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  1. #1
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    From http://www.vikings.com/news_detail_objectname_DayThreeObserve4906.html
    Author: Mike Wobschall

    With Head Coach Brad Childress' first veteran's minicamp behind us, it's time to take a look at some of the players and how their roles will continue to develop on this team. Going into training camp last season, the Vikings were bringing in a rather large class of rookies that, as the season wore on, would turn out to be significant contributors.

    Vikings.com will take a look at seven of these players, now in their second year, and will assess what their roles will likely be heading into the 2007 campaign.

    Also, I will elaborate on a few things I am anticipating as we near the 2006 NFL Draft and this summer's training camp.

    Troy Williamson

    The 6-1, 203 pound wide receiver out of South Carolina is perhaps the Vikings speediest player. In his rookie season, Williamson was fourth on the team in receiving, gathering 24 receptions for 372 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings had a number of receivers last season for quarterbacks Daunte Culpepper and Brad Johnson to throw to, making it tough for Williamson to crack the lineup consistently and contribute on a weekly basis. This season, however, could be different for the former Gamecock. He could be the perfect compliment to the west coast offense's short passing scheme. Many of the throws Johnson makes this year will be underneath to backs in the flats, and to possession receivers like Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson. When Childress feels the need to spread the defense out and go over the top, Williamson will be his man.

    The second-year receiver looked great during minicamp, showing great hands and tremendous speed as he frequently ran past defenders into the open field. 2006 may be the year the Vikings find out what they really got when they drafted Williamson seventh overall, the highest position the team has ever drafted a wide receiver.

    Erasmus James

    If you remember, James was tardy in joining camp last season. That put him even further behind the learning curve that all NFL rookies face in their initial season. However, as the season went on, the Vikings saw glimpses of what James could eventually bring to their pass rush. Drafted in the first round out of Wisconsin, the third straight first-round defensive lineman the Vikings have drafted, James was known in college for his tremendous speed rushing ability from the defensive end position. With the Vikings in 2005, James was tied for second in sacks on the team with four. This is an impressive statistic, considering he didn't play significant minutes until at least half way through the season.

    During minicamp this weekend, James was taking most of the first-team snaps. With the return of Kenechi Udeze, Vikings fans should be greatly anticipating what the defensive line will be able to do this season. Udeze and James on the edge will provide them with the ability to contain the outside, and rush the passer. Kevin and Pat Williams in the middle is perhaps the most formidable interior defensive line tandem in the league, and the team is deep at the position with players like Darrion Scott (four sacks last season) DeQuincy Scott, Spencer Johnson and C.J. Mosley.

    Last season, with the injury to Udeze, Scott proved to be vital in the defensive line's performance. I wouldn't count him out in the competition for a starting defensive end spot over James. However, this weekend's camp was very encouraging as I looked at the defensive line.

    Marcus Johnson

    Going into the 2005 campaign, the Vikings coaching staff was very high on Johnson. Drafted out of Ole Miss in the second round, Johnson seemed to possess the size and ability to be a solid offensive lineman in the NFL. During his rookie season, Johnson played well at times, and struggled at times. At 6-6, 321 pounds, he is the type of player the Vikings would love to have on the line week in and week out.

    This weekend's minicamp was just the first of many opportunities that Childress and his coaching staff will have to look at players like Johnson. With the left side of the line nailed down thanks to Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie, two spots on the right side are wide open. Johnson seems to be the favorite to assume the right tackle position. Certainly, the Vikings will hope to improve on his false start penalties from last season. If they can do that, and build some confidence in the youngster, he could be a great compliment at offensive tackle to McKinnie, who has been as dominant as any offensive tackle over the past couple of seasons.

    Ciatrick Fason

    Surprisingly, Fason led the Vikings in rushing touchdowns last season with four. You read that correctly, Fason led the team in rushing touchdowns. If you'll remember, the 2005 Vikings struggled in short-yardage rushing situations. Towards the middle of the season, the coaching staff decided to plug Fason in there during those situations, and the change worked.

    This season, Fason will likely have an entirely different role. During minicam this weekend, Fason, along with Chester Taylor, was constantly either lining up in the flanker position, or motioning out in pre-snap adjustments. This is a typical aspect of the west coast offense, which has been well chronicled since the Vikings hired Childress.

    With Taylor, Fason and Mewelde Moore (who led the team in rushing yardage last season) returning, we don't really know who will play what role in 2006. What we do know is that Fason was most certainly looked at by the coaching staff this weekend, and, along with Taylor, was constantly running plays with the first-team offense.

