Monday, August 10, 2009

Former Vikings Honored

12 time Pro Bowler Randall McDaniel was inducted into the 2009 Class of the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Saturday. Randall played 12 of his 14 seasons with the Vikings, finishing the final two years of his career in Tampa Bay. He was known as a modest man, who came into the league undersized for a guard and quickly became dominant at the position. During his speech, Randall commented on how it didn't feel right being up there with out his fellow linemen. He also stated:

I was blessed to play 14 years in the NFL. I spent 12 seasons with the Vikings, and I'll always bleed purple and gold."
The entire transcript of the speech may be found here: McDaniel HoF Speech

Other Vikings in the HoF: Carl Eller (Class of 2004), Jim Finks (Class of 1995), Bud Grant (Class of 1994), Paul Krause (Class of 1998), Alan Page (Class of 1988), Fran Tarkenton (Class of 1985), Ron Yary (Class of 2001), and Gary Zimmerman (Class of 2008)

On Saturday, the Vikings continued to honor Vikings greats by announcing that Scott Studwell will join the Viking Elite on the Ring of Honor, the highest honor the team awards, becoming the 18th inductee. Scott Studwell has been with the organization for 33 years, as a linebacker from 1977 through 1990, and is currently working in the front office as the Director of College Scouting.

Studwell is the Vikings career leader in combined tackles (1,981), defensive tackles (1,928), single-season tackles (230 - 1981) and single-game tackles (24 @ Detroit 11/17/85). A 9th round pick out of Illinois in 1977, Studwell was a 2-time Pro Bowler and was also named to the Vikings 25th and 40th Anniversary All-Time Teams. Source:

He will be inducted during half time of the Vikings-Bears game on November 29th. Click the following link for an entire list of past inductees: Vikings Ring of Honor

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Morning Practice: August 4, 2009

First off, I won't be able to make it to today's afternoon practice afterall.. got called into work. Nevertheless, here's some tidbits from earlier this morning:

Injury Updates
  • DE Brian Robison was present, but did not practice
  • QB Tavaris Jackson was not on the field initially, but later did some jogging and conditioning with a trainer along the sidelines and later tossed the ball around with Shiancoe. He did not practice
  • CB Benny Sapp was present, but limited in practice
  • Rookie RB Khalil Bell did not practice, showing up with out pads, just the jersey and shorts
Individual Drills: WR
WR's run routes and receiving passes from the Coach
  • Jaymar, Bernard, and Sidney were catching pretty consistently
  • Bobby Wade always seems to drop one of the first tosses, he's not a morning person and lets the crowd know it
  • Vinny Perretta dropped an easy one, letting it bounce right out of his hands. He ran the route immediately again, making the catch
  • Percy Harvin started off slow, missing 2 out of 3 catches
  • Bobby Williams continues to struggle, I can hardly even tell if he's trying - he's the only WR that doesn't insist on rerunning a route after messing up
After the initial drills, the QB's came over and tossed the ball to the WR's, no defenders. Sage at times seemed to underestimate some players' speed, often causing the wideout to slow down to make the catch. Booty overthrew Harvin by about 5 yards, he claimed his palms were sweaty. (It was 65 degrees).

Full Offense Drills (No defenders)

Not too much exciting happens here, but there were a few notes I figured I'd share. On some plays, RB Eric Bieniemy would act like he was rushing the QB to help Adrian Peterson practice pass blocking. Bieniemy seemed to be giving him some praise after.

  • Jaymar Johnson is quickly becoming a fan favorite, he makes at least one great catch per practice.
  • Nick Moore let a pass from John David Booty fly between his hands, the pass was thrown high, but catchable.
  • The QB's seem to be going to the check down man way too often.

One play in particular looked intriguing, which involved the QB signally Percy Harvin into motion, lining up in the backfield. The hand off was faked to Harvin, and Peterson took the rock.

Could be a fun one to see ran during preseason.

