Friday, May 29, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "matt asiata"

matt asiata

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Only a few days remain until the 2015 NFL Draft, so looking ahead to the 2016 free agency situation seems incredibly far away. It’s worth being aware of, however, because the Vikings have 23 players entering the final year of their contract this season.

On top of those 23, keep this in mind: 2012 first-round pick Harrison Smith has a fifth-year option in his contract, which gives the Vikings another 16 games to make any long-term decisions. According to ESPN, GM Rick Spielman has until May 3 to decide on the extra year. It seems safe to say at this point, however, that Spielman will go to lengths to keep Smith in purple, and it could be costly. The safety’s current deal is worth $7.14 million.

There will be a lot of decisions to be made regarding re-signing, restructuring, or saying “good-bye” to lots of roster members, so let’s see who will be free agents prior to the 2016 season:

OFFENSE

DEFENSE

SPECIAL TEAMS

*will be a restricted free agent

Let’s take a look at a few of the more notable players on this list…

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings have yet to strike a deal, at least a public deal, with a new player from outside the organization. However, they are still in the process of getting some of their own free agents back into the fold.

The latest to re-sign with the Vikings is running back Matt Asiata, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press.  Specific terms of the deal are not yet known, but it is expected to be of the one-year variety and heavy on the incentives.

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

[Note:  This segment is a part of a position-by-position look at what the Minnesota Vikings might be inclined to do during the 2015 free agency period.  This is the second article, focusing on the running backs.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterback preview here.]

Any writer that says he or she knows how the Vikings running back depth chart will look in 2015 is lying to you, even if they end up being correct.  I’m a huge fan of irresponsible speculation, truly, but I’m not going to lie to you:  I have no idea how the Adrian Peterson situation will shake out.

If you are interested in some of the speculation on the topic then feel free to read this, this, this, this, this or this.  On second thought, it might just be easier to type “Adrian Peterson” into the search bar at the top of this page and browse as you please.

Now that we’ve established that I’m about to make some predictions based on an impossible-to-predict situation, let’s take a look at what I think I know.

There is no reason to suspect that Jerick McKinnon won’t play a significant role moving forward.  There is also no reason to expect the Vikings not to bring restricted free agents Joe Banyard and Matt Asiata with them to Mankato, as I’ve previously assessed.  They will also have recently-signed Henry Josey and practice squad player Dominique Williams available to them.

Even without Peterson, the Vikings certainly have the quantity of running backs in their current stable to create a decent competition at the position.  The worry, however, is that the quality is lacking (again, if Peterson doesn’t return) and I would not be surprised to see them add some talent.

Rick Spielman says he didn’t know about the formal allegations against Adrian Peterson (notice the inclusion of the word “formal”) until Friday, which is when the rest of us found out about them.  Spielman says that the organization is still in the process of gathering facts, trying to avoid a knee-jerk reaction, and that all options are still on the table.

“Friday night was the first we heard of the formal allegations against Adrian Peterson, and we decided, as an organization, that to deactivate him this weekend was in the best interests of everybody concerned,” Spielman told Sal Paolantonio.

For all of the reasons that Arif has put forth, releasing Peterson probably makes the best business sense, and maybe even the best football sense.  There could end up being an emotional factor that weighs into the decision, a willingness to help Peterson improve as a person, but it is looking more an more like a release is the likeliest scenario.

Ian Rapoport of NFLN is reporting this morning that the Vikings are willing to keep Peterson deactivated for multiple games, if that best allows them to make an informed decision.

I returned to Mankato this morning for the team’s first practice in full pads. The intensity of the afternoon session was certinally taken up a notch and you can start to see some players starting to stand out.

I’ve summarized some of the major talking points that I think will continue to evolve through out camp.

