2005 Preseason Archives

August 31, 2005
Climbing for the Vikes

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7. (Having mastered seafood culinary skills, he is moving onto Spanish paella.) Writing today is guest author Daren Bloomquist.

Showing the Colors:
:: Planting a Flag on a Mountain Top! ::
2005_Garden_008 007 thumb.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view larger image

Hello again, fellow Viking fans. This is “NewMexicoGuy” writing to you again from Las Cruces, New Mexico. You might have read my first story COD put up on May 17 this year about growing up listening to the Vikings at our cabin on Whitefish Lake. COD asked me to put something together while he takes a brief and well-deserved hiatus from his work on The Vikings Underground. Instead of another story, I’m going to describe something that I am going to do to show my enthusiasm for the Vikings this season.

If you remember back to my original story, COD included a link to a photo of myself in the mountains just East of Las Cruces. That experience hiking to the 8990’ peak was the inspiration for my idea. I’m going climb to the summit for the fourth time this fall…once the rattlesnakes are all safely hibernating…and hoist a Vikings flag.

I’m convinced that the Vikings are going to reach greater heights this year. Raising the flag at the nearest, but highest peak in Southern NM would be my perfect way cheering on our team as they work towards a World Championship. I’m psyched about this season!

This will make for one great photo album. Maybe I can continue climbing various mountains across the country and world and plant a Vikings flag, snap a photo, and carry the flag back down and to my next target.

I'll probably write a brief story of my experience to document any funny occurrences, injuries, bone-chilling scares, and other memories. I'll come back here to ppost those stories. I will get a world map in my office and place a pin at the place of each flag raising.

I’m planning to make the 12-hour hike to the Organ Needles later this fall and you can count on me to send a photo from the Organ Mountains in Southern New Mexico. Go Vikes!

Posted by maasx003 at 7:42 AM
August 26, 2005
Tice Approval Rating for Week 3?

Note: Mr. Cheer or Die is on vacation through September 7.

Last week after the loss to the Jets, Tice's approval rating sank from 81% to 60%. A new poll is now posted to the left. So vote and let's see how Tice's approval stands after Chargers game.

You'll also see a new poll for the current Matt Birk issue.

Vikes Fan Injured in Iraq

Nothing like the following story to pull me out of vacation for a quick post. Thanks to Tim of Allen, TX for alerting me to this story. So many of our service men and women have been fighting bravely in Iraq. And they all deserve our prays and love.

Vikings fan LTC Erik Kurilla was injured in Iraq recently. And it's serious. You can follow the incredible and courageous exploits of Kurilla at this site....quite a story it is with some amazing photos.

Kurilla kept photos of his wife and children, and his Minnesota Vikings flag, with him in Iraq. After getting injured, his men were boxing up everything to ship stateside when they decided to keep the flag so everyone could autograph it. It wasn't long before there was no room left to sign.

The Commander of Deuce Four, Kurilla, was shot three times in combat. Despite being seriously wounded, LTC Kurilla immediately rejoined the intense and close-quarter fight that ended in hand-to-hand combat. LTC Kurilla continued to direct his men until a medic gave him morphine and the men took him away. The good news is that LTC Kurilla is now stateside and in stable condition.

Please take a few moments and send a card of encouragement to this very brave man and Vikes fan!!! PLEASE!

LTC Erik Kurilla
1st BN, 24th Infantry Regiment
Fort Lewis
Tacoma, WA 98433

Father, heal and save this warrior Lord. Be present even as we pray with those in charge of his care. Be present with his loved ones. Do this Lord as we pray in Christ's name, amen.


Posted by maasx003 at 9:30 PM
Moblog Tonight!

Follow along tonight as I go to the game and provide you instant photo messages on my newest addition to the Viking Underground...moblogging!

Moblog is a blend of the words mobile and weblog. A mobile weblog, or moblog, consists of content posted to the Internet from a mobile or portable device, such as a cellular phone or PDA. Moblogs generally involve technology which allows publishing from a mobile device.

