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  1. #1
    FedjeViking is offline Ring of Fame
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    Minor Roster Tweaks

    MSN Foxsports

    Vikings unit-by-unit analysis
    Sports Xchange
    Posted: 6 hours ago


    The Vikings made a few minor roster tweaks in the weeks heading into
    training camp, most recently severing ties with cornerback Marvin Ward.

    But Brad Childress will have a roster of around 90 players when he opens
    his first training camp as an NFL head coach later this month.

    That includes a depth chart of 14 wide receivers. The Vikings also
    appear to have one of the deepest coaching staffs in the NFL, something
    that could not be said under former coach Mike Tice.

    Where ex-owner Red McCombs balked at spending money on the coaching
    staff -- Steve Loney had to serve as both offensive coordinator and
    offensive line coach last season -- current owner Zygi Wilf has allowed
    Childress to hire just about anybody he has wanted. Childress' support
    staff now exceeds 20.

    Quarterbacks

    Starter - Brad Johnson.
    Backups - Mike McMahon, Tarvaris Jackson, J.T. O'Sullivan.

    Johnson stepped in for the injured Daunte Culpepper last season and
    helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround. The Vikings, off to a 2-5
    start under Culpepper, went on a six-game winning streak with Johnson
    leading the charge and finished on a 7-2 run. It wasn't good enough to
    make the postseason but Johnson proved he still has something left. The
    obvious question is how much? Johnson will turn 38 two days after the
    Vikings' play their regular-season opener in Washington. The Vikings
    will keep their fingers crossed he can stay healthy. His backup is
    veteran Mike McMahon, who signed as a free agent after playing under new
    Vikings coach and former Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad
    Childress, with the Eagles last season. McMahon went 2-5 in place of the
    injured Donovan McNabb and had an unimpressive 45.4 completion
    percentage. Jackson, a surprise second-round pick by the Vikings in
    April, and O'Sullivan lack the necessary experience to be counted on to
    be any type of factor.

    Running backs

    Starters - RB Chester Taylor, FB Tony Richardson.
    Backups - RB Mewelde Moore, RB Ciatrick Fason, RB Adimchinobe Echemandu,
    RB Wendell Mathis, RB Taurean Henderson, FB Richard Owens, FB Steven
    Jackson.

    The Vikings showed confidence Taylor could be a No. 1 running back,
    signing him to a four-year, $14.1 million free-agent deal last March
    that includes $5.6 million in guaranteed money. Surprisingly, Taylor
    might have yet to embrace what appears to be the opportunity of a
    lifetime. The whispers coming from Winter Park are that Taylor did not
    show the spark or conditioning commitment in the offseason workouts that
    many expected he would now that he's out of Jamal Lewis' shadow in
    Baltimore. Taylor, though, will get every chance to prove he is
    deserving of his rich contract. The fact his 26-year-old body hasn't
    sustained the beating of a starting running back should help. Another
    free-agent addition, Richardson, will serve as the first true fullback
    in the Vikings' offense in several seasons. Under former coach Mike
    Tice, the Vikings did not have a traditional fullback. Richardson,
    entering his 12th NFL season and his first not in a Kansas City uniform,
    is a highly respected player and promises to make a smooth transition.
    Moore also figures to get carries in this offense. The third-year
    veteran had problems staying healthy in his first two seasons but still
    was able to lead the Vikings with 662 rushing yards last season. He
    averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Fason, a fourth-round pick in 2005, also
    could compete for carries.

    Tight ends

    Starter - Jermaine Wiggins.
    Backups - Jim Kleinsasser, Richard Angulo, Jeff Dugan.

    Either Wiggins or Kleinsasser -- and perhaps both at times -- could find
    themselves in a starting role. Wiggins has some of the best hands on the
    Vikings, leading the team in receptions each of the past two seasons (71
    in 2004, 69 in 2005). Listed at 6-feet-2, 260 pounds, he also looked
    noticeably thinner this summer but has refused to say how much weight he
    has dropped. Kleinsasser is a top-notch blocker who can provide help on
    the offensive line. That could be necessary with the inexperienced
    Marcus Johnson starting at right tackle. Kleinsasser also should be a
    greater presence in his second season back from knee surgery and isn't a
    liability when it comes to catching the ball.

    Wide receivers

    Starters - Koren Robinson, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor.
    Backups - Marcus Robinson, Billy McMullen, Aaron Hosack, Kevin Kasper,
    Chris Jones, Ryan Hoag, Jason Carter, Barrick Nealy, Kelvin Kight, Kyle
    Smith, Josh Davis.

