Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Williams Wall appeal
As the New York Giants showed, a potent four-man pass rush covers up holes in the secondary and empowers a defense to try a lot of different things.
The Vikings are believed to be considering Bobby McCray, Antwan Odom and Justin Smith. All three are versatile enough to play on both sides and effectively defend the run and pass. But, again, with the Williams Wall around, they probably can focus more on rushing the passer.
Given the need, the Vikings will pay handsomely, and they provide the best chance to put up big numbers.
On an aside, the Philadelphia Eagles just released DE Jevon Kearse.
The Freak isn't what he once was. But, if he can get healthy again, he still could give some quality snaps and pick up some quality sacks.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Dwight in the Big D
Pro Football Talk is reporting that Smith signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Lions.
The deal includes a $350,000 signing bonus.
Holcomb officially cut
Meanwhile, Vikings LB Heath Farwell received the second-round tender, which is worth $1.4 million next season. With LB Dontarrious Thomas expected to sign elsewhere, Farwell will likely be the top backup at two of the spots, and he will continue to anchor the team's improving special teams.
On an aside, sorry for the confusion on the blogs. We're going through a transition, but you can count on this, for the time being.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Thoughts on Williamson trade
But a fresh start may serve everyone involved.
Ultimately, after the team docked his pay in November, Williamson's days in Minnesota were numbered. He was diplomatic in his comments, but he clearly felt betrayed by the organization for not showing sensitivity toward him during a patch with his family.
The Vikings, meanwhile, tried to be patient with Williamson, after a disappointing 2006 season, by empowering him during the 2007 offseason. They hired a new receivers coach, George Stewart, who had a reputation for working well with young players. Stewart worked with Williamson on fundamentals, and he accompanied him on his trip to the Nike headquarters, to meet with vision specialists.
Williamson looked strong during mini-camps and even in training camp, but he once again disappeared during the regular season, never catching more than three passes in a single game.
Williamson isn't a natural at catching passes. But his speed should help him create enough room to make the routine catches.
The Vikings often sent him deep, but he could have been better served on slants and comebacks.
Williamson may never live up to his seventh overall selection. But he could become a dependable player in Jacksonville, where he'll be motivated to prove he's not an all-time bust. He'll work in a stable offense, loaded with a talented backfield and with an up-and-coming quarterback (David Garrard).
There will also be some familiar faces, most notably assistant head coach Mike Tice.
Over the weekend, the Vikings were believed to be seeking a veteran for Williamson, or a second-round pick. But, instead, the Vikings had to settle for a sixth-round pick.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Williamson expected to be dealt to the Jaguars
The trade cannot become official, however, until the start of the league year Thursday at 11 p.m. CST.
The Vikings gave agent David Canter permission to seek a trade last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and he insisted there was plenty of interest in Williamson, the seventh overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Despite a disappointing 79 catches for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons, Williamson still intrigues NFL teams because of his exceptional speed.
The Vikings had high hopes for Williamson heading into the 2007 season, after he spent time in the offseason working with vision specialists at the Nike headquarters. But Williamson once again struggled with drops, but he had a career-low 18 catches for 240 yards.
Childress gathering more information on McKinnie
Not surprisingly, though, Childress didn't have much to say about the matter.
"I don’t have all the information because I’ve been in meetings and workouts all weekend, but I have gotten a chance to speak with his family,” Childress said, according to the Associated Press.
Asked if he's made a decision, Childress said, "No.
"We don't have all the information, so how could you make a decision?"
Given past transgressions, though, McKinnie likely will face discipline from the NFL, as well as the Vikings, who have focused on creating a culture of accountability at Winter Park.
Former Vikings land in Jacksonville
Naturally, both players are familiar with Jaguars assistant head coach Mike Tice. Bouman, who starred at St. Cloud State, was with the Vikings from 1997 to 2002, while Angulo was a tight end project of Tice's from 2003 to 2005.
Angulo played in five games for the Jaguars last season, catching eight passes for 81 yards, including one touchdown.
Bouman has played in 42 games, with six starts, and he served as a backup in Jacksonville last season, although he never played. His last appearance came in 2005, when he was with the New Orleans Saints.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Report: McKinnie arrested
According to the report, McKinnie, 28, was thrown out of Club Space by a security guard after getting into an altercation with a bouncer.
