Vikings news

Sanford, Other Key Backups Will See Time On Sunday

Posted by mikewobschall on January 15, 2010 – 3:05 pm

In Friday’s vikings.com Mailbag feature, a reader asked if S Jamarca Sanford would receive playing time this weekend over starting S Tyrell Johnson.

The answer I gave was that Johnson would continue to start for the Vikings but that the coaching staff would continue to use Sanford in spot duty. The rookie 7th round draft pick out of Ole Miss has played tremendously on special teams this year and he’s had some excellent moments while playing defense, too.

On Friday after practice, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress affirmed that Sanford, and other key defensive backups, would indeed see playing time on Sunday against Dallas.

“We’ve got a good plan for that,” the Vikings head coach said. “I think rolling guys in and out, getting the most out of all of those guys, waiving as many guys as we can in throughout that whole defense.”
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Pat Williams, Winfield Probable

Posted by mikewobschall on January 15, 2010 – 2:15 pm

The Vikings and Cowboys have released their final injury reports of the week and it’s mostly good news for both teams.

For the Vikings, a pair of important defensive starters – DT Pat Williams (elbow) and CB Antoine Winfield (foot) – are listed as probable after participating fully in practice on Friday.

G Steve Hutchinson (shoulder), P Chris Kluwe (back) and TE Visanthe Shiancoe (quad) are also listed as questionable and participated fully in practice. DT Jimmy Kennedy (thumb) and FB Fahu Tahi (back) were both limited and are both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

For the Cowboys, every player on their injury report is listed as probable after participating fully in practice. Dallas’ #1 concern from an injury standpoint was probably RB Marion Barber, who was dealing with a left knee ailment but progressed during the week and was a full participant in practice on Friday.
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Childress: Team Is Where It Needs To Be

Posted by mikewobschall on January 15, 2010 – 2:06 pm

NFL coaches and players are creatures of habit. There is rarely deviation from the typical schedule and even something as simple as the team snack after a Friday practice doesn’t change from the week before after a win.

There are times, however, when a team is forced to stray from its usual course of action, such as a Monday night game or a bye week during the regular season. The Vikings experienced one of those times the past 2 weeks because they earned a 1st-round bye in the NFC playoffs. As a result, the team had much of last week off before returning to Winter Park on Sunday to begin preparations for the Dallas Cowboys.

As we’ve discussed in this space previously, being a head coach in the NFL includes many more responsibilities than just winning games on Sundays. Another key responsibility is managing the team, from postgame speeches to practice routines to the environment inside the practice facility during the week.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has spoken in the past about shaping the environment for his team, and that’s certainly something he was charged with the past 2 weeks. Childress gave his players most of last week off and then this week they were hard at work, practicing every day except Tuesday, the normal day off for NFL players.

With the work week now concluded, Childress seemed pleased with the environment around his team heading into the NFL’s Divisional Playoff games.

“We had a very good week of practice,” Childress said. “Everybody is trying to do whatever they can to contribute to our efforts on Sunday. We’ve had a good week of work and spirits are right where they need to be; preparation is right where it needs to be.”
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Friday Notes Before The Big Game Against Big D

Posted by mikewobschall on January 15, 2010 – 9:22 am

Will this game ever get here?! It’s been 12 days since the Vikings last played and we still have to wait 2 more days before they play again.

It feels like we’ve analyzed every possible aspect of this game over the past 5 days, from blogging about it to the news articles we’ve posted to my conversation with PA on his 9-noon show on Thursday. Here are a few random thoughts and updates on previous thoughts…

– In our Monday morning preview video we cited health as one of the key storylines in this matchup. As it turns out, both teams appear to be fairly healthy with the  game just 2 days away. Only one player for the Vikings has missed practice this week (FB Fahu Tahi) and the Cowboys expect to have both Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in their backfield.

