April 30, 2005
Mini Camp Report IV: Linebacker

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

38: Sarth Benoit; R
41: Ira Cooper; R
43: Heath Farwell; R
50: Rod Davis; 2nd season
52: Keith Newman; 7th season
54: Dontarrious Thomas; 2nd season
55: Sam Cowart; 8th season
56: E.J. Henderson; 3rd season
57: Raonall Smith; 4th season
58: Naploeon Harris; 4th season
59: Quincy Stewart; 4th season
91: Grant Wiley; 2nd season
92: David Barriro; R

I'll be completely honest here. I didn't spend that much time observing the linebacker corp. I think this is the weak link (kicking doesn't count!) on the Vikings team. And it didn't help early on when I saw newly aquired Napoleon Harris (yes, that guy we got in the Moss trade) get yanked aside for being out of position. But then, this was the first mini-camp practice. That is going to happen. A lot. Better now then when the season starts.

But Harris and the rest of the linebackers also have some tremendous potential for the coming year.

There is no doubt that Harris has speed as he showed during passing drills, often making up tremendous ground to reach the ball. And I mean the man can flat-out motor.

One linebacker that did catch my eye, and a pretty nice grab, was Raonall Smith. Smith seems to be back to full health and could prove valuable as backup to the starting LBs as well as special teams.

According to the depth chart handed out at this practice, Sam Cowart will be your opening game middle linebacker. Now that could change but I think Mike Tice would like to have someone who's head is not on a spindle this season playing MLB.

But if E.J. Henderson can learn from his mistakes last season, you could see him back in at MLB at some point.

But for now, it appears that Dontarrious Thomas, Sam Cowart, and Napoleon Harris will be your opening game starters.

And if that doesn't make you all warm and fuzzy inside, well, I don't blame you. But, they say speed kills. So here's hoping for some speedy linebackers making some kills behind the line of scrimmage this season.

Other Photos

E.J. Henderson during passing drills.

Napoleon Harris shows some quick feet.

Napoleon Harris looks for the ball.

Rod Davis during passing drills.

Sam Cowart

Napoleon Harris. And note the former Packer in the background!

Napoleon Harris and Sam Cowart

Nice shot of Napoleon Harris.

Up next: Runing Back! (Projected to be up Saturday night. Hey! I have to work part of Saturday and The WifeŽ has a healthy Honey-Do List for me as well. Be patient!)

Previous: Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

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Posted by maasx003 at April 30, 2005 9:38 PM