1-on-1 CB/WR Drills
  • Vinny Perretta got the better of Marcus Walker
  • Percy Harvin is clearly way too quick for Karl Paymah, every time he made a cut he'd be wide open
  • Benny Sapp had a much better day than previously in camp. He was playing very well, and very psychical - especially vs Berrian
  • With Griffin limited, Winfield, Asher Allen, and Marcus McCauley were in during nickel packages
  • Asher Allen isn't playing like a rookie. He was beat on one play be Berrian, but later made up for it - big time. Berrian appeared to catch a pass from Sage along the sideline, but Allen got his hands on the ball also. Allen wrestled the ball from his hands and toss Berrian to the ground and took it to the house.
  • Marcus Walker nearly picked off a Rosenfels pass intended for Berrian, who somehow still made the catch
  • Sidney Rice beat Benny Sapp on a 3rd and short situation, catching a Booty pass right next to the marker for a first down
  • Ian Johnson made a very nice move to make Linebacker Kenny Onatolu miss for the last play of this drill
Full Team Drills (11-on-11's)
  • Asher Allen played with the 1st team defense, making a great read on the first play, getting to Adrian Peterson right at the line of scrimmage on a swing pass
  • With E.J. and Leber blitzing, Sage attempted to rush up the middle. If it were full contact and you were allowed to hit the QB, we would probably have two injured QB's right now
  • Visanthe Shiancoe was slow to get up after running a play, but returned to practice
  • Bobby Wade made a great catch on a horrible throw from Sage, the pass was low and behind him. Wade had to reach behind him and hauled it in with one hand
  • With Robison out, the 2nd team DL consisted of Jayme Mitchell, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, and Otis Grigsby
  • David Herron saw time as 2nd team MLB, with Erin Henderson and Heath Farwell as OLB's. Lot of talent behind our starters
  • Jeff Dugan had a very good morning practice, making a great grab over Erin Henderson and a pass from Booty.
  • Booty quickly made us forget about the previous pass, making an awful throw over the head of Glenn Holt
  • Bernard Berrian stumbled making a cut, but quickly recovered and beat his man. He made a great jumping catch, but paid for it as it was met in the air by Madieu Williams. He was slow to get up, but it was clear he just had the wind knocked out of him. Adrian Peterson came over and kicked him a couple times taunting him to get up, the training tried to shove him back
  • Rosenfels once again threw the ball away while rolling out of the pocket. This time I don't blame him though, Erin Henderson was hot on his trail.
  • Albert Young made some nice moves picking up some extra yardage today, as much as it pains me to say it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Morning Practice: Monday August 3rd, 2009

Glad I decided to get out of bed this morning, as the first sight that I saw on the field was the players in pads. I knew right then that I'd be seeing a little bit of contact for the first time this camp. A few alumni were in attendance along with the Cheerleaders. Chuck Foreman and Rufus Bess were both around signing autographs. Still no Jackson.

The team spent the first portion of practice working on punt return drills, Aundrae Allison and Percy Harvin getting almost exclusive looks as return men. Harvin muffed his second attempt back there, and later let another ball soar above his head as he jumped for it. He seems to be misjudging where the ball is going at times. When on the field, Heath Farwell was often the first man to the returner.

And now... onto some thoughts & observations:

