May 20, 2008
OTA: Tuesday May 20 Update VIII

Update VIII contains photos, video, comments on the running backs. Coming next, not sure as the rest of the week gets very, very busy. I'll add more when I can. I apologize for the limited effort today! But the team looks to be a contender!

Update VII contains photos, video, comments on the wide receivers. Coming next, running back.

Update VI contains photos, video, comments on the quarterbacks. Coming next, wide receiver.

Update V contains photos, & comments on the linebackers, kickers, special teams. Coming next, quarterback.

Update IV contains photos, video, comments on the defensive backfield. Coming next, linebackers, kickers, special teams.

Update III contains photos, video, comments on the defensive line. Coming next, defensive backfield.

Update II contains initial comments and some photos. The next update will be Defensive Line.

Update I includes the roster. Currently working on photos and video. Will post as the day goes along.

If all goes well, I should be posting photos, video, and audio later on today from the Vikes second OTA practice of the season.

Currently overcast and chilly (54 degrees) so not sure if practice will be outside or indoors.

I'll also be sharing things with the Daily Norseman, so be sure and check out that site over the next few days as well.

Alphabetical Roster

The morning started out chilly and cloudy. By the time I arrived at Winter Park, the skies were blue and it was warming up a bit. It became windy was practice went along which affected a few of the drills.

The first thing I spied was a huge banner outside the SE entrance to the indoor practice field.

And I still would not believe that the Vikes actually had Jared Allen on the team until I saw the big grin on his mug. Allen has the motor of John Randle, the speed of Chris Doleman, and the charisma of a stage entertainer. I asked one Vikes front office staffer if Allen really was that genuinely happy and the reply was quick, "Yes, he is such a great guy."

Missing were Matt Birk, Chester Taylor, and Bryant McKinnie.

Defensive Line

I spent the most time watching the defensive line. Little wonder considering how much money the Vikings put into it this off-season with the aquisition of Allen.

Allen was in every drill and seemed very at ease. Hate to say it this way, but a nimble cat-like quickness that is very deceiving. Here is a guy who doesn't look quick, but watch his feet in a drill and Allen is one of the quickest on the field.

Pat Williams was also in attendance but was one the few players who while at practice, didn't really seem to practice. Not like Pat needs it anyway. But then again.....how does that man move so fast? At any rate, it was Fred Evans filling in for Pat the Planet for first line drills today.

Erasmus James was also at practice, sporting a knee brace. Not all that bulky if you ask me compared to some braces I've seen. So, either his knee is coming along fine or knee braces have come a long ways.

The line was looking very cohesive. I can't wait to see Allen, the Williams', and Ray Edwards open the season. And you know they'll only get better as the season progresses and they continue to gel as a unit.

But it truly was a showcase for Allen and he soaked it up. His new teammates seem to rellay enjoy playing along side of him. And he is always smiling. Good start for the new lad.

I also like his stance at the line and the power he leads with. The moves necessary to become a successful defensive end in the NFL seem to come naturally to Allen. It's like he doesn't even have to think....which just adds to the quickness.

If you don't believe me, just look for yourself. Enjoy!

DB's

Antoine Winfield is flying high....literally.

Winfield has been one of the most vocal Vikings in relation to defensive talent the past several years. The fact that he is still employed by the team emphasizes just how important he is to the success of the defense.

Darren Sharper has done his best to support Winfield. And until Sharper loses the map to the Fountain of Youth, he should still be a force in the defensive backfield this coming season. He certainly looked smooth today.

Still, Sharper and Winfield were often victims of a pass happy opponent the last several season due to the ability of the front four to crush the run and the lack of a true pass rushing defensive end. Enter Allen, and one part of the equation seems to be solved.

Enter Madieu Williams, who until Allen arrived, was the Vikings top free agency aquisition this past off-season. Williams looked very comfy in the backfield today. It was as if Williams has been with the team for 2-years instead of a few months.