    Devonte Edwards and Dustin Fox

    These two defensive backs experienced entirely different 2005 seasons. Fox, selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, was injured during training camp and didn't see any action thereafter. Edwards, meanwhile, went through training camp and seemed to be the type of player who would fill in on defense and play some special teams. Well, that role changed for Edwards as the season progressed. He played in just one of the first four games, but would finish the season playing in seven of the last eight. During that time, he would compile six tackles and return an interception for a touchdown against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.

    This season, it is likely the two will battle for time at the third cornerback position. Originally, the Vikings drafted Fox as a safety. However, last season in Tampa Bay, now Vikings defensive coordinator but then Buccaneers secondary coach Mike Tomlin, had the former Ohio State Buckeye on the draft board as a corner. Fox welcomes the change and prefers playing corner over safety. Edwards brings an element of speed and play-making ability to the competition. Edwards is also a hard worker, and the team will benefit from the competition between these two for time at the third corner spot.

    C.J. Mosley

    Mosley's playing time last season went much like Edwards' did, playing little early in the year and more towards the end. In just seven games, Mosley recorded 19 tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble. The former Missouri Tiger found it difficult to crack the lineup with such a deep amount of talent there. The defensive line looks to be just as deep as it was a year ago, so Mosley will have to continue to work hard and take advantage of opportunities as they become available to him.

    Heading into the draft

    I see a few areas the Vikings will address in this month's draft. It is clear the team needs to add some depth at the linebacker position. Though the players they have there now may likely be the starters, an injury or two at this position could be detrimental to the team's hopes in 2006 if they don't add some depth. E.J. Henderson, Dontarrious Thomas, Napolean Harris and Ben Leber are the four players that will be competing for three starting spots heading into camp, unless the Vikings are able to get their hands on Ohio State standout linebacker A.J. Hawk. Many mock draft boards have Hawk going in the first four to seven picks, so Minnesota would have to trade up to land him.

    Another area I could see the team addressing in the draft is cornerback. Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot clearly have the starting spots locked down, but a third and sometimes fourth corner is necessary during an NFL season. Edwards and Fox are battling for that position right now, but it wouldn't hurt the team at all to bring in either a free agent or a draft pick to add to that competition.

    Lastly, though it may not be necessary for this season, I could see the Vikings addressing the quarterback position during the draft. Certainly Johnson is a proven veteran quarterback who can win games, but his timetable is becoming shorter and shorter as each season passes. The team did sign Mike McMahon this off-season, and he will be a viable backup in case Johnson goes down. However, McMahon is probably not the team's future franchise quarterback. On the same note, let's not completely count him out either. Childress brought him in because he was familiar with him from their days in Philadelphia last year, and because of his familiarity with the west coast offense. All of that being said, there are these three guys in the draft this year named Leinart, Young and Cutler that would all look good in purple. Again, like Hawk, the Vikings would likely have to move up to select any one of these players.

    Position battles

    It's really very early to start talking about position battles....wait, no it's not. It never is, so here are a few that I see after this weekend's minicamp.

    As I said before, the third corner position is completely up for grabs at this point. Edwards and Fox are there now, but don't be surprised to see the Vikings add at least one more name to that mix.

    The defensive line may see a battle at one of the end spots. You'd figure that Udeze and both Kevin and Pat Williams have spots locked up. That leaves one end spot up for grabs between James and Darrion Scott. Also, DeQuincy Scott is in the mix. And, don't forget the Vikings have drafted a defensive lineman in each of the last three years.

    Although Chester Taylor may be an early favorite, I would say running back is another position that may be up for a battle. Moore returns as the team's leading rusher, but Fason returns as the team's leading rushing scorer. Taylor seems to be the prototypical back for Childress' scheme. So, who really knows right now, but I'd list Taylor as the favorite at this moment.

    The right side of the offensive line is one big, and I mean big, position battle. Marcus Johnson, Anthony Herrera, Mike Rosenthal, Chris Liwienski and Adam Goldberg return from last year's team, but the Vikings did add Jason Whittle and Mark Wilson during the off-season. I guess it's really tough to say who would be there if the season began right now, but I would say Johnson is one of the favorites.

    Random Ramblings

    Perhaps my favorite addition to the team during the off-season was Tank Williams. He will play safety opposite Darren Sharper, and I believe Williams will be a key piece to the Vikings defense this season. He will do different things on the field than Cory Chavous did last year, and Shaper is the perfect compliment to Williams' run-stuffing, hard-hitting playing style. Check back later this week for a player feature on Williams.

    In Washington, Fred Smoot was considered one of the league's premier cornerbacks. Last season, due to injury and other complications, Smoot had an off year. I think with Brian Williams in Jacksonville and a starting spot locked down, Smoot will be looser on the field and will come up with some big plays.

    Jermaine Wiggins is one of my favorite players to watch during practice and in games. He makes the game look easy and effortless, and he gets it done every week. He is also a pleasure to work with and be around in the lockerroom. Number 85 will be a vital part of the Vikings offense again in 2006, and we are fortunate to have a winner like him in the lockerroom and in the huddle.

    It is great to see Matt Birk back in action for the Vikings. He really solidifies our offensive line, and immediately plugs up a gigantic hole that was left when he went down with injuries. Remember, Birk is a four-time Pro Bowler and has been a fixture in the middle of the line since 2000. Additionally, Birk is one of the leader's of this team both on and off the field.

    Quotes from Day 3

    Brad Childress

    Childress: We just had five good practices. I can't imagine that we could accomplish much more in those five practices. We just kind of stuck our toe in the water in terms of system, but I think we've got some people acclimated into our tempo and what our expectations are on the field, off the field, in the meeting room, and I think those are important things to set. We're going to kind of turn our focus right now staff-wise to the draft here in three weeks and kind of go full throttle on that. The offseason conditioning program will continue and I would anticipate good participation. I have no reason to believe that these guys won't continue down that line. We're excited about that first day of the draft with five picks.

    Q: What can you evaluate at this point?
    A: I think you would have liked to have caught every ball. You would have liked to be assignment perfect and technique perfect, but I think we accomplished pretty much everything we could accomplish here. Five practices in underwear as they say, you really find out a lot when you put pads on. You found something out about the competitive zeal of these guys and you found out where their minds were. There is no reason to believe that they won't keep competing like they are. There is enough talent there.

    Q: Did Brad Johnson have the day off today?
    A: Yeah, he had a personal thing going on so I excused him from practice this morning.

    Q: How did he look during the four practices he participated in?
    A: He did a good job from the standpoint that he has bee in this system before. He understands more about it than maybe anybody except Mike McMahon, so it's not foreign to him. It's not like learning a foreign language. Even though some of the terminology is slightly different, he has an idea about the big scheme of things, so he did a good job.

    Q: You saw a lot of enthusiasm out on the field this weekend. Is that something you were looking for?
    A: I will say this to you, I didn't particularly look for guys that were screamers and yellers or anything like that, but I think it's important that you have a passion both to play this game and to coach this game. I knew where those guys were that way. Everybody has a little different coaching style. People can motivate by whispering in people's ears and some people jump up and down. I think by and large there are a number of high-motor guys, and our guys respond to that.

    Q: Did you want a staff that can play off of your personality?
    A: I don't know. I'm not taking that into account. They're all who they are. All of their individual achievements kind of stand on their own. I encourage them to be who they are.

    Q: Can you talk about any draft visits you have coming up this week?
    A: First of all, I don't have the 30-odd names memorized, but just guys we're interested in and guys that we need to talk to some more. Maybe there is a hole left, maybe there is a medical issue with somebody. We can do a lot of things on these visits. I would say that all of those guys fit into those different categories, whether it's a medical question, a personality question, or a guy that we're legitimately interested in. I will say this to you, I'm going to let you guys try to figure that out.

    Q: Some of the names like Vince Young and Jay Cutler have already been mentioned...
    A: You know I don't think I've seen Vince Young's name on there, but I've kind of been focused on these five practices here. I'll kind of get up to speed on that this afternoon.

    Q: How did your receivers look this weekend?
    A: I think, in general, guys that get paid to run need to make sure they're able to run. I think we could be in a little bit better condition. That's always a question this time of year. Body weight and conditioning, those are two things that take no talent to take care of. I would say that across the board as a team, we could be in a little bit level of cardio conditioning. That's something that they'll push for here in the next five weeks before the next mini-camp.

    Q: Considering you had so much success in free agency, is it nice to go into the draft without as many needs?
    A: It is from the standpoint that a lot of times if you have a hole, you have a tendency to grade somebody and elevate them because you have that need. Some people call it a reach. If you're elevating a guy grade-wise and he's really not that guy, it's the same thing as a reach. I just think it's important, there are going to be a lot of good football players there in the first three rounds and really on down through the draft. It's nice not to have to go for a need per se.

    Q: Can you put a lot of stock into what you have seen this weekend?
    A: You put some stock in how well you think they learn and what their skills and abilities are. I mentioned before that you have one opinion from a far, you have another opinion when you are right on top of it. Those are things that we sit and talk about in staff meetings about guys and what makes them tick and what kind of ability they have. But that's kind of stuff that we keep in our staff meeting room.

    Q: Did you feel like you have a better feel for guys as the weekend went on?
    A: It did somewhat, but there is always the guy that maybe you're talking about or thinking about with one opinion and then all of a sudden he puts pads on and knocks somebody on his rear end. It kind of gets your attention and you say, that guy doesn't look like much but he'll hit you like an arrow. There are always those kinds of things, and that's why I think you have to be careful. Just like evaluating at the combine, those skills, you have to be careful evaluating things here when they are running around and shorts and shirts.

