Archive for the Ian Johnson Category


A Look at The Minnesota Viking’s Rookie Class of 2009

The season starts next week, and thanks to three preseason games, we’ve got a good look at all the Vikings’ rookies. How do they stack up? Let’s take a look.

Round 1:  Percy Harvin, WR

There’s no doubt that Harvin is an immensely talented athlete. The Vikings are just beginning to scratch the surface of the ways they can use him, even if the vaunted Percy-cat formation doesn’t work out.

First round receivers usually don’t produce much until their second year, but Harvin has the skills to have an excellent rookie season.

Round 2:  Phil Loadholt, T

Loadholt’s answered a lot of questions after being handed the starting right tackle job almost immediately after being drafted.

He’s a raw, physical blocker who has had a solid preseason, but he definitely needs some game experience. He’s looked fine run blocking, but his footwork has been a bit suspect in pass protection.

Round 3: Asher Allen, CB

After starting off training camp hot, Allen’s buzz has cooled somewhat. It’s not that he’s playing badly, but more that he’s not been able to match his fantastic production from earlier in camp.

Still, he’s a lock to split time with Benny Sapp in the Vikings’ nickel package.

Round 5: Jasper Brinkley, LB

Brinkley’s a lock to make the special teams unit, where his straight line speed and hard hitting will be a boon to one of the NFL’s worst units from last year.

His understanding of the defense has improved significantly from the start of camp, and the Vikings seem very comfortable with Brinkley being the top backup to middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.

Round 7: Jamarca Sanford, S

Sanford has made a few good plays on special teams, but hasn’t really separated himself from the pack, especially playing behind last year’s preseason superstar safety Hussein Abdullah. Still, Sanford will probably make the team to improve safety depth, and hopefully another year of work will bring him more up to speed next offseason.

 

UDFA: Nick Urban, G

Urban was cut this week after failing to distinguish himself in a fairly mediocre guard unit. At least he has that job at Target to fall back on.

UDFA: Bobby Williams, WR

Williams won’t make the 53 man roster, but it won’t be for lack of trying. He’s had a solid camp, putting in a lot of work with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. He will probably slip onto the practice squad, and may eventually make the team.

More likely, he’ll turn out to be the Vikings’ Ryan Hoag, a preseason superstar year after year, who never makes it past the last round of cuts.

UDFA: Jon Cooper, C

Cooper is currently considered the Viking’s second best center, though Ryan Cook would probably start ahead of him in the event of a John Sullivan injury.

Still, there’s a lot to like about Cooper, a former linemate of Phil Loadholt at Oklahoma. In a few years, he could be starting someplace else.

UDFA: Ian Johnson, RB

Johnson has a great feel good story, leading Boise State to a Fiesta Bowl victory over the aforementioned Sooners on a trick play touchdown, and then getting engaged on national TV.

Unfortunately, the fairy tale is probably over for Johnson, who hasn’t played well enough in camp to supplant Albert Young as the Vikings’ third running back. Still, I think he has a chance of catching on with another team or sneaking onto the practice squad.

UDFA:  Vinnie Perretta, WR

I don’t know what the Vikings were trying to do here. Replay that Fiesta Bowl game during practices, I guess. Perretta’s a fine young guy, but he’s not going to make any teams this year. Maybe he can hook on to a Canadian or UFL squad.

UDFA: Antoine Smith, RB

Already cut. Smith was added to give a little depth to the training camp backs. He actually had a few nifty little runs in his limited playing time, but he’s not an NFL ready back. Might be a practice squad guy if they can’t hold onto Johnson.

UDFA: Colt Anderson, S

Colt Anderson filled the Vikings’ desperate need for a player named “Colt,” but not much else. He’s actually a fine player, if a bit small. I just don’t see him making the squad. Good training camp body though.

UDFA:  Nick Moore, WR

Moore wasn’t even that great a wide out in college. Just a warm body to run routes.

UDFA: Antoine Holmes, DT

The Vikings are actually hurting for young tackle depth, so I could see Holmes getting picked up for the practice squad. He’s got one of the most unintentionally hilarious MySpace pages, I’ve ever seen by the way. There’s a drawing of him as a Dragonball Z character, and it looks like it was made by a 14-year old girl. Pretty awesome.

UDFA:  De’von Hall, CB

The Vikings’ defensive backfield  is suddenly a bit crowded. Hall is a developmental player in a position where the Vikings need consistency. Possibly a practice squad guy, but he won’t make the team.

UDFA: Andy Kemp, G

Kemp’s a good run blocker who needs to work a lot on technique. While he’s not an NFL level talent yet, he’s a good pick to keep around, and maybe groom into a potential replacement for Hutchinson down the road.