McKinnie left the club but returned and began fighting with the man, at which point he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.
Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and may carry a mandatory minimum sentence.
He was eventually released on bond.
A Vikings spokesman released the following statement: "We are aware of the situation with Bryant McKinnie. We will respond further once we have collected the appropriate information."
Status quo on Williamson
Agent David Canter has said he hopes to finalize a deal before the end of the NFL scouting combine Tuesday.
Coach Brad Childress, while not ruling out a quick trade, said Saturday that the Vikings are in no rush to complete a deal.
The Vikings have given Canter permission to try to shop Williamson, who has played three disappointing seasons for the team since being selected with the seventh pick of the 2005 NFL draft.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Childress: Trade not imminent
"Not imminent, no," Childress said.
Williamson's agent, David Canter, said Friday that he hoped to complete a trade before the end of the NFL scouting combine Tuesday, but Childress wouldn't speculate on the chances of that happening.
"I don't have any way of knowing that," he said. "I don't know who specifically he's talked to exactly. I have ideas, but just because he's talked doesn't necessarily constitute a deal."
Canter was out of town today to attend a player's wedding but said Friday that he had heard from 9-12 teams that are interested in Williamson and that there had been trade discussions with "at least five teams."
Childress said there has been "nothing substantive" to this point.
Asked if the Vikings are in any rush to complete a trade by Tuesday, he said: "(We're) not. If that's the case, that's OK as well."
Childress did confirm Canter's statement that the Vikings have no plans to release Williamson. So any team waiting around for that to happen is in for a long wait.
"I have no motivation to release him, just like I have no motivation to release him right now," Childress said. "There's no sense in that."
Notes: The agent for safety Mike Doss said today that he definitely will hit the free-agent market and Childress confirmed it, calling it a mutual decision.
All in the family
"He's an introvert and I'm a little bit more of an extrovert," the younger Henderson said.
A broadcasting major, Henderson was asked how he would get his big brother to open up in an interview and agreed it wouldn't be easy.
"It took me about 15 years to get him to talk to me," he said.
Henderson is projected as a second-round draft choice.
"Oh, yeah. John Randle's my hero," the Apple Valley native said at today's NFL scouting combine.
Laws, who said he already has spoken with the Vikings here, is projected as a middle-round draft choice.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Childress confirms it
"It was a decision that we made as an organization," Childress said, adding that it was a "mutually agreeable situation" and agent David Canter "was happy to be able to have the latitude to do that."
Childress declined to put a time frame on a possible deal or to speculate on what the Vikings might able to get in return.
"You might be surprised," he said. "We'll see. I just know that all of a sudden, when (news) got out, I had three people grab me on the way out today. ... I wouldn't probably venture a guess."
Childress wouldn't say whether he preferred a draft choice or player for Williamson, the seventh overall selection of the 2005 draft, and wouldn't rule out him remaining with the Vikings if no team is willing to meet their price.
"We've allowed him to … go out and see what's out there," Childress said. "If it's something that's not satisfactory to us, then, like I said before, he's under contract to us."
Williamson on the trade block
The Vikings have been mum on Williamson's status since the season ended. But agent David Canter is believed to be shopping Williamson in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine.
Williamson, the seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft, has managed just 79 catches for 1,067 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons with the Vikings. There were high hopes for him heading into the 2007 season, but he again struggled with dropped passes, and his playing time dramatically decreased.
Although the Vikings are empowering a trade, the market for Williamson, who is signed through the 2009 season, may be minimal, and interested teams may wait for the Vikings to release him.
Both make sense for Smith, who played under Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in Tampa Bay and with the Vikings.
Lions coach Rod Marinelli was the Buccaneers' defensive line coach when Smith played there.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Cowboys franchise Hamlin
The Cowboys today used their franchise tag on Hamlin, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29.
With Hamlin out of the picture, Jacksonville's Sammy Knight and the New York Giants' Gibril Wilson are considered the top free-agent safeties and the Vikings might have an interest in Cincinnati's Madieu Williams.
