Friday, March 27, 2015
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kevin williams

Not too long ago I put life-long Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams on my list of the best remaining free agents for this team to target.  Williams appeared on air waves this week claiming that it might just be a real possibility.

“They might be trying to ease back in the picture,” he said of recent contact with the Vikings.  “We’ll know more maybe as the week goes on.”

Williams recently visited with the Patriots where he would presumably be part of a defensive line rotation, as he likely would be with the Vikings.  Williams has previously discussed a hesitance about playing a reserve role or even playing as a nose tackle, but when one is unemployed in June it is a sign that you are likely going to have to make some concessions or start looking for a life outside of the NFL.

By most accounts, the 2014 offseason has been fulfilling for the Minnesota Vikings franchise and fans, and the NFL Draft was some Rick Spielman brilliance if general approval ratings are considered a fair unit of measurement.

Still, the offseason isn’t over, and most of us can scan this roster and find places we would like to see strengthened even further by Week One.  Additionally, with a new coaching regime and new schemes in place, it is especially difficult to pinpoint exactly where talent voids exist.  Even the most confident of analysts are lying if they tell you they know how this team will perform in 2014, and we can’t expect to get a great gauge for just how good (or bad) they are until week eight or possibly later.

Still, it would be very out of character for Rick Spielman to stop making moves at this point, and there is (say it with me) always room for improvement… or at least additional competition.

Here is a quick glance at a few guys that are currently looking for work that I think could make interesting additions to this roster in an attempt to elevate the position battles in training camp.  If these four guys don’t excite you, trust me, I understand.  There is a whole other wave of free agency that will flood the market just prior to the regular season, but for now we can really only speculate on the guys we know are available.  Here you go:

1.  La’Rod Stephens-Howling, RB, Age 27

Behind Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running back depth chart seems wide open, and those roster spots will be much debated when training camp and preseason rolls around.  With a new regime in place, it remains to be seen if Jerome Felton can even be considered a sure things this year.  The Vikings currently have five running backs and two fullbacks listed on the roster and I think there is room for another addition or two, especially given the likelihood of a preseason injury impacting at least one of these guys.

La’Rod Stephens-Howling is a guy the Vikings reportedly showed some interest in prior to the draft.  I’m not sure if that included an evaluation of his health or not, as he injured his ACL in the regular season opener last year, but his skillset is exactly what you want to have out of a second or third string running back.  He’s a versatile guy, capable of pass protection and catching passes, while also being able to contribute on special teams if need be.

If he can participate in training camp drills, I see no reason not to give this guy a chance to compete for a spot on the final 53.

 Ben Roethlisberger marched the Steelers down to the 6-yard line in the final drive looking to tie the game with a touchdown. With 19 seconds left in the game and the Vikings clinging to a 34-27 lead, Everson Griffen strip-sacked Big Ben and Kevin Williams recovered the ball to seal the first win of the season for Minnesota.

 The 83,518 fans that packed Wimbley Stadium in London saw a hard-fought exciting football game that was full of big plays.

Greg Jennings made two touchdown grabs, Adrian Peterson had two touchdown runs, Matt Cassel was 16 of 25 for 248 yards and no turnovers, and the defensive line lead by Jared Allen’s 2.5 sacks put pressure on Roethlisberger all game.

It’s hard to get excited after just one win in four tries, but the Vikings took five important steps forward:

 A) The defense got the monkey off their back by making a play late in the game to preserve a win.

B) The offense didn’t turn the ball over or make costly mistakes.

C) The offensive line looked more like the O-line from last season.

D) The wide receivers finally found the end zone.

E) The defense was able to consistently put pressure on the QB.

 

 If the Vikings can continue to do those things well… they will be a very difficult team to beat.

 

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The good news for the Vikings heading into a possibly rainy game at Soldier Field is that Kevin Williams is active and expected to see some playing time.

The Vikings inactives include both rookie linebackers, Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges, which is kind of disappointing considering they were considered part of the offseason solution to the linebacker position which struggled consistently against Detroit last week.

Also inactive are QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, S Mistral Raymond, DT Chase Baker, DE George Johnson, and G Jeff Baca.

Don’t forget to chat it up during the game with all our awesome VT followers on our chat room page which can be accessed by CLICKING HERE.

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After an offseason that saw Minnesota’s expectations for 2013 go up and down numerous times, observers seem to have the lowest amount of faith in them since Donovan McNabb was quarterback following an ugly opener in Detroit.  However, a key to almost any team’s season-long success is their ability to stay healthy, and Friday’s final injury report offers some hope for Week Two’s matchup in Chicago.

The Vikings have seven players listed as “probable” and defensive tackle Kevin Williams (knee), who didn’t play in Detroit, is one of them.  Williams practiced on Wednesday and Thursday, missed Friday for a personal reason, and is expected to suit up against the Bears.  Williams may not be the full-time player we are used to him being, but a defensive line rotation was a part of the plan for this season anyways, and his return certainly can’t hurt.

Also “probable” are:  Linebackers Larry Dean (shoulder) and Erin Henderson (heel), right tackle Phil Loadholt (knee), safety Mistral Raymond (shoulder), cornerback Josh Robinson (quadriceps), and center John Sullivan (knee).  Each of these guys was able to participate in full during Friday’s practice.

The Bears have listed both Julius Peppers (illness) and Charles Tillman (knee) as “probable” for Sunday’s divisional showdown.

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