Monday, August 3, 2015

husain abdullah

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Husain Abdullah has had somewhat of a rollercoaster of a career in the NFL.  The Washington State safety went undrafted in 2008, climbed the Vikings depth chart, was the team’s best safety in 2011, nearly decided to hang up the cleats, and then declared that he planned to continue his career and was fielding multiple offers for his services.

Now, however, Husain and his brother Hamza have decided to forego their NFL careers, at least for now, to make a religious pilgrimage.

The two brothers plan to “deconstruct” the negative connotations associated with the Islam faith.

While I would love to see Abdullah back in the mix with the Vikings this offseason, one can’t help but have respect for a guy whose convictions are the most important thing to him.

Good luck to them both.

I apologize for being absent most of Monday, but luckily for me it turned out to be a pretty slow day.  Let’s take a look at what did happen:

Abdullah Has An Offer:  Apparently the Vikings have made an offer to safety Husain Abdullah and he is “mulling it over.”  Abdullah has been a serviceable option at safety the last two years, but has struggled with concussions, and could be a possible starter into the future, as well.

Schwartz To Visit Niners:  “Awesome Visit with the Vikings!” tweeted offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz on Monday.  Schwartz left Minnesota without a contract but the Vikings knew that was the plan all along.  He has visits set up with the Chiefs and the 49ers over the next couple of days and Schwartz plans to honor those commitments.  “Just doing my due diligence,” Schwartz tweeted, and one can’t blame him for that.

Felton To Visit:  Fullback Jerome Felton is set to visit the Vikings on Tuesday, despite the recent signing of Lex Hilliard, not to mention the presence of Ryan D’Imerio and Matt Asiata at the position.  Felton was a fifth round pick by the Lions in 2008 and has also spent time with the Panthers and Colts.  The Vikings tried to claim Felton off of waivers last year, but the Panthers claimed him and had priority.  Felton is only 25 years old.

Pre-Draft Visit For Kirkpatrick:  The Vikings have a pre-Draft visit set up with Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.  Kirkpatrick, known for his skill as a zone coverage player, and six foot two inches and widely regarded as the second best cornerback in this Draft class.  He would likely be a serious option if the Vikings were to trade backwards from the three spot.

More Claiborne Talk:  Bob Sansavere of the Pioneer Press discusses some first-hand conversations with General Manager Rick Spielman that could suggest he is serious about selecting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne over USC left tackle Matt Kalil in April’s Draft.  More smokescreen?  You be the judge.

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According to this NFL.com page (scroll way down), the Vikings will be playing host to safety O.J. Atogwe at some point.

Atogwe received interest from the Vikings when he was a free agent last year but said “God told him” that the Washington Redskins was the team to sign with.  Earlier this month, the Redskins cut Atogwe loose after a disappointing season.

In his first six NFL seasons with the Rams, Atogwe became known as one of the league’s best ballhawks.  In 2011, he had injuries to his hamstring and knee and toe that played a part in his lack of production.

Atogwe will also visit the Detroit Lions.

At age 30, signing Atogwe would be a curious choice as the Vikings try to rebuild, but the safety position lacks the most depth on the Vikings roster with Husain Abdullah and Tyrell Johnson currently being free agents.

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  This is the second-to-last installation of my position-by-position breakdown of the Vikings offseason.  The specialists will be the final segment, coming up soon.  You can click the links to view previous installments:  The Passers, The Runners, The Wide Outs, The Tight Ends, The Offensive Line, The Defensive Tackles, The Defensive Ends, The Linebackers, and The Cornerbacks.]

Members of the Vikings coaching staff and front office have made a habit of defending their safeties as fans and the media often pick on them for a lack of production.

This offseason, however, the team faces a crossroads at the position and we will find out just how much they really think of their current group of safeties. 

Let’s take a closer look.

Whether you believe it was prompted by genuine concern or self-serving interests, it is hard to deny that the NFL has raised awareness about the detrimental impact that chronic concussions can have on the life of current and former football players.

The reaction to all these findings over the last few years has varied from player to player, but as it stands now, the Vikings have two players that are weighing their futures as NFL players because of the concussions they have sustained.

Leslie Frazier recently indicated that guard Steve Hutchinson has had a hard time shaking the effects of a concussion suffered on December 18th against New Orleans.  That concussion caused Hutchinson to finish the season on the injured reserve for his second consecutive season.

“I’m hoping that things will get better soon for him with the concussions for sure,” Leslie Frazier said last week. “That’s something that I’m sure he and his family will discuss, what his future is and how much longer he wants to play professional football.”

Hutchinson has been privately telling teammates that his plan was to play out his current contract, which will expire after next season, and then retire.  Hutchinson’s contract will pay him $7 million in 2012, has a no-trade clause, and at age 34 one can’t help but wonder if the Vikings wouldn’t view an early retirement as a positive thing for the regressing veteran.

Leslie Frazier sounds as though he is happy to have Hutchinson, who lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and two children, return for another year.

“He’s still a guy who can play and be a positive addition to your football team,” Frazier said. “He’s got some decisions that he’ll have to make after the season is over.”

As of yesterday, however, any decisions regarding the team’s commitment to Hutchinson is out of Frazier’s hands and placed squarely in the lap of newly appointed G.M. Rick Spielman.

Unlike Hutchinson, safety Husain Abdullah is set to become an unrestricted free agent at age 26, but his concussion issues have him contemplating whether or not he even should continue to play in the NFL.

“I definitely want to play,” Abdullah recently said. “I’ve been playing (football) since I was 8-years old. To have it taken away from me when I can still play that would really hurt. … But if the doctor comes and tells me something I don’t want to hear, then definitely I’ve got to start putting the family first.”

“As of right now, since I feel good, it’s not overly concerning,” he said, “but at the same time you look at all the former players and what they’re going through now and you’re starting to see a lot more stuff pop up about concussions.”

“Even in other sports. I’ve been watching hockey as well, seeing their stuff. I’ll just try to find out more information about it and see how it is for me. I know a lot of people have (concussions) and some people it affects greatly, some people it doesn’t. I’ll just try to figure out how it’s affecting me and then move forward.”

The 2008 undrafted safety out of Washington State has gradually climbed his way to the top of the Vikings depth chart, but his concussions landed him on the injured reserve and halted contract talks that had been taking place between him and the Vikings.

Abdullah may have to decide if he is still going to play professional football, but he has made it clear that if he is playing he wants to be a Viking.

“Of course,” he said. “They gave me a shot when nobody else did, so I’m definitely a Vikings fan and I’d like to be a Viking as long as they’ll have me.”

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