I'll be posting tonight at the preseason game against the San Diego Chargers by taking photos with me mobile phone and instantly uploading them as new moblog entries at the Viking Underground Moblog site. If everything works as it should, that is!

Note: Sprint is currently having issues with its PCS Mail server and so this may be not working tonight.

Let me know what you think! And then you can read further on below and tell Cheesehead Craig why the Packers won't win the division...let alone finish ahead of the Bears and Lions!

Posted by maasx003 at 2:52 PM
August 24, 2005
Podcast with Bolt Talk

A fun pregame Podcast with Ray from Bolt Talk. Ray is a fellow blogger and podcaster and we discussed the upcoming preseason tilt, position battles worth watching, goals for each team going into the game, and stadium issues.

So why not join the hundreds of people who have listened to my previous podcasts and give a listen!

And yes, the Four Hoarsemen will be coming back in the very near future for another round-up of the local sports scene. We'll see if Cheesehead Craig has changed his high-and-mighty tune that the Packers will contend for the NFC North title.

For Podcasting Newbies

If you use iTunes (you don't need to have a iPod!) all you have to do is click the Subscribe button next to my podcast in the iTunes Music Store under the Sports category, and iTunes downloads the latest episode of my podcast. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes with this The Viking Underground Podcast XML link. Choose Advanced "Subscribe to Podcast" and enter the URL. Here is how my podcast appears on iTunes:

image001.png

If you don't use iTunes, my podcasts are now listed via Podcast Alley. Be sure and vote for my site on Podcast Alley and also leave a comment! Every vote helps the podcast garner more recognition and helps get the word out. So take thirty seconds and vote!

And for the truly lazy, here is an embedded player. Just click on the Play button and choose your podcast!







Play the Viking Underground Pick 'Em Contest Reminder

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick'em, click the "Sign Up" button (or "Join Group" if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join my private group and when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 15651
Password: purple

Only room for 50, so join early!

More Beta Testing

Video blogging is coming. You'll see test videos now and then as part of testing out the html code. Let me know if you have any problems seeing the video below.



Posted by maasx003 at 11:35 PM
August 23, 2005
Fickle Confidence

Rome wasn't built in a day, so why am I worrying about the state of the Vikings after two early preseason games?

Lack of confidence is a funny thing, and manifests itself in different ways. Some folk become shrinking violets and others appear robust and opinionated, but both traits can be no more than a means of self-defense, masking an insecurity that leaves them feeling vulnerable and inadequate.

Now don't imagine this entry is about to turn into an agony column. No. It's just that I've seen a few things from the two preseason games and find myself suddenly made aware of the fact that I'm a bit defensive about this team right now.

It's been a few years now since Mike Tice was named head coach of the Vikings. In that time he has had time to completely renovate the team. One can safely say it is finally a team that has the Tice stamp upon it.

He's not rushed at it like a bull at a gate. It would have seemed foolish to completely retool a team that had been to two NFC Championship games under previous head coach Dennis Green. But then, Tice has not been idle either.

But the overall plan is not yet complete, and with players hurt the structure is not totally in place.

You'll understand my reluctance, then, to show my team around. Each time I watch them, whether in practice or in a game, I feel like an real estate agent, pointing out the many possibilities of a plot that is, as yet, relatively underdeveloped. And it spite of my boyish enthusiasm, at the end of the last several seasons when I look in the mirror there is a look of disappointment I find hard to mask. Or, maybe I'm being oversensitive.

You see, being a fan of the Vikings now for 40-odd years one would think that during this time someone would have gotten it right. Well, yes, the team looked great during the Green Era, but by the team he left the team had begun to crumble at the edges. And it never got to the Big Dance.

Tice's team wasn't likely to mirror its predecessor's maturity and winning percentage in a couple of seasons. That is, until this season. Big name free agents, revamped defense, All Pro quarterback all gave me wanting no less than a trip to Detroit in January.

Maybe I am the only fan who, as yet, can not quite see the potential of Tice's plan.

