Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC

Harrison Smith Mr Nice guy in TC
Hardest hitting safety in the NFL

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday July 31

I pulled into my parking lot around 8:30 this morning and looked over to the entrance of training camp. There was a lengthy line of around 150 people which I know it does not sound like much. I look at it this way it is only 8:30 in the morning and practice does not even start to 10:30 so to have this many people is a good sign for 1 of 2 things either people will be there for the autograph alley and try to meet the offensive line or will go to the bleachers to watch practice.

I watched the walk through with nothing really exciting happening just players walking through their formations and working on blocking techniques. I find the hour does go very fast. I love to take pictures so this gives me the opportunity to get the pictures of players without their helmets. I had a goal to get a picture of every player trying out for the team and today I finished the goal. It is my own yearbook of sorts. It is a challenge to find every player on the field and get the shots.

The afternoon Mankato heat made its presence felt as once again it joined the fans in making a big sweat bath.

I did meet an interesting person once again this afternoon. His name is Willie Howard and for you Vikings fans he was a draft choice out of Stanford in I beleive he told me 2001.
Willie is the head coach of Cooper High School in Minneapolis. He had brought down some of his team to watch camp. The kids were all in their jerseys. He told me he has 7 Division 1 players on his team. He said with a smile the program is turning around.
It was a great talk and when he did play for the Vikings I remember him in Training Camp as a very friendly person as well. I did get a kick out of a statement he made today, "They made me pay for parking." I wish Willie all the success in the world as he helps young players learn the game.

The practice itself is always filled with many individiual group drills to start the practice making for tough choices in what to watch.

I did notice the quarterbacks down on the south end zone on the first field all take their wrist bands off and come give them to the kids in the front row of the stands before they started their drills. What a nice gesture giving some kids some big smiles.

The wide receiver group is going to be a tough cut if camp goes on like it is. These guys are grabbing just about everything. There is so much youth out there. I saw Jerome Simpson catch a sideline pass and keep running down the sideline. One fan yelled to Jerome, "Hey Jerome do your flip.". If you remember 2011 Jerome did a front flip into the end zone. I thought it was coming again but then Simpson gets low and does a summersault and gets up and continues to run. This Simpson has so much energy and is a true pleasure to talk to.

I truly enjoy 2 specific drills and that is the one on one receiver vs the secondary. There is so much jockying for position to get to the ball. It is intense and awesome to watch to see if a defender can break up the pass.

The other drill is offensive line vs the defensive line one on ones. This is just power vs power. The defense should have the advantage since they are running forwards but once in a while the offensive lineman does a great job. It is not a norm during games since the line work together, but it is sure fun to watch. To hear the players yelling and being so cempetitive is awesome.

To watch practice the feeling I get is the players are ready to hit even if it is
their own. It just looks closer and closer each day somebody may acidentally tackle someone just to get the hitting feeling again. It will something to watch each day.

Thanks for reading

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 3 night afternoon practice

The weather so far seems to have a trend. It is beautiful in the morning with a breeze and in the afternoon it really heats up. There was a breeze today so it helped some. The water and gatorade being sold is a hot comodity. I have seen fans bringing umbrellas to help keeep the sun of them. The bleachers fans sit in has no protection from the hot sun.

The afternoon practice started at 2:45 and for the first time in camp players were in full uniforms.It was so exciting to know that I would see some hitting today.

The start of practice I watched rookie kicker,Blair Walsh kick some bombs. They were 52-56 yards consistently good with yards to spare. It was simply amazing to see those kicks. I have met him alrerady and he is not a very big guy. I can't wait to see how he does with kick offs this season.

The practice itself was the first chance to see Kalil against Allen. The first round Kalil I thought did alright but the next round Allen showed no sympathy. I still think this is a huge benefit for Kalil to be the man that will be the left tackle for the next ten years in going against the best in the business.

There was no squirmishes I saw but plenty of pad popping. It was a sound that is music to my ears. I did see running back Jordan Todman blast through a hole and of to the races. I also saw the other side was Toby Gerhart was dropped in his tracks. The mention of Toby even on the field after surgery late last season is incredible. He does look very good carying the ball. He looks bigger and stronger than last year.

I am noticing the connections on the deep ball are missing at times but the success I am seeing is across the middle and down the seem. Kyle Rudolph is as good as advertised. I keep hearing fans wanting to compare him to Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots but we will need to wait and see. Rudolph is a big target and catches everything. It is a very exciting future for this young man.

Some observations from the practice there were 2 field judges and 2 side judges at practice watching how players were lining up. A flag was thrown a couple of times today for false starts.

I also saw Vikings owner Zygi Wilf on the sidelines today as well.

Thanks for reading

Day 3- Monday morning interesting conversation

Om Monday July 30 I got to camp around 9 am and saw there were probably already 50 people waiting to get into camp. I went over and stood across the street from the locker rooms to get pictures of players coming to practice. There are 90 players in camp and in the first 2 days I have taken pictures of 70 players with 20 left to take.

I was waiting and happen to be standing by a man and woman who I struck up a conversation with. I come to find out when I introduced myself and they intoduced themselves their last name was Fusco. Their son Brandon is in his 2nd season with the Vikings. This was awesome as this is the first time I have ever met a player's parents. Their names were Steve and Debbie Fusco. Steve and I are the same age which I thought was cool. They flew in from Pennsylvania for the week to see their son.

They were so wonderful as we talked about Brandon and the day he was drafted. Steve had told me that Brandon hads his pro day at Lehigh University. There were 27 teams at his pro day. Brandon was the center for Slippery Rock college in Pennsylvania. His dad told also me that Brandon had played guard in high school.

The weekend of the draft we discussed in great detail. Brandon's family hosted a party for 400 people as they waited patiently for Brandon's name to be called. Then finally Scott told me that 3:30 on day 3 Brandon got the call he has been waiting for. I asked who called Brandon. Steve told me Vikings Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson called Brandon to tell him that the Vikings will be taking him. Steve then also said after Davidson talked to Brandon, Coach Frazier and Rick Spielman also talked to Brandon. He was taken in the 6th round and was the 3rd of 5 centers taken in the draft. I also found out that the name is announced on TV about 10 minutes after the player already has been informed.

Steve and Deb also told me Brandon has a twin brother who had played rugby but is smaller than Brandon. They also told me they have made arrangements to make it to 13-14 games this season including road games. They wear their Fusco jerseys with pride.

Steve and Deb were absolutely awesome to visit with and you could tell they were so proud of their son. They came across as very humble as they also said Brandon is as well. Brandon has worked so hard he is first unit offensive line along with Phil Loadholt,John Sullivan,Charlie Johnson and Matt Kalil.

I have watched every hour of the draft for years but to talk to someone who has lived through it was a huge highlight of the 2012 Training Camp so far.

Thanks for reading

Sunday, July 29, 2012

First full week of camp starts Monday

Monday July 30 training camp will be the start of 6 straight days of training camp. The excitement for fans who want to wait in autograph alley officially beings on Monday as the Tight Ends will be there for 20 minutes following the morning walk through.

The afternoon session will be exciting as the pads will go on. The hitting begins. The question, how long before the first squirmish breaks out?

There are many questions to be asked starting with, what time will the first fan show up to enter Vikings Village in the morning?
How will the crowds be in Mankato with the last 2 seasons being not so good record wise?
How will the weather be, will it be back to the heat wave?
Can the team stay healthy and leave Eric Sugarman bored other than working with Adrian Peterson?
Can Matt Kalil stand up against Jared Allen?
Can the offensive line start to gell and keep Ponder unpright?
Who will I see from the national media on the sidelines? I have seen John Clayton or Peter King is the past in Mankato.

The players thus far have been super to the fans. I have talked to more people who tell the players thank you for the autographs. The response from the player has been thank you for coming we appreciate your support.

First game is a week from Friday on August 10th in San Francisco. I for one can not wait!!!!

Thanks for reading

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 2 in the books

Saturday July 28th was day 2 of practice. The morning practice went from 10:30-11:30. It was once again a walk through. The first part of the walk through was special teams. What I noticed was Percy Harvin took the majority of the kicks as the primary return man.

The other observation came after the walk through. Jay Glazer from FOX sports came walking off the practice field with Christian Porder. Glazer was conducting an intervew as the 2 were walking towards the locker room.

The weather for the morning practice was absolutely beautiful and a little on the cool side. The crowd size was on the small size for the walk through.

The afternoon practice started at 2:45 and went to 5. It was a good size crowd and the sun was out producing the heat we have got use to lately. It was thankfully not as humid.

The observations made during this practice was who was lining up with the first units. Brandon Fusco played right guard for the second day in a row.

I noticed Letroy Guion lining up next to Kevin Williams at defensive tackle. The receiving corps as Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson. The safeties were Mistral Raymond and Jamarco Sanford. Things could change but for today this is what I witnessed.

Percy Harvin is lighting things up catching everything thrown his way. His abililty to dive and hang onto the ball is so fun to watch. Today he ran down a deep ball leaving his defender and then catching it.

The tight ends once again made some unbelievable catches. Today I got to see Rhett Ellison in action with the tight ends. He is the draft choice out of USC and is wearing number 40. I was very impressed at least for today.

