Vikings: Rookies Contribute to Defensive Effort
[size=13pt]Vikings: Rookies Contribute to Defensive Effort[/size]
September 27, 2006
Author: Mike Wobschall, vikings.com
Vikings rookies Greg Blue, Ray Edwards and Cedric Griffin have proven to be assets to a Vikings defensive unit that has forged a stout, bend-but-don't-break identity early in the season. In facing three playoff teams from a year ago, the Vikings 2-1 record is partly a function of a defense that is keeping them in ballgames.
In Week 1, the Vikings were entrenched in a Monday night showdown with the Washington Redskins in front of 94,000+ screaming fans at FedEx Field. Blue, playing his first regular season game, was inserted into the starting lineup after starting safety Dwight Smith was deactivated. With Blue, an All-America selection at Georgia, in the secondary, the Vikings defense didn't miss a beat and forced a Redskins drive to end in five plays or less in seven of the ten total series. The only drive that resulted in a Washington touchdown began near midfield and was aided by a fumble that went out of bounds and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Vikings. Edwards, who played at Purdue and was an All-Big Ten Rookie selection in 2003, provided the Vikings with a huge play late in the game, knocking down a Mark Brunell pass on a crucial third-down.
Griffin started in Week 3 against the Bears and registered three tackles, one on special teams. Griffin and his rookie teammates, along with a solid group of veterans on the defense, held a Chicago Bears offense that had been averaging 30 points per contest to 19.
While a lot of rookies struggle to transition from the collegiate level to the NFL, three of the Vikings draft choices from last April are contributors already.
"I think coming from pretty big programs at the in college football has helped," Griffin, a Texas Longhorn product, said. "Our goal is to be able to be in the lineup and not have anyone notice the level of play change."
Numbers not enough
By looking at the box score, it's shocking to see that the Vikings opponent on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills, lost 28-20 to the New York Jets last Sunday. Quarterback J.P. Losman completed 22 of 38 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown and running back Willis McGahee rushed for 150 yards on 26 carries. On top of that, receivers Lee Evans (8 rec, 107yds) and Roscoe Parrish (4 rec, 104yds, 1TD) each had dynamite days. Jets quarterback Chad Pennington threw for just 183 yards and starting running back Kevan Barlow was held to just 31 yards rushing. Buffalo also held the ball longer and committed fewer penalties. Nonetheless, the Jets still came away with the victory.
"Everybody has been through games like that," Bills Head Coach Dick Jauron said. "The Jets did a terrific job against us, I thought, and they did what they had to do to win. They made the plays and deserved to win the game.
Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had minor knee surgery to repair his meniscus and will miss about a month. Jackson sustained the injury during a non-contact drill last week.
"Everything turned out fine," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "It was just about as the doctors had expected. He is off crutches, he's walking around. [There is] swelling as you'd expect, but he is much improved."
Vikings sign Henson
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and New York Yankee third baseman Drew Henson has signed with the Vikings and will join the practice squad. With Jackson briefly on the mend, the Vikings wanted to sign a quarterback to reduce the amount of reps starting quarterback Brad Johnson and backup Brooks Bollinger would take during practice.
Henson, who played collegiate football at the University of Michigan, elected to play baseball rather than football in 2001. He signed with the Yankees, but after being unable to perform consistently reverted back to football and signed an eight-year deal with the Cowboys.
Vikings defensive back Antoine Winfield was a first-round selection of the Bills in 1999 and defensive tackle Pat Williams played the first eight seasons of his career in Buffalo after signing with the team as a rookie free agent in 1997.
Bills offensive lineman Melvin Fowler played for the Vikings in 2005.
Vikings running back Mewelde Moore and Bills starting quarterback J.P. Losman were teammates at Tulane University.
Vikings fullback Tony Richardson caught his first career touchdown pass against the Bills on 9/14/97.
Ben Leber, who suffered a sprained knee last Sunday against the Bears, participated in the morning walk-through with the team. Coach Childress said he expected Leber to treat the knee after the walk-through and watch the afternoon practice.
Pat Williams is treating a sprained ankle/foot.
Re: Vikings: Rookies Contribute to Defensive Effort
i didnt expect to see any of the 3 as much as we have with james, devonte, and dwight in the lineup, but while it sucks we lost those first two, im glad too know that already those 3 picks up can contribute when needed =)