So, if at any point this coming season you are embarrassed by the state of the team, rest assured you are not on your own. Hang on to that fragile vestige of confidence and don't forget the Vikings are still the team to beat in the NFC North.

In the meantime, do as I am doing and decline any response to your co-workers and friends who ask "how is the team coming along so far this year". Don't give them any information until we've see the starters play that opening game against Tampa Bay.

Of course I won't be able to stick to it. But I am looking forward to the first person saying, "Wow! What a great team Tice has built. This is the year!"

It can't be too far off.

Cuts

The first team cuts were made and linebacker David Bamiro, receiver Avion Black, quarterback John Bowenkamp, center Shawn Lynch and tackle William Obeng were all let go. I had been following the progress of Bamiro closely and am sad to see him go. I hope he can catch on somewhere else.

Wish Granted

Let me first stress that I am not anti-Bennett. But based on his play during the first couple of preseason games I was asking to see MeMo and Ciatrick Fason get shots with the first team offense. Due to a sprained neck to Bennett, I will now be able to see whether or not it was Bennett or the offensive line as MeMo will get the start this coming Friday against San Diego.

Here We Go

One day after asking Tice to simply "kill" the high number of penalties the Vikes have been incurring and not assigning some type of committee or over-analyzing, guess what? Tice plans to hire two to three officials a day to observe team work in practice.

Um, I have a better idea. Go to the player’s wallets and start extracting cash for penalties. I've never met a person who does not react, and react for the better, when ol' George Washington is used as the incentive.

Fourteen penalties in the first preseason game. Seventeen in the second. What do you guess for the third?


Posted by maasx003 at 7:16 AM
August 22, 2005
No Red Flags, but Plenty of Yellow

"If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes."

Ross Perot

Two preseason games have now been played. Thirty-one yellow hankies have been thrown against a team that has been working on skills, attitude, and mental errors during training camp.

Coach Mike Tice, who had a 81% approval rating going into the game against the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets had better get a handle on the rash of penalties quick. Many of those penalties have been drive killers as well.

As Ross Perot said, I hope Tice doesn't create some sort of committee to deal with this issue. Just kill it, and kill it now.

"When building a team, I always search first for people who love to win. If I can't find any of those, I look for people who hate to lose."

Ross Perot

As I called for after the preseason tilt against the Kansas City Chiefs and will again call for this week...enough Michael Bennett. Enough tippy-toe tentatively towards the line ala Herschel Walker over a decade ago.

Coach Tice, with the two preseason games left to go please give MeMo a start and Ciatrick Fason a start in those games. If nothing else, I want to see each get considerable time playing with the first team offense. I want to know if MeMo and Fason really ARE that good or if they have just had the luxury of running against the second and third team opposing defenses.

I want a winner at running back. And right now, that does not appear to be Bennett. Disagree? Place your vote for opening day running back on the poll to the left.

"Eagles don't flock, you have to find them one at a time. "

Ross Perot

With Fred Smoot out and his return unknown, I'd like to see Ralph Brown moved from backing up Antoine Winfield to starting on the other side over Brian Williams. "Downtown" Ralph Brown has shown me he earns a starting nod in at least one of the remaining preseason games. He's been soaring and delivering some great hits.

"Failures are like skinned knees, painful but superficial."

Ross Perot

Last week after the win over the Chiefs, Tice ended up am amazing 81% approval rating with the Tice Job Approval poll. A new poll is now posted to the left. So vote and let's see how Tice's approval stands after the loss to the Jets.

Oh, and I gave ol' Pencil Ear a Somewhat Approve.

Play the Viking Underground Pick 'Em Contest

In order to join the group, just go to Pro Football Pick'em, click the "Sign Up" button (or "Join Group" if you are a returning user). From there, follow the path to join my private group and when prompted, enter the following information...

Group ID#: 15651
Password: purple

Only room for 50, so join early!


Posted by maasx003 at 6:45 AM
August 19, 2005
Game Day Podcast

No SHOUT OUT! Friday today for all my loyal readers coming to see the usual Friday fare. It's game day!

