Several younger players showing progress
The first-teamers played very sparingly, including several key players who didn’t take the field at all, but there were a handful of players who did get a lot of reps last Thursday night and acclimated themselves pretty well.
Charles Gordon looked like a poor man’s Antoine Winfield out there. He’s a quick-twitch athlete who made a ton of sure open-field tackles very much in the mold of Winfield. He also showed flashes of excitement on punt returns. Gordon has made a step forward from a year ago, when a knee injury shut down his progress.
The competition between Ryan Cook and Marcus Johnson at right tackle, and between Artis Hicks and Anthony Herrera at right guard, has probably gotten to the point of over-analysis. People have said the Vikings are still looking for answers on the right side so many times now that most have lost sight of how these guys are actually playing over there.
While there’s room for improvement still, it doesn’t look like starting any one of those four would kill them. In fact, running backs like Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor and Mewelde Moore might make whomever ends up starting look pretty darn good. All four are capable, it’s just that nobody has truly established themselves as being clearly superior.
Other than a couple motion penalties a couple week ago, Cook has shown steady improvement, particularly with his foot placement, hand use, overall technique and general consistency. If anything, that gives him the edge over Johnson at right tackle – consistency.
Hicks and Herrera have both done just fine, particularly in the running game. Herrera has a little more zeal and athleticism but might be a little more prone to mistakes. Hicks is powerful and sturdy but not as athletic. Either could start at right guard without truly being a weak line on the offensive line.
Frederick Evans is the real deal as a backup at defensive tackle. He’s big, quick and athletic, particularly off the snap. The strength of his game is splitting blocks and getting upfield, and that’s exactly what the team’s defensive scheme call for. Evans looks like a real find.
He may never see much action with the regular defense, but Heath Farwell is simply too productive not to notice. Farwell was all over the field against the Cowboys. And he wasn’t just running around blocks or making tackles chasing downfield. He was taking on and shedding blocks and playing well within the framework of the defense.
Fans may have also gotten a glimpse of why the Vikings kept Naufahu Tahi, who showed some run skills and good hands as a pass receiver. Tahi gives the Vikings a change-of-pace at running back with the versatility to play fullback or be a power-type tailback in short-yardage situations.
Scout’s Notebook on Naufahu Tahi: link
Others who played well were Brian Robison (another sack and forced fumble), Ronyell Whitaker (several textbook open-field tackles and veteran savvy) and Chad Johnson (who had a nice interception late in the game).
Vikings got a good player in Mills
The Vikings snagged themselves a good all-around football player in former Tulsa tight end Garrett Mills, whom they claimed on waivers from the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Not only is Mills a versatile, pass-catching tight end who can move around and play a lot of positions in their offense, but he can help on kick coverage, something the Vikings desperately need. It’s a real bonus to get that from an offensive player, so that enhances his value even more.
Scout’s Notebook on Garrett Mills: link
Daniels waived to make room for Mills
To create a roster spot for Mills, the Vikings placed rookie free agent offensive guard Brian Daniels on waivers. If he clears waivers, he will likely be re-signed to the practice squad.
Daniels wasn’t a standout in training camp or preseason, but he was probably the most consistent of the many rookie offensive linemen they had in camp.
Scout’s Notebook on Brian Daniels: link
Vikings gambled and lost with Thigpen
The Vikings took a chance and it appears they lost in trying to slip quarterback Tyler Thigpen through waivers. The Kansas City Chiefs were awarded Thigpen in what was a miscalculated risk by the Vikings personnel department.
As we outlined in this space earlier, there were at least 14 teams with just two quarterbacks on their roster after getting down to the 53-player limit, and the Chiefs were one of them. Carolina and Philadelphia were also reportedly interested in Thigpen. The Vikings seriously underestimated the likely interest from other teams.
Exposing Thigpen to waivers was a calculated risk by the Vikings and one that will likely not turn in their favor as time goes by. Thigpen has a lot of upside potential, whereas Brooks Bollinger is probably as good as he’s going to get.
The immediate affect is minimal, but it really hurts to scout and draft a promising prospect in the latter rounds of the draft, introduce him to your system, see him learn and demonstrate his ability, and begin the developmental process, only to let him slip away to another organization. It has to be heartbreaking for both the scouting department and the coaches to lose Thigpen.
About 15 years ago, the Vikings made a similar tough choice when, in 1993, they tried to slip third-round pick DT Gilbert Brown (photo) through waivers. The Green Bay Packers grabbed him and carried him on their roster for a full season and he became an anchor on their defensive line during their glory years, including a Super Bowl championship.
At the time, the player the Vikings kept was overachiever Brad Culpepper (story).
>A player lost, another gained for Vikings
>Childress gives Belichick a wedgie
>Falcons worthy of attention
>Fate of Childress rides on success of Jackson
>Smith goes one on one
>NFL roster moves tracker
>Sunday’s comings and goings
>Chiefs add Thigpen as third-string quarterback
>Breaking down the NFC North
>Edwards claimed by Giants
>Leftwich’s agent called Vikings
>Mills article (before roster cuts)
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