– You’ve surely heard ad nauseam about the importance of the Vikings pass protection against Cowboys edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. I won’t dismiss that point – it’s key in this game – but a few things to follow up on that. First, don’t forget about the middle of Dallas’ defensive line, which features Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff. He’s good against the pass and the run, as we point out here. Secondly, the Vikings have a couple of good edge rushers, too, in DEs Jared Allen (14.5 sacks) and Ray Edwards (8.5 sacks). Lastly, I’m actually anticipating that both the Vikings and Cowboys offenses will find a way to scheme against those lethal pass rushes and at least avoid disaster. So, which team can find the best antidote?

– Here’s something we haven’t discussed this week: Cowboys CB Terence Newman is very good. Whichever Vikings WR he lines up against will have a challenge.

– I brought this up with PA Thursday on the radio. QB Brett Favre did not guarantee a victory during his Wednesday press conference. The fact that some media outlets took what he said and turned it into a guarantee is quite a stretch, but I get it – stretching it into a guarantee creates buzz and promotes the self-interests of said media outlets. Favre said he would be shocked if he weren’t doing another Wednesday press conference next week. What else should he say? On top of that, he said Dallas is playing as well as any other team in the NFL right now. Let’s move on.

– I haven’t really shared this opinion on the site because I myself don’t want to be the source of inflammatory remarks regarding the coming opponent. But it’s Friday and we’re close to the game, so here it goes. I think the Vikings can take advantage of the middle of the field on offense. I like guys such as Chester Taylor, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin working the middle and taking advantage of one-on-one mismatches. Conversely, the Vikings defense must be on their “A” game when defending the middle of the field. TE Jason Witten is a player and when players such as RB Felix Jones and WR Miles Austin get the ball in their hands, the Vikings defense must tackle them. Tackling issues – something the Vikings defense has had periodically this season – will devastate the Vikings if they arise again on Sunday against Dallas.

– There is going to be at least one key special teams play in this game. Special teams play often goes under the radar, unless there’s a big breakdown. But collectively, special teams ends up playing just as much of a factor in the outcome of a game as offense or defense. Regardless, you’re going to see a combination of at least a few big plays on special teams. Whether those plays are returns, turnovers, blocked kicks, kickoffs out of bounds to give away great field position, I don’t know. But I have a feeling that someone, somehow is going to make a big impact on special teams. Right now I’m sensing a big return somewhere along the line by either Percy Harvin or Patrick Crayton, a FG at the end of the game or a blocked FG/punt in the middle of the game.
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vikings.com Mailbag Is Posted

Posted by mikewobschall on January 15, 2010 – 8:02 am

Today’s vikings.com Mailbag feature is posted. You can read it by clicking here.

Do you have a question about the Vikings? Or maybe a comment/question about the outcome of the Vikings-Cowboys game? If you do, send it to me at wobschallm@vikings.nfl.net. We can’t post every comment/question, but I’ll respond to them all.

The vikings.com Mailbag is posted on Fridays.
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What Peterson Really Wants

Posted by mikewobschall on January 14, 2010 – 5:05 pm

We mentioned earlier in the day that the Associated Press announced its 2009 All-Pro Team and that the Vikings led all NFL teams with 4 players honored. We also said that the All-Pro team is a bit more prestigious because it’s composed of fewer players than the Pro Bowl teams.

But All-Pros don’t suit up and play in an all-star game at the end of a season. So which is better – being named an All-Pro or being named a Pro Bowler?

Well who better to ask than Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. He’s a notorious and ambitious goal-setter, plus he’s already been named to 3 Pro Bowls and 2 first-team All-Pro teams.

Peterson was actually asked the question while meeting with reporters, and his answer should make every Vikings fan smile.

“I’m looking at the Super Bowl, that’s what I want,” Peterson said. “Everything else really doesn’t mean anything if you don’t accomplish the ultimate goal. That’s what I’m looking at. If I get a Super Bowl ring, that would be lovely.”
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“Good Guy” Award Goes To Shiancoe

Posted by mikewobschall on January 14, 2010 – 4:14 pm

Each year the Twin Cities media awards the Kory Stringer Good Guy Award to a Vikings player who is the most cooperative and personable with reporters. Today before the Vikings practiced, Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune honored TE Visanthe Shiancoe with the award.

