There was more than a little controversy when the Vikings signed Thomas Tapeh in free agency. The former starting fullback, Tony Richardson, was one of the more popular Vikings players and was viewed by Adrian Peterson as his primary mentor. But, when push came to shove, the Vikings felt it was in their best interest to go with the younger, stronger Tapeh – a player head coach Brad Childress was personally familiar with from their time in Philadelphia.
Through six games, Tapeh has played in just two games and all he has to show for it is one reception for seven yards. He has been inactive without much in the way of explanation since. On Wednesday, the Vikings finally spoke about why Tapeh hasn’t played … and why he might not play again.
At his Wednesday press conference, Childress said that Tapeh had a surgical procedure done on his knee that he didn’t tell the Vikings about when he signed his contract. The Vikings have been short on details, but it would appear that the team is preparing to try to recoup some of their money that was spent under false pretenses when Tapeh was signed to a five-year, $6 million contract in the first days of free agency. The Tapeh deal included $1.25 million in guaranteed money.
“We went through our regular process here in picking up Thomas that we look at with everyone we bring in,” Childress said. “The tape work, the film work and the physical that he had, all of those things are incorporated. Doctors put hands on him and he had an X-Ray. We just didn’t feel like everything, all of the questions that we asked, that we got conveyed all of the information that we needed. We’re working that out internally right now.”
Tapeh was last in uniform Week 2 vs. the Colts and has been replaced by Naufahu Tahi at fullback ever since. There is the potential that the two sides might reach an injury settlement that would end Tapeh’s short tenure with the Vikings, but, as of Wednesday, he was still on the team and on the practice field.
“Everything is good, man,” Tapeh told reporters Wednesday. “The only way it wouldn't be good is if you guys put it out not good. But right now the focus is the Chicago Bears and that's what he told me. We'll worry about the Chicago Bears and let the family take care of the family."
The timing of Childress making the comments seems curious and could be a precursor to the Vikings making a roster announcement in the near future concerning Tapeh’s status.
Newly signed LB Napoleon Harris was supposed to make his first team visit to the Detroit Lions after being released by the Chiefs Tuesday. Instead, the Vikings treated Harris like it was a free agent visit in March – they got him to come to Minnesota first and, once he was in the building, the Vikings worked out a one-year contract so he wouldn’t leave.
Although Harris played middle linebacker in 2006 for the Vikings, it would appear that Dontarrious Thomas is more likely to get the start Sunday against Chicago. David Herron missed Wednesday’s practice with what is being described as a hip injury.
Madieu Williams was cleared to practice fully, but was still limited Wednesday at Vikings’ practice.
The first injury report was released Wednesday and there were several Vikings listed that have been bothered by injuries much of the 2008 season. Two players – linebackers David Herron (hip) and Erin Henderson (knee) did not participate in practice. Five others – WR Bernard Berrian (knee), TE Jim Kleinsasser (foot), WR Sidney Rice (knee), CB Benny Sapp (hamstring) and Madieu Williams (neck) were all limited in practice Wednesday.
The Bears had five players who didn’t participate in practice, including wide receivers Marty Booker (back) and Brandon Lloyd (knee), safety Danieal Manning (hamstring) and CB Charles Tillman (knee). A fifth player – rookie RB Matt Forte – didn’t participate, but his absence was attributed to the team giving him additional mid-week rest. Nine other Bears were listed as having limited participation, including cornerbacks Nathan Vasher (wrist), Trumaine McBride (shoulder) and Marcus Hamilton (heel) -–giving the Bears four cornerbacks and a safety on their injury report.
Defensive tackle Letroy Guion missed practice Wednesday because he was in Florida for the birth of his child.
Word out of Packer Country is that Green Bay officials were convinced they had finalized a trade with the Chiefs for TE Tony Gonzalez only to have the deal fall through on the Kansas City end – leaving Gonzo with the Chiefs and the Packers without a weapon that could have tipped the balance of power in the NFC North.
In a sometimes salty exchange about how the organization is run, Gonzalez pointed to Jared Allen of the Vikings and John Tait of the Bears as two player who felt wronged by the Chiefs organization and, unlike Gonzo, were able to make their ways out of Kansas City.