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Talking Offensive Line, And Stuff

Ryan Cook shows picture perfect technique in the practical demonstration of the 'Look Out!' block.
Ryan Cook shows picture perfect technique in the practical demonstration of the 'Look Out!' block.

Today we're going to talk about several things, not just the offensive line, but that's where I want to start, as the big news out of Winter Park is that Anthony Herrera has returned a week earlier than originally thought, and was taking snaps with the first team at Winter park yesterday.

You could view this a couple of ways.  The optimist would think that he's healed faster than thought and is ready to go, and his return will help stabilize a line that almost all of us have a lot of concerns about, stemming back to 2009.  The skeptic might muse that Herrera is pushing to get back because the line looks like it has the potential to be a hot mess, and an 80% Herrera is better than a 100% Cook or DeGeare.

I'm taking the former position, but I'll let you sort that one out on your own. 

In other news, there are two positions that I have really no issues with moving forward, and one that I thought would be a problem I'm starting to come around on. 

After the jump.

I know the pre-season is relatively meaningless, but with the QB position I think the play of all three guys went a long way to alleviate fears we had about the talent level at that position.  When you look at Donovan McNabb, he just seems more at ease here in Minnesota, and comfortable in the situation he finds himself in.  Personally, I thought he looked good in his brief appearance.  I watched some of his Washington game against the Vikings last year not too long ago, and his body language gave off the impression that he wanted to be anywhere but in the nation's capital, and that had to effect his play, didn't it?  I mean, he got benched for Rex Grossman, for goodness sakes.  Here, he knows he's the guy, but more importantly, he knows he's the guy for just this year, and both the Vikings and McNabb seem fine with that.

As for the other two guys, I get the impression that Christian Ponder is inching ahead of Joe Webb for the number two spot.  When you look at their play from Saturday, it was close to a wash in terms of performance, with the exception of Webb's pick.  Webb's the more natural athlete, obviously, but Ponder showed some surprising quickness and mobility.  If all things remain equal, I think the Vikings give the #2 job to Ponder.  They drafted him to be the guy, they want him to be the guy, and unless he really regresses he'll be the number two guy coming out of the pre-season.  I think it's funny that the Vikes didn't play Rhett Bomar, although 'they wanted to'.  See ya, Rhett.  Don't sign a lease, unless it's a month to month one.

I don't know that there's an embarrassment of riches at quarterback, but I would argue there is at running back.  AP is AP, enough said.  Toby Gerhart seems ready to take the next step and be more than a situational guy, and Lorenzo Booker really gives the Vikings a change of pace option, and I can see him getting involved catching passes out of the backfield.  He's shifty and makes people miss, and I can see him getting more integrated into the offense.

Defensively, all we can do with the secondary is hope, and that's not a really good game plan.  I don't know that bringing in anybody at this stage will make the secondary better.  I didn't think Frank Walker last year, for example, was much of an upgrade over Asher Allen, so let's hope Antoine Winfield and Cedric Griffin don't get hurt.

For the line, I still have concerns that Remi Ayodele can be that run stopper that Pat Williams was, but still think this defensive line is going to be good.  I worry about Brian Robison being an every down guy, and I'm still not convinced he will be as good as or better against the run than Ray Edwards.  I do think that the depth will be better than advertised, though.  Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard were classic underachievers in college, and they seem like if they focus and tap into their talent they can and will be solid contributors.

And from the 'Don't Piss Down My Back And Tell Me It's Raining' Department:  There's really no guarantee that the Vikings will get a special session this fall to address the stadium issue.  The conventional wisdom...well, at least my conventional wisdom was that the Vikings would finish their deal this summer while Dayton and legislative leaders were working to get the votes lined up.  Once Dayton was assured of passage, he'd call the session, get the bill voted on and passed, and do a ceremonial bill signing on the 50 yard line before one of the home games.

Maybe Morrie Lanning, who in his defense, is one of the bigger supporters of the bill, is just trying to keep the expectation level down.  Maybe this bill is in serious trouble, I don't know.  I do know that if Dayton doesn't have the votes, it would be utterly foolish to call a special session just to see the bill defeated--only the myopic and idiotic want that to happen.

But if it doesn't happen this fall, keep this in mind:  The legislature won't convene until January 2012, and the Metrodome lease expires on Feb 1st.  There will be almost zero time to get this thing done in under a month, and also remember that 2012 is an election year.  I am not saying that it couldn't be done, but I'm not sure what will be more pressure to bear as a politician in Minnesota who is facing re-election:  pass a relatively unpopular, billion dollar stadium bill during what is essentially a recession, or be forever known as the person that voted no and allowed the Vikings to leave.