The defensive ends vs offensive tackles is intriguing with Brian Robison against Phil Loadholt on the right side. Matt Kalil vs Jared Allen on the left. This will be an awesome 3 weeks to watch this battle everyday.

There are 4 quarterbacks in camp. Christian Ponder,Joe Webb, Sage Rosenfels and the last is McLeod Bethel-Thompson who is wearing number 4. Bethel-Thompson is a rookie free agent out of Sacramento State College. This kids arm is incredible and very accurate. I do not know his future but 2 days so far so good.

The accuracy of all 4 quarterbacks has been fun to watch. I know it is practice but to see the connection with the receivers is an encouraging way to start camp.

On the defensive side Jasper Brinkley is playing middle linebacker with the first unit. The one player standing out to me in the first 2 days is draft choice,Robert Blanton. He was drafted out of Notre Dame. On Friday he had an interception and today he had a great break up of a pass. He was mad he did not intercept but the break he had on the ball was still encouraging to see.

Two personal stories with one the St.Paul Pioneer Pres had found out my passsion an they made a video of me as I spoke about my story of why I love this team. It will be on line on PioneerPlanet.com in the sports section.

The other when I was heading out of Mankato I stopped by Kwik Trip by campus. I pulled in and and then a nice SUV pulled up next to me. Who came out? Adrian Peterson was right next to me. The crowd that came up to him was incredible. He seemed so personable as I watched him pose for pictures with fans and he signed autographs. There were vehciles driving up behind my car and sticking their cameras out the windows and taking pictures. The workers were even coming out to meet him. It was incredible. I did not want to back me car up because Adrian was standing there and I did not want to run over his foot.

It was another great day to be in Mankato. Sunday camp is closed so Monday I will make my next journey. Gas started out at 3.55 a gallon on Thursday and today 3.49. I can only hope it keeps going down as I have 13 more heavenly trips to make.

Thanks for reading

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's afternoon practice

The mornining's practice weatherwise was on the cool side but in the afternoon the sun came through and warmed things up.

The afternoon practice started at 2:45 and went to 5. The morning crowd seemed light but in the afternoon the fans were there in abundance. The vendors were walking up and down the aisles selling water and gatorade.

The beginning of practice is tough to watch only because there is so much going on. Each position group were doing their own drills. It was a matter of what you want to watch.

The running backs were working on blocking in the backfield while the tight ends were working on catching quick rythm passes.

The special teams worked on 2 on 1 drills meaning 2 defenders were trying to attempt to stop the gunner from getting down the field. I came out of there very impressed with the effort of first round draft choice Harrison Smith. His strength and speed was shown as the gunner was having a hard time getting off the line of scriamge.

I believe it was around 4:15 when the defense went up against the offense. The players had no pads on but wore helmts and jersey and shorts. The day had finally come where I could watch Jared Allen go against Matt Kalil. What a battle this is going to be during camp. The size of Kalil is unreal.

The temp of practice was quite quick and at times seemed very crisp. I saw some unbelievable catches by the wide receivers. One guy to keep an eye on is Jarius Wright, the rookie out of Arkansas. The speed and hands he displayed will be something to watch as camp rolls.

The tight ends today were everything I had hoped for. Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson were vacuums at least today. The seam pass was beautiful to watch. Rudolph makes it look so easy. I know it is only the first day but there has to be a start and a good start it was.

The practice was organized and so fun to watch. The little over 2 hours the practice lasted seemed to fly,

There were a couple of fun moments. Joe Webb was running down the field for the next drill when Christian Ponder came flying up to catch him. Webb looked over his shoulder and the race was on.

Webb was heading of the field to the sideline. Antoine Winfield was on one knee watching practice on the same side Webb was runnnig to. The next things you know Webb came running at Winifield and there goes Webb as he high jumped over Winfield. The look on Winfield's face was priceles.

Jerome Simpson was making an effort diving to attept to catch a deep ball. He stretched out for everyting he had and just missed it. The crowd let out a collective oooooh!!! Outside linebacker Erin Henderson comes running to the front of the stands and humorosly lets out an oooooh as well and then he ran back to the huddle.

The first unit ofensive line had as follows- LT Matt Kalil, LG-Charlie Johnson C-John Sullivan RG- Brandon Fusco and RT- Phil Loadholt. The only surprise and it was a good one is 2nd year Brando Fusco was in there woith the first unit.

One strange sight, but is part of the NFL and that is players leaving and coming. It is so strange to see a new # 40,76 and 81 out on the field. Jim Kleinsasser,Steve Hutchinson, and Visanthe Shiancoe are gone and now the new 40 is Rhett Ellison, 76-Geoff Schwartz and 81 is Jerome Simpson.

The newness of the team is real.It was a great day and a fun way to start the 2012 Training Camp.

Thanks for reading

1st practice in the books

I got to Mankato at 8:30 this first day of practice and my first thought was I need a jacket. I can not believe I was even thinking this after the heat we have been living through.

One of the many reasons I love coming is the people. Today I met a man from Kalispell, Wyoming. He was on his way through Mankato and heading to Wisconsin. He stopped by Training Camp to maybe meet a player he knew in the past. This man was the phy ed coach in high school in Wyoming and one of his students was Lex Hilliard who is a free agent signed in the offseason. I got to watch as the 2 met up and boy was that ever neat. I took a picture of the 2 in hopes of finding the man and getting an address to mail it to him. I had no luck but this is just another case of interesting stories here in Mankato. It is not only the players who have fun.

The practice this morning was a walk through from 10:30-11:30. I was interested to see what time people would wait to get into watch practice. The time was about 9am when people started lining up to get in an watch practice.

The one fact with this team is all are in camp and no one is hurt other than Adrian Peterson. The walk throughs are self explanatory as they walk through. The one thing I do enjoy is this is the first time this season to see all players in jerseys. The offense was in white and the defense in purple. It is a sight to see 90 players in uniforms.

The next practice is at 2:45 and I will write tonight after pratice is over. This will be the start of the fight for a roster spot. Who can outwork who? Who wants it more rookies or veterans? We will find out shortly. I for one can not wait to see for the first time in camp the battle between Matt Kalil and Jared Allen.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fun at Move in Day

The weather was beautiful, the fans were fired up as the players began to arrive. 2012 Training Camp is here.

There were 75-100 fans roughly eagerly awaiting the arrivals of players. The players did not disappooint.

4:00 is when the players had to be in but many of the players were early. I got to Mankato around 1 and there were already several Vikings players already either walking around or riding their bikes.

I could not get over how friendly the players were. I watched as many of them take time and sign autographs along with taking pictures with the fans.

The player that most impressed me was new wide receiver Jerome Simpson. He made many fans happy as he went down a line and did pictures with many fans and signed seemingingly not to be in any hurray.

I got word that Matt Kalil signed and word was passing quickly amongst the fans. Matt pulled in and a mob ensued. It was so fun to see this giant come up to the fans and sign for them. The amount of pictures being shot sounded like a machine gun. One photographer even stood up on the ledge of a light pole and shot down into the crowd. Matt was very cordial.

It is great to have everyone in camp. This is such an important part of the season so to have everyone on board is huge.

Christian Ponder was along side Kalil meeting the fans. Christian stopped several times doing a nice job of getting to different fans.

I had read in the off season Ponder worked with the weights and today I thought it showed as he looked bigger. The guy has a personality that is hard not to like.

The fans brought plenty of things to get signed. One of the more popluar items is items from the players college days. It seems the players really enjoyed their college pictures as fans were handing them in to get signed.

Joe Webb and Jasper Brinkley also took several minutes to met the fans.

I do not know if it was because the players got into Mankato so early that they had the extra time to mingle or not. The bottom line is the players were a hit with the fans.

I made my way home and when I got home and read twiter when I find this.

I follow Chris Kluwe on twitter. He is so funny as his tweet tonight went like this- I appear to be moving up in the world as I got a corner room. It is spacious and feels like I could run laps inside. This guy is not only funny, but he is so nice to meet and very friendly.

Tomorrow the action begins with 10:30-11:30 walk through practice

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ready or not

The night of Wednesday July 25th, the the car has been filled with gas, the flags are placed on the car windows. The batteries are charging for the camera.

The night of sleep is next because tomorrow is the day I make my way on Highway 14 to Mankato for move in day.

The Super Bowl is over, the OTA's and mini camps are over. The next step is the 47th year of Training Camp in Mankato.

The players come rolling down Highway 169, the fans and media patiently await the team to pull into Gage Hall parking lot.

It is just a matter of time before the first day of camp begins on Friday morning. I am ready, are you? Football is here and there is no looking back

Feel the excitement!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mark your calendar

If there is one day I will recommend to come over will be Saturday August 4th. It is called "Family day."

The events go on for kids in the afternoon. There is a free Gatorade Training Camp for youth from 2:30-3:30 for both boys and girls.

The next event will go from 4-5 and that event is a cheerleading clinic.

Both events are free just need to sign up your children. You can sign up before the events take place. There are plenty of people there to help with any questions.

I know my daughter participated a couple years ago and did she ever have fun. The Vikings cheerleaders did such a good job to get the children involved.

The Vikings 2012 squad will have practice from 7-9:30. The team will suit up in full pads and you can watch some hard hitting football in Minnesota State's own Blakeslee Field. The quarterbacks are off limits from getting hit but all players seem to be fair squad.