    Q: Any guys that really caught your eye?
    A: Nobody that I'm going to tell right now I don't think.

    Q: How about Matt Birk's weekend?
    A: I think by his own admission he was a little bit rusty, but he took every snap that we asked him to take. I didn't see any ill effects physically. He might have taken a wrong step or put his head in the wrong spot, but physically he looked like he was as up to speed as he's been.

    Q: How important is chemistry with the offensive line?
    A: Usually those five guys have some kind of chemistry because they all have to play off of each other and they all have to rely on each other in there. Everybody that stands behind them has to rely on those guys doing their job. Typically those guys are some of the closest groupings on the team. A lot of offensive linemen have the same kind of mindset. They enjoy some of the same things. They enjoy each other because they're mushrooms. They spend all of their time in the dark and look at tape and are very analytical. A lot of times they are cut out of the same cloth.

    Q: Question about the changes on the line (inaudible)?
    A: I think you kind of go in that way every year. Maybe not for us in Philly after we brought Jon Runyan in, two tackles that we thought pretty highly of. It was more in flux in the interior of the line, the guard, center, guard. I don't know if one is more important than the other. It's important as fast as you can establish who it is that you want to play in there that they are able to play together for a period of time and there is a little bit of cohesiveness.

    Q: What does it say to you that guys like Matt Birk and Kenechi Udeze are so anxious to be here coming off of injuries?
    A: First of all I would say to have all of the guys competing in the offseason program ends up being huge. With having 64 guys under contract and having 60-some guys coming through here at one point or another working out, I think that that ends up being huge. I think as you finish these five days of practice the worst injury that we had is we've got guys with blisters on their feet because they haven't been in their cleats. If we can stay there, they are competing at a high level. They're going to have some of those blister issues, but if that's the worst thing we have, we're pretty good.
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

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  2. #2
    vikeswin2005's Avatar
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    good post it seems that we have a tight lipped coach---it might be a good thing though

  3. #3
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    Good post, thanks cojomay! I hope everyone keeps working hard.
    "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn t work hard."

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    DaunteHOF is offline Coach
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    good article, Tank is gonna be the surprise welcome addition to this team, Im starting to really like him. Cover 2 baby!
    Its not braggin if you can do it!!!

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    magicci's Avatar
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    "COJOMAY" wrote:
    From http://www.vikings.com/news_detail_objectname_DayThreeObserve4906.html
    Author: Mike Wobschall



    ...Vikings.com will take a look at seven of these players, now in their second year, and will assess what their roles will likely be heading into the 2007 campaign.

    ...
    i think he meant the 2006 campaign

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    SnoSho's Avatar
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    Could be nice, Birk Back, Williamson catching balls, D should be even more improved from last year, James getting up to speed, a Run stopping safety, Fox back to a position he played in college, Udeze back.

    Now we just need a fresh face QB to learn from Johnson, couple of right side O-line guys to test out, a extra safety to backup, and a couple of Linebackers to force a make or break on Henderson and Thomas. Nice to go into the draft like that, not trying to find starters all over the place.

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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    The second-year receiver looked great during minicamp, showing great hands and tremendous speed as he frequently ran past defenders into the open field. 2006 may be the year the Vikings find out what they really got when they drafted Williamson seventh overall, the highest position the team has ever drafted a wide receiver.
    This is good news! I'm excited to see it on the field! :lol:

  8. #8
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    I hope that the coaches got everything out of the mini camp that they wanted, it seems that Childress thinks they need more work on conditioning though.
    "Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn t work hard."

  9. #9
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    "magicci" wrote:
    "COJOMAY" wrote:
    From http://www.vikings.com/news_detail_objectname_DayThreeObserve4906.html
    Author: Mike Wobschall



    ...Vikings.com will take a look at seven of these players, now in their second year, and will assess what their roles will likely be heading into the 2007 campaign.

    ...
    i think he meant the 2006 campaign
    Well, technically it's the 2006-07 season, so not necessarily.

  10. #10
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    Re: Day 3 Mini-Camp News and Interviews

    "SnoSho" wrote:
    Could be nice, Birk Back, Williamson catching balls, D should be even more improved from last year, James getting up to speed, a Run stopping safety, Fox back to a position he played in college, Udeze back.

    Now we just need a fresh face QB to learn from Johnson, couple of right side O-line guys to test out, a extra safety to backup, and a couple of Linebackers to force a make or break on Henderson and Thomas. Nice to go into the draft like that, not trying to find starters all over the place.
    We already have Offord under contract...no need there...unless you are thinking a backup for Sharper...and even then we do still have Fox who could step in and play FS.
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

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