Saturday, February 6, 2016

Matt Kalil

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings topped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26-16 Saturday at The Sauna… I mean The Bank. Mike Zimmer extends his career head coaching preseason record to a robust 6-0, but it came at a price as veteran road-grading right tackle Phil Loadholt was lost for the season with a torn achilles. The much maligned offensive line now has a new set of obstacles. Who’s gonna step up? TJ Clemmings? Austin Shepherd? Babs? (Not Babs)

We dig into the NEW problematic offensive tackle position for the Vikings as well as touch on other “Not-so Famous Jameis” talking points on today’s recap show.

Other “Get well soon, Uncle Phil” Talkers Include
• MIKE ZIMMER IS STILL UNDEFEATED IN THE PRESEASON
• The Dogra Bowl – Welcome back Leslie Frazier
• Phil Loadholt done for the year, career as a Viking?
• Will TJ Clemmings step up?
• Matt Kalil said football is fun again
• Teddy looked sharp & in command
• Was it Zach Line’s birthday?
• McKINNON MAY NEVER SCORE AN NFL TD
• WTF, Cordarrelle?
• Stefon Diggs is a lot of fun to watch
• Blanton is going to start, but it’s close
• Marcus Sherels is under-appreciated. We don’t deserve him.
• We are very lucky to have Tom Johnson
• Long snapper: No one cares. Just pick one.
• Taylor Heinicke. Me likey.
• Good things happen when Gerald Hodges is on the field
• Don’t bet against Adam Thielen (You can bet against Fruechte though)
• Eric Kendricks is an animal
• Give me Brian Peters over Mike Mauti & Brandon Watts #SorryNotSorry
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All that and other “Next Man Up” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Carl: Defensive Line
I try not to get overly excited about preseason games, but the Vikings’ defensive front certainly impressed me the most in the Hall of Fame Game. Andre Patterson is entering his second season as the defensive line coach for the Vikings, and he just might have all the pieces in place to consistently control the line of scrimmage on any given Sunday. Last season, the Vikings front four featured three new starters in Everson Griffen, Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph. After one preseason game this year, I’m beginning to believe the sky might be the limit for this talented unit. Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Justin Trattou and Danielle Hunter are also playing very solid football, which will tempt Mike Zimmer to actively rotate guys during the regular season. Like I said, it’s only a preseason game, but I liked seeing the quickness off the snap, active hands, and the physicality to collapse the pocket and close running lanes.

Brent: Jabari Price
I’m not sure I’d use the word “impressed,” but the player who flashed for me was Jabari Price. Going into training camp, I was unsure of Price’s fit with the team – especially with a two-game suspension looming. However, Price’s play against Pittsburgh caught my eye mostly because he seemed to play faster and with more physicality than I remember last year. Now that Price is on the radar, I am interested to see how far he can push Captain Munnerlyn. We know Zimmer likes Price’s versatility, but can he be trusted enough to play full time in the slot? Munnerlyn seems to be in an odd spot with this team, and thoughts about him being an early-season cut linger.

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A closer look at the winners and losers from the 2015 Hall of Fame Game.

Matt Engstrom Hall of Fame Game Vikings Steelers
Illustration by Matt Engstrom (mattengstrom.com)

The first game of the 2015 NFL season is officially in the books. And after travelling to Canton, Ohio and beating the Steelers in front of a predominantly black and yellow crowd, the Vikings can stand proudly and puff their chests out as the only undefeated team in the NFL. (Side note: Zimmer is still perfect in Exhibition Games and the one true Preseason Champion.)

These preseason games are critical for coaches to evaluate the players currently on their roster. It gives them a chance to see how rookies handle NFL-level opponents. Preseason games allow teammates to establish additional chemistry on the field against competition they’re not used to seeing every day in practice.

It’s also a great opportunity for hack bloggers and media types to hastily determine who’s doing good for themselves and who isn’t.

So, with this being a Vikings blog (and me being a hack blogger) let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the Hall of Fame game against the Steelers.

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Image Courtesy of Vikings.com

The Hall of Fame Game went down Sunday night in Canton, Ohio. Our Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings came out on top of the Pittsburgh Steelers 14-3 in a game that quenched the collective thirst of a the football world, even though it featured no Adrian Peterson or Ben Roethlisberger and something-called Landry Jones played the whole darn game. There’s a lot of positives and some false-negatives to pick through for our team in purple, and we do so in our first game recap show of the 2015 season.