  • The QB's spent time tossing the ball into the nets, Sage looked very accurate on his first drill, can't say the same about his second attempt
  • Erin Henderson looks impressive, both in 11-on-11's and PR drills
  • Percy Harvin dropped his first pass from Sage in individual drills, he caught the next one, much to the delight of the crowd
  • Wade had a misstep running his route and joked with the crowd, "It's early man, need to warm up or something"
  • Sage and Chester Taylor had a miscue during 11 on 11's, it appeared Sage was the one at fault, letting the ball sail far wide on a simple dump off route
  • Albert Young had a few nice cuts, hitting the holes quickly
  • Harvin saw a little more success on end-arounds today, gaining around 10 yards on the first attempt
  • Cedric Griffin was beat twice by Bernard Berrian for TD receptions from Rosenfels
  • The play of the day came on an 80 yard TD pass from Sage to Jaymar Johnson, who beat Marcus Walker and De'von Hall on the play
  • On a play where Adrian Peterson was lined up in a Wide Receiver slot, Cedric Griffin made a nice play breaking up a pass over the middle intended for Berrian
  • Sage Rosenfels tried hitting Bernard Berrian deep, but slightly over threw him. Asher Allen was in coverage, who could be heard saying "You aint gettin by me, I told you". Love the Rookie's confidence
  • Visanthe Shiancoe had another great leaping catch today during 11 on 11's, I think I'm starting to sound like I'm repeating myself.
  • Bernard Berrian was joking with Wade on the sidelines, doing push ups when he wasn't on the field
  • Rookie RB Khalil Bell showed great effort during full contact 11 on 11's, refusing to go down until the whistle was blown
  • 1st team defense vs 1st team offense during the Red Zone drills... talk about a battle. Peterson was stopped cold on two consecutive plays, put finally punched it in on the final attempt
  • Rookie Center Jon Cooper did a great job blocking down field on screens, knocking his man out of the picture
  • Albert Young had another nice play during full contact drills, showing some quick cuts, but was brought down by Brian Robison
  • Marcus McCauley making his case for Nickleback. He broke up a pass along the sideline, and followed it up by picking off Booty on the next play. On the same play, Robison looked like he almost got his hand on the ball trying to strip it from the QB
  • Karl Paymah also is making his bid for the job, completely shutting down Vinny Perretta
  • Rookie Jarmarca Sanford had the biggest hit of the day, demolishing Darius Reynaud, who gained around 10 yards on the end around
  • The last play came on 3rd & 16, and it was a short pass to Ian Johnson. Johnson made a nice effort, but was still about 8 yards from a 1st down. KOA at its finest

That's it for today Ladies & Gents. I won't be at the afternoon practice, but should make both practices the next two days.

Afternoon Practice: Sunday August 2, 2009

Well, its only two and a half hours until morning practice begins, but I guess I'll give you guys something to read until I get back from there. Sorry about the delay with this one, had to go straight from camp to work.

The Vikings started out the day working a lot on Kickoffs. In addition to the guys that have already been getting reps back there, Glenn Holt and Chester Taylor also spent some time with the return units. Oh, and some guy named Percy Harvin too. The team spent a lot of time today working on reverses on returns, the most intriguing pair back there being Jaymar Johnson fielding the kick, and handing it off to Percy. Talk about a speedy combination. Aundrae Allison continues his poor camp, fumbling when attempting to receive a hand off on a reverse, and later almost falling down when cutting on a return.

Notes & Observations:
  • Sidney Rice is looking like a solid starter. During individual drills, Rice made a nice leaping grab in the endzone . The next pass, on the very same play, rookie Nick Moore attempted to do the same - and failed
  • Percy Harvin is already getting different looks. The Vikings have been practicing a lot of end arounds with Harvin and Reynaud being the beneficiaries. In addition, Harvin was set in motion and lined up next to the QB and received a direct hand off
  • Peterson continues his woes in the passing game, both with his mediocre pass blocking and his constant dropping of short passes. He did, however, make a very nice grab from Sage during red zone drills
  • Booty needs to step up his game. He had consecutive passes broken up by defenders, and two plays later had a play whistled dead for hesitating much too long.
  • Rookie Phil Loadholt vs incumbent starter Ray Edwards is turning into a real battle
  • Heath Farwell is back to last years form, it seems like he's making plays every time he touches the field
  • Speaking of linebackers, E.J. Henderson is looking great, showed his speed getting to the ball to break up a pass intended for Kleinsasser
  • Ben Leber and Benny Sapp collided during 11 on 11's, Leber laid on the ground for a few seconds, it understandably took Sapp a little bit longer
  • Visanthe Shiancoe and Marcus McCauley are probably the two having the best camp so far. Aundrae Allison needs to step it up: Darius Reynaud, Jaymar Johnson, and Glenn Holt are all making bids for his place on the team