Viking Underground Podcast Nine brings a very special guest into your audio world. Joining the VU for a recent podcast interview was Rod Simons, Sports reporter/anchor, for local 5 Eyewitness News (KSTP).

VIKINGS_SIMONS_SAYS1.jpg

Rod and I talk about the Vikings and the pre-season game against the Jets as well as some other fun topics.

Rod is a four-time Emmy and international Gabriel Award winner. He most recently won a 2004 Emmy for outstanding sports anchor and a 2004 Page One Award.

Vikings coach Mike Tice joins Rod every Sunday night starting in September for the "Sports Wrap" program. Tice and Simons will break down the Vikings game from earlier in the day and talk shop.

KSTP also has a very nice Vikings web page this season with commentary by Rod as well as Rich Gannon. Check it out.

If you use iTunes (you don't need to have a iPod!) all you have to do is click the Subscribe button next to my podcast in the iTunes Music Store under the Sports category, and iTunes downloads the latest episode of my podcast. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes with this The Viking Underground Podcast XML link. Choose Advanced "Subscribe to Podcast" and enter the URL. Here is how my podcast appears on iTunes:

image001.png

If you don't use iTunes, my podcasts are now listed via Podcast Alley. Be sure and vote for my site on Podcast Alley and also leave a comment! Every vote helps the podcast garner more recognition and helps get the word out. So take thirty seconds and vote!

Posted by maasx003 at 6:10 AM
August 17, 2005
Tice Approval Rating

Not much time to write today. But, I have installed the Mike Tice Job Performance Rating poll. You can see the poll for August off to the left. I would think Tice will come in as "favorable" for August. But then, is Tice starting to go off the deep end a little bit and we'll have to worry about photos like this appearing on the front of magazines in the future?

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Tice has been going “Ditka” on the offensive line as of late. Maybe this coaching technique of wacky exercise drills and mocking will work. But will the national media consider it ”innovative” or just “plain wacky”? Where is Howie and Bradshaw when you need them?

Episode One took place earlier this week. Tice required his linemen to carry out their blocking regimen with their hands constrained by elastic straps to impose them to use appropriate blocking techniques. The players didn’t, and don’t, like it. Guard Chris Liwienski was quoted as saying, “I certainly hope it was a one-day thing."

Jump ahead a few days brings us to even stranger Episode Two. About halfway in the course of the Vikings' morning session, Tice stopped an offensive line drill, kicked out guard Adam Goldberg and called to a fan, a regular Joe, who was standing nearby.

Tice instructed this fan to take part as a stand-in during a no-contact drill. Goldberg responded by feigning to take his jersey off. Tice later referred to the episode as a "gag."

But one has to wonder how long the offensive line will put up with this type of behavior and go along with “the gag.”

So, it is time to start the Tice Job Approval rating. Each month I will post a new poll and provide a grid showing the previous history below so we can track his approval rating through the season. Take a moment to vote!

Oh, and I gave ol' Pencil Ear a Somewhat Approve.

Other News

Brad Johnson talks about his former team and coach.

Ty Law will not play Friday against the Vikings. Probably doesn't want to be caught on the Culpepper-Burleson highlight reel.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:30 AM
August 16, 2005
Greet Machine Recap

For a recap of the Chiefs-Vikes preseason game, I encourage you to check out the Greet Machine who usedmy tickets to watch the game this past Friday. A very nice recap and some nice photos.

Injury Updates

Anyone else getting worried that Fred Smoot might not see action this year? First it was the strained neck and now a injured right knee described as having a soft tissue contusion. Sure, an MRI done yesterday showed just that and no further damage. But MRI's have been wrong before. It would be a major blow to the team if something prevents Smoot from playing significant time this season...or not at all.

And adding insult to injury on an already undermanned unit placed under the microscopic eye of Tice, the offensive line took another hit when starting right guard Chris Liwienski sprained a shoulder in the late Monday practice.