And there were other glimmers of future help. Rookie free agent safety Marcus Griffin out of Texas caught my eye as a kid with some speed and natural safety skills. We'll see if he makes the cut later this summer.

Back to WIlliams for a moment. It was he who had one of the funnier moments today when he underplayed the gusty wind and missed a ball, dropping immediately to do some push-ups. Check the video below.

As long as Sharper plays as well as last season, the DL puts some pressure on the QB's, and the DL continues to crush the run, I think Winfield will continue to feel as if he is soaring.

Linebackers, Kickers, & Special Teams

I will admit that I hardly spent any time observing any of these units. Practices fly by and one is only allowed a certain amount of time to use the ol' camera. I figured you'd want more on Allen than seeing a photo of Chris Kluwe or Ryan Longwell...not that we don't love those guys.

I spent enough time at the LB drills to see the first unit of Chad Greenway, Ben Leber, and E.J. Henderson were there. I'm really not worried about this unit. Greenway came on late last season, Leber surprised us all, and Henderson was Pro-Bowl worthy. Mix these guys in with the aforementioned DL and DB units and we should be seeing the Vikes land in the Top 10 for defensive stats this year....if not Top 5.

The kicking staff was there. They were out early, then they stood around. They shuffled through some stretches then stood around again. The life of Riley. I wish I was a punter.

My two favorite special teamers were also at OTA. Heath Farwell was sporting a clean shaven head and is taking a lot more, um, grief from his teammates. A sure sign that he has their respect. And Cullen Loeffler, our long-snapper, didn't miss a beat today and was spot on with his snaps. He heaved one between two bystanders (myself being one of them) directly to a office worker from about 34-miles away. Still not sure how he did it.

QB

Early on in practice, a player with jersey number 28 was warming up Sidney Rice, the speedy second year wide receiver. This was warming to my cold, cold heart. But it was not to be, once the offense took the field there was Tarvaris Jackson easing behind center (not Matt Birk who was AWOL). And the first time I watched T-Jack take a snap this off-season, what do you think he does? Watch the YouTube video to find out.

But this is not to bash Jackson. He certainly seemed a lot more confident on the field than at this point last year. He was reading the defense and making audibles at the line, albiet a bit tentatively.

Then there was ol' Gus Frerotte back for another term with the team. Gus did not excite, but I didn't see any mistakes. And he avoided making any cranial contact with concrete walls. Always a good thing. And Brooks Bollinger was also at OTA. That's five QB's when the team usually has four in any given camp. To me, that's a sign for concern.

As I mentioned before, Birk was not in attendance and no one expects him to be at any of the voluntary workouts this coming off-season. Thus, T-Jack was lining up behind any willing center today.

If there was another positive note to T-Jack today, it was that he was placing his feet in better throwing positions than last season when he was throwing the ball off of any foot. He must have been working on that skill this off-season as I thought he looked a lot more seasoned in that regard.

Another thing I liked was that Adrian Peterson stood by the QB unit for a whole series of drills. I could see him talking with each QB. What they were talking about, haven't a clue. But just the fact that Peterson did that showed true leadership and dedication to the whole team.

I observed rookies John David Booty and Kyle Wright as well. Booty is not going to win any races. Both were nervous. Both made some good throws sprinkled with the usual 'doh!' moments. It will be interesting to see if the Vikes pick up another vet before the season starts.

Coach Brad Childress is still speaking to how much Jackson has improved while also adding that he has a ways to go. I know that if I see any more Culpepper-esque fumbles at the snap, I'll be closing my eyes during the exchange this season.

For now, Jackson is the man. Enough so that he was one of three players to address the media after practice. The others being Peterson and Allen. Jackson certainly didn't turn down any soft-ball questions. So, maybe, just maybe, he will be the guy this coming season.

Here are some highlights of QB drills and Jackson speaking with the press after practice.

WR

OK, so I wasted the most film on the wide receivers. There are reason for that. One, its the position I played in high school. Two, I think this unit is due to have a breakout year. Three, there is this kid that is incredibly fast.

