Sorry about the delay in posting the roundups—just got back in from Houston. Don't worry, I've been keeping track of what's been going on. We've had a good few days, and we're all excited to watch our Vikings play the 49ers. With that, let's get started. Quick hits from Day 10 above the jump, hits from Day 11 below the jump, injury report, media, etc.
- The Vikings are continuing to rotate the receiver opposite Percy Harvin, with time given to A.J. Love, Brian Walters, Jarius Wright and others.
- The offensive install focus much more on deep routes than in past practices. This might be a relic of Frazier; he has consistently built defenses from the inside out, and may be installing offenses the same way.
- The first team offense was off to a slow start again, beginning with a three-and-out from the 3 yard line, a results of miscommunication between Ponder and his receivers
- Observers called it Tuesday a very good day overall for the offense, with each offense increasing their pace and getting the ball out faster. Christian Ponder was 8 for 17, which Pelissero calls deceptive—he had a very efficient day, and capped the 8-play, 74 yard drive with a 25 yard pass to Percy Harvin over Harrison Smith for a touchdown. He threw no interceptions and took no sacks.
- Blair Walsh continues to excel in unexpected situations, and has sunk a number of field goals (including a 45-yarder) in run on situations. He is human, however, kicking it short into the wind on a 54 yarder. His next shot, he drilled it in with clearance.
- Harrison Smith is getting more and more reps with the first team. He seems to be earning his spot.
Day 11 (Wednesday) below the jump
Day 11 Highlights:
- Blair Walsh converted all 8 of his field goals from between 20 and 36 yards. He is 39/44 in live kicking situations at camp, with most of his misses beyond 40 yards.
- Brandon Burton took the third corner snaps in the first team nickel package, but as part of a larger rotation to see how the corners work together
- Third down drills start poorly for the first team offense; sack, Greenway interception, batted pass, throwaway.
- Second set of third down drills went better (no blitzing). Ponder connected to Arceneaux, Rudolph and Harvin successively.
- Offense drove down into the red zone until Zack Bowman picked them off.
- Ponder was 7/14 in passing drills, with 2 interceptions and one sack. That makes him 58/96. That makes him 60% for the offseason.
- The team continued with fuller offensive install, with deeper routes and more complete play packages
- Most of the practice is centered around pressure situations-either dialed up blitzes, or situational drills (two-minute, third down, etc).
- Simpson's reps were reduced in a significant way again.
- Smith and Harvin got into a bit of a scuffle. Read more about it and our discussion here.
- There were some concerns about Harvin on Tuesday. Came up limping after 7s, but it was merely cramped muscles. He came back just fine after hydrating.
- Adrian Peterson is still on track to play in Week 1. He won't wear a brace when he plays, because they're uncomfortable. For more on Peterson's recovery, Pelissero has the story. He is still not scheduled to play on Friday, as expected
- These six players will not see snaps on Friday: Robert Blanton (hamstring), John Carlson (knee), Kamar Jorden (broken hand, apparently), DeMarcus Love (his injury has changed from shoulder to pectoral in the last few days), Geoff Schwartz (abdomen), and Jordan Todman (ankle).
- Josh Robinson will also not take any snaps on Friday, but he has been practicing and looking good. Seems to be regaining his speed despite the fact that his hamstring isn't fully healed. Nick Taylor (shoulder) reappears on this list, because he and Greg Childs (knees) have both cleared waivers and are on IR.
Lots of media to cover. Media highlight of Tuesday is that Musgrave tore into the offense after their terrible showing on Monday, and the offense responded. I'm going to highlight Dan Wiederer's piece, because he goes into detail about how successful a motivator Musgrave is; he went outside of the box and apparently used unorthodox motivational methods, including props and an extended fire metaphor. As it was, it worked. Musgrave has two personalities-the polite, public personality and the much more aggressive, field general personality when coaching.
The media highlight on Wednesday is naturally the second Smith/Harvin encounter, this time turning a bit more aggressive. The media consensus is that this shows tenacity by Smith and they're encouraged more than anything else.
Continuing with the Star Tribune, there's a lot to look over. Wiederer's Tuesday notebook is pretty thin, including a rehash of the Musgrave story. The Vikings are not doing much game-specific planning against the 49ers and are focusing on making sure the general schemes on both sides of the ball are executed properly. Alan Williams highlighted the play of Kevin Williams and Chris Cook. Neither of them are schematically key to the Vikings, but their play will be critical for the Vikings nevertheless.