The next event will be right after practice and that will be the team introduction. The years I have attended the stands have been packed.

Please stick around because after the players intro will be a fireworks show. I honestly was going to skip that last year and try to beat the traffic heading out of campus. I thought I should stick around and see what they are like. My opinion is the fireworks display was better than the 4th of July I witnessed the month before camp starting. It will go down as the best I have ever seen.

As you can see it is a jammed pack full day of events. I can only hope you can make it and see what a nice day the Vikings organization presents on what is called Family Day.

Thanks for reading

A story never to forget

Korey Stringer's death came on August 1, 2001. Mike Tice was the head coach. One thing amongst many to fondly remember Korey was his passion for people and specifically kids. The time and effort he put in signing for people was unbelievable.

I was over in Mankato the next season for another training camp. I will never forget when Coach Mike Tice came over to me. He said "I know you are a big fan as I see you every day." He next said "go across the street and stand by the fence line by the practice fields." I asked him why. He just said "I can not say other than a surprise will happen."

I made my way over and was watching the players stretch out on the practice field. The next thing I know the sprinkler system went off with the players getting wet and running away from the water. It just looked so funny players trying to avoid getting any wetter.

The next thing I see is the whole team started walking towards the fence where I was standing. The team lined up single file from one end of the fence to the other and began signing autographs for people.

The first 2 players that came to me were Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. I was in shock. Randy said, "What do you have for me to sign?" I had nothing the only thing I could think of was to ask for a picture with him. He told me I do not do pictures. I was so excited to see a star so close up that was my memory for the day.

I found out later that Coach Tice wanted to honor Korey's memory and his love for people. Mike had the entire team sign for fans in honor of Korey on the 1st year anniversary of the loss of a great person.

It will be a day never to forget. The people that were there were in heaven getting a chance to meet the players close up.

Life is full of memories and this will go down as a day never to forget.

Thanks for reading

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wishing Coach Frazier good luck in 2012

I will never forget the end of Brad Childress regime in 2010. The fans in the stands were booing and just plain frustrated. I remember even going to a game and out in the crowd during pregame outside the dome, papers were being handed out to fans. What did the paper say? "Fire Childress"

On November 22,2010 fans got their wish as Coach Childress was dismised. Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier was elevated to the position of iterim coach for the remainder of the season.

I am such a big fan of Coach Frazier. Frazier comes across a man who can coach better by working with players rather than chewing them out. The shot of him on TV over on the sidelines talking to players after a mistake was made was nice to see.

On January 3,2011 the interim tag was dropped and now Frazier is the man that will be in charge.

2011 almost did not happen as the strike drug on to the point no OTA's or any off season condidtioning. Training Camp was even cut short. What a start for a new coach trying to build a team

I felt bad for Leslie. The release of Bryant McKinnie during training camp was needed to set the tone. The Donavan McNabb signing was a disaster. The insertion of a rookie quarterback in Christian Ponder was another challenge. The injury bug hit hard and at the end to lose Adrian Peterson was the final nail in the coffin.

The tying of 1984 worst record of 3-13 I do not believe shows Frazier's ability to be a coach.

2012 is a new season and so far all off season work has been able to be done. The team is young and coming into Mankato many battles will occur. In the end Coach and his staff will have to make difficult decisions on who stays and who goes.

I believe this season we will be able to seee better what Coach Frazier and staff can display to the fans.

Good Luck Coach Frazier and staff

Thanks for reading

Sunday, July 22, 2012

10 things to watch in Mankato

I was watching NFL network this weekend when I heard that starting Wednesday the channel will show 9 hours of training camp a day and all 32 teams will be shown at some point.

This makes me think I can actually say that this week starts Vikings Training Camp. I am done working at 11 am on Thursday and off for camp for the entirety.

10 things to watch and not in order of importance just a listing.

1)- Rookie Kicker Blair Walsh coming from college to the Pros. How will he do? An extra point could win a game this season.

2)- Christian Ponder in year 2 does he learn from his mistakes in 2011. The full of season could make all the difference in the world along with this full camp. It is his team.

3) Defensive tackle- Can the team find a player to help Kevin Williams in the middle to regain the edge the team had not long ago when it came to being stingy. One step further with the team needing to find a player to give Kevin a rest and still not miss a beat.

4) The tight ends- Can the team get these 2 trees (Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson)involved in the offense?

5) Which wide receiver will step forward to be the go to guy besides Percy Harvin? There is a lot of youth to chose from.

6) Matt Kalil can he show his worth and be the man to stop Ponder from getting killed on the blind side? This O Line might be the story to watch. I love the size of the 2 tackles with Kalil and Phil Loadholt. The center is solid, the left guard should be Charlie Johnson so who gets the nod at right guard?

7) How many of the draft choices can make the 53 man roster and in the same thought how mamy rookie free agents make it?

8) The secondary- The blend of free agents and draft choices, who takes the next step and have their name inserted as a starter. 2011 was a disaster so clean slate it is time to step up and try to shut down the powerful receivers the Purple will see.

9- The middle linebacker- EJ Henderson not coming back so can Jasper Brinkley take over and be the leader in middle? I am comfortable with the 2 outside with Chad Greenwaty and Erin Henderson. It is up to Brinkley to take the reigns. He is young so the potential to be there a while is exciting.

10. The overall question with the team going with youth can they be succesful? All NFL teams are 0-0. The first 2 games are a key in my mind to get of to some confidence building and take it from there.

I have written as much as I can to give you some things to think about. I am also hoping by reading these you make a trip to Manakato ans see why I see it is so fun.
You can come as inexpensive as you want The gas money is always part of life, but the cost to get in to camp is free. Parking can be found cheap as well.

Thanks for reading

Vikings Beyond the Gridiron

Saturday July 21 was the debut of the new TV show Vikings Beyond the Gridiron. It was on from noon-12:30.

I did not want it to end. I know it is only the first show to to judge it might be unfair. I don't care it was awesome.

It had good variety and was very informational. The story of Coach Frazier going over seas to see the men and woman serving their country. Yes, I read about him going, but to see on TV the people surrounding Coach as he was signing autographs and talking to them was meaningful.

The story done on some of the Vikings in the offseason with how they relax made me nervous but also brought laughter.The video footage of Matt Kalil getting up out of the water behind the boat in some sort of water skiing was amazing but the nervousness came as I see the big man falling. We do not need an injured first round pick and it was not even footall related.

The laughter came at the expense of Christian Ponder's golf game. The comments he made about the frustration of the game only hits home. I kbow exactly how he feels when it comes to a game of golf.

The interviews of different players on the disappointment of last year and how they feel the full offseason this season is making a difference so far. I can not wait to get to Mankato and witness in hopes of a better year.

The last story done on Adrian Peterson was so intersting as they showed some of the intense rehabbing Peterson is going through. Adrian running on a treadmill in water I can not even imagine how hard that would be.

Overall it was a great debut and I hope you were able to see it. I can never see or read enough info on the team. It is a passion I can not explain except the Purple are my team win or lose.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hard work pays off

The NFL draft occurs every year and 255 names are called out. This is exciting for these individuals but for many others there may be heart break. The hope for these young men is to still be called after the draft and they would be considered rookie free agents coming to try out. The fact that just because a player is drafted does not always mean this young man will make the NFL squad.

The draft is exciting to see how these players can transfer their college experience into the pros. When I attend Training Camp I really keep on eye on the undrafted players and see how they compete. This new crop and drafted and undrafted is so fun to watch.

The undrafted guys have an up hill battle to make the squad but it can be done. Vikings fans have watched success as John Randle came undrafted an now is in Canton,Ohio NFL's Hall of Fame.

It is each camp there seems to be at least one that makes it. I looked at the current roster coming to Mankato and found some names that have made it at least one season with the team and are back for more.

Matt Asiata,out of Utah University comes back for year 2. He was cut in 2011 training camp but the team thought enough of him to come back for another crack at the 53 man roster.

Patrick Brown is coming back for his 3rd season with the team. He came out of Central Florida University.

Larry Dean, Valdosta State made the 53 man roster last year and is back for a second camp.

Allen Reisner, Iowa University, also last year rookie free agent was cut last year and brought back in late season is coming for his 2nd camp.

Erin Henderson, Maryland University is entering his 5th season. He has done so well that 2011 he was starting outside linebacker.

Cullen Loeffler, Texas University, is entering his 9th camp all with the Vikings. He has been the long snapper since 2004.

Chris Kluwe, UCLA came to Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent and then to the Vikings in 2005. This will season 8 with the purple.

These are just a few names that made it the hard way, but they made it is the point.

Who will be this year's suprise?

The other avenue for players to come is the Canadien Football League. The Vikings have 2 on their roster. Emmanuel Arceneaux is coming back to his 2nd Vikings Training Camp. He played 2 seasons in the CFL as a wide receiver.

The other name who also spent 2 seasons in the CFL is Elimimian Solomon who will be entering his 1st Training Camp in Mankato. As a I wrote in an earlier blog this man had the reputation as the hardest hitter.

The team is made up of 53 players from the draft,free agency, undrafted rookie free agents,CFL to name some ways into the league.