Jaymar Johnson is a kid the Vikes selected in Round Six of this year's draft. And the kid has some wheels. I haven't seen this much raw speed since, hate to say it, #84 about a decade ago. I'm not sure if the Vikes have plans to have Johnson return kicks but I will implore you to call the front office today and ask Coach Childress to put him back there and see what he can do. Great hands as well. Just watch #11 in the WR drills below and you'll get a understanding. And let me finish by saying Johnson was 5-yards in front of every WR in wind-sprints at the end of practice. Going 100% to impress? Probably so, but the speed is there and cannot be denied.

First there was the pure enjoyment of watching Peterson and Rice play toss. Sort of harkened back to the days of just being a kid and enjoying the game for what it is. And these two clearly enjoy the game.

Wide receivers certainly like their compression socks and UnderArmor gear. I paid great attention to this today as compression socks are all the rage in triathlons now. I even got a pair a few weeks back to sped recovery and they are great. Here are Aundrae Allison and Justin Surrency wearing UnderArmor and compression socks respectfully.

New in purple this year, direct from the Bears, is Bernard Berrian. The roster shows him as being 6'1" but he seems smaller. Just a comment. He's got the good quick feet as you saw in the video above.

Robert Ferguson was asking people "which way it was to Kiln, Mississippi" as he had to visit a former teammate that will have his jersey retired when the Vikes open the season in Green Bay.

My eye kept going back to Berrian and the aforementioned Johnson. Johnson was with Berrian on every drill. Perhaps by coincidence, but I'd like to think by design. Hey, I could be getting all Sid Hartman about the kid sporting #11, but I think he is a lock to make the team at WR.

Berrian did drop a few balls, but nothing of any great consequence. Watch the drill YouTube video and you'll see the quick feet, so I expect the former Bear will be getting off the line fairly easily this season. As long as the ball comes within a few feet of him, he'll make the catch.

Last year's return sensation Andrae Allison has to get a new number. I'm sorry, but #84 should be stored in moth-balls for a few years. It's just too painful. Allison made some nice catches, however.

Another good looking rookie was Nate Jones, a FA out of Texas. Jones displayed some nice speed as well. Nothing like Johnson, but he's another one to keep an eye on.

If the year is to be successful in terms of ROI (return on investment) then certainly all eyes will be on Berrian. And so far, the market is bullish. So chalk up a WR unit to go along with an impressive running game and the Vikes are just a solid QB performer away from having the real deal.

It certainly is a happy group of receivers. Leave it to Robert Ferguson and Visanthe Shiancoe to display the celebration happy hand slap TD dance...whatever!...for '08.

RB

First up, Chester Taylor was not at OTA. No biggie. And Peterson was there and ran team drills but did not participate in RB unit drills. Have no idea why. I sniffed around and no one seemed to know. He was playing with his shoes quite a bit, as you will see in the YouTube video a bit further down. But again, to alleviate any fears, he did run team drills.

Other than that, Peterson had a pretty easy practice and mostly played casual observer. I think he wanted to be invited in with the kickers. The kickers were having none of it. Maybe Adrian isn't cool enough for them.

I did get to observe former Minnesota Gopher Thomas Tapeh. I do hope this was a smart move as we were looking pretty good at FB last season. But I'm not going to second guess just yet.

There was another FB that I watched as well. Naufahu Tahi ran well, and impressed.

All in all, pretty dull day for the RB's. And we know it won't stay this way for long. To the video!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 9:10 AM · OTA 2008
May 13, 2008
OTA Update

I am planning to attend the morning OTA session this coming Tuesday, May 20. If it all works out, I will post photos at some point thereafter. I have a triathlon to prepare for this weekend, the craziness of soccer practices has now begun, and end of school year activities is in full swing. So the VU will probably be quiet until next week.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 4:15 PM · 2008 Off-Season
May 12, 2008
Limited All-Anniversary Team Print

I was notified of a real beautiful print that still has some copies available. This print was commissioned and printed by the marketing department of the Minnesota Vikings in 2001. The players on this All-Anniversary team print were voted on by the Minnesota media, past and current coaches, and the front office.