Again, sorry about the delay getting this post up. Morning Practice begins in two hours, that post should be up before 12 noon CST.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Morning Practice: August 1, 2009

Today was a good day for practice, nice and cool - could have done with out the wind though. The players were showing a lot of intensity, much more contact than is usual when they're wearing shorts, but nothing too serious. Tavaris Jackson was on the ground for a bit giving everyone a scare, but appears that everything is alright. Also on the subject of injuries, Jayme Mitchell seems to be healthy after his season ending injury last preseason, we may need him this season with Udeze officially retiring. Heath Farwell also seems to be pretty quick on his feet, the knee doesn't appear to be bothering him even the slightest.

There might be a little bit of a rivalry forming between #11 Jaymar Johnson and #22 Benny Sapp. It seems like every time Johnson gets the better of him, Sapp makes a play the next time around. Much like last year, a favorite battle to watch is McKinnie vs Allen, its just simply a clash of the Titans. Allen did get the better of McKinnie on one play, which would have resulted in a sack on Rosenfels, but other than the one play, McKinnie did a pretty good job today. However, I suppose I should mention Allen is seeing much more double teams during camp this year, Kleinsasser laid him on his back on one play.

Rice remains on a roller coaster. While I've noticed he's getting open much more often, he hasn't made enough out of some of the opportunities, failing to come down with a pair of leaping grabs. On another play, he beat the coverage by so much that he had to slow down to catch a pass from Sage, and later made a fantastic grab snatching the ball from over Winfields head. Bernard Berrian seemed to get a lot of looks today as well, having the ball thrown his way quite often. He did a good job coming down with most of them, but had one pass swatted out of his hands under incredible coverage by Marcus McCauley.

Rookie Asher Allen continues to impress me. He made quite a few plays today, sticking with his man very well and getting a few break ups, including one pass deflection that caused the defense to erupt in cheers. There was one blemish on his day, which came when rookie WR Vinny Perretta nearly juked him out of his shoes at the line of scrimmage. Erin Henderson made it up by leveling Perretta right after coming down with the catch.

John David Booty seemed a little more comfortable today, getting rid of the ball much quicker and was moving around in the pocket well. During 11 on 11's, Booty threw an absolutely ugly pass, aiming wide of an open Aundrae Allison. He made up for it quickly though, hooking up with Reynaud on what had to be one of the best plays of the day.

Adrian Peterson spent a lot of time 1 on 1 practicing with running backs coach Eric Bieniemy. I have a feeling he's going to be spending a lot more with him soon, Peterson continued his problem of not coming down with the short passes.

That's all I've got for you today, look for more in the coming days, and as always, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Morning Practice: July 31, 2009

Training camp is officially underway. The first practice of camp was kind of a break in day. Players were wearing shorts and practice pads. First off, since I know you're all wondering. No, Percy Harvin is not yet present. With no real major story of the day, I'll just break it down for you by sessions & observations:

