Mosley traded for Bollinger
The Vikings have traded defensive tackle C.J. Mosley to the New York Jets for quarterback Brooks Bollinger.
Team officials declined comment. But the Jets also received an undisclosed draft choice in the deal, according to the Vikings' Web site.
Vikings coach Brad Childress is expected to discuss the trade with reporters after today's preseason finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Mosley was mired in a battle for a final roster spot on the defensive line with veteran Ross Kolodziej, so parting with him wasn't too painful.
But in Bollinger, the Vikings get a solid backup with NFL experience. It is unclear what Bollinger's addition will mean to Mike McMahon's future. But McMahon is likely out, because Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Johnson are locks to make the roster. McMahon, meanwhile, was on the sideline at Texas Stadium.
The Vikings would not want to make a move until Bollinger and Mosley pass physicals. Mosley is expected to take his Friday morning.
Bollinger has started nine NFL games, and he has a career passer rating of 73.0.
The deal is pending both players passing physicals.
Bollinger's best game last season was against the Miami Dolphins. He completed 28 of 42 passes for a career-high 327 yards.
Originally selected by the Jets in the 6th round (200th overall pick) of the 2003 draft out of Wisconsin, Bollinger was in a battle with veteran Patrick Ramsey for a backup spot. Jets head coach Eric Mangini announced earlier this week that Bollinger would start tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Eagles, although Bollinger was still on the Jets' bubble.
Bollinger posted a 30-12 record as a starter for the Badgers, becoming only one of seven Big Ten quarterbacks to win 30 games in his career.
Making the cut...
Many of you will turn the Dallas game off at halftime, after the starters are removed from the game. But here are some reasons to watch the second half:
1) Tarvaris Jackson could punctuate a brilliant preseason with another strong performance. He also could further discourage any veteran quarterbacks from even wanting to come here. There will be some recognizable names cut in the coming days. But if the Vikings try to upgrade over Mike McMahon, they will have slim pickings because any decent quarterback is going to want to sign with a team where they have a chance, albeit remote, to play.
The problem in Minnesota is that Brad Johnson is the clear-cut starter, and Jackson is the clear-cut franchise quarterback of the future. And given Johnson's modest salary, the backup would have to settle for something in the neighborhood of the veterans' minimum, with maybe a small, six-figure signing bonus.
2) I listed receiver Chris Jones as a long shot. But that's not based on my thinking. After watching him on the practice squad last year, I think he could be a solid contributor on the roster. He started strong in training camp, but his performance tapered off, and he didn't haul in some opportunities for big plays.
With a strong outing tonight, though, Jones could compel the Vikings to keep six receivers -- that is if they aren't attracted to a more proven player who has not yet been cut.
3) I'd say four players have a shot at landing what I think would be the final spot on the defensive line. The favorites, in my mind, are C.J. Mosley, Ross Kolodziej, and the other possibilities are Khreem Smith and DeQuincy Scott.
I'd have a hard time believing Mosley doesn't make it, because he has some good athleticism for his size. But Kolodziej has been the most consistent of this bunch throughout the preseason, and he's a relentless player.
4) A handful of veteran Vikings are on the bubble and need a strong performance tonight. Players like Mike Rosenthal, Chris Liwienski, Adam Goldberg and Willie Offord have one more chance to make an impression on Brad Childress and his staff.
To play, or not to...
Vikings coach Brad Childress said Tuesday that he planned to have starting quarterback Brad Johnson play the entire first half. Presumably, then, the rest of the starters also will play a half.
That is an interesting decision, given the physical and demanding preseason the Vikings players have already endured. There is no right or wrong way to handle the preseason. But informal chats with league sources and other writers indicate that the Vikings will play their key players longer than most of the other clubs.
Why is Childress playing his starters through the first half? Perhaps because he has installed a new offense and defense. Perhaps to fine-tune the communication from the booth to sideline, and from coaches to players. Childress himself says it's because there will be 11 days between the Vikings' final preseason game and their regular-season opener.
Regardless, Childress potentially opens himself up to a major preseason finale disaster if his key players are out there too long and someone suffers an injury.
Fair or not, that's always an issue for the unfortunate teams that endure the loss of a starter in the final tuneup before the regular season.
We will find out soon enough.
The Vikings apparently didn't make a serious push to sign quarterback A.J. Feeley, who rejoined the Philadelphia Eagles after being released by the San Diego Chargers. But now they have a chance to get veteran receiver Todd Pinkston without giving up any compensation. While there are concerns about Pinkston's health (he missed all of 2005 with a torn Achilles), he is a solid, high-character player who knows Vikings coach Brad Childress very well.
Meanwhile, the Eagles also dumped longtime backup quarterback Koy Detmer.
It remains unclear if the Vikings want to pursue him.
Vikings coach Brad Childress didn't dismiss the idea of adding A.J. Feeley, who was released by the San Diego Chargers.
Childress said the club would review tape of Feeley, who played for him in Philadelphia from 2001-03 but struggled in stints in Miami and San Diego.
"He's a great kid, and a pretty good football player," Childress said of Feeley. "I just have to look into that. That was not on the waiver wire last night, so we had just kind of gone to work and saw that this morning. What you do is you pull back out old game tapes and watch him play, watch everybody play, and see what you think."
With cuts due Saturday, the Vikings have to make some serious decisions at quarterback. Brad Johnson and Tarvaris Jackson are clearly safe.
But Mike McMahon's future appear shaky, since Childress said he would not play Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Asked if that does not bode well for McMahon's chances of making the roster, Childress said, "I think it speaks more that J.T. hasn't played in some of those games, or at least wasn't scheduled to play, and I just want to give him a full quarter to see what he can do."
The Vikings could add a veteran released from another team. But could those players be any better than Jackson? Consider Feeley. The Chargers released the veteran and kept rookies Charlie Whitehurst and Brett Elliott to serve as backups to Philip Rivers, who will make his first NFL start in the season opener.
Feeley, though, did some have success filling in for Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, under Childress.
With the New England Patriots' Friday deadline fast approaching, there don't seem to be any serious takers for the services of receiver Deion Branch.
This could be a wake-up call to Branch and his agent, Jason Chayut.