Other “The Hall of Jerome Bettis” Talking Points Include
• Vikings defeat the Steelers 14-3
• Mick Tingelhoff love from Purple FTW! (240 straight starts!)
• Fran Tarkenton’s introduction speech was ELITE
• Adrian in full uniform, but didn’t play
• Cris Collinsworth is underrated, but…
• Teddy Bridgewater looked smooth as creamy peanut butter
• Jerick McKinnon is going to be more involved and electric
• Calm down on Trae Waynes, please.
• Remember, Xavier Rhodes was hot garbage until about Week 4 last year
• I’d rather have a cornerback who’s too aggressive & grabby than too passive
• 2nd Half was the Stefon Diggs Show
• Don’t count out Marcus Sherels yet
• MyCole Pruitt is going to be a special player
• Eric Kendricks has made Audie Cole & Gerald Hodges better via young competition
• Brian Peters love
• Special teams questions: Jeff Locke stanks
• Matt Kalil looked OK. Has some easy preseason spots to gain confidence
• Jabari Price is a G
• Adam Thielen could be legit
• I liked how TJ Clemmings looked
• Shamar Stephen & Tom Johnson are 1s going against 2s and 3s
• Joe Banyard – What could have been
• Taylor Heinicke looks smoother and more in command than Mike Kafka
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All that and other “Brian Peters over Mike Mauti” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Training camp is one of my favorite times of the year. It signals the nearing of the regular season, but it’s also a fun atmosphere of seeing new players, different ideas and position battles iron themselves out in a much less pressured situation. This year, I’m spending a week in Mankato, and it’s been a great experience to watch how things have progressed. Here are just a few of my reactions to camp so far:

1. I’m still an Adam Thielen fan
I’ve liked Thielen for the past two years, but this time at camp just solidifies in my mind the threat he really can be if utilized effectively on offense. Thielen has already been used on special teams and I expect to continue seeing Coach Priefer do that; however, I’m really hoping to see him get a chance as a more regular receiver as the season gets underway. Sometimes I think people forget about how fast he is.  The Minnesota native is incredibly quick, a solid route runner, and has been making some impressive catches at camp. During Monday afternoon’s full-pads practice, Thielen was all over the field (in a good way) and caught at least one reception of each of the four quarterbacks. I can’t wait to see how he can be used when the regular season kicks off.

2. I’m still not a Matt Kalil fan
I just can’t get over how much I’m frustrated by Kalil and his lack of production. Granted, I will say that I’ve seen him putting in quite a bit of extra work with assistant offensive line coach Hank Fraley. So, I can’t give a poor grade on effort, at least in that sense. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing, a coachability issue or just lack of talent, but there is still much left wanting from Kalil. He’s still unable to hold guys at the line, and if we’re seeing these issues during camp I don’t have high hopes for them being any different during the year.

3. Adrian Peterson is picking up where he left off
It’s so great to see Adrian Peterson back on the field without all of the drama. I will admit, I had no interest in having Peterson back on the team. In many ways, I was ready to see Minnesota trade him and move on. Being at camp, though, it’s hard to not get excited about the potential the Vikings have with a top running back returning to the lineup. Peterson looks as physically fit and ready to compete as ever. One of the biggest perks of having AP in my mind is the amount of pressure that he will take off Teddy Bridgewater. Although Peterson is obviously nothing new to Minnesota fans, Bridgewater has not been able to play a season with him and experience the difference it will make.

4. Tyrus Thompson is better than expected
Sixth-round draft picks don’t always make the team, but in this case I feel confident that Thompson will have a spot on the roster. The unofficial depth chart released Tuesday slated Thompson as backup right guard behind Harris, and he has also gotten a few reps at tackle with the threes. There have been some ups and downs as there always are with rookies, but overall Thompson is playing with a lot more strength and wherewithal than a sixth-round option. In my mind, the Vikings got a steal and Thompson will develop into a bit part of the Vikings’ roster.

5. There are still questions surrounding linebacker
In all actuality, I think the Vikings have more depth at the linebacker position than they do in a lot of places. The question, however, remains which rotation will work the best for Minnesota. I’ve seen some good things from Audie Cole, who snagged a pick Tuesday evening, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Gerald Hodges so far, and of course you have Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and veteran Chad Greenway. In all honesty, the biggest disappointment–which I would never have predicted–has been Barr. He seems to be struggling to be 100 percent healthy, and he also looks heavier than last year … and not in a good way. Barr doesn’t seem to have the same hard-working attitude he carried last season, and that worries me. At the end of the day, it will be interesting to see which LBs start and who lines up where.

 

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