    Koren Robinson stayed with the Vikings in March, signing a three-year
    contract that should mean a much bigger role in this corps. Robinson
    joined the Vikings last September after being released by Seattle and
    going through alcohol treatment. He caught only 22 passes and had one
    touchdown reception. In the Vikings' new West Coast offense, Robinson
    will be playing in a system that he is familiar with from his days in
    Seattle. The speedy Williamson will be counted on to emerge in his
    second season. The seventh-overall pick in the 2005 draft, Williamson
    was a work in progress as a rookie. One of his biggest difficulties
    seemed to be his route running. It will be important that he shows
    improvement because he provides the Vikings with perhaps their only real
    vertical threat. Taylor led Vikings receivers in catches last season
    (50) and his sure hands should prove a valuable commodity in the
    short-passing game. The 6-foot-3 Marcus Robinson remains a jump-ball
    threat inside the red zone. McMullen comes from the Eagles and knows
    coach Brad Childress' system.

    Offensive line

    Starters -- LT Bryant McKinnie, LG Steve Hutchinson, C Matt Birk, RG
    Artis Hicks, RT Marcus Johnson.
    Backups - LT Adam Goldberg, Sean Bubin, Mark Wilson, LG Chris Liwienski,
    C Jason Whittle, Ryan Cook, Jason Palermo, RG Anthony Herrera, RT Mike
    Rosenthal, Donald Penn, Albert Stinson.

    This is one area the Vikings should be able to call a strength. Birk, a
    four-time Pro Bowl selection, returns after missing last season because
    of a hip injury that required surgery following training camp. To Birk's
    left will be Hutchinson, who signed a seven-year, $49 million free-agent
    deal that included a record (for a guard) $16 million in guaranteed
    money. And McKinnie, coming off a solid 2005, should help give the
    Vikings a left side that will provide plenty of protection for Brad
    Johnson and open plenty of holes for Chester Taylor. On the right side,
    the Vikings have Hicks, obtained in a draft-weekend trade from
    Philadelphia, and Johnson, a second-year player who has impressed many
    with his athletic ability. Goldberg and Rosenthal should push Hicks and
    Johnson, respectively. Johnson replaced Rosenthal as the starting tackle
    last season and Goldberg finished 2005 as the starter at right guard. If
    Birk has any problems staying healthy, newcomer Whittle will be counted
    on to take his place.

    Defensive line

    Starters -- LDE Kenechi Udeze, UT Kevin Williams, NT Pat Williams, RDE
    Erasmus James.
    Backups - LDE Darrion Scott, Ray Edwards, Khreem Smith, UT Spencer
    Johnson, Ross Kolodziej, Manase Hopoi, NT C.J. Mosley, Eric Taylor, RDE
    DeQuincy Scott, Jayme Mitchell.

    Pressure, pressure, pressure will be the key for this group. The Vikings
    will need the line to make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks and
    that likely will have to happen without a lot of blitzing. James tied
    for second on the team last season as a rookie with four sacks and
    figures to be that much better this time around. The first-round pick's
    progress was slowed by a holdout early in training camp and he seemed to
    show greater maturity as the season progressed. Udeze is coming off
    microfracture knee surgery that many thought would slow him at least
    until training camp and might be career threatening. However, he took
    part in all the minicamps and Organized Team Activities and appears to
    be at full strength. A first-round pick in 2004, the Vikings will be
    looking for Udeze to prove he deserved such a lofty draft status. The
    team also is hoping Kevin Williams can rebound after his sack total
    decreased to four in 2005. He had recorded 22 sacks combined in 2003 and
    2004, the most by an NFL defensive tackle in that time. Williams entered
    last season out of shape after being unable to do much conditioning
    because of knee surgery following 2004. Pat Williams, meanwhile, is
    coming off a standout campaign in which he led Vikings linemen with 88
    tackles and led the team with nine tackles for loss. But it remains to
    be seen how the 6-3, 317-pound Williams fits into the Tampa-2 system.
    Darrion Scott, who saw extensive playing time a year ago, and free-agent
    DeQuincy Scott figure to get on the field in various packages. C.J.
    Mosley, who showed flashes while subbing for the injured Kevin Williams
    in two games in 2005, could find himself playing a role in the middle.

    Linebackers

    Starters -- WLB E.J. Henderson, MLB Napoleon Harris, SLB Ben Leber.
    Backups - WLB Chad Greenway, Marcus Lawrence, MLB Dontarrious Thomas,
    Rod Davis, SLB Heath Farwell, Kyle McKenzie.

    No roster group on this team has as much uncertainty as this one. About
    the only sure thing is Leber -- and that's assuming the free agent from
    San Diego can stay healthy after being bothered by a foot injury last
    season. Henderson assumed the starting weak-side role in 2005, but could
    shift back to the middle if Harris or Thomas struggle to win the job.
    Henderson played in the middle two seasons ago but struggled with some
    of the responsibilities. If Henderson does have to move, the Vikings
    will look for Greenway to assume the starting weak-side spot in his
    rookie campaign. That might be a lot to ask, at least in the early
    going, for the 17th overall pick in the draft.

    Defensive backs

    Starters -- LCB Antoine Winfield, SS Tank Williams, FS Darren Sharper,
    RCB Fred Smoot.
    Backups -- LCB Dovonte Edwards, Cedric Griffin, Ronyell Whitaker,
    Charles Gordon, SS Willie Offord, Greg Blue, FS Will Hunter, RCB Dustin
    Fox, Ukee Dozier, R.J. Cobbs.