So if previous reports are true, Branch should take $8 million in guarantees the Patriots had offered. Nobody seems willing to spend more, especially when they'll also have to toss in a first-day draft pick.
Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo told reporters yesterday that the Patriots only allowed Branch to talk to other teams, so he could see the market.
Meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News as saying that he is not sure that the Patriots "really want to lose him."
Take the Philadelphia Eagles out of the mix for Deion Branch.
The Eagles addressed a glaring need at receiver by trading for Donte' Stallworth.
The Eagles again upgraded one of their weakest positions with a value deal. The Eagles shipped Billy McMullen to the Vikings for Hank Baskett, who is currently in the starting lineup. Now they add Stallworth, who has 23 receiving touchdowns in the last four seasons, and only give the Saints aging linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional 4th-round draft pick in 2007.
The trade is pending both players passing physicals with their new teams.
From what I heard, the Vikings did not express any interest in Stallworth, which leads me to believe the Vikings won't make a serious play for Branch.
What is telling about this trade, though, is that it's a buyer's market at the receiver position.
The 13th overall pick in 2002, Stallworth was just 55 receiving yards shy of 1,000 last season, , and he added seven touchdowns. The former Tennessee receiver is also suited for the West Coast offense, because of his run-after-catch ability.
Compared to Branch, Stallworth has 18 fewer catches but has 44 more receiving yards and nine more receiving touchdowns.
So if Stallworth is worth a backup veteran linebacker and a conditional fourth-round pick, is Branch really worth a first- or second-round choice?
Veterans on the bubble
The Vikings have talked about the importance of cutting good players, and they are well on their way to doing that.
One of the key positions that other teams are monitoring here in Minnesota is on the offensive line. That's because of the incredible depth the Vikings boast at that position. Outside of the starters, five backups have a combined 193 NFL starts, led by veteran guard Chris Liwienski (74) and Mike Rosenthal (55).
Given that quality depth, the Vikings must now figure out how many offensive linemen to keep. Last year, on the opening day roster, they had eight offensive linemen. They are probably inclined to keep at least nine this year, with the presence of second-round pick Ryan Cook.
He seems more potential than NFL-game-ready now, which means the Vikings would be better served keeping at least one extra veteran. After the starters, backup center Jason Whittle would appear the only other veteran guaranteed to make the roster. That leaves quality players such as Rosenthal, Liwienski, Anthony Herrera and Adam Goldberg fighting for one or two spots.
Surely, Vikings coach Brad Childress is thrilled to have this problem. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings try to deal one of those veterans before the final cutdown deadline on Saturday. While they won't get much, the Vikings could fetch a solid second-day draft pick if they can muster a competition for a player.
I guarantee you that Steve Loney and Dennis Green are keeping close tabs on what the Vikings do at this position, especially since they need some help on the offensive line.
During his press conference, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell talked about the job that Rosenthal, Liwienski and Goldberg are doing as backups.
"I appreciate those guys. They've done a nice job," Bevell said. "They're veterans so they're competing for their spot, trying to compete for a spot on the team. They're not griping and complaining or causing any problems because they're not in the starting rotation. They're taking their reps. They're making the most of their reps. They're throwing it out there and hoping that it's good enough."
The cost of a Branch
Viking fans are doing the math: Minus No. 1 receiver (Koren Robinson), add the best available one (Deion Branch).
But the problem isn't that simple, because adding a Branch would cost the Vikings the NFL equivalent of a Northern California redwood. And beyond the draft pick(s) and the long-term contract, the Vikings also would have to consider the impact of trading for Branch on the team chemistry.
While he does not have a lengthy rap sheet, Branch is holding out because he believes he's underpaid. Due to make $1.045 million in the final year of his rookie contract, Branch is seeking a significant pay raise. Exactly how much is unknown. But there have been several reports that Branch turned down two offers from the Patriots that each included at least $8 million in guarantees.
There's no question that Branch is a talented player, and he certainly would fit into the West Coast offense. Branch, who is 5 foot 9, has good hands, and he excels in gaining yards after catch.
But Branch, the Super Bowl XXXIX MVP after catching 11 passes for 133 yards, has never topped 1,000 yards, although he was only two yards short last season, and he has a modest 14 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons.
It is believed Branch is looking for Reggie Wayne money (six years, $40 million, with $13.5 million in guarantees).
Even if the Vikings were willing to give him that kind of contract, they'd also have to compensate the Patriots. While the club has been mum about their asking price, I would guess the club wants at least a pick in the round they originally acquired Branch, a second.
Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady has spoke glowingly of Branch. But perhaps the Patriots are tiring of this distraction. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has built a culture where team is more important than self, and players like Ted Bruschi and Brady have bought into that philosophy. They both accepted below-market deals to remain with the Patriots.
Has Branch worn out his welcome in New England, and do the Vikings want to welcome him here?
All of this compelled me to wonder: Would Branch even be attractive if the Vikings had kept Nate Burleson?
Instead of giving him a first-round tender, which would have at least netted them a first-round pick if he signed elsewhere, the Vikings in March gave Burleson the lowest qualifying tender equivalent to the round in which he was picked, the third. The moved saved the Vikings $840,000 but cost them infinitely more.
Burleson is starting in Seattle, and he is developing a nice rapport with Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. While he had a disappointing season in 2005, Burleson topped 1,000 yards and scored 10 touchdowns in 2004, including one on a punt return.
The price deemed too steep to Burleson: a heavily back-loaded seven-year contract worth $49 million. For all intents and purposes, the Seahawks signed Burleson to a modest four-year, $14.5 million contract. The prospect of returning home to Seattle and not feeling the love from the Vikings made Burleson's decision easy.
Now, the Vikings are left scrambling. If they want to trade for Branch, they have to hurry. The Patriots have imposed a Sept. 1 deadline to make a deal.
Childress comments on Dwight Smith
Vikings coach Brad Childress naturally expressed disappointment Sunday in starting safety Dwight Smith, who, hours after playing at the Metrodome, was cited for indecent conduct in downtown Minneapolis early Saturday, police said.