Kemp would really have benefited from playing in a program like NFL Europe. Which is too bad.

UDFA: Juan Garcia, C

He’s just center depth, outplayed by Cooper in camp. He got a medical red shirt and a regular red shirt, so he spent six years in college. That makes him two years older than you want your developmental players to be.


UDFA: Tremaine Johnson, DE

Johnson adds good depth to a line that could use it. He’s probably not going to make an active roster this season, but if the Vikings take a roster hit later this year, I could easily see them adding Johnson, because he seems to have picked up the system pretty well.

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Brett Favre Debuts; Tarvaris Jackson Keeps Job; Vikings Beat Chiefs

On a day that both Minnesota sports teams defeated a Kansas City sports team with the Twins defeating the Royals 5-4 in 10 innings and the Vikings denying the Chiefs victory in the final seconds 17-13; the game of least relevance seemed to be the one that drew the most attention.

Brett Favre did the unthinkable as he walked out of the tunnel at the Metrodome in purple as a Minnesota Viking. Never has a Vikings preseason game been so packed and so loud prior to kickoff. However, Favre’s debut wasn’t exactly eye-popping.

Brett would only play two series and go 1-for-4 for four yards and took a few shots, but overall drew the largest standing ovation ever for a Vikings quarterback in recent memory.

Despite a lackluster day, Brett made a lot of decisions that made him look like a veteran star quarterback. On top of that, his lone completed pass to Percy Harvin showed the true arm-strength of Favre and catching ability of young Harvin in double coverage.


Two-Cents on Favre’s Start

If anyone was expecting 80 yard passes out of the gates, they were sadly mistaken. Favre is as nervous as the next guy playing for the team he had as a sworn enemy for 16 seasons. Lets not forget, he did just sign Tuesday.

Not to mention, who said this guy wasn’t going to make good chemistry with the team? Word has it that’s going with defensive end phenom Jared Allen hunting.

Percy Harvin only caught two passes for 9 yards, but nothing can be determined of his versatile value as the Vikings never did unveil Harvin passing or running the ball, however he did line up in the backfield on a couple plays.

The true gem of Friday’s game against the Chiefs however was the unexpected play of Tarvaris Jackson. Word on the street is that T-Jack’s job was suspect with the Vikings having four quarterbacks on the current roster. Childress has expressed the thought of keeping four and after Friday, he just might.

Jackson threw 12-for-15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns including a 64 yard strike to Darius Reynaud. A lot of rumors said that Jackson needed at least a 150 yard passing performence, at least one or two touchdown passes, and no foul ups (sacks or interceptions) which he easily was able to accomplish.

Jackson said of his performence, “Whenever you play well, you always feel good.Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, it felt good. It was a long week for me. It just shows that if you just stay focused, you’ll be fine.”

Jackson’s other strike included a 13 yard throw to tight end Visanthe Shaincoe on a jump ball.

A battle that seems to be drawing interest is surrounding third year running back Albert Young and the undrafted rookie free agent out of Boise State University, Ian Johnson. Both gathered good playing time and although Young got 17 yards to Johnson’s 9, the rookie also proved to be a receiving threat out of the backfield with two catches for 24 yards.

The Vikings will obviously have quite a fix with their crowd of four at quarterback and running back.

Notes:

Jared Allen (ankle), Sage Rosenfels (ankle sprain), and Bernard Berrian (hamstring) sat out of the game to rest fatigue-related injuries.

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Four Position Battles That Don’t Involve a Quarterback

Every year, citizens in Mankato are witnesses to a monstrous parade of over-sized Sport Utility Vehicles. Escalades, Bentleys, Denalis, you name it. Once a year, they make their way down the highway, and onto Stadium Road, marking the first true sign that Vikings Training Camp is underway for the year.

This year, with a team looking to make a run deep into the playoffs, the focus is under center. Who will win the coveted position of starting quarterback? Does Tarvaris, Sage, or JD Booty end up with the grand prize for 2009?

That battle is being covered by every media outlet under the sun. Fortunately, there are fifty other players trying to earn spots on this year’s Vikings roster. Of those players, several are involved in significant position battles of their own which will receive far less attention from the press. We delve a bit further into the players and possible outcomes from these matchups.

Third String Running Back

One of the best running back tandems in the league is all but guaranteed two roster spots. Who will rise up and take the position behind Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor on the depth chart?

Ian Johnson—The Boise State Bronco made famous in the Fiesta Bowl for scoring the winning two point conversion in overtime was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by Minnesota. Johnson is the current WAC Record Holder for Rushing Touchdowns in a career, and was a first team All-American in 2006.