My wish as a fan is safety to all trying out and that this camp will be one to remember.

Remember I will do a daily blog on camp if you want to follow. I also have a Twitter account- Purple_Stick

Thanks for reading
Go Vikes

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Number 1 pick the last 20 years

It seems until the last few years the number 1 picks stay 4 years and then are gone with some exceptions. I feel the number 1 pick is a major building block for the team. It is a major committment by the team taking this player high in regards to the talent and the potential sought for helping the team.

In 1993 Robert Smith was taken out of Ohio State. Smith made it 8 years before leaving as the Vikings all time rush leader and retiring. I really thought a lot of him for wanting to remain healthy the rest of his adult life when he did leave the game.

In 1994 Dewayne Washington (NC State) and Todd Steussie (California) came on the scene with Washington lasting 4 years and then signing with Pittsburgh. Steussie the big left tackle lasted 7 years.

1995- Derrick Alexander (Florida State) and Korey Stringer (Ohio State) came to the purple in the 1st round. Alexander lasted 4 years then left and signed with Cleveland. Stringer, the year 2001 a year never to forget. Korey was such a kind hearted man who made sure kids were priority when coming to an autograph. He will never be forgotten.

1996 Duane Clemons (California) lasted 4 years before leaving for Kansas City.

1997- Dwyane Rudd (Alabama) lasted 4 years before leaving for Cleveland.

1998- Randy Moss (Marshall) comes upon the scene. He dropped all the way to 21st pick and came to the league with much to prove. I would say in 1998 he did more than prove. He is a freak of nature with size, speed, jumping ability. The Green Bay and Dallas game that year were incredible.

1999- Daunte Culpepper (Central Florida) and Dimitrius Underwood (Michigan State) came in the first round. Who can forget the Daunte roll on when the team scored. I can still see him doing it on the field. In meeting him it was simply amazing to meet a man this big who was that fast and strong. Underwood is the only draft choice in 19 years I never got a picture of. If you remember he went to the morning practice and that was it for his Vikings career. One practice and done.

2000- Chris Hovan (Boston College) lasted 5 years before leaving for Tampa Bay. One memory I have of him was in camp. Wrestling star Brock Lesnar was in camp and who did he hang out with, Chris Hovan. That was 2 men with some huge arms.

2001- Michael Bennett (Wisconsin) lightning track speed came upon the scene and lasted 5 years before signing with New Orleans.

2002- Bryant McKinnie (Miami, Florida) is one big man. He was so big and had so much potential. One of my biggest shocks but also understand when he was released in 2011 Training Camp. It set a tone that no one no matter how long you are there are not safe unless you put time and effort in. He is now with Baltimore Ravens.

2003-Kevin Williams (Oklahoma State) can not be said enough good for his career as he is currently a Vikings. The Pro Bowls are unlimited. He requires double teaming seemingly on almost every play.

2004- Kenechi Udeze (USC) made it 4 years and retired in 2008 with the diagnosis of a form of leukemia. It was so sad because he was so young and such a good player. I will always pray for god health for him as long as he is live.

2005- Troy Williamson (South Carolina) and Erasmus James (Wisconsin) have a copy and paste 2005-2007 resume. It turned out to be a bum draft. Who will ever forget Williamson wide open on a 72 yard pas only to drop it.

2006- Chad Greenway (Iowa) currently on the roster and is a tackling machine. He finally got what he deserverd and that was a Pro Bowl spot. He has signed a contract to make him a Vikings for life.

2007- Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) I need about 10 pages to write about him. I will leave this thought. He has all the Vikings records in his reach if he can stay healthy. There is no end to what he will do to the records.

2008- No pick- traded away in bringing Jared Allen in from Kansas City. Yes, he was a veteran but maybe one of the best Vikings 1st round decisions in their history.

2009- Percy Harvin (Florida) current Vikings. The human pinball. The man with determination that does not end. The speed,power, the threat every time he touches the ball may result in 6. The total package. Please Vikings resign him.!!

2010- No pick

2011- Christian Ponder (Florida Sate) love his effort and toughness. This second year is huge for his career.

2009 and 2011 brings in 2 SEC players, one of my favorite conferences. They are seemingly pro ready teams with speed and defense to burn.

2012- Matt Kalil (USC) and Harrison Smith (Notre Dame). If they pan out as what has been written Vikings fans have a lot to be excited about.

It is fun to look back at the efforts the team has tried through the years. The number ones on the team now are the leaders and are extremly skilled and have a chance to help develop the youngsters to make the team contenders once again.

Thanks for reading

Defensive backs - a mix of all ages

In 2011 Cedric Griffin, Husain Abdullah, Asher Allen major parts of the Vikings secondary. Griffin left via free agency and signed with the Redskins. Asher Allen retired at the age of 24 and Abdullh also has left.

The secondary struggled seemingly much of last year and then lose 3 of the guys from this squad leaves even more questions. I for one am excited after studying the roster and see what this team has brought in.

I will start with the safety position. Jamarca Sanford in his 4th year with the team was a starter last year. He is a hitter. It is nice to have some ground work back there.

Eric Frampton is a safety but has been primarily used on special teams. This will be his 7th NFL season. In the last 5 seasons Frampton has led special teams in tackles with 85 in only 71 games. He is a proven tackler which could help back there.

The team also drafted Harrison Smith late in the first round out of Notre Dame. I love what I have read about him. He is big at 6'2" and physical. He had 7 interceptions in his college career. He was thought of as a quarterback in the defensive backfield and getting everyone lined up. He is a take charge guy. I am anxious to see how he can fit this in as a rookie.

The team also drafted Robert Blanton also coming from Notre Dame. He was a cornerback but Coach Frazier is working in getting him into safety mode. I found a word that desribed Blanton and that word is savvy. The same article mentions savvy like a Winfield, Champ Bailey and Ike Taylor type player. This is great company to even be mentioned with. He is also a hitter. To read comnments like this is exciting but I will be more excited with this exhibited in Mankato and the rest of the season.

Mistral Raymond, 2011 draft choice is also in the mix. I like what I saw out him last season and with a year under his belt should be a help. I read a fact I did not know about him. Mistral was the first Vikings player ever drafted from South Florida University. This school did not start a football program until 1997.

The cornerbacks starts with Antoine Winfield in his 14th NFL season and 9th with the Vikings. He has seen it all and would sure be nice to get a Super Bowl trophy for him. The man is amazing standing 5'8" and how he can take big guys down is unbelievable. He is not afraid to get low on an oncomimg run away train and hit him low and watch the giant go tumbling down.

The competition after that is wide open. Chris Cook I would think might be the favorite to land a spot. The off season turmoil he went through will be interesting to watch how he recovers. He is talented along with being tall is an advantage in coveing the likes of the "Megatron" Calvin Johnson from the Lions. One note on Cook is he was the highest drafted defensive back by the Vikings since 1994 when Dewayne Washington was taken in the first round.

The NFC North has got to have the best receivers the team will face all year. The Packers with Greg Jennings,Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver. The Detroit Lions with Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson. The Chicago Bears having Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and in the offseason bringing in Brandon Marshall. What a bunch of receivers the Vikings must face along with the rest of their schedule.

To move on Zack Bowman, 5th NFL season 4 of which were with Chicago. He scored his first NFL TD against the Vikings so maybe he can return the favor and take one to the house against his old team.

Chris Carr, 8th NFL season played for Oakland,Tennessee and last Baltimore from which he came here. He does have a 100 yard interception for a TD in his career.

Marcus Sherels, 3rd season was used quite often in the punt return game. The local kid from the University of Minnesota and played his high school ball at Rochester John Marshall. How can you not pull for a kid to live a dream growing up in Minnesota and play for the Vikings.

Brandon Burton, 2011 draft choice gets another crack at it. It is wide open if Burton can have a good camp who knows what the future holds for him.

Josh Robinson, 2012 draft choice is my most intriguing player to watch. He had the fastest time in the 40 at the combine in his position finishing with 4.29 The speed is exciting. I read in another blog Coach Frazier thinking high enough of him that he would not rule him out as a starter. Once again talk is fun but I can not wait to see him perform. In college he went up against AJ Green when he was at Georgia University and held him to 77 yards. AJ had a monster rookie season in Cincinnati so this stat says a litle something about maybe the Vikings have found someone and only time will tell.

This is going to be awesome to watch the combo of youth and veterans working on forming the 2012 secondary along with some depth the team can count on

Next up- recent Vikings 1st round picks some panning out and others not quite.

Thanks for reading

Monday, July 16, 2012

special teams

Free agency and the releasing of players is part of the NFL but one of the biggest shocks is when I heard Ryan Longwell has been released. The Vikings have stated the intention to get younger. Is this the case?

I did hear a radio interview done with Chris Kluwe who was the holder for Longwell's field goal attempts. Chris brought a valid point. His statement made about the Vikings releasing Longwell at the time they did could help him land a job a litle easier especially before training camps begin. The release during training camp really puts extra pressure on the player to try and find a home. I thank Ryan for his efforts during his career here in Minnesota.

The new era of Blair Walsh, rookie draft choice out of Georgia University begins. The question of how he can handle pressure in the NFL will be answered quickly. To follow up behind a kicker like Longwell will be a test. The first make, the first miss, the timing of all will be interesting to see how fans react. The Vikings have made a choice to go with youth at this position and I support the management.

