Thursday, May 26, 2016

xavier rhodes

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Merry Christmas, Vikings fans

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Christmas came early for Xavier Rhodes and the Minnesota Vikings defense, who will host the New York Giants — sans Odell Beckham Jr. — this Sunday night. The team’s star wide receiver was suspended for his conduct in yesterday’s game against the Carolina Panthers. Beckham was flagged three times for personal foul penalties and could have been ejected for his actions, which included pushing, shoving, and exchanging punches with Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.

The two engaged in a series of violent encounters throughout the game, with the most dangerous and brutal coming on a play that didn’t even involve Beckham. According to SB Nation, Beckham is the first offensive player to ever be suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit:

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Newman's prepared to make his first start at safety for the Vikings

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When the Arizona Cardinals and their top-ranked offense take the field tonight, they won’t have to worry about Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo at safety. With the Minnesota Vikings’ starters sidelined, Anthony Harris and veteran cornerback Terence Newman will take their place in the secondary. It’s not the most ideal situation against a group of wide receivers that includes Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, but injuries necessitate the change.

In place of Newman, rookie cornerback Trae Waynes will make the start opposite Xavier Rhodes. He’ll be tested by Carson Palmer and must have a solid night if the Vikings are to have any chance in Arizona. The rest of the Vikings’ inactives include:

Young players will need to step up at every level of the defense, including a handful of rookies and second-year players. Edmond Robinson, Minnesota’s seventh-round draft pick out of Newberry, will start in Anthony Barr’s place. Depending on Mike Zimmer’s strategy, he’ll either play an important role blitzing, or, will be asked to cover the intermediate area of the field. Palmer has been deadly accurate between the numbers this season, putting even more pressure on a relatively inexperienced linebacker corps.

Like last week, Tom Johnson and Sharrif Floyd will start in the middle of the defensive line. According to the team’s official website, Johnson will replace Joseph at nose tackle and Floyd will play his normal defensive tackle position. Arizona is missing its top running back, but rookie David Johnson is a threat running the football, catching out of the backfield, and returning kickoffs. The Vikings had three days to correct their mistakes against Seattle, which may not be enough against Arizona’s high-octane offense.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

A win in Atlanta earned the Vikings a seat atop the NFC North, one game ahead of the Green Bay Packers, and the hype train is again starting to pick up steam.

Minnesota won’t have to do an unreasonable amount of winning during the remaining schedule to land themselves a playoff spot, but maintaining their lead in the NFC North could indeed prove to be a difficult path to navigate.

With a crucial Week 13 battle against Seattle looming, we are taking a look around the web to see what all is being said about our beloved purple during this exciting time:

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The holiday season, as Andy Williams so famously sings each December, is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The glimmering lights of a Christmas tree, the taste of fresh-baked sugar cookies, and the sound of jingle bells remind me of my childhood, when my only concern was what I’d put on my annual wish list to Santa. Did I want a scooter? A PS2? A pair of headphones? I made my list, and the big man in red always checked it twice, leaving unwrapped presents under the tree each Christmas.

The joy of Christmas doesn’t come from the gifts we receive, though. It’s the traditions, the quiet moments with family, and the act of giving that make Christmas so special for me. Whether we’re baking Grandma’s favorite cookies or watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the hundredth time, I’ll always cherish the memories I make each December with my closest family and friends. It’s this time of the year, in particular, that reminds me of the things I appreciate the most in my life.

Unfortunately, that anxious, greedy child in me lashes out when I think of the Minnesota Vikings. They’re 8-3, sitting alone atop the NFC North, and yet, I want more from my favorite football team. With Christmas just 24 days away and the stress of holiday shopping upon us, there’s no better time than the present to start a new tradition at Vikings Territory and share my grown-up, Vikings Christmas list with you. Hey, maybe Santa will deliver a few of these presents by season’s end.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Mike Zimmer is a man of few kind words on the field. Read his lips during a broadcast or listen to him after a game in the locker room; you’ll be sure to hear some “bleeps” and “beeps” as he chastises a referee, grills his players, or reacts to the play of his defense. Zimmer’s an old-school coach, one who leaves the pleasantries at the door every Sunday in favor of a certain few four-letter words.

And every so often, Zimmer lets his guard down to tell the media how he really feels. When Bobby Petrino deserted the Atlanta Falcons — and Falcons defensive coordinator Zimmer — in 2007, Zimmer left nothing to the imagination, calling Petrino a coward and a “gutless MF“. Maybe that’s why yesterday’s 20-10 win over the Falcons was so important to Zimmer.

More important to Zimmer, though, is the progression of his young players and the growth of his football team. He’s opened up at the podium before, most notably last January when effusing praise on the team’s top cornerback, Xavier Rhodes. He did the same yesterday when asked about Anthony Barr, Minnesota’s second-year linebacker, who forced two fumbles on Sunday and continues to improve as an every-down linebacker in the league:

“Anthony is a special player, a special kid, as he continues to play he will be even better. I really think the sky is the limit for the guy. There are so many things you can do with him. He has been limited the last couple of weeks because of the hand and today we decided we would let him loose a little more, that was good and I think he has a very bright future and can be a tremendous football player.”

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