Kahlil Bell—A former UCLA Bruin, Bell was also signed by the Vikings as an undrafted rookie free agent. Bell will have to show that he has fully recovered from his injuries that limited his play in 2007 (Torn ACL) and 2008 (High Ankle Sprain).

Albert Young—Signed by the Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2008, Young was not on the team last season. The former Doak Walker Award Semifinalist has been invited back to Mankato for another shot at the roster.

Projection: With little to go off so early in camp, this may be the toughest battle to project. Right now, I give the slight edge to Johnson but at this point the position is up for the taking.

Backup Linebacker

The starters are fairly set heading into training camp, but this season, the question of who will take the depth has to be asked. Which linebackers will make it on the team to back up EJ Henderson, Chad Greenway, and Ben Leber?

Erin Henderson­—Younger brother of starter EJ Henderson who saw limited action in ten games as a rookie last season. Erin was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2008.

Heath Farwell—Intense player and special teams ace on the Vikings, Farwell has been named Vikings Special Teams MVP in the past, but has to show he has recovered from an ACL tear that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season.

Jasper Brinkley—This year’s fifth-round draft pick figures to be part of the linebacker discussion. Brinkley recorded 54 tackles in his senior season at South Carolina.

David Herron—Undrafted, but signed as a rookie free agent of Michigan State, Herron is entering his second full season with the Vikings. Herron saw playing time in fourteen games, including three starts for the Vikings in 2008.

Projection: Look for David Herron and Erin Henderson to secure spots on the roster. Erin is having a great start to training camp, which could keep him on board through roster cuts.

Farwell may pick up one of the last remaining roster spots in part because of his great special teams play. Brinkley will probably be one of the last cuts, though if he does not make the 53 man roster, he will likely end up staying with the team on the practice squad.

Nickelback

With Antoine Winfield signing a contract extension this offseason, the top two cornerbacks on the roster appear to be set. However, with Charles Gordon not returning following a horrific injury in 2008, which players will step up to try and claim that spot?

Asher Allen—This year’s third round pick will be part of this intense battle. Despite playing with a broken hand, Allen was able to make plays repeatedly for the Georgia defense last season.

Benny Sapp—Ended up as the Vikings nickel back after Charles Gordon’s injury in 2008. A five-year veteran who also spent time in Kansas City, Sapp recorded 22 tackles and two interceptions with the Vikings in 2008.

Marcus McCauley—A third-round pick for the Vikings in 2007, McCauley has been inconsistent during his career. He started nine games in 2007, but only saw playing time in 10 games last season, recording six tackles.

Projection: Despite a shaky start early, Allen has been performing well in training camp with his physical play. Look for Allen to surprise some people and surpass Sapp and McCauley on the depth chart to get the nickel spot. That said, all three players should end up making the final roster.

Wide Receiver Depth

The drafting of Percy Harvin surprisingly gives the Vikings a logjam at the receiver position. After the first three or four spots on the depth chart, the competition is largely open and up for the taking. Look for Bernard Berrian, Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Bobby Wade to be the first four receivers to make the team. Who will make the squad after them?

Aundrae Allison—A fifth-round pick for the Vikings in 2007, Allison has seen limited playing time with the Vikings on offense and special teams. He currently holds the franchise record for longest kickoff return, a run that went for 104 yards and a touchdown back in 2007.

Glenn Holt—Undrafted by the Bengals in 2006, the Vikings signed Holt earlier this offseason. Holt saw playing time for the Bengals last season in fifteen games, including two starts.

Darius Reynaud—Reynaud was undrafted, but signed as a rookie free agent with the Vikings in 2008. A former player for West Virginia, he is third in school history in receiving touchdowns.

Jaymar Johnson—A sixth-round pick in 2008 for Minnesota, Jaymar Johnson spent the entire season on the practice squad. He played for Jackson State, where he started every game for three straight seasons.

Projection: Jaymar Johnson is grabbing attention early in training camp, showing incredible quickness and making plays in 7 on 7 drills.  Johsnon should manage to secure one of the last receiver spots and final spots on the roster overall.

Reynaud has been inconsistent early in camp, but should do just enough to make the practice squad again for the Vikings. Allison may have enough equity built up to grab one of the last roster spots as well, but if he does not make the final cut, expect Reynaud to be on the roster in his place.

Four position battles, none of which have anything to do with players named Booty, Sage, or T-Jack. Training camp gives plenty of room for hope and optimism amongst both the fans and the players.

Be sure to watch these players as they fight in Mankato and in the preseason to try and make the final 53 man roster. Maybe next year, some of these players will be able to join in the SUV parade as well.

 

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