2012 Training camp is one story line after another just waiting to happen. The kicking situation is huge. How many games come down to a kick?

Chris Kluwe coming into his 8th season with the Vikings. It is hard to believe 8 already. Chris is so good at his punts inside the opponents 20. His name seems to come up as a possible Pro Bowl player. Chris,this is your year to go to Hawaii. He is so dependable for this team. A punter and field goal holder is truly valuable for this squad. In looking at the roster he is one of the seniors on this team.

Long snapper Cullen Loeffler is coming into his 9th season with the team. He made it in 2004 as a rookie free agent from the University of Texas. Cullen has snapped for 4 of the 5 longest field goals in team history.

It was a shock when Loeffler ended the year last season on IR. It is sad to say but the job he does is not noticed until after he left for the season. The special teams just did not seem the same. You take for granted what a player does and when they are gone then it is noticed.

2 players with 17 years expereience amd a rookie should be a fun group to watch.

Next up-defensive backs

Thanks for reading

Changes over the years for fans in Mankato

I have talked to fans that have come many years in fact can remember no fences and the fans being able to walk with the players coming off the practice field.

This will be my 19th camp in Mankato. I always go to meet the players as they roll in to the Gage Towers on move in day. The one change I applaud is more security. In the past I would watch players drive in and then saw kids chasing the players vehicles until they parked. As a parent myself I was always hoping no one would get hurt. It was such as mad mess players driving, kids running.

The security now is much better and organized. I know not everyone can be pleased but for the safety of kids this seems to be a lot better.

The abililty to see practices and the fence lines for which players leave the field has changed as well.

I can remember being able to watch practice from the north side of the practice fields. There are 3 practice fields used, so to stand on the north side was easier to watch you just had to stand though. This is now closed off and is where the players walk. The major practice view now comes from the east side with 2 good size bleachers set up. There is a very small area view from the south corner side that has a small bleacher set up as well. The prime spot really is in the stands on the east side.

The view from the north field also had closer access to players as they came off.It was like you were right there with them.

The days of weightlifting outside for the team also happened on the north end in a parking lot. The team had a huge purple and yellow striped tent set up with all the equipment set up. It was so fun as the amount of players I met was incredible as they would come after lifting.

The weightifting now is inside at Minnesota State University and is off limits to people being able to watch.

The fenceline for fans has moved seemingly quite often. The fans had a fenceline to wait along which came right outside the locker room. It seems as each year the fence has moved back and given the players a chance to breathe.

I love people watching and seeing the craziness as players would come up to a fence to sign an autograph and 2 deep people turned into 7-8 deep. The one worry is the craziness that is trying to get an autograph kids getting bumped,stepped on whatever. I witnesed a child face pinned up against a fence and felt so bad for this litle boy. I enjoy an autogrpah or 2 but not at a price of a child getting hurt.

Brad Childress, fans have their opinion of, but one good thing he brought was the autograph alley. The team schedules different position players to come and sign for 20 minutes after morning practice. There are several lines set up and name plates are put on the tent above the player so fans know which line they want to stand on. There is a worker walking along the line that has a clipboard as well that contains the names and what line they are in. Once 20 minutes is up the players leave and the session is over. This does provide an opportunity to at least get 1 autograph rather than trying to fight the crowd. Some people like it and some could do without. It is like anything in life that you just can not please everyome.

One thing that has not changed for sometime is the players are given a bike when they arrive and that is their transportation from the dorms to the locker room, meeting rooms, or all over campus.

I feel and I could be wrong it is a way to keep the players legs going. I remember last year Donovan McNabb riding by when a fan yells out "Donovan can you stop and sign?" McNabb yells, I just got the bike going and I do not know how to stop as he is smiling."

The comments you hear from many rookies is I have not road a bike since I was a kid. You know what sometimes it looks like it.

The sight of a 6'6" 350 pound guy riding a bike is a sight to behold. You wonder if that bike has enough air in the tires.

The other frightening sight is players being daredevils on their bikes. As a fan what if they wiped out and got hurt and missed time at camp.

All in all camp is a ton of fun with people from all over the US coming together and supporting our favorite team, The Minnesota Vikings.

11 more days is all we have to wait

Next up- Special Teams
Thanks for reading

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Linebackers- a hole to fill in the middle

The linebackers as of today will be missing a middle linebacker we have got use to seeing as E.J.Henderson has been patroling the middle in the past.

It was so fun to watch during EJ's career fly around, hair flowing out of the back of the helmet. It seemed he had no regards for his body as he would do whatever it took to take a player down. His body had to hurt the next day.

It is time to find a replacement. Jasper Brinkley is thought to be the new middle man. It is time for Jasper to show the team and fans why they drafted him. He had a injury last season that wiped his season out. I am hoping he is ready this season as he is young and has a lot of years ahead of him to be the anchor, the quarterback of the defense.

Outside Linebacker, Chad Greenway, a tackling machine. Chad was rewarded last year as he got to go to the Pro Bowl. This will be Chad's 6th year with the team. He was voted defensive team MVP in 2010. Chad has the experience to be one of the veteran leaders in the locker room.

Erin Henderson, the other outside linebacker made it the hard way. He made it as a rookie free agent. This will be his 5th season with the team. His patience and hard work paid off as he made his first career start the first game of 2011 in San Diego. He was the fourth leading tackler on the team in 2011. I find him to be one of the guys on the team who makes for a great interview.

Erin was asked last year at Winter Park around Thanksgiving time what he was going to do for Thanksgiving. His response was "I am going to watch the games on Thursday and see how the linebackers play." I thought what a neat answer as he was trying to learn even with time off how he could be better.

In 2011, Larry Dean, an undrafted rookie made the squad. He was the only undrafted rooke to make the 53 man roster. Larry played special teams and finished 4th in tackles. He was also 1 of 4 guys on thr roster to be from a Division 2 school.

The Vikings drafted Audie Cole in 2012 in the later rounds. I was reading some interesting bio facts on him. He came to college from high school as a quarterback and some safety experience. He was asked in college to switch to linbacker and look how he turned out. The Minnesota Vkings thought enough of him that they drafted him. I have also read in other articles that Audie has no problem throwing his body around. It sounds familiar with a man I wrote about earlier, E.J.Henderson

The roster has 2 linebackers trying out for the team that have something in common. They both played college ball at Hawaii University. Corey Paredes comes in as a rookie free agent.

Elimimian Solomon is the other from Hawaii. Solomon is older as he has spent time in the CFL. I found 2 interesting facts that hopefully translate into success with the purple. In 2010 he was voted most outstanding rookie in the league. In 2011 he was voted the hardest hitter. 2 years with awards and now a shot at the pros. I wish Solomon all the success in the world at camp.

I like the makeup of the guys trying out and as I repeatedly say Mankato will be a lot to watch. I would not want to be the coach that has to try and make the right decisions on cutting and keeping.

Next up- A look at changes in Mankato over the years
Thanks for reading

A look at the Defensive ends

Vikings fans can now say the phrase, next week. Yes, Training csmp is that close. The battles that will happen will be fierce and for today I will look at defensive ends.

I have looked at the roster and found one intriguing player who is trying out. He is Anthony Jacobs ,who not only comes from the University of Minnesota but his home town is Northfield. He is a rookie free agent. This will be a neat story line to keep an eye on at camp for me. It is just cool to see a southern Minnesota player get a chance.

2011 brought 2 defensive line draft choices who made the squad. Christian Ballard, coming from the Iowa Hawkeyes made the team. Iowa had very good defensive line so to get a Hawkeye was pleasing. Christian got his first NFL start in November and it came at Green Bay. What a team to get a chance to start against and on the road. I liked what he looked like in camp last season and am pulling for him in his second year.

The other draft choice came from the Unversity of Arizona, D'Aundae Reed. He made the team although did not get any action. I met him last camp and will say the upper body this man is is nothing but muscle mass.

Everson Griffen is in camp for his 3rd season. I have been reading the switch to linebacker may happen. He is so athletic and will be a huge asset the more playing time he gets. He played a lot on special teams in fact finshed 2nd in tackles last season with this group.

The 3 players in the above mentioned have a chance to be the future of this team for a long time. The 3 also come from very good college programs such as Iowa, Arizona and USC.

It seems since Pat Williams left the Vikings there has been trouble getting the consistency of being tough up the middle. Teams can focus on Kevin Williams forcing someone to hopefully step up and giving Kevin some help so he is not double teamed as much.

I was excited when the Vikings signed free agent Remi Ayodele to be the run stuffer in hopees of replacing Pat last season. I was so disappointed in the results of last season he provided.The team too must have been disappointed as he is no longer a Viking and back to New Orleans he went.

Fred Evans comes back for his 6th season which is nice to have a player who knows how to play with Kevin in the middle. The veteran leadership is this season will be even more so needed.

Letroy Guion also his experience as he comes in for his 5th camp. The Vikings liked him so much he was given the start in place of Kevin last season when Williams served his suspension.

Evans and Guion, 2012 has a chance for one of these 2 to make a difference and grab a starting spot.