The Vikings printed the image as a set of limited edition lithographs. Currently, there are two variations of the print still available:

1. 18" x 24" unframed Open Edition Prints (no numbering or artist signature)
2. 18" x 24" unframed Artist's Proof Prints (numbered out of 100 with artist's signature)


The product is printed on a very heavy textured paper, great for obtaining player signatures and/or framing. Anyone interested in purchasing a print can visit this website.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 1:19 PM · 2008 Off-Season
May 3, 2008
OTA's & Minicamp

I was expecting to see camps earlier in May but I just heard from the Vikes. Organized team activities (OTA's) will be May 20-22, 27-28 and mini camp will be June 6-8. Practice times have not yet been established.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:07 PM · 2008 Off-Season
And We're Back

Wow, it has been a while since my last post. I've just been rather busy and the unimportance of a minor football blog will find itself on the short side of the stick.

Last Sunday, I had my first duathlon of the season. And I ended up getting in an extended workout. I'm just glad I considered this a C race otherwise I'd be plenty torked.

To set up the story, you need to know this du had both a long and short course. Both events were run using the same course, only the short had desginated turn-arounds which were indicated by orange spray paint on the road surface. I bet you already know what is going to happen by story end.

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At the start of the race, the long-course runners went off. About 10-minutes later, off went my short-course. I ran with the leader for 3/4's of the first run, falling back just before T1 in order to conserve the ol' muscles as I'm 47 and while I can run with the young bucks, I need to save some for the bike. Now the short-course "fast" runners are mixing with the long-course "slower" runners.

So, I came into T1 in 4th (guessing about 145 in the race) just about 7-10-seconds back of the leaders.

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Now we're biking. I'm going very well and I recall passing one of the leaders (remember we're mixed with the long-course people) and I get into a comfy rhythm. I start thinking about the lack of check-points. I see a few volunteers stationed along the road but no one is providing any directions (ala "3 miles to short-course turn-around) other than an occasional "whoo-hoo, way to go".

Looking at the trip odometer, I know I should be at or nearing the turn-around. The riders that I thought came out of T1 ahead of me have not started to come back and I'm pretty sure I didn't pass all three (or did I!?!?)...recall once again we are mixed with the long-course people. I'm yelling at everyone, "where's the short-course turn-around" and get nada. Still no one is coming back so I figure I'll just keep going. I pass a two volunteers and they have no idea about the turn-around when I yell at them.

So, guess what? I ended up riding the long-course route. Somehow, I missed the turn-around for the short-course bike. I talk to the race director and express my dismay over not having 1) any volunteer standing at the turn-around with a bullhorm screaming at riders, 2) not having vertical signage to indicate the turn-around; 3) depending on orange spray paint in the middle of a road while one is biking at 25 mph to somehow notice race markers.

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I spoke to other people who also had issues with the turn-around. One woman couldn't figure out the course (she was a long-course participant) and just gave up, turned around and finished with the short-course. Another short-course male had to stop, get off his bike and wait for a volunteer to communicate with the race director via walkie talkie to figure out what-was-what.

Frustrating as hell. Guess what, despite riding 6-miles longer I still finished 3rd in my age-group....which made me even more mad. After I got back the results, I adjusted my bike time and figured out that I would have finished no worse than fourth overall and could have finished as high as second. Too bad, as the course was a nice one.

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Again, just glad I was treating as a C, otherwise I'd still be seething.

The very next day I was off to New Jersey on a long business trip. I hate business travel. Long days, airport food, and bad offices.