Williams was a second-round draft choice of the Bengals in 2004, when Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier held the same position in Cincinnati.
"If there are some blue-chip type players out there, we'll try to do everything to take a swing at them if we can," he said. "Regardless of position."
Speaking to Twin Cities reporters on opening day of the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Spielman said the Vikings' first priority this week is to meet with agents for each of their nine unrestricted free agents.
That doesn't mean the team has or will make contract offers to all nine, but Spielman said the Vikings haven't closed the door on any of them.
"We never write anyone off," he said.
The Vikings released veteran safety Dwight Smith on Wednesday and Spielman said there could be some more roster moves before free agency opens Feb. 29.
He shed no light on the future of wide receiver Troy Williamson, who is under contract but could be headed elsewhere after three disappointing seasons.
"We're still in the talking process," Spielman said. "We have no comment on where he's going or what's going to happen to him right now. There's a lot of yet-to-be-determines."
Williams was Cincinnati's second-round draft choice in 2004, when Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier held the same position with the Bengals.
The free-agent signing period begins Feb. 29.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Vikings release Smith
"I appreciate his contributions the last couple of years," coach Brad Childress, in Indianapolis for today's start of the NFL scouting combine, said in a brief telephone interview. "It's just a matter of we're moving in a different direction."
Childress wouldn't elaborate on possible reasons for the move, but he said Smith was released at this time to give him and his agent an opportunity to try to hook on with another team in advance of the start of free agency, Feb. 29.
With Tank Williams and Mike Doss both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, starter Darren Sharper and rookie Eric Frampton are the only two safeties under contract, but Childress declined to say how the team might address the position in free agency and/or the draft.
"It's almost like every position," Childress said. "You have to carefully comb through the guys that are available. Hopefully, we'll be able to find someone."
Smith, 29, intercepted four passes in each of his two seasons with the Vikings, but he also was arrested twice: once in 2006 for indecent conduct with a woman in a stairwell outside a downtown Minneapolis nightclub and last season for obstructing traffic and marijuana possession outside a strip club.
The drug charge was dropped earlier this month.
Childress, asked how big a factor Smith's off-the-field problems played in the decision to release him, declined to answer.
"I don't want to cast any aspersions on him," Childress said. "We're just moving in a different direction and leave it at that."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson said he heard the news last week at the Pro Bowl, which he attended as a guest of defensive tackle Kevin Williams, and spoke Monday night to Udeze.
"He said the support has been great," Johnson said. "A couple people came by and visited him in the hospital. That helped me out. I was shocked when I found out. He said he'll be in the hospital for two months and have to get chemo."
Johnson said defensive line coach Karl Dunbar broke the news to Vikings players in Hawaii at a Pro Bowl party hosted by owner Zygi Wilf.
Johnson, who makes his offseason home in Houston, said he has had several phone conversations with Udeze and plans to visit him soon.
"He said he'll be all right," Johnson said. "It was a blow to him, but he's in good spirits."
Statement from Vikings on Udeze
"With reports surfacing about Kenechi Udeze, we respect the privacy of Kenechi. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Minnesota Vikings are with Kenechi and his family."
Friday, February 08, 2008
Season-ticket prices announced
Coming off an 8-8 season that ended short of the playoffs, the Vikings have raised their ticket prices for 2008.
The team announced 11 pricing options today for 10-game season-ticket packages, from a high of $1,230 to a low of $99 (limited view).
That includes two exhibition games in addition to the eight regular-season contests.
The top ticket price represents a $70 increase from 2007, but the team said in a release that the overall average increase is 3 percent compared to a league average of 6.5 percent last season.
"Our main priorities were to maintain affordable options for our season-ticket holders," Vikings vice president of sales and marketing Steve LaCroix said, "while keeping price increases as low as possible."
The other pricing options, from most to least expensive, are $1,170, $1,030, $980, $760, $740, $690, $500, $400 and $250.
The Vikings have sold out 104 consecutive home games since the start of the 1998 season but needed financial assistance from their corporate partners to sell out four games last season: against Atlanta, San Diego, Oakland and Detroit.
The 2008 home schedule includes games against the past two Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants and Indianapolis, in addition to Atlanta, Carolina, Houston and NFC North opponents Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay.