Brian Robison coming in for his 6th camp was rewarded last season with being named starter. The engine this man poseses is incredible. In meeting him many times he just comes across as so peaceful and kind. He had his career best sack number with 8.

On the Vikings web page during the season Brian made himself available to chat on line. It was a neat exerience to do for myself. I was able to get 3 questions in the hour that he actually answered.

Brian in college was a the runner up in the shot put. I asked him about shot putting and the NFL. The upper strength needed to shot put really helps as defensive end needing the strength in battling offensive tackles each week.

I really hope if you can make it to Mankato and meet Brian because he comes across as a down to earth guy.

I leave the best for last and that is Jared Allen. No words can explain truly how important he is to this team. I was at the Bears game last January and saw him break the Vikings sack record held by Chris Doleman. The year last year was not fun but to have this happen was huge.

To think any team the Vikings played knew they had to concentrate on stopping Jared by double teaming him. That is why it is so impressive to accomplish what he did.
The effort he puts in even if not a sack is so fun to watch. Even if it is a running play, who do you see hustling after the running gack is Jared.

I had to laugh because I was at Winter Park last season and came into Jared's interview area. He was talking how his dad calls him after each game. He said his dad was disappointed he did not get a sack in that particular game. He said, smiling, dad I can not get a sack every game. The Vikings won 3 games all year, so to see a veteran leader still smiling in the locker room is impressive.

I got a funny feeling this year he is going to smash the record. He knows how close he was. There is no dying off in this mans hustle. I will go on limb and predict 27 sacks this season.

Next up- Linebackers
Thanks for reading

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Season tickets

Saturday July 14th I went to my mail box and in it was the best item a Vikings fan could get. That's right my wife and my season tickets came today. I call it Christmas in July.

It is year 13 for season tickets and what I am proud of amongst many things is I have only missed 1 game in that stretch. I will never forget I was in the process of getting ready to buy a house. I was getting ready to go to the Vikings preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. The bank called and found a problem on the application so I called a friend to use the tickets. The bank problem turned out to be nothing so we missed a game for nothing.It was heart breaking but I can still say I have never missed a regualr or playoff game in my 13 years.

The Vikings ticket people call each off season and ask about moving our seats. We had been in section 215 seat 5 and 6 for a few years and with being on the end the price of getting up seemingly every other play for people to get through. We asked to move to the middle of this section. The Vikings rep said most people want to move towards the 50 yard line not the other way. My feeling is there are not many bad seats at Mall of America Field. I just want to watch the game. The results in 20 games in the last 2 seasons I had only needed to get up 1 time. This is quite pleasing. I know people pay money to do what they want but sometimes I wonder do people want to watch a game or walk around?

The ticket price has not gone up in I believe the last 3 seasons so that does help although I know it will not last forever.

People ask me what we pay and I tell them a general cost not that it is anybody's business but after I am done breaking the cost down people agree that is not bad. I ask how much does it cost to go to a concert. The answer frequently is more than I pay for my ticket per game. I pay what I can afford and not get crazy. I am a fan who wants to be in the craziness at MOA field and be able to afford it.

The one nice feature we have is ticket payments can be made in 3 installments which helps my famlily budget.

The first year I had season tickets was the incredible year of 1998 watching the team not lose a home game until the NFC Championship game against Atlanta. In 2011 we got to witness an NFL record as the Vikings were the first team in history to blow the big double digit half time leads.

If I had to give up the tickets and only keep 1 game it would be the Green Bay Packers game. When the Pack is in town and all the green and yellow clad fans invade the dome it is crazy. You do not know if you are in Lambeau field or home. It is so loud words can not describe it. You hear Go Pack Go over and over. The amount of couples seen in the crowd is neat as well as one has a Vikings and one a Packers jersey on.The tailgating before thee game is something you have to see to believe.

The desire to keep on getting season tickets had paid off in another way and that is when the new stadium is built we will move with them. My thought is whether the team is winning or losing the desire to get tickets to be in the new stadium will be high.

The 2012 season is around the corner the tickets have arrived and now it is time for some football.

I know I said defensive line would be next but when the tickets came it was time to sit down and expresss some feelings of excitement

Next up-DLine
Thanks for reading

Interesting year for the running backs

2011 season the Vikings had all everything Adrian Peterson go down for the season giving backup Toby Gerhart a chance to shine.

I felt Toby really took advantage and showed why the Vikings took him so high. Gerhart a Heisman Trophy runner up in college came to the Vikings an awesome gift. AP and Gerhart a 1-2 puch. We are set and then AP goes down and Gerhart goes down to end the season.

The thought is both will be back with Gerhart sounding as though he will be ready and I have read like most of you AP will be back for week 1.

This is encouraging news but the team nust have a plan if something happens along the way.

The free agent signing of Lex Hilliard was a mild surprise to me coming from a 3 year stint with the Miami Dolphins. His stats are very little to speak of but staying in the thought of the roster. It is 80 percent turnover so many players really have a chance more than ever to claim a spot on the 53 man roster. I wish Lex the best in Mankato.

Jordan Todman coming to Minnesota from San Diego. He was 6th round draft choice and made the 53 man roster the first 6 weeks and then ended the season on the practice squad. If he can play anything like he did back at Connecticut University my feeling is we have a dark horse who is going to make a difference. He is smaller but quick. This is my pick to make the team coming ot of Mankato.

Lorenzo Booker not coming back this season I was surprised but as I have read NFL stands for (Not for Long). Todays NFL world is hard for fans to get to know their players because here today,gome tomorrow. Yes you have guys we expect each season such as a Jared Allen,AP, Ponder and few more. It is like a pie being 65 percent made it is the 35 percent that is hard to find to complete the pie.

I would like to add one note on Adrian Peterson. I won a chance to meet him at training camp a couple of years ago.One feature often mentioned with Peterson is his hand grip. I feel I have a good hand shake but that day Peterson crushed my hand. It was so amazing to feel that strength. He was so nice and later that day I got a picture with him.

I find when at camp and you hear people screaming players names the one thing I notice with Adrian is he acknowledges fans by waving and smiling.

The position of fullback will be a battle this camp. Jerome Felton comes to Minnesota as a free agent. He will have the most NFL experience. He also is 246 pounds making him the biggest trying for a spot.

Matt Asiata, a 2011 rookie free agent comes back for a seond crack at making the team.
He is the lightest at 220 trying for this position.

Ryan D'Imperio I think a lot of and specifically his attitude. He came to the Vikings drafted from Rutgers University. He played all 4 years in college as a linebacker and has made the transition in the NFL to fullback. I got a chance to interview him last season at Winter Park. I asked im about the position change. He told me the Vikings had called him before the draft and asked him about this change. He said he was willing to do whatever it took to help a team. This young man looked me in the eyes as he was saying this. As a fan this is the kind of player I want on the Vikings.

I hate to repeat myself but this camp for all positions is wide open for players to come to make a difference. I come to camp each year trying to precict the 53 man roster. This going to be my 19th straight camp and will be the most fun to watch with all the new players trying to earn their keep.

Next up: Defensive Line

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The new look wide receivers corp

It does not seem too long ago the trio of Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed were the featured receivers. The days of Randall Cunningham cocking his arm back and let the ball fly as far as could only to watch Moss track them down. Carter's amazing one handed catches along the sideline or even touchdowns. Those days are over and it seems the team has never been able to replace with a group that sticks together.

The Koren Robinson year where he went to the Pro Bowl as a return man even though his position was wide receiver and then departed. The Marcus Robinson surprsing release around Christmas time. Derrick Alexander coming from the Chiefs I was excited to have but he too did not stick around.

The one receiver I am truly disappointed in losing was Nate Butleson. He is having such a good career. I know he is a Detroit Lion but I always pull for him to succeed just not against the Vikings.

This season will be in my opinion one of the most exciting trainig camp battles to watch. I love the signing of Jerome Simpson. If anybody remembers last season his flip into the end zone after a touchdown catch making an ESPN highlight. It shows the athletic ability he brings along with the fact Simpson caught the medias eyes with some of his catches. Yes, I know he is out the first three games with his suspension but when he returns watch out. I predict he comes out of the gate with much to prove. The one year contract he signed will also be an incentive as he is playing for a long term contract in his future.

In Percy Harvin one word comes to mind. The word determined comes to mind amongst many. The respect I have for the hits he takes and keeps going. It is incredible the punishment he takes and still gets up. The amount of times teams have thought he was down only to watch as Harvin keeps on going. Another phrase comes to mind is "human pinball." Every touch Percy gets is a realistic chance to take it to the house. This will be the year for Percy who is the leader in this corp with the years of service with the Vikes.

I look for Michael Jenkins to have a bounce back season after ending last year on the injury list. I would love to see Jenkins be used as a possession type receiver. He is tall and could use his body to shield against the smaller defensive backs.

Stephen Burton a 2011 draft choice comes back for another season. He's got to come in with the mind set of getting another year to make the team. The team has given him another chance so now it is up to Stephen to show he belongs.

The amount of guys trying out for this position and with the three game suspension of Simpson to start the year has to give extra motivation for guys like Burton. He was a draft choice so he needs to know the team thought enough of him that he was taken. It was in the later rounds but still to know he was one of 250 or so players who were drafted in the 2011.It is up to Burton to step up when called on.

