Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    52,262

    Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune
    October 1, 2005


    Like many teams, the Vikings were counting on one of their backup linebackers to play a key role on special teams last weekend against New Orleans. Yet when Dontarrious Thomas was thrust into the starting lineup -- and then strained his hamstring during practice -- special teams suddenly dropped in priority.

    Vikings coaches had two choices. They could fill Thomas' special teams role with a younger, less-experienced player, perhaps one who had never been active for an NFL game. Or, they could take a relatively unusual and somewhat risky path of inserting a healthier starter into Thomas' spot.

    Using a strategy former coach Bud Grant suggested during the offseason, coach Mike Tice chose the latter route. He inserted tight end Jermaine Wiggins, 30, the Vikings' leading receiver in 2004 but a special teams novice, into Thomas' spot on kickoff returns.

    "It was different, that's for sure," Wiggins said. "It was tough, tough duty. I've always known that special teams is tough duty, especially where I was playing. That was tough duty. But when other guys get nicked up, you have to step in and do stuff that you might not be used to doing."

    Wiggins, in fact, played one of the most difficult special teams positions: the front line of the kickoff return team. In that role, he had to sprint downfield and then turn around to face oncoming cover men. Coaches said Wiggins performed solidly -- most important, making no mistakes -- and the Vikings had their best return day of the season in their 33-16 victory over the Saints.

    "Our starters have embraced their roles on special teams," said Tice, who has required almost every veteran player to learn at least one special teams position. Tight end Jim Kleinsasser, who is returning from reconstructive knee surgery, served on the punt return team against the Saints, and running back Michael Bennett has been practicing for several weeks as a gunner on punt coverage as well as an upback on kickoff return. Bennett could see action at one of those positions Sunday at Atlanta.

    Several other starters contributed on special teams before suffering injuries while playing their primary positions. Before he sprained his left knee, free safety Darren Sharper was part of a kickoff coverage team that also includes starting cornerback Antoine Winfield. Thirty-one-year old running back Moe Williams, who started the season opener against Tampa Bay, covered kickoffs and served as the primary upback on kickoff returns until a knee injury sidelined him this week.

    If anyone feels insulted by the less-than-glorious assignment, they're not saying so publicly. Bennett has made clear his disappointment in losing the starting job at running back, but he smiled when discussing special teams this week.

    "I haven't covered punts since 1999 [at the University of Wisconsin]," Bennett said. "I haven't hit anyone since then. But I'm ready to do it now. This way, everybody gets a chance to contribute. Special teams is what starts a game, be it on kickoff return or kickoff coverage, and I know the coaches want everyone to have a significant part in it. I think that's good."

    Parting from formula

    Recent conventional NFL wisdom has led teams mostly to use rookies, backups or specialists on special teams. Tice and the Vikings followed that formula during the past three years, mostly to disappointing results.

    Tice detailed his concerns with Grant during an offseason meeting. "And Bud mentioned that he would use [each] starter on at least one team," Tice said.

    Other than the three players the Vikings assign to all four special teams coverage units -- Richard Owens, Rod Davis and Raonall Smith -- the Vikings special teams were populated mostly by front-line players during the first three weeks of the season.

    That arrangement could change a bit Sunday because of a rash of mostly unrelated injuries to Williams, Sharper and nickel back Brian Williams. Young defensive backs Dovonte Edwards, Laroni Gallishaw and Will Hunter are all expected to play Sunday.

    Tice knows their presence could lead to some untimely errors but said, "The young guys that have stepped in have handled themselves very, very well."

    He needs only to look at the performance of rookie defensive lineman Erasmus James, who found himself covering kickoffs last weekend against the Saints.

    While it is not unusual for rookie defensive linemen to play special teams, they typically are used as blockers on kickoff returns. Noting James' speed and wanting a reason to activate him for a game, coaches inserted him into kickoff coverage and applauded when he forced a fumble in the fourth quarter.

    "It's not that hard," James said. "You just run down there, run people over and make a tackle. Simple as that."

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

  2. #2
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    52,262

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    It's great to know 20 years since he retired, Bud still has an influence on the way the Vikings are playing the game today.

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

  3. #3
    TheAnimal93 is offline Team Alumni
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    2,308

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    If the attrition keeps up they are going to have to do away with kickoffs alltogether. :roll:

  4. #4
    PurplePeopleEaters's Avatar
    PurplePeopleEaters is offline Jersey Retired
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    6,901

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    I was reading that and was like "wait a minute.. Wiggins is playing LB?" then I realized it was special teams. :lol:

  5. #5
    RK.'s Avatar
    RK.
    RK. is offline Ring of Fame Rally Cross II Champion
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    4,457

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    Maybe Bud could do a little offensive play calling as well :thumbleft:

    I still think a WWBGD shirt would be great. :smile:

    WWBGD

  6. #6
    vikesfan353's Avatar
    vikesfan353 is offline Starter
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    192

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    Bud should be hired as the " coaches advisor" wouldn't that be great!!!
    BRING BACK BUD!!
    For every question an answer! For every answer a why?

  7. #7
    cajunvike's Avatar
    cajunvike is offline Jersey Retired
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    32,063

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    Bud is STILL a genius!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    1,196

    Re: Unfamiliar positions, but game's same

    Wiggins...... is there anything he can't do?

    Maybe putting MB in on special teams will help him to rid some of his jitters and rust he has accumulated the past couple of seasons. He isn't doing anything else so why not?
    Skol!
    Go Vikings!

Similar Threads

  1. Positions at which the Vikings still need help
    By singersp in forum Vikings Offseason/Draft/FA Forum
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 05-02-2011, 03:48 PM
  2. Vikings the NFL’s Best at Several Positions
    By singersp in forum Vikings Fan Forum
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 05-10-2009, 07:25 PM
  3. Too Many RBs? Questions at several positions
    By singersp in forum Vikings Fan Forum
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 05-31-2007, 08:44 AM
  4. Time short to prepare for unfamiliar foe - Browns
    By singersp in forum Vikings Fan Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-23-2005, 02:15 PM
  5. Moved: Rate the positions
    By cajunvike in forum The Clubhouse
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-16-2005, 05:35 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •