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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    [size=18px]Vikings training camp: Udeze has a new bounce in his step[/size]

    The former first-round pick dropped 25 pounds and is ready to rebound after an injury-plagued 2005 season.

    Mark Craig, Star Tribune
    Last update: August 10, 2006 – 12:49 AM


    Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze whipped past rookie Ryan Cook during a pass rushing drill, lost his balance and fell flat on his back. Seconds later, he was back on his feet and smiling after a reverse somersault, in full pads, that would have made Mary Lou Retton proud.

    "I was kind of rocking and I said, 'Let me see if I can do a backflip,'" Udeze said after Monday's morning practice in Mankato. "I backflipped off my neck, came right over the top and was right back on my feet. I'm a pretty good athlete, you know."

    Udeze looks slimmer, faster and happier this summer.

    "That's because I am," Udeze said. "I lost 25 pounds. I'm 270 and I feel great. I figured in the Tampa-2, and coming off knee surgery, I didn't need to be carrying that extra weight."

    This is the same guy who dropped 50 pounds when USC made him a scholarship offer contingent on him reporting to school at 335. And this is the guy who lost another 40 pounds by the time the Vikings made him the 20th overall draft pick in 2004.

    "Weight loss isn't hard," Udeze said. "If you want to lose weight, you lose weight."

    The lighter load helps Udeze play without a brace despite having microfracture surgery on his left knee in October. The injury cost Udeze all but three games last season.

    "He's the one guy I have noticed flying around out here, and the coaches have also," Vikings safety Darren Sharper said. "You can see a certain hunger from being out last year."

    Udeze, the left end, and Erasmus James, the right end and last year's 18th overall draft pick, are big fans of the team's new Tampa-2 defensive scheme. Make that huge fans.

    "We really don't have any restraints; they want us up the field and rushing the edge, causing pressure, turnovers and always attacking," Udeze said. "Nothing against [former defensive coordinator] Teddy Cottrell's system. It's a good system. But I think we'll be more prosperous in this one."

    In the Tampa-2, it's vital that the front four create pressure on the quarterback exclusively. According to James, the Vikings ends basically are defending the run while on their way to clobbering the passer.

    "Last year, we were two-gapping a lot of stuff, holding things up at the line and reacting," James said. "This year, you don't have to think about anything. Just get in your stance and get off on the ball."

    Not thinking is a good thing in the Tampa-2, said Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who learned the system as Buccaneers secondary coach the past five seasons.

    "We want to play fast," Tomlin said. "And to play fast, you can't be thinking. The ends do play the run, but it's a one-gap system, which allows them to play on the edge and maximize that natural athletic skills."

    It's a scheme that's helped Simeon Rice, a 6-5, 268-pound speed rusher, collect at least 11 sacks a year in his five seasons with Tampa Bay.

    Considering the investment the Vikings have made in their starting defensive ends, there's no reason not to expect similar numbers.

    "I'm definitely looking for double-digits in sacks this year," said James, who had four as a rookie.

    Udeze agreed.

    "It's time for us to prove it," he said. "With me and Erasmus being first-round picks, it's about time we get 10-plus sacks off both edges."

    While James has had a harder time going against left tackle Bryant McKinnie in training camp, Udeze has been a consistently disruptive presence against right tackle Marcus Johnson, a second-year pro who bounced between guard and tackle last season.

    Udeze also has been screaming past the youngsters like Cook in 1-on-1 drills. Even if he does sometimes fall down afterwards.

    "But I got up fast," Udeze said. "You got to keep the guys upbeat. You don't want to be the guy this far into camp that's bringing everyone down. You don't want to stay on the ground and say, 'Oh, man, I can't get up today.' So I decided to have some fun and do my little backflip off the ground."


    Vikings training camp: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    JellyBean2144's Avatar
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    I love it. They have the goal; 10 or more sacks each. They know what they have to do to get there. And they are focuses with a positive attitude, I freaking love it!! Udeze is ready!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    Every article I read about the players so far since training camp has started has really made me feel good. I am really getting the feeling from the players that they are buying into Childress's ideas which is going to be huge for this team to come together.

    You can tell from reading these articles that the players are sincere, its good to see a great group of players coming together in MN that can still maintain the high level of character us.

    "I choose my company by the beating of their hearts, not the swelling of their heads"

  4. #4
    Rastak's Avatar
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    "Wiggles67" wrote:
    Every article I read about the players so far since training camp has started has really made me feel good. I am really getting the feeling from the players that they are buying into Childress's ideas which is going to be huge for this team to come together.

    You can tell from reading these articles that the players are sincere, its good to see a great group of players coming together in MN that can still maintain the high level of character us.

    It seems that many players are taking minor shots at the previous staff. As a fan, I hope it's all true, that coaching really held the Vikes back the last couple of years and that with all this talent, once the team gels they'll be an upper tier team.

  5. #5
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    I would love to see some serious pressure from our front 4 this year. It has been lacking for a long time. Makes everybody else's job on D that much easier.

  6. #6
    marcosMN is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    Yeah, I just read this article in the morning paper, and I loved it. Our D-line is gonna kick some serious ass.
    -Sno

  7. #7
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    Just as long as his "backflip" doesn't turn into a Gus Frerotte "headbutting the wall" thing!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  8. #8
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    I have a good feeling about our defensive line this year. The should get penetration & be very stingy on the running game.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  9. #9
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    If we can get over 40 sacks this year from the defense then I feel we are going to have a great year on that side of the ball, and with the line that we now have I think that the 40 sack total is going to be an easy goal to reach.

  10. #10
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    Re: Udeze has a new bounce in his step

    Well if that backflip doesn't say " My knee is 100%" I don't know what does..

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