  • Jaymar Johnson, Aundrae Allison, Darius Reynaud, and rookie WR Nick Moore spent time fielding Kicks & Punts, with Jaymar seeing most of the looks
  • The cornerbacks and some wide receivers spent time doing hand drills and gunner drills. Berrian and Wade didn't participate much for the first hour, mainly playing catch on the sidelines near Peterson and Taylor
  • Anthony Herrera appears to have lost some weight since last year
  • Ian Johnson is now the owner of #42
  • Karl Paymah is wearing #41 in place of Gordon
  • During FG drills, as always, Longwell didn't miss a single kick
  • Aundrae Allison was wearing Yellow Cleats, Berrian was wearing Purple. Everyone else had black and white
  • Individual WR Drills: Jaymar Johnson had the most impressive catch during this session, making an great one-handed grab that appeared out of reach. Rookie Nick Moore had 2 consecutive drops, and was forced to run the route four times. He dropped his first pass on the next route as well. During 1 on 1's, Rice beat his man and made an incredible, Carter-esque grab keeping his feet in bounds and leaning out to make the catch.
  • When running offensive drills (no defense), the first two plays called were fakes to Peterson, with the WR coming around and taking the handoff.
  • John Sullivan was getting off the snap quick and pulling well on screens.
  • Loadholt took every snap with the first team
1 on 1 WR Drill Highlights
  1. Cornerback Derrick Roberson was having a start, getting beat consecutively and falling down at the line of scrimmage on a cut. He later made up for it with one of the best plays of the day, making a terrific interception over the head of Jaymar Johnson on a deep pass
  2. Glenn Holt beat his man and was wide open over the middle, the ball hit him directly in the hands - and then it hit the ground.
  3. Rookie WR Bobby Williams had Griffin beat for a sure TD. He laid out trying to make the grab, but came up just short. He stood yelling "Sh*t!". The ball was slightly over thrown.
  4. Rice had the lone TD reception during 1-on-1's, making a cut and blowing by Marcus Walker
  5. When lined up against Berrian, 3rd Round pick Asher Allen had great coverage, swatting a perfectly placed ball out of his hands
  6. Holt later made up for drop, coming down with the play of the day versus Griffin. Griffin had fantastic coverage and they both got their hands on the ball. Holt came up with it, then while sitting on the ground, rose his arms up and the stands erupted with applause
  7. Jaymar got a chance to make up for the picked ball, making a great cut to beat Benny Sapp on the sideline. Sapp had a rough first day, getting beat often
  • Sage Rosenfels took the initial snaps with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams during 7-on-7's, Jackson took the first snaps during 11-on-11's.
  • Griffin looked impressive covering Berrian, making a great play to break up a pass over the middle
  • There were a lot of underneath throws today, dumping the ball off to the RB/TEs much too often
  • Jackson and Berrian hooked up for a 40 yard TD play during full team drills
  • Loadholt was impressive today, doing a great job and sealing off the edge
  • DT Letroy Guion had the loan (obvious) sack on Sage Rosenfels
  • DE Martial Burnett got good pressure on Booty, swatting down a pass at the line
  • Robison is trying to make a statement early, he gave the QB's their exercise early in camp with all that running they were doing.
Overall it was a decent first day, just good to see them back in town. It's seemed like much more than a year since they were last here. I'll do my best to keep you updated with the on-goings here in Kato, but won't be at the next two afternoon practices. More to come tomorrow around the same time.

Thanks for reading!

Kenechi Udeze Announces Retirement

Udeze announced his retirement Thursday, just one day before the first practice of Training Camp, effectively ending his inspirational comeback from Leukemia. The fact that he made it this close to camp so soon after undergoing radiation treatments and a bone marrow transplant is nothing short of miraculous.

Picked in the first round of the 2004 draft, Kenechi was a starting defensive end for the Vikings for four years. After being diagnosed with Leukemia, he was placed on Non-Football Related Injured Reserve - which means the team didn't have to pay him. However, they still gave him his base salary of $807,500 so that he could worry solely about his recovery, and not about how he would afford all the treatment. At the end of the 2008 season, he was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award and took place in this off-season minicamps.

Don't ever say the disease got the better of him, Kenechi is expected to be graduating from his alma matter with a degree in Sociology, takes part in cancer research events, and made it a day away from another NFL training camp. The physical stress of the NFL is enough to get the better of some of the best athletes out there, its not made for just anyone. The fact he made it this close, a year removed from his transplant, is just plain inspirational. I will never forget his story.

In my eyes, he will go down as one of the toughest players to ever wear purple. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us, Kenechi.

Good luck & God Bless. Enjoy your new lease on life.