Mike Zimmer Press Conference:

  • During the head coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference, he mentioned today’s afternoon practice would be telling and would be the start of another part of the progress in terms of building the 2014 team.
  • Zimmer went on to say he was excited to see the defensive backs in 1 on 1 drills where they would have to use press coverage against the wide receivers.  We saw this early in the practice with corner back Xavier Rhodes going up against wide receiver Greg Jennings. Rhodes maintained good coverage through the play, but lost his footing on the wet turf and Jennings came through with a reception on a hitch route.
  • Zimmer called offensive coordinator Norv Turner an innovative mind and smart play caller who is wise about when he takes his shot at big plays.
  • Zimmer was asked about rookie Scott Crichton and Zimmer commented that Crichton was a ‘try hard guy’ and today’s afternoon pratice would be telling about his readiness for the NFL. Later in the afternoon, I noted Crichton coming across the defensive line to blow up a running play. That has to help catch the coaches eye.
  • Zimmer said Tuesday would be the day he would sit down with his coaches and discuss who would start getting more reps than others. Zimmer added:

    These guys are competing against everyone in the league for a spot. We’re looking at the waiver wire.

  • Zimmer also discussed Robert Blanton, saying he likes how Blanton is able to close on the ball while in coverage, and was interested in seeing how Blanton can evolve in terms of run support.

 

Offensive notables:

  • Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson participated in the morning walk through, but did not suit up for the afternoon practice. I did see Patterson running routes with a trainer on the far field while the team was doing individual drills. Zimmer mentioned Patterson was a possibility for tomorrow evenings practice.
  • Wide receiver Adam Thielen received more praise from Zimmer during his press conference and continued to make plays while on the field. As I mentioned last night, the Vikings are giving Thielen an opportunity to prove himself, and Thielen continues to make the most of the opportunity.
  • Thielen spent more time with the 2nd team offense as did rookie tight end AC Leonard. If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably noticed Leonard has caught my eye as someone with potential for making the final 53 man roster. I was able to speak with Leonard after practice and will elaborate on that story later.
  • Jarius Wright is getting a lot of looks, including in non passing plays. I wonder if this is because of Patterson being out, but Wright himself can be a versatile play maker in his 3rd year.
  • Rhett Ellison seems to get a lot of praise from coaches, including while on special teams. Ellison also spent time with the 1st team offense when in two tight end formations. You have to like his ability to play either tight end and full back and as someone who can motion around and help with blocking in either running or passing downs.
  • Teddy Bridgewater looked great at times, but still had a few rookie hiccups. That said, there always seems to be more good than bad. Bridgewater connected on nice passes to Thielen and rookie Kain Colter.
  • The offense ran a lot of screen plays to all 3 running backs, Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. It clear Turner is emphasizing getting these running backs used to catching from the backfield.

 

Defensive notables:

  • I saw more 3 safety sets with Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond all in at the same time with the 1st team defense. Smith continues to spend a lot of time near the line of scrimmage.
  • Second year line backer Gerald Hodges spent time with the 1st team nickel package with Sean Prater serving as the nickel corner back while Captain Munnerlyn continues his time on the PUP list.
  • Brian Robison spoke with reporters and commented on how new nose tackle Linval Joseph reminds him of former Viking Pat Williams. Obviously high praise, but Robison noted that Joseph has the type of explosiveness that commands attention and double teams from an opposing offense. Robison mentioned this allows defensive ends to play under Joseph and get to the quarterback.
  • Josh Robinson made two very nice plays. Robinson picked off a pass early during 1 on 1s and knocked another loose on a nice back shoulder throw by Matt Cassel to Thielen. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has been coaching Robinson ‘not to see too much.’ I think he wants Robinson to focus on his responsibility and not worry about doing too much.
  • I saw defensive end Everson Griffen drop back and cover a shallow drag route by Greg Jennings. That is impressive athleticism and Zimmer loves that type of versatility.
  • Robison has been impressive during drills and got to Cassel during 11 on 11. Would have easily been a sack.
  • 9th overall pick Anthony Barr spent time with each defensive unit and even played some in nickle. I haven’t seen a lot of Barr just yet, but he’s made some flashes, but also gets lost at times.

All in all, I think today’s practice carried the type intensity Zimmer is looking to carry through out camp and I expect we’ll be hearing plenty after tomorrow’s practice. I will be heading back to Mankato next Saturday for the teams under the lights scrimmage and I’ll have plenty of talking points after.

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