His blog post covers a bit more, but mostly is stuff we've covered. Two things stand out: first, relatively effusive praise for Christian Ponder; second is talk about Aromashodu sneaking onto the roster by way of his now much more effective route running.
Kent Youngblood also has a Tuesday notebook, and covers a bit more than Wiederer. He writes about Griffen getting more playing time, which they'll experiment with in the 49ers game. He also has a bit more detail on Cook's emergence, including some praise for his ability to read receivers and the play. Expect a reduced workload for Gerhart with a lot of play by Hilliard and Coleman. Also of note, Alan Williams will be on the field instead of in the box, which he has done for his career.
Mark Craig has a good story covering Randy Moss' time with the Vikings, with an emphasis on Moss'... interesting character. Worth a quick look.
On Wednesday, Wiederer wrote about the wide receiver battle that WR coach George Stewart will have to mediate. Apparently we will not see a roster with both Aromashodu and Jenkins. If one stays, one goes. Like Ted, Wiederer believes Aromashodu is the biggest "beneficiary" (if it's fair to use that context) of Childs' absence from the roster. The dark horse for Wiederer is Stephen Burton (who's my favorite), and Arceneaux is the "super sleeper," who's improved more as a receiver.
This is my favorite read of the newspaper coverage because it includes oddly insightful perspective from Stewart.
Mark Craig published the notebook on Wednesday, and it doesn't include much new things except it does include the tidbit that Peterson is not traveling with the team to San Francisco. Makes sense; he'll be in Mankato working on exercises and going through drills.
I don't often link to the Star Tribune snapshots, but I'll link to this one just because it includes a bit on my camp favorites, Tyrone McKenzie.
One NFL story that's not specific to the Vikings from the Strib, written by Craig Malveaux, concerns the problems of obesity in retired NFL players. It's a compelling read, so if this is something that tends to interest you, take a look.
Finally, the Star Tribune produced a video that's pretty mediocre. Summary:
- They talk up Chris Cook - he's amped up to match up against Randy Moss and Braylon Edwards. He's been looking great in camp. Good coverage skills, but what stuck out was his ability to stuff Toby at the goal line.
- Some discussion of Randy Moss - fairly typical stuff. Reports indicate he looks good, but Moss is old and moody. Stewart calls Moss one of the most intelligent receiver he'd ever worked with.
- Two people not talked about: DE Brian Robison and DT Kevin Williams
Heading away from newspaper coverage, I want to highlight this extremely lengthy, extremely informative piece on Christian Ponder that Tom Pelissero has been working on for a month. I can't do it justice, so you should just read it. Coaches like what they see, but the final judgment (obviously) will come during the season.
On Tuesday, ESPN1500 only published a notebook from Tom and one story from Judd, but their Wednesday coverage was extensive.
Tom's notebook has largely been rehashed (or is below), but it does contain an item on resting vets for the Niners game—Kevin William, Jared Allen, and Antoine Winfield may skip the game entirely. Beyond that, it looks like Schwartz is still on schedule for a return by Week 1.
Judd's story on Tuesday was also an in-depth look at the wide receiver situation. If you wanted to know more about the wide receiver story in general, you should take a look, but the Wiederer piece is better organized. Still a good piece.
On Wednesday, Pelissero and Zulgad combined their notes for a big notebook that's well worth a read. It gives some context for the (overblown) Smith incident, which was relatively light-hearted for the rest of the team. Much more on the (worse) day for Ponder and the offense, as well as good bit son the defense.
We might only see one drive from Ponder against San Francisco, and it looks like most of the coaching staff will focus on making sure the defense executes. I also suspect that we'll see the second and third string offenses sooner just so the Vikings have a better look at all the receiver candidates.
Pelissero has a guide on what to expect and what to watch in that game, by the way. Good stuff, but if you've been following along in the roundups, nothing you folks don't already know. Mostly, I'm excited about Blair Walsh. If the offense stalls at the 50, I'm hoping for at least one attempt from midfield if there's favorable wind. Why not?
Zulgad yesterday wrote about the lack of media attention that the Vikings have received. It's... nice. Frazier loves the absence of drama and the missing sideshows. The story is a good roundup of recent Vikings history, sprinkled in with a few interviews that make for a cohesive story.
Finally, Pelissero and Zulgad put together one last video before heading off to San Francisco:
- Tom and Judd agree that the Vikings are beginning to click together, and argues that there are a bunch of highs and lows with young quarterbacks (and young offenses) both in and out of camps—don't read into them
- Most of the problems for Ponder on Monday and Tuesday were not on Ponder, they say—dropped balls, bad routes, etc. Pelissero argues that he's clearly better than last year, but that it's ludicrous to use last year as a baseline.