And Kelly Campbell won't be helping on kick or punt returns anytime soon as an MRI showed a strained right quadriceps and The Mouth will be out another couple of weeks.

L.A. Update

Now then, which team deserves to be moved to L.A.? The Vikings, whose QB was a machine this past Friday? Or this team, whose QB..well, um, what does one say?

rumorm11.jpg

Thanks to Pro Football Talk for posting that photo.

Gas Prices

I paid $2.49 a gallon this past weekend. Ugh! Bad, or is it? Take at look at these prices:

Top 10 Gas Prices per gallon

1) Netherlands, Amsterdam $6.48
2) Norway, Oslo $6.27
3) Italy, Milan $5.96
4) Denmark, Copenhagen $5.93
5) Belgium, Brussels $5.91
6) Sweden, Stockholm $5.80
7) United Kingdom, London $5.79
8) Germany, Frankfurt $5.57
9) France, Paris $5.54
10) Portugal, Lisbon $5.35

Top 10 Best Gas Prices

10) South Africa Johannesburg $2.62
9) Nicaragua, Managua $2.61
8) Panama, Panama City $2.19
7) Russia, Moscow $2.10
6) Puerto Rico, San Juan $1.74
5) Saudi Arabia, Riyadh $0.91
4) Kuwait, Kuwait City $0.78
3) Egypt, Cairo $0.65
2) Nigeria, Lagos $0.38
1) Venezuela, Caracas $0.12

Anyone heading to Caracas? Bring me back a few hundred gallons!

I'm taking the glass half full outlook on the rising gas prices issue. This is the motivation needed to invent the next Big Thing. It wasn't all that long ago that personal computers were a pipe dream and now they are on every desk in every office and in most homes. Bill Gates had the next Big Thing.

Whether it be Zero-point energy extraction from the quantum vacuum or some other fantastic find, American know-how will turn rising gas prices into a win-win for the world with something that will change the face of energy across the world.

But in the glass half-empty mode, there comes a story out of Minneapolis is that Minneapolis school districts this year will have free breakfast for all students, championed by Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles as a tool for better learning. Yes, I understand that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link and everyone needs a fair shake. But, if a parent can't get his or her butt out of bed, put some Cheerios in a bowl and add some milk for a kid then the game is already lost. This country might as well just shut it down.

Oh, and that breakfast ain't free. It's costing someone. It's costing you .the good parent that is already feeding a healthy breakfast to your kid. Now, if you will excuse me I have some Cheerios to lay out for The Boy®.

Posted by maasx003 at 6:07 AM
August 15, 2005
Beta Testing

I know, I know. It is Monday which should mean another podcast. But I did two, count 'em, two extra ones last week so I'll let y'all catch up first. Besides, I was very busy this weekend at the Irish Fair watching my wee one participate with his dance school at three performances.

More podcasts are coming. Don't you worry your Vikings horns off. The extra two from last week, in case you are behind are:

Viking Underground Podcast Seven: Direct from Mankato and Vikes training camp you'll hear some sounds from practice, Mike Tice and Daunte Culpepper address the media, and you'll hear an exclusive Viking Underground interview with Chuck Foreman.

Viking Underground Podcast Eight: I spoke with two great Kansas City Chefs, er, I mean Chiefs fans about the opening preseason game Friday (8/12) night. They are Weirdwolf and First Down Elvis. Great guys, give a listen!

And my podcast now ranks #10 out of 222 sports podcasts on Podcast Alley. Wow! I'm in the Top Ten. Thank-you everyone who has taken the time to cast a vote there. If you haven't voted yet, please take a moment and do so! Every vote helps my podcasts become more visible and reach a greater audience.

Today's topic is beta testing. You know, beta.

beta ( bā ' te) - preliminary or testing stage of a software or hardware product; "a beta version"; "beta software".