The list goes on as free agent Bryan Walters who came from San Diego Chargers comes here to seek a spot. Last season Walters had 3 catches alone when they played the Vikings. It must have shown management enough to want to bring him in. I am all for bringing in as much competition as possible.

Devin Aromashodu, I am pulling for to make it big this year. He showed signs last season of potential. He is quick and appears to have some good hands. I like him as a dark horse to be the man who steps up and have a break out season.

The drafting of college teammates Greg Childs and Jarius Wright out of the University of Arkansas I am excited to see what they think how different the pro level is verses college . Childs is the big target and Wright is Percy like being short and quick.

I am not going to predict who will make the final cut. In 16 days I will begin to watch the battles in this position. I feel this camp has brought in some truly gifted guys. To make for an obvious statement even if they do not make the team they are playing for a career in the NFL. I would never want to be a coach who has to cut talent.

Next up Running Backs
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

new look offensive line

One month from today is the first preseason game of the year in San Francisco.The 49ers had an awesome defense last season so if this 49ers team is anything like last year the Vikings offensive line will have a great challenge.

The loss of Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera in the off season and now new first round pick left tackle Matt Kalil will be a huge change. The Vikings are pushing youth this season and no more evident then at left tackle.

The Vikings showed last season early that no one was safe case in point the release of Bryant McKinnie.

I am so exited to watch Kalil with veteran Charlie Johnson at left guard to make for a side Ponder can count on. My hope is Johnson will be a great communicator and work with Kalil.

2011 draft choice Brandon Fusco made the squad last season and seems to be liked by the coaches. He needs a good camp. I am pulling for him.I met him last season at camp. He has one of those personalities you pull for. A kid coming out of a small school like Slippery Rock having a chance to be a starter. This will be a great camp story to watch.

The right tackle, Phil Loadholt is vital in this upcoming season. He has been there the last few seasons and needs to step up and show leadership to the youngsters.

Center John Sullivan is the anchor of this unit. He needs to have a healthy season. I believe he is the leader that will give us the cohesiveness we need.

I look forward to camp to see what the coaches are thinking. The use of different line combinations could lead to show us who will start.

Next up will be wide receivers.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Change in the Tight Ends

This 2012 Vikings roster will have a new look with all the newcomers. One sight that will be so different is when we see number 40 out there. No it will not be Jim Kleinasser, rather it will be draft choice Rhett Ellison.

I was at the last game of the year against Chicago. My seats are in the upper deck section 215 right above where the Vikings come out onto the field. This time it was sad as I watched the team leave knowing the season is over. One player who had trouble leaving was Jim Kleinsasser. I watched as family gathered around and pictures were taken. He finally was able to leave waving to the remaining fans.

Jim was a 13 year member of the Vikings, and with free agency in play it is remarkable Jim made it with one team only his whole career. Jim was not flashy, nor was he high on fantasy charts. Jim was a work horse who never missed games. He just took pride in his blocking and was he ever good at it. He will be missed. It is great for the state of North Dakota having a player like Jim representing them.

The other tight end gone is Visanthe Shiancoe. I will never forget the year 2007 we signed Shiancoe and Vinny Ciurciu as the teams only free agents. It was a mild surprise not to have a big name free agent sign. Visanthe proved to be so valuable. The 2009 season he had was unbelievable. Visanthe is now gone.

The Vikings now have Kyle Rudolph who is in his second year. Kyle stands 6"6" and from last season showed the hands he is capable of. I look for a big season out of Kyle.

The free agent signing of John Carlson is very exciting. He stands at 6'5" which makes for a great target down the seam. The coincidence of them both from Notre Dame may make for some common bond as the two learn to work together.

Mickey Shuler is also vying for some playing time. He too comes from a major college and that being Penn State. His dad Mickey Sr. also played tight end in the NFL from 1979-1991. The experience his dad can offer could be huge for young Shuler. Mickey Jr stands at 6'4" making for a third big target.

The bottom line on these three tall and young tight ends should provide stability in the position for the future.

Coach Musgrave came to Minnesota with intentions of using tight ends in the offense. Last year did not materialize the way I thought it would. Hopefully this year we'll have better results with the tight ends.

Up next, offensive line thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

thoughts on the quarterback in 2012

I have been a Vikings fan all my life. The one fact in the last few years is the quarterback age has not been exactly young. The list of veterans that have lead this squad is amazing. Each contributing and a couple getting close to making it to the Super Bowl.

The list of Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb is impressive because each had such a good NFL career. The teams of 1998 with Cunningham and 2009 with Favre were so close but in the end came it was just another season with no title.

These years of watching each of the quarterbacks was fun to watch but now in 2012 is a year where a young quarterback drafted right out of college,Chrisitian Ponder, will get a 2nd year in a row a chance to shine and be the teams long term qaurterback.

I am a Ponder supporter. It was said coming out of college teams NFL teams had  concerns on his arm strength. I just did not see it. The problem last season was his inability to feel safe in the pocket and seemingly running for his life most of the time. The injuries along the front line and the different combinations of guys trying to help protect just never really materialized.

Yes,he made some questionable decisions on the run. The interceptions thrown at times were painful to watch. If he can learn from last year from his mistakes this season should prove interesting.

The team has made some major changes hopefully for the better starting with number 1 pick at left tackle, Mat Kalil. The advantage Kalil will have is the off season along with training camp going against Jared Allen day in and day out.

Two things come to mind from last season about Ponder. The speed he showed when it came to scrambling and his ability to take hard hits and get up. He has my respect when it comes to toughness.

Joe Webb in one word is gifted. The U Tube video found of his high jump is awesome to watch. If  hope you get a chance to see it because it is unforgetable. I worry the Vikings keep him on the bench too much. The wildcat, I love this opportunity for Webb, but the way it was used at times last season was a head scratcher. Joe Webb at quarterback and Christian Ponder lined up in the backfield at running back fooled no one. I hope Bill Musgrave will be a litle more creative with Webb this season. I feel Webb is another Randy Moss, a freak of nature. I would love to see Ponder step back and just heave it and let Webb go get it. The man can jump as seen in the video. The size of hands Webb is incredible. His leaping ability and hand size should prove to be a weapon.

Joe Webb has proved he can quarterback as proven the Philadelphia Eagles game a couple of years ago. He showed his arm and also the athletic ability.

The 2 young quarterbacks if they can stay healthy I believe will lead this team in the right direction. The third quarterback is Sage Rosenfels who brings knowledge and experince that can help Ponder and Webb with. I really hope when I am at a game or watching on TV I see Sage on the sidelines working with these youngsters. I will also watch in Mankato how the three work together. It is called a team for more than one reason.

Monday I will give my thoughts on the tight ends which will be different with no Visanthe Shiancoe or Jimmy Kleinsasser this campaign.

Thanks for reading

The world of Twitter

 It seems sometimes change in life is hard to accept. I am old enough to say my senior year in high school we still had electric typewriters and if there were computers the teachers may have had access. I just know for myself the word computer seemed foreign to me back then.

I now am getting more into today's communication world slowly but surely. I have a facebook account and came upon a cartoon picture and caption inside that said, 8 years olds today have facebook,twitter, texting when I was 8 all we had was color crayons and color books. Do you remember those days?

It seems everytime you buy something electronic the next few weeks or months the upgrade is already available.

The more I am determined to get up to date the more fun I am having. The world of Twitter is just simply put amazing.

If you are an avid sports fan ans with my case passion for football this twitter is the way to go. I am able to follow NFL experts. I follow Chris Mortenson, Adam Schefter,Roger Goodell, Jay Glazer, Mike Pereira.
It is the best way to keep up with the every days of football. These men live eat and breath football. In Mike Pereira's case he is great when watchnig FOX football so when it is time for a replay you can check Twitter and see what he is saying. This invention for football is aweome for die hard football fans.

Twitter is easy to follow and often it is just one liners and not a story. I do put my blog on twitter but other than that is simple and basic one liners.

I do follow some non Vikings as well as Larry Fitzgerald Jr and Eric Decker both Minnesota boys who are making it big in the NFL.

I have my own twitter you can follow @Purple_Stick

Thanks for reading

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The week that was

The radio station I listen to is KFAN, a talk sports radio station with everything I want to know about Minnesota sports. I also read different sports websites. This week came out with a lot of intersting tidbits.

The NFL last season implemented a new change and it involved replay. Each score would have a replay to allow coaches to save a challenge and a possible loss of timeout. When I found this out I thought oh boy is this going to add to much time to the game? I love football like there is no tomorrow. I love the play of the game but not a potential of watching players stand around in waiting. It did not really seem that bad as it played out. Then this week the announcement of the analyisis came out with the results of how much time was added to the game by doing this. The answer was shocking as 1 second was added to each game with this added replay of each score.

The other change came out as the NFL has made a change in game time for the second national tv game that normally occured at 3:15. The change has been made to 3:25. The extra 10 minutes should allow for completion of the noon game and no one should have to miss any of the second game. The Vikings game against Tennessee was moved from noon to 3:25 because of the Twin Cities marathon. I think what the NFL did is huge fo fans with the change of times. I just wonder to myself why now and not in the past. I am anxious to see what America thinks.