It’s a good choice because Shiancoe is indeed one of the most personable and willing-to-talk Vikings on the roster. Good game or bad game, late week or early week, Shiancoe is there to talk about it.

Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune cited a recent example of an exchange Shiancoe had with reporters on a Monday. While Shiancoe is often detailed and sincere during his interviews, he also has the ability to be funny and care free. This is clearly an example that displays his sense of humor.
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Tahi Added To Injury Report; No Other Changes

Posted by mikewobschall on January 14, 2010 – 3:45 pm

Thursday’s injury report didn’t look much different than Wednesday’s for the Vikings or Cowboys, with only one change for each team.

The Vikings added FB Fahu Tahi to the report, indicating he didn’t participate in practice because of a back ailment. Everyone else on the Vikings report was limited; you can read the full report by clicking here.

For Dallas, the only change was that RB Marion Barber (knee) was a limited participant on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Everyone else on the Cowboys report was a full participant.
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Big Challenge Ahead For Productive Vikings D-Line

Posted by mikewobschall on January 14, 2010 – 2:03 pm

The Vikings defensive line put up some big numbers this season, racking up 38.5 of the team’s NFL-leading 48 sacks. This Sunday at Mall of America Field, though, the Vikings defensive line will have a big challenge on their hands.

The Dallas Cowboys bring with them an offensive line that is among the NFL’s largest. From LT to RT, here are their sizes: 6-7, 338 pounds; 6-5, 307 pounds; 6-4, 318 pounds; 6-6, 353 pounds; 6-8, 318 pounds.

“I’ll tell ya, they are huge across the board,” Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “From Leonard Davis to (Mark) Colombo, those are some big, big men; and Flozell (Adams). That’s a tremendous challenge for every defense that lines up against them to defend the run and find a way to get around those guys. They are huge.”

As large as the Cowboys linemen are and as well as they’ve been playing over the past 4 games, the Vikings defensive line will certainly relish the challenge rather than succumb to the pressure. The Vikings boast 2 All-Pros in DE Jared Allen – who has 14.5 sacks on the season – and DT Kevin Williams. Plus, DE Ray Edwards is coming off the best regular season of his career and DT Pat Williams will be rested and ready after missing a game toward the end of the season with an elbow ailment.

On top of the quality starting talent the Vikings possess, they’ll also benefit on Sunday from adequate depth that is provided by players such as DE Brian Robison and DTs Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy.

The fact that the Vikings have the right personnel to give the Cowboys offensive line a good battle is key because, as Frazier told reporters on Thursday, relying on schemes to defeat Dallas powerful offensive line is not the way to go.

“There are some things that you can do at times, but in general, you look at anybody that’s played against them, and sometimes it’s just a guy winning in a one-on-one situation,” Frazier said. “And that’s really what our league is for the most part. If you’re personnel is not up to snuff, you’re going to probably fall short.

“You can only trick people for so long in this game and at some point you’ve got to line up and play football and go man-on-man sometimes.”
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Vikings Lead NFL In All-Pro Nods With 4

Posted by mikewobschall on January 14, 2010 – 11:19 am

The Associated Press has announced its 2009 All-Pro Team and the Vikings led all NFL squads with 4 selections.

The Vikings had 2 offensive players honored – G Steve Hutchinson and RB Adrian Peterson – as well as 2 defensive players – DE Jared Allen and DT Kevin Williams.

An All-Pro distinction is more prestigious than a Pro Bowl berth because the All-Pro team is reserved for a smaller portion of elite players. They are the best of the best. Pro Bowl rosters consist of several players at each position, while the All-Pro team is made up of just 12 offensive players, 12 defensive players and 3 specialists.

The quartet of Vikings named to this year’s All-Pro team have an impressive number of 1st-team selections. Together they have 16 first-team selections. The breakdown is as follows: Hutchinson (6), Williams (5), Allen (3) and Peterson (2).
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