and motivated to make it back, he isn’t going to rush things along.

“There’s no sense coming back 80, 90 percent,” Childs said. “That’s not going to really help the team out. That’s what we’re trying to do right now — just get me back on the field so I can really help the team.”

It would be a bonus for the Vikings to get Childs healthy and back into the mix for 2013, but it shouldn’t be relied on.

 

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