- They isolate keys for Ponder: confidence, overthinking, execution/rhythm.
- They make a prediction: Everyone from the draft class makes the team (dialed back after Pelissero makes a face to "makes the team," and Zulgad adds "... or the practice squad" to placate him).
- Pelissero: two locks at receiver—Percy Harvin and Jarius Wright. A good discussion of Jerome Simpson and missing receivers.
- Zulgad: 1-1 to start the season. Pelissero laughs. So that's what you can think of that, I guess.
- We might see less two-deep safety play, because Sanford and Smith can both play SS well, but Sanford is not a FS
- A good discussion of last year's defense.
- Some great insight on depth chart battles
- Tom Pelissero is clearly a city slicker.
- It's a good video. Worth watching. It's maybe their best video yet.
Over at the Pioneer Press, Jeremy Fowler posted his notebook, which includes a lot of Tuesday highlights I didn't go over. Some good stuff, with an excellent take on Christian Ponder and some of the lesser known players. His highlighted under-the-radar guys are Tyrone McKenzie (who is my second favorite defensive sleeper at this point), Matt Asiata, Reggie Jones (my favorite defensive sleeper... sorry Bobby), and Emmanuel Arceneaux.
There's some discussion about reducing the preseason games to two, but I don't think that Brian Murphy stresses the player evaluation problem well enough in the article he writes. Other challenges include the fact that there are no two-a-days, reducing the amount of time teams can evaluate players in pads (or at least the reps and drills they go through), as well as the fact that there are 90 players competing for reps instead of 80.
D'Aundre Reed can't wait to play, and I can't wait to see him. He's been good in camp, and Fowler's not wrong when he says Reed is the third-best DE (with Griffen at LB).
Mike Singletary still loves the 49ers.
I feel like I've touched on this story in a previous roundup, but a quick search says I didn't. At any rate, Gary Baxter, one of the other bilateral patellar tendon rupture patients in the NFL, is spending time with Greg Childs. He's doing it because Wendell Davis did it for him and he's paying it forward. Baxter is confident that Childs can return. He describes the pain in pretty great detail, as well as the process.
From the story: 'Baxter said he was told by doctors he'd never walk again, and he considers his presence on the Cleveland practice field an exercise in "overcoming all odds."'
It's a fluff piece, but it's a damn good one. If you like the human side of the NFL, be sure to check it out. A good read.
They also published a guide to the preseason opener—5 things to watch. It's a nice read through, and everyone loves lists. Some of it is very vague or predictable, but you can consume it easily. Again, if you've been following the roundups, it's no big deal.
Oh, and did you want to know more about Randy Moss and the Vikings? Good, the Associated Press has you covered.
In Vikings media, Mike Wobschall has posted another set of "twitter-sized player evaluations," some of which are good, and others of which I disagree with. He sort of has to be high on everyone though, so that makes sense.
Incidentally, has anyone else noticed that WR coach George Stewart has been speaking in a ton of superlatives lately?
2nd and 3rd team news:
- The "11" (3WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) package for the 2s was Stephen Burton, Emmanuel Arceneaux and Devin Aromashodu. The tight end (Allen Reisner) lined up as a fullback.
- The 2nd team wide receivers were consistently Stephen Burton and Michael Jenkins, while Ellison and Reisner took most of the second team tight end snaps.
- Devin Aromashodu and Kerry Taylor consistently took 3rd team wide receiver snaps, with looks given to Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jarius Wright and the UDFAs
- Joe Webb also had a good Tuesday, going 11 for 15 on Tuesday with a touchdown and an interception. The touchdown was a throw to Stephen Burton over Brandon Burton—B. Burton had good coverage, but jumped too early. S. Burton has made a number of plays with the twos. On Wednesday, he was 7/11 with 2 sacks. In total, he was 67/103 (65%).
- Webb's pick on Tuesday was by Eric Frampton, who took it to the house.
- Sage Rosenfels was 5 for 6 on Tuesday, and 3 for 6 on Wednesday. He heads into San Francisco at 31/75 (41%)
- McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 3 for 4, then 6 of 8. He's 25/40 in the offseason, which is 63%.
- MBT had a great play near the end of Wednesday's practice—24 yard touchdown on a post route for Jarius Wright. Once again, he had the highlight of the offense.
- Everson Griffen looked good.
- Chase Baker was hazed.