Wednesday, July 29, 2015

robert blanton

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Harrison Smith was all smiles upon arriving for training camp earlier today, but the fourth-year safety is determined to improve his already impressive play for the Minnesota Vikings. After a year where he hauled in five interceptions, recorded 92 tackles, and finished second in PFF’s rankings of safeties, Smith could easily enter camp a complacent player. But after his Saturday afternoon press conference, Smith is clearly approaching 2015 as a chance to prove he’s possibly the game’s best safety.

When asked what specific areas he’d like to improve, Smith wasn’t shy, making it clear that his game is far from perfect:

“There are a lot of things. Really things in every area,” he said. “One for example would be becoming a better blitzer, getting better pressure on the quarterback when I get a chance to go. You can improve on in every area especially myself. There’s too many areas to list but definitely a lot of things come to mind.”

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Photo Courtesy of Sam Ekstrom

US Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings new stomping grounds, is flying through construction and the new addition to the Minneapolis skyline is nearing completion. We had our man Sam Ekstrom (@SamEkstrom) — Cold Omaha and 105 The Ticket — back on the show to talk about his recent media tour of the new digs as well as squawk about our favorite local professional football team as the Vikings are set to invade Mankato at the end of the week.

Counting Down the Days Topics Include
• No Vikings arrests so far this “offseason”
Purple FTW! T-Shirt Available for Pre-Order!
Amazon, Baby
• No Vikings arrests so far this “offseason”
• ESPN is becoming a daytime infomercial
• Media Tour of US Bank Stadium (aka The USB)
• New features of the stadium taking shape
• Ultra-lounges? Cool.
• Say something nice about Mankato
• What’s the buzz heading into training camp?
• Will any safety (besides Harrison) pass the BTB (Better-Than-Blanton) Scale?
• How will the offensive line battle shape up? #TeamAustinShepherd
• Will Babatunde Aiyegbusi make the 53?
• Wide receivers: Who will make the cut? #TeamThielen
• Cordarrelle = Josh Cribbs until further notice
• NFC North: Who do you fear?
• “Russell Wilson probably has a necklace of ears”
• McKinnon’s usage with Adrian back?
• Sam’s STONE COLD HOT TAKE 2.0 (This one is HOTTTTT)
• Surprise cut of camp will be who?
• Surprise riser of camp will be who?
• Do we care that the Pluto mission cost less than the new stadium?
• I got followed by Blanton on Twitter
• What’s coming up from Cold Omaha?

All that and other “This is the only camping I like” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Maybe the football gods were trying to tell us something this morning when they aired the Vikings-Packers MNF game from November 6, 2000; the game where Brett Favre heaved a pass down the field that was seemingly broken up, but miraculously hauled in by a falling Antonio Freeman. If you need to jog your memory, here’s the play:

His catch sealed an overtime victory for the Packers and stands as one of the worst examples of secondary play by any Vikings team. More than that, it’s a reminder that the Vikings have been a historically sub par defense against the pass — most notably in the past 20 years. Remember when Josh McCown (THAT Josh McCown) knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs in 2003? Remember the Vikings’ 31st-ranked pass defense in 2013?

Things are looking up in Mike Zimmer’s current secondary, though. Take last season for example; the unit improved to 7th-best pass defense in the league, allowing just under 225 yards per game. Their quick turnaround can be attributed to Zimmer’s scheme and the improved play of two key players — cornerback Xavier Rhodes and free safety Harrison Smith.

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Welcome to “Sleeper Sunday” where a few of us here at VT are going to take a look at some of our favorite Day Two and Three prospects between now and Draft Weekend. Luke Inman is providing in-depth scouting reports for the bigger names set to join the NFL, but this is where we explore some of our favorite options that will be found further down the Vikings draft board.

Be sure to tune in every Sunday for a fresh batch of sleepers!

First up, I take a look at a guy that I think can be compared to Taylor Mays in a lot of ways, and we already know the Vikings have expressed interest in Mays as a free agent.

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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 sixth article, focusing on the safeties.  In case you missed it, feel free to check out the quarterbacksrunning backs, tight ends, fullbacks and specialists.]

There is an enormous talent gap between Harrison Smith and the next most talented safety currently on the Vikings roster, whomever that might be.

Smith is a dominant force that doesn’t get enough recognition, yet, on the national level. Soon he will almost certainly sign a blockbuster extension that not only gets him the money he deserves, but also the ink.

Smith is set to have a $2.271 million cap hit in 2015, but his new contract could come at any time. I would be very surprised if the Vikings let the contractual matter play out into next offseason, where they would risk having to use the franchise tag to ensure Smith remains a Viking. The good news is that Smith has recently stated he plans to remain a Viking.

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