"We did a ton of good things on Saturday night, and those good things, unfortunately, get marred when somebody in our organization misbehaves, if you will," Childress said. "I want everybody to know that we are committed in this Vikings organization -- myself, our staff, our football team, our organization -- to doing things the right way. That is one of the things that I've been charged with, and I'm disappointed when we are able to be judged outside of those white lines that we work so hard to prepare for. It mars what we've done on Saturday night, so many good things."
Childress said he needs to collect more information, and he added that any discipline would be between he and Smith.
"I met with Dwight yesterday, and throughout the offseason, with a number of different issues. I sit down and get across from those guys, and everyone is kind of different," Childress said. "But I sit down and make them accountable, and our team understands that. We talked about it this morning. Dwight talked to our team. He talked with me. They understand my disappointment and that we want to get things right."
Childress said he checked Smith's background before signing him before training camp.
"I looked into Dwight's before we signed him," Childress said, "and I was comfortable with what I learned from different organizations that he has been with, from Mike (Tomlin) having spent time with him, and it's a shame that is has painted him in that light."
The Vikings released receiver Koren Robinson and seven others today, with a mandatory cut to 75 looming Tuesday.
Apparently determined to create what he has called a "culture of accountability," Vikings coach Brad Childress dismissed Robinson, who in March signed a three-year, $12.7 million contract. In July, Childress told the Pioneer Press that he was comfortable with Robinson as his No. 1 receiver. But he and the Vikings are apparently willing to deal with some headaches for releasing Robinson before he has been convicted of any of the six charges against him after his high-speed chase on Aug. 15.
Immediately after Robinson's arrest, Childress expressed his disappointment, but made clear he did not want to make a "knee-jerk" reaction and needed to gather more information.
Now, the Vikings will likely face a grievance from Robinson, especially if he somehow is found not guilty of driving while intoxicated.
The other seven players released were: T Sean Bubin, DT Manase Hopoi, WR Aaron Hosack, FB Brandon Jones, LB Marcus Lawrence, S Ahmad Treaudo and G Mark Wilson.
Robinson has received only $1.1 million of the contract he signed with the Vikings earlier this year, and the Vikings could try to recoup some of that money because of Robinson's alcohol-related arrest.
Robinson's problems began Aug. 15, when he was allegedly racing back Mankato to beat curfew at Minnesota State Mankato. According to police, Robinson was clocked going 104 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone, in the north part of St. Peter, and led police on a high-speed chase to the Minnesota State campus, where he finally stopped.
He was charged with a felony count of fleeing a police officer, two misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree driving while impaired, and misdemeanor charges of reckless driving, careless driving and driving after his North Carolina license was suspended.
Robinson would not seem be too attractive to other teams, because he faces a year-long suspension from the NFL. In addition, he could be in violation of his probation from an arrest in a Seattle suburb in May 2005. Arrested for driving under the influence and reckless driving on May 6, 2005, Robinson pleaded guilty to the DUI charge on July 19 in Kirkland Municipal Court and was sentenced to one day in jail and ordered to abstain from alcohol and nonprescription drugs. He was ordered to serve one day in jail, but 364 days were suspended, and Judge Albert Raines ordered a 24-month probation that appears to still be in effect.
Sean Jensen can be reached at email@example.com.
The New England Patriots issued a short press release today that said they would allow receiver Deion Branch to seek a trade and negotiate a new contract with other clubs.
What does this mean to the Vikings?
I'm not sure, since the club hasn't made any hard-and-fast decisions on Koren Robinson's future.
But Branch is an elite receiver. If the Vikings are leaning toward releasing Robinson, which certainly would invite a costly grievance from the player, they might enter the Branch sweepstakes. The preliminary cost appears to be a first-round pick, in addition to a multi-year contract that includes a double-digit signing bonus.
A former Super Bowl MVP, Branch had 78 catches for 998 yards and five touchdowns last season.
The Patriots have given Branch and his agent, Jason Chayut, until Sept. 1 to come up with a deal.
Spotlight tonight is on...
With a Tuesday cut looming, some of the lesser-known players need to step up to ensure they get to play in the preseason finale at Dallas.
Ryan Hoag of Gustavus Adolphus and former Gopher Aaron Hosack need to shine, because the receiver position is crowded. The veterans should be safe, but some of the younger players need to be trimmed as part of the first wave of cuts. Complicating things for the local players is the fact that Jason Carter and Kevin Kasper, who will not play, have distinguished themselves on special teams as returners. Also in the mix is Chris Jones, who spent last season on the practice squad.
Meanwhile, Dustin Fox, a third-round pick last year, appears on the fence. He struggled in training camp and hasn't been making enough plays to stand out. He's been outshined by Ronyell Whitaker and rookie Cedric Griffin.
Some other thoughts:
* The way things are shaping up, the Vikings likely are going to release some talented offensive linemen and cornerbacks, two valuable NFL positions.
* A couple of the young running backs and fullbacks could be bidding farewell in a few days. None of the younger players has really stood out and pushed any of the veterans.
Last night, on my way to a screening of Disney's new sports movie, Invincible, I was characteristically skeptical.
Hollywood always feels compelled to make sports movies, and I -- as a sportswriter -- always feel compelled to watch many of them. And, more often than not, I am greatly disappointed.
While Invincible doesn't stray from one of the key sports movie formulas (unlikely star overcomes adversity and inspires more talented teammates), rookie director Ericson Core doesn't make a rookie mistake letting his artistic angst get in the way of a good story.
The best compliment I can give to Core is that the nearly two-hour movie didn't really have any dead spots.
I'm also not a huge Mark Wahlberg or Greg Kinnear fan. But both did a great job in this movie.
How good was the movie? My wife even enjoyed the film, asking me to look up a few articles on Vince Papale to see what he's been up to since his playing career ended.
There hasn't been much to look forward to at the box office this summer (the fact that Snakes on a Plane has done well is a travesty). But Invincible is entertaining and even inspiring.
Let me know what you think.
I've gotten a few inquiries lately about the play of cornerback Fred Smoot.
So let me offer my take on Fred.
First of all, he came into training camp about 12 pounds heavier, and he's carrying the weight well. He played very well in practices, and he's looked comfortable being more physical, which this defense demands.
Obviously, he appeared to be at fault in the last game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Cedrick Wilson's 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Smoot was playing well off of Wilson. But he was expecting a linebacker to drop back and help out underneath.