Friday my good friends at Halsten Entertainment came over and I upgraded some of my home theater entertainment components. I also upgraded my DirecTV dish to a 5LNB model and I now pull in over 90 programs in HD. You haven't seen SpongeBob until you've seen it in true HD. I also jumped in and had the boys install a BluRay DVD player for me. Wow! I didn't think I would notice much difference but the picture quality is fantastic. I've heard and read about various equipment issues with the BluRay stuff so we'll see how mine holds up. It's going to be a movie feast-o-rama here this weekend.

Next week looks as busy for me. It's still 50-50 that I get out to attend a Vikings mini-camp session. Just too much going on. I'll let y'all know if I do get to one.

Have a great week ahead everyone! Sorry for the dearth of blog entries.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 10:54 AM · Non-Football
April 23, 2008
Vikes Land Big Fish

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The Vikes landed Jared Allen, the player I targeted as the #1 priority before the season even ended. Since I literally have no time to write any lengthy, let me do a cut-and-paste from my friends over at PFT:

"The report that the Minnesota Vikings surrendered a first-round pick and two third-round picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for defensive end Jared Allen elicited the response of “holy crap.?

But it turns out that the Vikings actually gave the Chiefs a little bit more than that.

A league source tells PFT that the trade also involved a swap of sixth-round picks in the Chiefs’ favor. The Chiefs get the Vikings’ sixth-round pick, No. 182 overall, in exchange for a sixth-round pick that the Chiefs had previously acquired from the Buccaneers, No. 187 overall.

Granted, a swap of five places in the sixth round isn’t a particularly big deal, but it’s yet another demonstration of how badly the Vikings wanted Allen, and how much the Chiefs were able to extract from the Vikings for him. Between those draft picks they traded and the enormous contract they gave him, Allen will be a disappointment in Minnesota if he’s anything less than the best defensive lineman in the NFL."

Personally, I have no issue with the draft picks given. It's a steal compared to the Herschel Walker deal. And it gives the Vikes a bonafide DE instead of going through the crap-shoot of a draft selection. A position (DE) the Vikes do not have great history with I may add.

I have a slight issue with making Allen the highest paid defensive player EVER. But only time will decide that for us. Good for Allen, good for Zygi, good for Chilly. I'm thrilled for all. As I'm sure the Williams Wrecking Crew is.

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So, let's briefly talk about the defensive line. The starters would be Allen at RDE, K-Will and P-Will in the middle, which begs my question to you: Who gets the nod at LDE? The team site currently has the depth chart for LDE as:

Kenechi Udeze #95
Jayme Mitchell #92

At what becomes of the boys currently slated at RDE?

Brian Robison #96
Ray Edwards #91
Erasmus James #99

So, we will have 5 (really 4 as Udeze continues his courageous health battle) coming into camp. Which do you see being the leading candidate for the LDE position? I like Robison, but I'm not sure he's ever lined up on the left and I don't think he is a every-down player. Mitchell showed improvement last year, but not enough to warrant a starting job. James is coming off knee work. Edwards ended the season suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on steroid use.

For me, there is onloy one answer. Zygi needs to get back on the team jet, fly to Miami and pick-up Jason Taylor. Forty-eight hours later we'll have our question at LDE answered.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 12:48 PM · 2008 Off-Season
April 22, 2008
Draft Countdown

It is now Day 6 of the Jared Allen watch. You know, the DE from Kansas City who had issues with being responsible....which is par for the course for people that age.

After much discussion with my internal Think Tank of all things Purple, I've come to the conclusion the Vikes should either A) give up this year's 1st Rd pick and their top 3rd Rd pick, or B) give up this year's 1st Rd pick and a current player TBD such as Bryant McKinnie or Ray Edwards. I think giving up this year's 1st and 2nd Rd picks would be a might high. Certainly, KC can go spit into the wind if they are waiting for this AND next year's 1st Rd picks.

Should the deal fall through, then I would hope my choice of Derrick Harvey, would fall into the Vikings laps. Not ideal, but those draft picks are valuable and I don't want to mortgage the farm for a proven DE in Allen. Not to say the thought of Allen playing alongside P-Will and K-Will doesn't excite me in the way Pamela Anderson excites those young boys just hitting puberty.

