Vikings Notebook, vikings.com
Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com
6 September 2006
Typically, team's that control tempo and control the line of scrimmage win games in the NFL. Because of this, it is important to have depth and skilled players on the defensive line. The Vikings have both and it will benefit them during the 2006 season.
Currently, Minnesota has eight defensive linemen on the roster, including rookie Ray Edwards. The fourth-round selection in last April's draft has impressed coaches with his talent and production during training camp and the preseason. Edwards, a 6-5, 268-pound rock-solid athlete has demonstrated to coaches a strong desire to improve and a propensity to apply pressure to the quarterback.
Kenechi Udeze returns this season after missing most of last season with an injury. Udeze was a dominant player in college with Southern Cal. and he had a solid rookie season with the Vikings in 2004, tallying 36 tackles and five sacks. Because Udeze returns as the starter at defensive end, three-year veteran Darrion Scott, last season's starter, will come in off the bench and provide quality relief when either Udeze or Erasmus James need a breather.
The tandem of Kevin and Pat Williams should prove to one of the most formidable in the league, with quality backups in Spencer Johnson and Ross Kolodziej filling in when needed. Kolodziej started 14 of 16 games last season for Arizona and tallied 24 tackles and three sacks. Johnson averaged nearly three tackles per contest in 2005, recording 29 tackles in 10 games. You may see Johnson enter the game for Pat Williams on obvious passing downs, and Kolodziej can fill in at either tackle position.
With the Vikings implementing the Tampa Two defensive scheme, defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has placed an emphasis on the defensive front providing pressure on the quarterback while the linebackers and defensive backs drop into coverage. With a talented starting four and a more-than-adequate corps of backups, the Vikings figure to be applying pressure late in games when opposing offensive lines are just too worn down to stop them.
The Vikings nickel back position is once again open to competition with the loss of Dovonte Edwards. Rookie Cedric Griffin appears to be third on the depth chart, a spot usually reserved for the nickel back. However, in nickel situations, the Vikings will likely use Griffin on the outside and place veteran Antoine Winfield in the slot. In doing this, the Vikings can utilize Winfield's blitzing and tackling ability, as he is one of the league's best at both skills.
NFL may toughen up
The NFL and its players' union are discussing beefing up its testing program for performance-enhancing drugs, with the changes possibly taking effect this season. More testing and increasing the number of banned substances could be among the changes being discussed.
The NFL conducts approximately 10,000 tests for performance-enhancing drugs a year and there are about 2,000 players in the league. Players are randomly selected for testing and can be tested during the offseason.
The NFL announced in June that it added amphetamines to the list of banned performance-enhancers starting this season.
Amphetamines were previously listed as a "substance-abuse drug," but are now in the same category as steroids and other enhancers that carry much stronger penalties. This season will serve as a transition year, where a first positive test would bring a warning and put a player into the drug program.
Information from NFL.com was used in this report
Joppru's persistence pays off
Minnesota native and Michigan product Bennie Joppru has made the Houston Texans 53-man roster and will play in his first NFL regular-season game on Sept. 10. Joppru, drafted in 2003 by the Texans, has spent his first three seasons on the injured reserve list. His first two seasons in the league were cut short due to a sports hernia injury and his third season ended during minicamps when he tore his ACL. Joppru, a three-year starter at Minnetonka High School and All-American and captain at Michigan, will suit up for Houston when the Philadelphia Eagles visit Reliant Stadium.
Both Mewelde Moore (knee) and Fred Smoot (ribs) are listed as questionable on the team's injury report for Monday's contest against the Redskins.
Washington running back Clinton Portis (shoulder) is listed as questionable and defensive back Shawn Springs (abdomen) is listed as doubtful. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn (ankle) is listed as probable.
Steve Smith, the NFL's top receiver last season, is listed as questionable for the Sept. 10 season-opener against Atlanta. According to NFL.com wire reports, Smith, who missed 17 days of training camp with a strained left hamstring, is now experiencing pain in his right hamstring.
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