People also tend to remember his performance against Steve Smith last year in Charlotte. Smoot readily admits that was the worst game of his career. But he played solid in most of the other games. Now did he live up to the six-year, $34 million contract he signed before the 2005 season? Not last year. But he looks motivated this season, and I think he and Antoine Winfield will contribute toward a defense that could be special.
An NFL spokesman announced that the grievance filed by Fran Foley has been "amicably resolved." The Vikings vice president of player personnel for three months, Foley had sought to get the full terms of his three-year contract. But Foley and the Vikings worked out a settlement, the terms of which were not disclosed.
"Mr Foley and the Vikings each wish the other future success," the statement said.
Foley's attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, did not immediately return a phone message.
"The issue with Fran Foley has been resolved," said Kevin Warren, the Vikings vice president of legal affairs and operations.
Warren declined further comment.
Vikings coach Brad Childress said rookie LB Chad Greenway will have knee surgery
Wednesday. Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, AL, will perform the surgery, Childress said, and Greenway will remain there for an undetermined period of time before rejoining the team at Winter Park.
Meanwhile, S Tank Williams, who is on the injured reserve, is back at Winter Park to continue his rehab after surgery to repair a fractured knee cap.
LB Marcus Lawrence returned to practice, along with TE Richard Owens. CB Charles Gordon (knee) is jogging on the sidelines while RB Mewelde Moore is still MIA with a knee injury.
Mewelde, though, did do some jogging around the practice field in the morning.
One of the glaring concerns right now for the Vikings is their return specialist. Koren Robinson went to the Pro Bowl last season as a kickoff returner. But his future is in doubt, and his veteran backup, Mewelde Moore, is sidelined with a knee injury.
Last week, on the final days of training camp at Minnesota State Mankato, I was horrified with the guys lining up for returns. Travis Taylor is as solid a receiver as there is, with excellent hands. But he returned punts like someone who last did it consistently in high school.
Today, cornerback Ronyell Whitaker fielded some kickoff returns, an indication that the Vikings are preparing in the event bubble players such as Jason Carter and Kevin Kasper don't make the final roster.
Darren Sharper also has been spotted sporadically fielding punts throughout this preseason.
"That's why you see some of the veterans out there catching balls during practice," special-teams coach Paul Ferraro said. "You always have to have those guys ready. You have to have three ready in punt return and in kickoff return. If something happens to the first guy, obviously the No. 2 guy is in there; and if for some reason something happens to him, you have to have a third guy. So that's why we've had multiple guys catching kicks."
Perhaps the Vikings can scour the waiver wires for someone to fill that void. But right now, the in-house options are not overwhelming.
Depth chart changes
Well, according to the Vikings' official Web site, there have been a few tweaks to the depth chart.
Most important, Mike McMahon is still listed behind Brad Johnson as the No. 2 quarterback. But don't read too much into that, since J.T. O'Sullivan is third.
What is interesting, though, is the fact that Mewelde Moore (knee) has been moved to the bottom of the depth chart, below even Adimchinobe Echemandu. Listed behind starter Chester Taylor is Ciatrick Fason.
* Jim Kleinsasser is still listed as the No. 1 tight end, followed by Jermaine Wiggins and Richard Owens.
* Marcus Robinson is listed as the backup receiver to both Troy Williamson and Travis Taylor. Koren Robinson is currently not listed. Chris Jones and Billy McMullen are listed behind Marcus Robinson.
* Rookie Cedric Griffin and Dovonte Edwards are listed behind starters Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot. Ronyell Whitaker and Dustin Fox are listed behind Griffin and Edwards.
* Behind Pat Williams, veteran Ross Kolodziej is ahead of C.J. Mosley.
* Heath Farwell, the team's preseason tackling leader, is listed behind E.J. Henderson at weak side linebacker.
* Rookie Greg Blue is listed third on the depth chart at strong safety, behind starter Darren Sharper and veteran Willie Offord.
None of these are real shockers, and they shouldn't be considered etched in stone. But the depth chart shows the clear concern at receiver, if nothing else. Billy McMullen is a veteran. But he still hasn't really impressed much in practice or in games. Meanwhile, Hank Baskett, whom the Vikings traded for McMullen, remains firmly entrenched as a starter. At this point, McMullen even seems to be outplayed by Jason Carter and Chris Jones.
Coach Brad Childress and Co. could be second-guessed big-time, even if McMullen makes the roster. Childress would look like he's been outfoxed by his old club, the Philadelphia Eagles, who made the unusual trade of a veteran who was a former third-round pick for an undrafted rookie.
At this point, McMullen/Childress have a lot of catching up to do since Baskett is a hit in Philly.
Although the Vikings are three weeks away from the start of the regular season in Washington, the next week is a critical one for many of the bubble players.
Next Tuesday, the Vikings must pare their roster down to 75 players, with no exceptions.
That's why the Vikings can't be thrilled about some of the players who are injured right now. While they cannot cut an injured player, coach Brad Childress and his staff certainly would like a chance to take a hard look at players such as WR Kevin Kasper and LB Marcus Lawrence. Kasper provided a spark as a return specialist, and Lawrence seemingly has a chance to make the roster with the loss of Chad Greenway.
Lawrence had been generating a buzz through the first two weeks of camp, with his combination of size and athleticism. But because he is a first-year player, he needs to get on the field to make an impression. His knee injury isn't his fault. But football coaches aren't much on projections, especially for players they haven't invested much in.
That's also the dilemma with CB Charles Gordon, who showed promise early in camp before suffering a knee injury.
Because it's a premium position, you don't want to get rid of good cornerbacks. But realistically, Gordon doesn't have much of a shot to make the team at cornerback.
Antoine Winfield and Fred Smoot are locks, along with rookie Cedric Griffin and Dovonte Edwards. The absolute maximum the Vikings would keep at that position is six, with five being a more probable number.
Right now, Ronyell Whitaker would appear to have the edge, given his history with defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. Tony Beckham also is intriguing, because of his size (6 feet 1, 195 pounds) and athleticism. Don't forget the presence of Dustin Fox, a third-round pick last year.
The Vikings just concluded their final open practice at training camp in Mankato. They will have a brief, mock game Friday morning and then return to the Twin Cities.