The VU will be suprisingly silent the remainder of this week despite this being draft week. My first duathlon of the season is this Sunday and I will be out-of-town. As for what I expect, I do think the Allen deal will get done and the excitement of the 1st Rd selection will be a non-factor for Vikes fans.

I still hope to attend a upcoming Vikings mini-camp session. Right now, it appears that camp will occur two-weeks after the draft. As long as my schedule is free, two weeks from now I should have photos of the newest Vikings for you.

Have a great remainder of the week!

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 9:37 AM · 2008 Off-Season
April 19, 2008
More Season Ticket Holder Perks

Just got the following in the mail today (4/19) from the Vikes. Guess which player the team is making as its selling point?


Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 5:55 PM · 2008 Off-Season
April 18, 2008
'Heavens to Betsy' but Our Prayers Are Being Answered!

Some video from the STrib boys.

This is a great move by the Vikings. Consider that they have upgraded at DE...TE...and WR all at the same time. Need proof. Check out this TD catch by....you guessed it...Allen.

We might have to work on his music choices, though.

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 3:25 PM · 2008 Off-Season
Jared: Vikes Finally Listen To Me

On Decemeber 22, 2007 I wrote:

Jared Allen, DE (Kansas City Chiefs) This is the FA that some people are already saying is the coveted name at the top of the Vikings FA wish list. There is a good chance that he’ll try the market out come next offseason. He’s just 25 years of age, and has shown that he is among the league’s best at his position. He’ll be a high priority for several teams once the signing period opens.

On January 2, 2008 I wrote:

I've got my moles out working again and I have heard a couple of things: One, the Vikes are going shopping at DE and have their eye on Jared Allen. Now, my moles state further that rumor started at KFAN radio so I'm not sure how much street-cred it has but then those boys have better connections at Winter Park than I do.

On February 27, 2008 I wrote:

I really wanted the Vikes to be able to pursue Jared Allen. But then along came the nasty viral tag and it could be closed...or is it?

Allen was given the Franchise Tag by the Kansas City Chiefs. But more importantly, the Chiefs used the "non-exclusive tag", meaning that Allen could still be in play. Dumb, methinks, on the part of the Chiefs. Clearly they are not serious about keeping Allen. Why is the non-exclusive part of the equation so important?

Had the Chiefs used the "exclusive" tag, it would have paid Allen more money (for one season) but makes it impossible for other teams to even try and get him. With the "non-exclusive", other teams can sign him, in return for two first round picks. Tempting, but perhaps too much of a gamble. Still worth a consideration.

Thursday, Allen finally paid his overdue visit. Per the STrib:

Turns out the Vikings’ attention has been on more than the upcoming NFL draft of late. The team also has been in talks with Kansas City about a trade that could fill a glaring need by putting Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen in a Minnesota uniform.

The off-season is about to take another huge step forward. Stand by.

The Whole L.A. Thing

Billionaire developer Edward P. Roski Jr. has made a commitment to build the kind of stadium an NFL team needs to thrive in Los Angeles. Now, he’s hoping one will commit to play there.

Roski, a part owner of the Kings and Lakers who has spent years trying to lure the NFL back to this area, unveiled plans Thursday for a 75,000-seat facility in the City of Industry he said could be finished in time for the 2011 season.

“I intend to develop our stadium project that meets all of the NFL requirements, and more,? Roski said at a Staples Center news conference, where stadium models and artist renditions were displayed. “Always the most important thing has been the certainty of doing this. A team is not going to commit to coming to Los Angeles without a stadium. We’ve taken this one point of uncertainty and made it a certainty. The stadium is a certainty and it will be built.?

And, Roski added, without public money.

“Absolutely no taxpayer dollars,? he said. “There’s no taxpayer dollars to get.?

I have one question: Why are all the seats purple? Future planning?

Posted by briankeithmaas@msn.com at 7:37 AM · 2008 Off-Season