    The Tampa-2 not only will insist that members of the secondary play an
    aggressive, physical style, it also will call for some of them to alter
    their traditional coverage techniques by constantly looking to read the
    quarterback as they cover receivers. Williams was signed as a free agent
    from Tennessee largely because of his ability to lay big hits on
    opponents. Sharper had nine interceptions last season after leaving
    Green Bay to sign with the Vikings and earned a starting spot in the Pro
    Bowl. He could have another big season in interceptions. Smoot, unlike
    Sharper, struggled after signing as a free agent from Washington. His
    season took a turn for the worse when he was named as one of the players
    on the Vikings' infamous Love Boat cruise. He then missed five games
    because of a broken collarbone and was unable to reclaim his starting
    position when he returned. Smoot has gained about 15 pounds this
    offseason in an effort to stay healthy and become more physical.
    Winfield has no problems with physical play, despite being only 5-9, 180
    pounds. He finished third on the team with 100 tackles in 2005 and is
    one of the top-hitting cornerbacks in the NFL. Edwards and Griffin, a
    second-round choice this past April, figure to battle for the job at
    nickel back. Whitaker, coming off an outstanding NFL Europe performance,
    also could work his way into the mix. Offord, who missed much of last
    season because of a knee injury, should be the top backup at both safety
    spots.

    Special teams

    Starters -- PK Ryan Longwell, P Chris Kluwe, John Torp, LS Cullen
    Loeffler, KR Koren Robinson, Mewelde Moore, Kevin Kasper, PR Moore.

    Longwell joins the Vikings after spending his previous nine seasons as a
    member of the archrival Green Bay Packers. No question, he should
    benefit from kicking in a dome instead of the cold and blustery
    conditions of Lambeau Field. The Vikings will be looking for plenty of
    consistency from the relocated kicker after giving him a five-year, $10
    million contract that reportedly included a $3 million signing bonus.
    Kluwe did not punt this offseason because of surgery he underwent on his
    anterior cruciate ligament in his knee after last season. That enabled
    Torp, a rookie free agent out of Colorado, to get all the work. Torp
    appeared as if he was working on his directional punting during the last
    minicamp. If the Vikings want a directional punter that might be bad
    news for Kluwe, who had a 44.1-yard gross average and 35.8-yard net
    average last season by simply booming the ball away. Who returns kicks
    for the Vikings remains a question mark. Robinson made the NFC Pro Bowl
    roster by averaging 26 yards and scoring a touchdown on 47 returns last
    season. He would like to continue in that role but that's unlikely since
    he will be the No. 1 receiver. That could mean Moore will return kicks
    and punts. Moore averaged 11.7 yards with a touchdown on 21 returns in
    2005. Kasper, signed as a free agent, also could get a look on kick
    returns.
    [move]"Our day WILL come!! I just hope I LIVE long enough to see it!"[/move]

  2. #2
    COJOMAY is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Minor Roster Tweaks

    The Vikings also appear to have one of the deepest coaching staffs in the NFL, something that could not be said under former coach Mike Tice.

    Where ex-owner Red McCombs balked at spending money on the coaching
    staff -- Steve Loney had to serve as both offensive coordinator and
    offensive line coach last season -- current owner Zygi Wilf has allowed
    Childress to hire just about anybody he has wanted. Childress' support
    staff now exceeds 20.
    This could be GOOD and BAD!
    You may have heard the expression "To many cooks spoil the broth." It's an old saying too many guys can have input that spoils the simplicity of the system.
    Kentucky Vikes Fan

    When you require nothing, you get nothing; when you expect nothing, you will find nothing; when you embrace nothing, all you will have is nothing.

  3. #3
    NodakPaul's Avatar
    NodakPaul is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Minor Roster Tweaks

    I think Greenway will be starting on Willie. Other than that this looks about right IMHO.
    Zeus wrote:
    When are you going to realize that picking out the 20 bad throws this year and ignoring the 300 good ones does not make your point?

    =Z=

  4. #4
    FedjeViking is offline Ring of Fame
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    Re: Minor Roster Tweaks

    "COJOMAY" wrote:
    The Vikings also appear to have one of the deepest coaching staffs in the NFL, something that could not be said under former coach Mike Tice.

    Where ex-owner Red McCombs balked at spending money on the coaching
    staff -- Steve Loney had to serve as both offensive coordinator and
    offensive line coach last season -- current owner Zygi Wilf has allowed
    Childress to hire just about anybody he has wanted. Childress' support
    staff now exceeds 20.
    This could be GOOD and BAD!
    You may have heard the expression "To many cooks spoil the broth." It's an old saying too many guys can have input that spoils the simplicity of the system.
    I agree, but I guess we have to wait and see if Childress will be the head coach he's suppose to be, and supervise those coaches under him to work as a team.
    [move]"Our day WILL come!! I just hope I LIVE long enough to see it!"[/move]

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