In wrapping up training camp, Vikings coach Brad Childress applauded the city and the school, Minnesota State (Mankato), for their hospitality.
"It was a great stay," Childress said. "We got a lot done."
The Vikings will resume practices next Monday at their Winter Park headquarters, which has been revamped and upgraded by owner Zygi Wilf.
Plan for Pittsburgh
Vikings coach Brad Childress said the starters would play one quarter and a half Saturday in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. Also, Brad Johnson will be followed by rookie Tarvaris Jackson. Mike McMahon will play after them, and J.T. O'Sullivan will not play. Childress said its important for him to see Jackson with different personnel, and that Jackson is not necessarily the No. 2 quarterback.
Greenway on IR
The Vikings announced that rookie LB Chad Greenway has been placed on injured reserve, officially ending his season.
Not that it should come as a surprise, but WR Koren Robinson isn't here at practice. Also missing: WR Kevin Kasper, RB Mewelde Moore and CB Charles Gordon. CB Dovonte Edwards also left practice with an ankle injury.
The first and second defense are dominating practice. The offense can't move the ball, and the defensive line is getting consistent pressure. Earlier, DE Erasmus James beat LT Bryant McKinnie for a sack. But rookie QB Tarvaris Jackson just got a highlight catch out of WR Josh Davis. In the air, Davis extended his arms out and low to make a tough catch on CB Dustin Fox.
Minor roster move
The Vikings have not yet placed rookie linebacker Chad Greenway on injured reserve. But they filled his spot with the signing of sixth-year linebacker Jason Glenn.
To make room for Glenn, the Vikings released rookie punter John Torp.
Glenn played in all 16 games for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and finished third on the
team with 13 special-teams tackles. Prior to his time in Miami, he played four seasons for the New York Jets, playing in 71 games. He was a sixth-round pick (173rd overall) by the Detroit Lions out of Texas A&M in 2001.
The Vikings beat out several teams for the services of Torp, a rookie free agent. But incumbent Chris Kluwe has looked sharp in training camp, after having knee surgery in late January.
Torp pinned both of his punts inside the 20-yard line against the Oakland Raiders on Monday night.
Don't be disappointed, fans. There's not much out there.
There's no sure-fire starters, which is why they're probably not on an NFL roster, and the only ones available via trade aren't that overwhelming, either.
Ashley Lelie? Do you want to give up a third-round pick for a guy who topped 1,000 yards only once in four seasons? If that's the case, it doesn't look good that the Vikings let Nate Burleson go. They got a third-round pick for Burleson, and they used that pick to move up and snag rookie Tarvaris Jackson. Besides, Lelie is in the final year of his rookie contract, which means he could be one and done.
While he still hasn't done it in an NFL game, you have to wonder now about the Vikings' decision to trade Hank Baskett to the Philadelphia Eagles. Billy McMullen, whom the Vikings received in return, hasn't distinguished himself, while Baskett is running with the ones.
Morning practice update
After the morning practice, which was once again cut short, Vikings coach Brad Childress announced a few injury updates. They are:
RB Mewelde Moore sat out with a knee injury, and is day to day, Childress said.
WR Kevin Kasper sat out because of a high ankle sprain, and is day to day, Childress said.
And with LB Chad Greenway out for the year with a left knee injury, the Vikings worked out a handful of players, who were built like linebackers, toward the end of practice. One of them likely will be signed at some point today.
With rookie linebacker Chad Greenway out for the year, the Vikings' depth at the position appears iffy. Now Heath Farwell, Kyle McKenzie and Marcus Lawrence have a legitimate chance to make the roster. There aren't many options in free agency, either. The most notable name is Greg Favors, an eight-year veteran who last played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Greenway expected to be placed on injured reserve, the Vikings likely will fill the spot with a linebacker. Greenway's injury also means Dontarrious Thomas or Rod Davis will have to be a swing guy and show position flexibility.
No word yet on Greenway
Sorry I've been MIA on the blog. But you really haven't missed much.
We are waiting on an update from the team on Chad Greenway's MRI results. But the Vikings have no updates, as of now.
The team, however, is concerned about the severity of the damage to his left knee.
We will keep you posted.
The one ray of hope was the play last night of Dontarrious Thomas and Heath Farwell. The two young linebackers certainly distinguished themselves.
Off the pedal
Coach Brad Childress cut practice short by about 25 minutes, continuing a trend of ending or canceling practices lately.
This isn't full contact, all the way to the ground. But S Greg Blue once again jarred an offensive player, TE Jeff Dugan. S Dwight Smith also could have laid out WR Troy Williamson.
Marcus and Koren Robinson are practicing, although the latter is limited. Backup center Jason Whittle also is out on the field, which is a good sign since he left early yesterday.
Meanwhile, RB Ciatrick Fason is still out, after suffering a concussion two days ago.
All right, since there wasn't much at the second practice to update, I thought I'd answer a few questions. So here we go:
Aram, I have an idea of who might make the practice squad, but I'll hold that close to my vest for now. Same with veterans. But if you follow my coverage, you probably have a good sense of where certain guys stand.
Kirby, Aug. 29 is the first cutdown to 75 players. That means nine players will be cut. I believe there might be some NFL Europe exemptions. But I have to double check.
Then, on Sept. 2, the roster has to be down to 53.
Moria, I just don't see any way Cook gets cut, under any circumstance. It sure would be embarrassing to cut him right as a rookie. I will say that I thought he's shown signs of improvement over the past two days. He's done a better job of handling the pass rushers.
Greg, no one really stands out. The team is fairly young.
Don't expect much, folks. They're in shorts, and they're working on special teams.
If you have any questions, though. Feel free to send them along. I'll answer a few later.
Fans along a fence beg for players to sign autographs. But as WR Marcus Robinson signed, with a box of cookies cupped in his arm, one fan asked, "Can I have a cookie?"
LB Napoleon Harris intercepted a Brad Johnson pass intended for TE Richard Angulo during a five on seven drill.
Receivers Marcus Robinson and Koren Robinson, and RB Ciatrick Fason are not practicing this morning.