Dates and times will be announced when the full NFL schedule is released in April.
Monday, February 04, 2008
The morning after pulling off one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning met with the national media one last time in Phoenix to share his thoughts on Sunday's 17-14 win over the New England Patriots and pick up his Cadillac Escalade hybrid as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Still a bit bleary following a night of celebrating, Manning said he got next to no sleep but seemed none the worse for wear.
"I finally got into my room, but I had to turn on the TV and watch some of the highlights again," he said. "When I finally made the commitment to try to get some sleep, I kind of sat there with my eyes wide open and replaying plays in my head. I'm just living on … I don't know what I'm going on right now. Just emotions and excitement from last night."
Headed back to New York for a Tuesday parade, Manning said he never doubted or lost confidence in himself, even during the bad times, such as a 41-17 November loss to the Vikings in which he had three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
"When you're not playing well and when you're losing games, they're looking at everything you do and dissect it," he said. "You know, my demeanor and how I am on the sideline and my personality. But I'm very comfortable in my own skin. I am the way I am and it wasn't going to change."
Asked who his choice for MVP would have been, Manning said he would have liked to give it to the whole team. But he made special mention of a Giants defense that held Tom Brady and the Patriots' record-setting offense to its lowest point total of the season.
"Our whole entire defense, that defensive front, the way they got after Tom Brady," he said. "The way they were able to get pressure on him. No one's been able to do that all year. The Giants' defensive staff and the way those guys played, they all deserve it."
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Good news, bad news
In Super Bowl history, teams leading at the half are 32-7, not including two games that were tied.
With the roof at University of Phoenix Stadium closed, it's worth noting that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has an 11-1 career record in domes.
That includes a 2-0 mark in Super Bowls.
Webster to start for Madison
Corey Webster will start at right cornerback for the Giants in place of Sam Madison, who has been bothered by an abdominal injury.
Brown tops inactive lists
Wide receiver Troy Brown tops the Patriots' list, which also includes: wide receiver Chad Jackson, cornerback Antwain Spain, offensive tackle Wesley Britt, guard Billy Yates, tight end Stephen Spach and defensive lineman Santonio Thomas.
Matt Gutierrez is the third quarterback.
Inactive for the Giants are: running back Danny Ware, defensive back Geoffrey Pope, offensive tackle Adam Koets, defensive tackle Manny Wright, wide receiver Sinorice Moss, tight end Jerome Collins and defensive tackle Russell Davis.
The third quarterback is Jared Lorenzen.
Carter snub theories
According to some voters who were in the room Saturday, there were two main reasons:
1.) An aggressive, grass-roots lobbying effort on behalf of former Redskins wide receiver Art Monk, who made it on his eighth (and possibly final) try.
2.) An attitude that Carter, while worthy, wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer, as someone who put up great numbers but never played in a Super Bowl.
Like former Vikings guard Randall McDaniel, those voters said Carter is sure to get in eventually, perhaps as soon as next year.
Playing it safe
With rain expected most of the afternoon, it likely will stay that way for today's game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
Check back later for the gameday inactives and other notes as the Patriots attempt to complete the first 19-0 season in NFL history.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Zimmerman lone Viking to make Hall
Wide receiver Cris Carter and guard Randall McDaniel made the final 10 but were eliminated in the cutdown to five players.
Former Chiefs cornerback and Vikings defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas made it as a senior committee nominee.
Zimmerman spent the first seven of his 12 NFL seasons with the Vikings, earning three Pro Bowl invitations.
Traded to Denver in 1993, he made the Pro Bowl four more times in five seasons with the Broncos and started at left tackle in their Super Bowl XXXII win over Green Bay.
Also selected for the induction Class of 2008 were: former Chargers and 49ers defensive end Fred Dean, former Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, former Redskins wide receiver Art Monk and former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Carter expected to get Hall call
Wide receiver Cris Carter is considered one of two slam dunks to join the induction Class of 2008, along with former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green.
Of the Vikings' two other candidates, offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman is considered to have the next-best chance, with guard Randall McDaniel in the longshot category.
Carter, Zimmerman and McDaniel are three of 17 finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class, which will be announced Saturday afternoon.