Wednesday, October 18, 2017

kevin williams

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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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The Vikings offense has received the most attention following the week one loss in Detroit, but the defense certainly didn’t inspire much confidence with their performance, either.  Part of the problem was visible in the middle of the defense, with Detroit’s running game producing quite nicely, and it was noticeable that defensive tackle was out of action.

According to 1500 ESPN, the defensive line rotation may get a boost this week against Chicago, who has a talented duo of running backs themselves.  Williams was able to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Leslie Frazier said he hoped to see him back in the lineup this Sunday.

Also limited in practice were CB Josh Robinson (quad), C John Sullivan (knee), and RT Phil Loadholt (knee).  The Bears are little healthier right now with CB Charles Tillman (knee) being their only player limited in Wednesday’s practice.

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Kevin Williams took a cheap, low block from Niners guard Joe Looney on Sunday evening and things looked really bad for him as he laid on the turf.  Then they looked a lot better as he left the field under his own power and reportedly told teammates he was fine.

On Monday, after an MRI, the news was somewhere in the middle.

Williams hyperextended and bruised his right knee during the game, or more accurately Joe Looney hyperextended his knee on a cheap shot, and his availability for the season opener is now in question.  The good news, however, is that the injury will not require surgery and Williams should not be out of action for long.

Still, following a minor knee surgery to Sharrif Floyd and Christian Ballard’s bizarre departure from the team, the team cannot afford to take many more hits to the middle of their defensive line.  This will certainly be a situation to monitor as the season opener in Detroit draws nearer.

By the way, the injury occurred on what was really a B.S. cheap shot from Niners guard Joe Looney.

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2013 Training Camp - Christian Ponder
(Photo by Chris Price.)

Vikings players reported to training camp this past Thursday and two days in we already have some catching up to do. Though the first two sessions were without pads, there are still some interesting notes from Friday and Saturday.

  • Let’s talk health first… Through the first two days of camp, the Vikings have emerged relatively unscathed. The biggest piece of injury related news was that nose tackle Letroy Guion was forced to leave the first day of camp with a right elbow injury. Guion, who is presently in competition for his spot with backup Fred Evans, had x-rays done that night to determine the severity of the injury. Luckily, the images came back negative and he should be participating again soon.
  • Now on to Christian Ponder as he has been the primary focus of media and fans the first two sessions. The word out of camp so far isn’t good for #7. Talk has been that Ponder has struggled early with accuracy and often checking down to his tight ends. Ponder threw an interception to Blanton in passing drills, an almost-interception on a pass to Greg Jennings which was dropped by Jamarca Sanford, etc… And apparently, struggles in the passing game continued into Day 2. It’s worth noting that the weather has been nasty at Mankato with some pretty strong gusts. Of his performance and the weather, Ponder told reporters, “The first day was tough with the wind especially… On certain throws, you try to [put] touch on the ball, and if you do that it’s gone. A couple hung in the air and the wind took them away and it looked like some bad plays. It’s going to happen.” Kevin Seifert of ESPN North notes that Ponder did have some nice passes if you’re a glass half full kind of guy.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson has already become a fan favorite at camp with a pretty nice sideline, one-handed grab.

The Vikings avoided taking a hit to their depth at defensive tackle this offseason by renegotiating the contract of veteran Kevin Williams.  Additionally, they bolstered the position for this season, and into the future, by spending one of their first round picks on Florida standout Sharrif Floyd.

The also spent a late pick on Florida State tackle Everett Dawkins in an effort to proactively ease the inevitable transition the front four will see very soon.  Dawkins may have an uphill battle to make the roster, but it is obvious the Vikings are preparing to move on from at least some of their current veterans, such as Williams.

While nose tackle Letroy Guion had a disappointing first year a starter, veteran Fred Evans showed up big on a number of key plays last season, and they should continue to compete for each other’s playing time.  Fourth year player Christian Ballard has been largely mediocre throughout his career so far, but even he has shown some flashes that provide some intrigue heading into 2013.

Second year player Chase Baker, along with undrafted rookie Anthony McCloud, round out the competition for spots on the bottom of the depth chart.

Age and injuries seem to be catching up with Williams, as he hasn’t played at an all-pro level for a few years now, but he can still get the job done and the hope is that being fully health will actually result in some improved play.  It can’t hurt that he is now in the final year of his contract with the Vikings and has publicly stated his intention to play beyond 2013.  He will almost certainly go into the season as a starter, albeit rotated out of the lineup more often than we are used to seeing, but his presence will likely prove to be quite valuable as the season wears on.

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