Paul Wiggin, who has been with the Vikings since 1985, couldn't believe when he found out he'd be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
"It means a lot," Wiggin said. "The thing is that I never expected to be in this. Fifty years after I played college football and suddenly I get a FedEx that says I'm going to be in this Hall of Fame, and it just blew me away."
Consider two of the men he's going in with: Jerry Rice and John Gagliardi.
Wiggin certainly deserves the honor, who was voted Stanford's defensive player of the century by Cardinal fans and was All Pac-10 and a first-team All-America winner in 1955 and 1956.
Wiggin also coached at his alma mater, from 1980 to 1983, and he coached John Elway there.
I thought I'd give you all an update on WR Aaron Hosack and LB Kyle McKenzie.
I really thought coming into training camp that Hosack would be a consistent playmaker, especially after his successful stint in NFL Europe. But Hosack has been relatively quiet.
Meanwhile, I thought Kyle McKenzie has struggled. He made a nice play today, picking off a pass from QB Tarvaris Jackson. But McKenzie has not stood out in most practices.
This is what defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin had to say about him: "It was kind of a rebound morning for him.
"We've been giving Kyle a hard time. It was a dog day for him yesterday. It was good to see him make that play. There will be those kinds of days for a young guy, particularly in his position, with some guys battling and things in front of him. He's game every day he comes out there, and he made a nice play today."
So far, based on what I've seen, I don't see any Gophers making this year's Vikings' roster.
The players were thrilled to get the afternoon practice off, which was scheduled to go from 2:45 to 3:55. After a grueling start to camp, this is the first real chance the players have had to catch their breath.
I've been getting a lot of questions about whether Brad Childress is pulling a "Les Steckel." But I think the best measure of that isn't the fact that three players left practice today. It's, 'What kind of injuries did they have?' Well, LT Bryant McKinnie left the field with a left-hand injury, which had nothing to do with Childress. RB Ciatrick Fason left with a concussion, which comes with the territory. And WR Marcus Robinson tweaked his neck.
Injuries that are telling of a coach pushing too hard are hamstring, quad and calf injuries. Thus far, only a few players have had strains that have kept them out of practice or limited them, most notably receiver Koren Robinson (right calf) and safety Darren Sharper (hamstring).
Defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said Sharper is day to day, and McKinnie said Wednesday he would be fine and ready to practice Thursday.
Afternoon practice canceled
Coach Brad Childress canceled the practice.
A team spokeman said LT Bryant McKinnie is having his hand examined. Also, RB Ciatrick Fason suffered a concussion and WR Marcus Robinson tweaked his neck.
McKinnie heads to trainer area
LT Bryant McKinnie headed into the injury trailer just off the field under his own power. He was escorted off by head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman.
RB Chester Taylor has dropped two consecutive passes. I wouldn't worry; they might be his only drops of camp.
S Darren Sharper is in uniform, with pads on. But his starting spot has been filled by backup Willie Offord in every full-team drill.
RB Ciatrick Fason left the field and returned to the locker room. He was leveled on a run by a backup defensive lineman and lay on the ground for a few moments. WR Koren Robinson also has been limited in practice, as well as WR Marcus Robinson.
The grueling camp is taking its toll. In a drill that stresses each defensive player racing to the ball, the starters got two thumbs down and had to do the drill three consecutive times. What makes the drill hard is the running back sweeps outside to one sideline and every defensive player must get to the runner, including the cornerback who starts on the opposite side of the field.
S Tank Williams will have his fractured kneecap repaired by Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., this afternoon. Meanwhile, CB Charles Gordon had a successful procedure Monday, and watched practice from the sideline today on crutches.
After making a 20-yard run, Mewelde Moore was just stopped in his tracks on a short pass by LB E.J. Henderson.
It's the third-string defense, but Chester Taylor ate it up on consecutive plays. He made a nice cutback on rookie Cedric Griffin.
On a pitch to FB Tony Richardson, Steve Hutchinson swallowed up a third-string player, giving Richardson a wide-open lane to the left side of the end zone.
Both the guys are looking like excellent pickups in free agency.
LB Dontarrious Thomas picked off a Brad Johnson pass intended for TE Jim Kleinsasser in the end zone. Johnson rolled right on a bootleg and forced the pass to Kleinsasser.
Pat is back
DT Pat Williams just jumped the count and got a sack. In fact, I think Williams got to where Mike McMahon was supposed to end up on his drop faster than the QB.
Running back Chester Taylor just made a nifty run. He went left and bounced outside for a decent gain. However, quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan just made a horrendous decision, throwing into double coverage. But wide receiver Marcus Robinson beat the stellar duo of Dustin Fox and Tony Beckham.
Let's get ready to...
TE Richard Angulo and DE Jayme Mitchell got into the first big fight of training camp. Punches were thrown, facemasks held, until TE Jim Kleinsasser and others broke it up. The players were not disciplined or sent off the field. My colleague Don Seeholzer said it was a draw. Forgive us, our Compubox machine isn't working.
Williams & Williams makes training camp debut together
Both Pat and Kevin Williams are on the practice field together. Pat practiced Monday, but Kevin rested his right knee.
Tank on IR; Vikings sign another DB
The Vikings signed defensive back Ahmad Treaudo, who spent the 2005 season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad. To make room for Treaudo, the Vikings placed safety Tank Williams on injured reserve, ending his 2006 season. Williams had been starting at safety alongside Darren Sharper before his injury. Now veteran Dwight Smith will take his place.
Defensive backs working out
The Vikings are conducting workouts for five players, who all are built like defensive backs.
CB Ronyell Whitaker was escorted off the field by a trainer.
Stick to your day job
On a fullback option pass, Tony Richardson just threw a hideous attempt intended for Travis Taylor. Or maybe it was college scouting director Scott Studwell, who was about 10 yards away.
WR Chris Jones update
He just made a catch with a high degree of difficulty from Mike McMahon. The pass went for over 40 yards.
Pat Williams back
The starting DT is stretching with his teammates and enduring some ribbing from teammates.
One coach jokingly said, "Who's the big guy?"
Surely, Williams will be eased into today's full-padded practice.
Rookie Chad Greenway is also on the practice field.
This blog has received its first stamp of approval from a bona fide celebrity. Former Vikings Pro Bowl tight end Joe Senser said he has been following camp via our humble blog. (Excuse a second, while I wipe a tear from my eye.)