In Vikings related news I thought it was awesome for Coach Fraizer to get a chance to go to the Persian Gulf and visit the men and woman over seas. I read a statement fom Coach as he tied in traing camp for the Vikings with his trip. He said he won't have much patience for players who gripe about the heat during training camp. In borrowing a quote he added "it just puts perspective that there is nothing you should ever complain about." I agree 100 percent.

The 2009 season and the talk of Brett Favre just does not go away. The big signing on Wednesday July 4 of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter by the Minnesota Wild. The comparisons were hot an heavy and made for great listening with which is bigger for Minnesota Sports. It seems as though both signings really had an affect in Las Vegas. The Wild went from 200-1 to 22-1 to win the Cup. When Brett signed the Vikings already had a good team but the addition of Favre seemed to make the Vikes a Super Bowl contender and put them at a 7-1 odds to win the Super Bowl.

The jersey selling of Favre went through the roof and the day the 2 new Wild signed I saw websites already having them up for sale. The Wils season tickets from Wednesday to Saturday jumped 1500. It is incredible what players of these natures wil do for the fan base.

The Vikings in 2009 were close and ready to win but the Favre 2 year signing was really try to speed things up. The Suter and Parise signed for 13 years is trying to give the Wild and long and succesful future. I wish the Wild so much luck. I am such a Minnesota sports fan.

It is hard to know in 2009 in preseason against Indianapolis Colts if Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels would have been successful  and no injury would Favre have come in the picture. It is unbelievable to play the Colts on the August 14th, sign Brett the 19th and  Brett would start against Kansas City on the 21st.

In a final thought about 2009 in the 49ers game it was brought up this week that the last play of the game with the Vikings needing a touchdown to win. The team sent out 4 receivers in the pattern knowing the only way to win is a touchdown on the final play of the game. The problem which I did not know is 3 receivers stopped short of the goal line on their routes and one was in the end zone. Favre finds Greg Lewis for the improbable catch. In attending games a detail like this is hard to spot sometimes so to hear it on the radio really helps me get more of the feeling of the game with all the sights and sounds. Football talk never gets old.

The talk Wedneday-Friday with the comparisons of the Favre signing in 2009 and the Wild's Christmas presents on July 4th, 2012 was awesome to listen to.

I am already for football but now I am hapy to say hockey is getting a boost in the state.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mankato, the Vikings are coming

The city of Mankato is where I went to college and that was fun but the period of July and August is full of fun on a different level.

The restaurants, hotels, River Hills Mall all reap the benefits of camp. I encourage fans to keep their eyes open because you never know who you willl see around town.

I was in Target a few years back waiting in line when I turn around and who did I see, Randall McDaniel and Mike Morris. It was so hard to want to talk to them but also know they are people like you and I.

I was coming out of Wal Mart minding my own business when I look up and see Jim Kleinsasser and Tarvaris Jackson coming in. I have to admit my mind was thinking what are these wealthy men doing in Wal Mart. I know it is wrong to think that way but hey I am just being honest.

I was in Red Lobster and was walking to where I was getting seated and who do I see seated, Ed McDaniel having dinner. It is so hard to not want to stop and say something.

I was driving to McDonalds when a nice SUV came next to me. I look up and Randy Moss was driving. I waved and he waved back.

I was in Jimmy Johns eating supper when former first round wide receiver Troy Williamson came in.

I was at at a restaraunt bar eating when Koren Robinson was seated behind me.

Chipotle seems to be a players favorite as I have seen Matt Birk, Steve Hutchinson, Anthony Herrera, Phil Loadholt and more.

I tell you these things just to show you Manakto has a different personaltity when it comes to camp. I believe in leaving these guys in peace but is still exciting to see them. I feel like such a kid.

It is just one more reason I love Training Camp and all that comes with it.

Thanks for reading

Vikings fan for life

The question I get asked most often is how can you cheer for the Vikings they always dissapoint. It may be easy to think that way but a true fan keeps their hopes alive.

The 1998 season finishing 15-1 and ending up in the loss to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game was extremly hard to swallow. I will never forget Coach Dan Reeves and the Falcons dancing the dirty bird on the stage on the Metrodome Field. It was a tough drive home thinking all the what ifs. Randy Moss came on the scene and what a year.

The year the New York Giants beat the Vikings 41-0 in the NFC Championship was not as hard to take with the blowout. They did make it farther than 28 other teams is how I looked at it in trying positive.

The year Arizona Cardinals knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs with the pushout of the end zone catch. I will never forget I was in Wisconsin for Christmas and that game was not on TV. I just got to see the replay that was hard to forget for some time. The drive home listening to the radio was gut wrenching as they talked about the loss, but I survived.

The NFC Championship game in New Orleans was a game dominated by the Vikings but too many turnovers, 12 man in a hiddle. I was in attendance and boy was that plane ride home qiuet. Brett Favre came on the scene that year and it was a year never to forget. That might be one of the strangest events when Brett came to town. I was so against it as I have booed him for years. I did some player interviews in the locker room that year. Brett was off limits to me but I still watched and my feelings changed. He had such a kid like personality with the guys. You could just see how the players took him in. I learned to have such respect for a guy who just wants to have fun. In my heart when he played for the Packers I knew he was so good but I still had to boo because he was from the Packers. I was at the dome when Brett threw the NFL all time touchdown for the Packers. I stood up and clapped for him.

The off season can be tough but when the draft comes around it is time for some football. I love my Vikings and all the memories they give me. I feel I get closer to the team simply with the amount of time I put in at camp. In watching the day to day battles in practice. The meeting the players and coaches. I am faithful win or lose.

I am proud of my purple collection. I live in Minnesota and believe in supporting Minnesota teams. It sometimes can be such a stress reliever from the every day challenges. It is 3 hours out of my week I can focus on team and after deal with whatever I need to after. The Monday conversations are so fun. There are so many Monday morning quarterbacks in the world. It seems every one has the answer.

The NFL is the best sport in America. There are 32 teams to chose from and I pick the Purple to show my allegiance. I am not saying I enjoy watching a loss but I am proud I watch from beginning to end and do not stop cheering.

I will even admit for Christmas I stood in line to see Santa with my kids and we waited 2 hours. I embarrased my kids by asking Santa if the Vikings can win the Super Bowl. He said he does not provide miracles. It was worth my time waiting because sometimes in life you need to do the unexpected. My kids will never forget.

I will say the crowds in Mankato before 1998 was not much but ever since the people come in droves. The sight of purple all over Mankato is beautiful and never gets old.

In each game there is a winner and a loser I just hope each Sunday the Purple get the W. I will be there no matter what.Please join me as our faithfulness will not waver rather get stronger.

Thank for reading

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

10 weeks and counting

I do not want to rush the summer away, however a fact was pointed out. I read as of Sunday July 1 there are 10 more Sundays until the NFL kicks off the season. It  feels although we just watched the New York Giants hoist the Lombardi trophy and here we go again with a new season. Yet, before the season can begin teams need training camp.

I got my email from the Vikings that the season ticket holder days are on July 31 and August 1 at Training Camp. It is really a neat day as in the past breakfast items and drinks were provided. The key is to get my RSVP back quickly because it does seem to fill up.

Some thoughts on camp come from a Vikings writer I really enjoy reading and that is Mike Wobschall. I have met him in the press box a few times. He is really a nice guy to talk to and is very knowlegdable. He comes across very genuine and a true professional at what he does. I want to give a little background on what I have seen in Mankato before I get into Mike's points.

A couple of seasons ago when Coach Frazier came to his first camp I will never forget what I saw and heard. Coach pulls into the Gage Tower parking lot and the media went to get some interviews. He told them they must wait because he was going to come over and meet the fans and sign some autographs. He did just so.

The belief I have is Coach knows football is a business but making the time for fans is important to. I talked to one of the coaches who said Coach wants us to show the fans that we appreciate them. It has been evident in my eyes the last 2 camps. Yes, there are people that may disagree with me. I love talking to people and what I hear is how fun camp is.

Mike Wobschall brings up a point to support my thought as the morning walk throughs may allow for better autograph access because of the light practice.Remember there is never a guarantee, just hope. It has been traditionally where the morning have been hot and players come off worn out. I agree with Mike on this potential.

The fans also may want to stay longer. The desire to want to come in for the morning practice, maybe meet their hero, and still wait until the 3:00 practice will be interesting to see. The past years I have talked to people who come just to see some pad popping and go.

The avid fan I am do also talk to people to see what time they get to camp and get in line to get in. The past again gates open at 8:45 or so. I have talked to people who get there anywhere between 6-6:30. They wait to get in and when the gates open they go to autograph ally and wait for pratice to get over. You sometimes may also be able to watch practice along the fence while you are waiting as well. I do not know what this year brings I am just telling you about the past years. It is simply mind boggling what fans will do to meet the player they are hoping to meet.

The other feature of camp we will not see is a practice for special teams only. Once again I am reminded by reading Mike's article. The entire team will pratice so special teams will go to their section of the field. It will be strange not see just special teams in the afternoon. I thank Mike for his wisdom as it helps me as well when I make my journey to Mankato Thursday July 26th when the team moves in.

I took 100 hours of vacation for this event and I am more than ready for 2012 after watching the last 2 unsuccessful campaigns. Go Vikes

Thanks for reading