Mike Tice rolled out the beta version of his team this past Friday night. Tice calls it tough guy football. We saw this crack at tough-guy football in the first quarter after the Vikes scored on their first series. The offense sent running back Michael Bennett and three tight ends to pound into the Chiefs' defense. The results? A pair of no-gain runs for Bennett and eventually a punt.

I jusy hope that Coach Tice, stubborn as he can be, doesn't try to stick with something during the regular season just to prove the point. I mean, if the team is down by 16 with 3 minutes left in the game is he still going to be pushing the tough-guy football set-up and run, run, run?

I don't think we have to worry. Tice is seasoned enough to go with Plan B if need be.

But that doesn't mean that I don't think there are things that shouldn't be changed in time for the game against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets this week.

Please, remove Keenan Howry from kick returns and punt returns. I'm sorry, he's a nice guy and great team player but he does not have that spark. You know what I'm saying? Take the poll to the left and tell me who you think should be returning kicks this week.

Another thing that left me insatiated was the run defense. Yes, it was Priest Holmes and the high powered Chiefs offense. But geez Louise, I mean haven't you had enough already seeing RB's go virtually untouched for 15-yards!?!?

The defense did have a very nice goal line stance near the end of the first quarter that I thought showed a lot of promise. But I do not want to hear "the Vikes defense bends but does not break" being uttered by the media this season. Do you? Just break the opposing teams offense balls at the line. Three and out.

The offense was clicking, though, wasn't it? Daunte had it running like a friggin' Swiss watch out there. And I felt very comfortable when Big Bad Brad came in to relieve him. I liked the play calling and seeing all the WR's getting the ball. The running game needs some work. But remember, Mr. Birk is still out. The O-line WILL gel and the running game will improve. I thought Michael Bennett looked in fab shape.

The kicking game will be the most intense fight in camp. Kickers Paul Edinger and Aaron Elling both made long kicks....though I have to say Ellings was butt ugly. Give Edinger the edge right now. Punter Darren Bennett looked horrible. Just horrible. Travis Dorsch is ahead at this stage. Why? Let me flush this out for you.

Back at mini-camp, I saw Dorsch booming some kick-offs. The Vikes will keep Edinger and cut Elling. They'll then cut Bennett and keep Dorsch to punt and kick-off. Edinger will be strictly field goals and back-up for kick-offs. Brad Johnson is the holder so no need to keep Bennett around as his age is very much evident at this point. What do you think?

And didn't rookie Ciatrick Fason look great? Yea, like Mewelde Moore, he was running against the second and third string Chiefs defense...but the rook has some moves. Let's move him up the depth chart for one of the upcoming preseason games and see what he can do. Another great late round draft pick for the front office.

Speaking of beta testing, here are some blog beta tests of my own. Let me know how you like (or not like) these by leaving a Comment at the end of this entry. Based off of feedback from my training camp report, I wanted to try some new things out:

Video:
:: Daunte Tosses the Ball at Camp ::
A quick clip shows Culpepper drop back and rifle the ball
 culpepper.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view file


Training Camp Photo:

:: Ferrari::
Daunte’s Ferrari

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Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 8x10 print

Training Camp Photo:
:: Ferrari::
Daunte’s Ferrari
2005_TC 003 thumb.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 4x6 print


Training Camp Photo:

:: WRs::
Nate Burleson & Travis Taylor

2005_TC 078 thumb.jpg

Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 8x10 print

Training Camp Photo:
:: WRs::
Nate Burleson & Travis Taylor
2005_TC 078 thumb.jpg
Click photo or HERE to view image suitable for 4x6 print

Calling All Writers

I plan to be on vacation August 26 - September 7. During this time, I will be taking leave of this blog as well. I mean, I am on vacation and all! So, if you are an aspiring sports writer and want to see your thoughts posts here, e-mail by August 25 and I will make sure your entry gets posted. Send a mug shot too, so your adoring fans can see your cute face. You can talk about the preseason, training camp, players...what ever suits your fancy as long as it is Vikings (or a Packer put-down). My e-mail address can be found at the top right of this blog.

Get writing!

Posted by maasx003 at 11:37 AM