Whew. OK. As if Alan Page weren't enough, we've also got Senser, the affable K-FAN personality and restaurant owner.
Now that I've regained my composure, I'd like to assure everyone that this blog will only get better!
Don't expect much blogging from the afternoon practice. It's an hour long, and it's special teams.
Childress also said that RB Chester Taylor is "still tender in his groin area.
"We want to make sure that he treats that up and takes care of that before he gets back on the field."
Mewelde Moore looked sharp Sunday morning in Taylor's place.
Coach Brad Childress provided an update on the following players:
* Kevin Williams has swelling in his right knee. He is day-to-day.
* Chad Greenway suffered a concussion Saturday. Childress was optimistic he would return soon.
Meanwhile, Childress said Pat Williams would return in the next couple of days.
Tank out for the year
S Tank Williams has a broken left kneecap that will sideline him for the season, coach Brad Childress said.
"I feel terrible for Tank," said Childress, who praised the veteran about his approach to the season.
Childress said Williams had embraced the signing of S Dwight Smith, so long as he had a chance to compete for a starting spot.
Childress declined comment when asked if the team would add another safety.
Behind Smith and Darren Sharper are Willie Offord, rookie Greg Blue and Will Hunter.
Richardson is back
Fullback Tony Richardson returned from a day off to attend Warren Moon's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Richardson just flattened LB Dontarrious Thomas and gained five more yards before being gang-tackled.
Meanwhile, RB Mewelde Moore has looked good with Chester Taylor very limited in practice.
Williamson at it again
He just beat Dovonte Edwards for a long - 50 plus? - touchdown. Brad Johnson threw him the ball.
It should be noted that drive was against the starting defense, minus Pat and Kevin Williams.
McMahon on fire
Mike McMahon just led the second-string offense on a nice drive in the two-minute drill. He completed every pass to set up a 41-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell. McMahon got a high five from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as he walked off the field.
Receiver Troy Williamson fully extended himself to make a tough catch on cornerback Antoine Winfield. The pass from quarterback Brad Johnson was well placed on the left sideline. The pass was at least 20 yards.
The following players are not practicing: Chad Greenway, Kevin Williams, and Marcus Robinson, who is attending to a personal matter.
Williams' injury is unknown at this time. But he is watching practice with a wrap around his right knee.
Meanwhile, Chester Taylor returned after missing Saturday's two practices.
A team spokesman said Williams has a left knee injury and he was taken in for evaluation. He had no further comment on Williams or Chad Greenway.
Williams initially injured his knee while backpedaling during seven-on-seven drills. No players were around him, and he fell and screamed upon planting with his left leg. In November 2004, Williams had knee surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament.
Koren Robinson tipped a ball with one hand and made a juggling catch before going out of bounds. Brad Johnson, who threw the pass, praised Robinson for making the difficult catch.
Safety Tank Williams was carted off the field just a few minutes ago.
Coach Brad Childress and vice president Rick Spielman observed as head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman attended to Williams.
As he was lifted onto the cart, a staffer carefully mobilized his left knee.
In a one on one drill, James just badly beat Bryant McKinnie with an inside spin move. He looked Dwight Freeney for at least one play.
After joking with the team doctor and trainer, Greenway walked back to the locker room. He was escorted by the team doctor.
Greenway taking a break
Rookie Chad Greenway walked off the field on his own with a team doctor. He was checked out by a team doctor under the medical tent.
Fred Smoot just leveled Fason for a moderate loss. Smoot went low and didn't give Fason a chance to make a move.
Ciatrick Fason just juked cornerback Fred Smoot on a solid run. In streetball terms, Smoot got his ankles broken.
Taylor not practicing...
He and Pat Williams are in shorts.
Receiver Dez White has been released by the Vikings and replaced on the roster by former Tennessee Titans cornerback Tony Beckham.
White was unimpressive in camp, and Beckham presumably fills the void left by Charles Gordon, who has a knee injury that could sideline him the rest of the preseason.
Beckham played in 50 games during his four NFL seasons, and he has five starts. He was originally a fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans out of the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Running back Chester Taylor was held out of the morning practice at the Myers Field House because of what appears to be a left leg injury. Taylor apparently injured it last night in the practice against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sorry for the uncertainty. But the Vikings no longer provide very much injury information. That's how coach Brad Childress wants it.
Taylor declined comment when approached by reporters, saying he had to go to a meeting. And the only coach available after the morning session was defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, who had nary a clue about the extent of Taylor's injuries.
We'll keep you posted.
Mother Nature apparently isn't a Vikings fan. Brad Childress brought another morning practice indoors. Fans filed into Myers Field House to watch another sedated walk-through. Luckily, this morning's practice was supposed to be in shorts.
According to weather.com, the afternoon should clear up, with partly cloudy skies. That means the 2:45 to 5 p.m. practice in pads should be outside.
Now back to you Roger and Suzie...
A couple of updates from Childress
Vikings coach Brad Childress said he and Pat Williams are on the same page after having a long talk.
Also, Childress said cornerback Charles Gordon has a cartilage problem in his left knee that will require a procedure which will keep him out the rest of the preseason.
Up this point in camp, Chris Kluwe hadn't boomed the ball like last year. But he stepped it up tonight.
"It was nice to get out there, and finally hit the ball like I want to," he said.
Asked about the sudden turn, Kluwe said, "The adrenaline gates opened up. It’s like getting on the field on game day."
Kluwe said his right knee feels fine.
Now, he's got another goal.
"Now I just need to string days back to back," he said.
Rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson just connected with receiver Chris Jones on a 20-plus yard pass play. Jones ran hard toward the left sideline, and Jackson lofted a pass that only Jones could catch.
Kluwe alive and kicking...
Punter Chris Kluwe, coming off knee surgery, just unleashed a 60-yard punt. He followed that up with a 50-, 55-yarder.
What more is there to say? There's still a long way to go before we say he's in the clear. But he's off to a remarkable start.
Practice against the Chiefs
I only have one set of eyes, so I can't watch the offense and defense. But in the stadium, where the Vikings offense is working, quarterback Brad Johnson did an excellent job. He made quick reads, connecting with Troy Williamson on the outside, and he even made a nifty pass to wide open tight end Richard Owens.
Meanwhile, I know many of you have wondered how Chester Taylor has looked. Just fine. He's made some decent runs on the inside, and he just caught a nice swing pass from Johnson.
This just in: Johnson and Williamson just connected on a really nice slant. There was a very tight space, with Williamson tightly defended, but Johnson made the throw, and Williamson the catch. If Troy can do that all season, this offense will be just fine.
In response to loyal readers...
Since there wasn't much to report this morning, I wanted to answer some of the questions posed to me.
Jim, Charles Gordon, an undrafted cornerback, was carted off. We do not yet know the severity of the injury. Childress will tell us tonight, after the practice against the Chiefs.
Eric, Fred Smoot does look noticeably bigger. His shoulders and chest are obviously bulkier. This will serve him well in the more physical Cover Two defense.
Wow! The Honorable Alan Page. Will it soon be "Sir" Alan Page. I'm honored to have you visit my humble blog. (LOL)
Kenechi Udeze has looked fine. He's never overwhelmed me with his athleticism. But he doesn't look any slower after knee surgery last year.
Tex Vike, Chester Taylor looks fine. But he hasn't turned too many heads with any ridiculous runs or mind-blowing moves. But stay tuned. I'm on the lookout.
Morning practice update
You're not missing anything. It's special teams, and they're in shells.
Actually, I'm only writing this so you know I'm here.
Highlight: John Clayton of ESPN is here.
In classic fashion, though, he will be gone by tonight.
The team was scheduled to have a second practice in pads. But coach Brad Childress let the players go in shells instead. Is he going soft?
Mewelde is special
Backup running back Mewelde Moore is currently the No. 1 punt and kickoff returner, according to special teams coach Paul Ferraro. That's interesting since Koren Robinson went to the Pro Bowl last season, and he told me Wednesday he wanted to do it again. Robinson, though, did field some kickoffs today, along with Troy Williamson.
There was a shoving match earlier in practice. And defensive end Khreem Smith was sent off the field by coach Brad Childress for mixing it up with an offensive lineman.
To the house
E.J. Henderson picked off J.T. O'Sullivan and ran down the left sideline for a touchdown of at least 40 yards.
Rookie safety Greg Blue has been, well, a hit so far in camp. His jarring tackles have impressed his defensive teammates. He just slammed into Richard Owens, who was escorted to the medical trailer with a team doctor.
Oh, he's returning to the sideline.
A reader wondered how he looked so far. He hasn't had a real highlight. But he also hasn't made any glaring mistakes. His technique seems solid, since he's not yelled at a lot by his position coach.
But his athleticism is very evident.
During nine-on-seven drills, C.J. Mosley lined up next to Kevin Williams with the starting defense. But don't read too much into it yet.
By the way, fans are out in the hundreds. They're lucky. The weather is perfect!
Brad Johnson completely fooled the first string defense with a play action fake. Then, he went over the top to Troy Williamson for a bomb of at least 50 yards. Who said Johnson's got a weak arm. That ball went at least 55 yards in the air.
Travis Taylor fully extended himself to catch a laser toward the sideline. The pass was impressive, but Taylor made the catch with cornerback Ronyell Whitaker all over him.
On a short curl, Troy Williamson was hit so hard by safety Will Hunter his helmet popped off. Williamson, though, held onto the ball.
It was a hard-earned five yards.
On a simple swing pass, Tony Richardson got quite a "hello" from rookie corner Cedric Griffin. Griffin slammed into Richardson, drawing praise from defensive teammates.
Tarvaris Jackson just executed a great touchdown near the goal line. He faked the handoff and rolled right, then darted a pass to wide-open tight end Richard Angulo.
In his defense...
Pat Williams' agent, Angelo Wright, doesn't appreciate the subtle message being relayed by the Vikings by placing his client on the physically unable to play (PUP) list.
"It creates a public perception that Pat's out of shape, when he's actually lighter than he was last year at training camp," Wright said. "He participated in the whole offseason program. I doubt he ate himself into oblivion in the last few weeks."
Other than a brief comment to my colleague, Don Seeholzer, Williams has declined other interview requests. But Wright said Williams' goal is simple.
"Pat's focus is on surpassing his efforts from a year ago," Wright said.
Moe Williams signs with Rams
Former Vikings running back Moe Williams has signed a one-year contract with the St. Louis Rams. Williams will reunite with former Vikings offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who is now the team's head coach. With Marshall Faulk sidelined for the season with a knee injury, Williams will be the backup to Steven Jackson. Tony Fisher is also in the mix for the backup spot.
Williams was a third-round pick of the Vikings in the 1996 NFL Draft.
Tomlin on Pat Williams
"He's not where he needs to be," Tomlin said. "It's disappointing to me....We got one standard. As of now, he's not up to snuff."
Vikings coach Brad Childress brought practice inside a field house near the practice fields.
The players obviously don't have pads on.
The afternoon practice has been changed to 2:30 to 5 and should be outside.
As he was scrambling, Brad Johnson put one hand behind his head, reminiscent of Deion Sanders. Fans, teammates and even coaches were amused.
Receiver Dez White is out with a leg injury.
Goliath vs. Goliath
One on one, all-pro Kevin Williams against all-pro Steve Hutchinson in a drill: Hutchinson held his position both times and didn't give up too much ground.
Who delivered the first big pass? How about J.T. O'Sullivan.
Marcus Robinson must have taken advantage of poor coverage down the left sideline.
O'Sullivan calmly lofted a nice pass right to Robinson, who had two steps on Darren Sharper. From my angle, I couldn't see how long the touchdown was. But I would guess at least 45 yards.
The first big hit of training camp was delivered by rookie safety Greg Blue. Tarvaris Jackson passed the ball to tight end Jeff Dugan, who went toward the right sideline. As Dugan approached, Blue flattened him, eliciting high fives from defensive teammates and an approving nod from coordinator Mike Tomlin.
Rain or shine...
The rain is coming down steady in Mankato, but Vikings coach Brad Childress still has the team out here for the scheduled practice. Even 70 fans are sitting out here at this point, before 9 a.m.
The winner, though, is the company that makes the Vikings' official ponchos. They're selling fast!