VikingBuzz BLOG: 7/27

Your daily dose for news, information, commentary and analysis on the Minnesota Vikings.

>Herrera getting legitimate shot to start
Brad Childress wasn’t just blowing smoke when he suggested that guard Anthony Herrera was going to get an opportunity at right guard this season.  In a very telling move, veteran Artis Hicks is being penciled in at left tackle until starter Bryant McKinnie returns from the non-football injury list.  One of the adjustments Hicks had a year ago was from playing on the left side to the right side.  Childress might view him as better-suited to be a swing guy who can play just about anywhere.  It also indicates that he really wants to give Herrera, who has shown flashes of dominant tenacity during his career, every possible opportunity to earn playing time on the offensive line.

>A kinder, gentler Childress the second time around?
Based on his initial press conference with the media and earlier informal conversations he has had, coach Brad Childress is making intentional efforts to improve communication all around – with players, coaches, the media, anyone involved with the organization.  Here’s the StarTribune report.  You can also read, see, hear it for yourself in the full transcript from Vikings.com.  It’s also more comfortable for the veteran players having been through the routine once before, too, as discussed in this AP report.

>Top picks coming in
With the signing of Amobi Okoye by the Houston Texans late Thursday night, more and more of the top picks are establishing slotted value for others to also sign.  As of this writing, first round picks at No. 3 (Joe Thomas, Cleveland), No, 4 (Gaines Adams, Tampa Bay), No. 8 (Jamaal Anderson, Atlanta), No. 10 (Okoye), No. 12 (Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo), No. 15 (Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh), No. 26 (Anthony Spencer, Dallas), No. 27 (Robert Meachem, New Orleans), No. 28 (Joe Staley, San Francisco), No. 29 (Ben Grubbs, Baltimore), No. 30 (Craig Davis, San Diego) and No. 31 (Greg Olsen, Chicago) have signed.

>Competition at key spots starts today
Don Seeholzer of the Pioneer Press highlights the five positions where he sees key battles for playing time – wide receiver, left end, right tackle, right guard and nickel back.  As we’ve noted earlier here, the right guard competition between Anthony Herrera and Artis Hicks is the emerging one as camp opens.

>Rice available
If the Vikings are still looking for potential pass-rush help, veteran Simeon Rice is now available after being release by Tampa Bay on Thursday.  Depending on which report you read, he either refused to accept a pay cut from his $7.25 million salary, or he failed his physical.  Either way, he’s free to sign.  Rice was a perennial double-digit sack guy until a shoulder injury forced him to IR for half of last season, in which he recorded just 2 sacks.  He’s also 33, so might not have much “A” game left.  The Vikings might sniff around, but with younger prospects like Ray Edwards, Brian Robison and the hoped rebound of Erasmus James (knee surgery) and Kenechi Udeze (zero sacks last season), he’s more likely to land with a team that feels they are closer than the Vikings.  We see the Lions and Bears as more likely landing spots.

>Birk on last season and the one to come
Pro Bowl center tells Sid Hartman candidly that the offensive line struggled to jell last season but that he expects improvement this year.  He also reports that his weight is up to about 320 pounds and that he feels 100 percent.

>Ten questions heading into training camp
From Vikings.com, here are ten key questions that will unfold in training camp and throughout the upcoming season.

>Opening snippets
Here’s a brief video clip from KARE11 with snippets from Tarvaris Jackson, Ben Leber and Kevin Williams as they reported to training camp.   No shortage of cliches.

>Vikes QB situation among key questions
This Pro Football Weekly report highlights six key questions for various teams entering the season.  Of course, the Vikings’ quarterback situation makes the list.  Or, you can check out this FOXSports.com story.

>Peterson-Taylor competition highlighted
The competition for playing time in the backfield with the Vikings between Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor is featured in this Fanhouse report.

>Team introductions Friday
To kickoff the Alltel Vikings Training Camp, the entire Minnesota Vikings squad will be introduced to fans on Friday, July 27, 2007.  The event, which will take place in Blakeslee Stadium, will follow the afternoon practice that is scheduled to run from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  After the introductions, fans will have an opportunity to catch a pass from their favorite player, as each member of the team will throw autographed footballs into the stands.  Vikings cheerleaders will also be present.

>McCardell off the board
Not that it mattered because the Vikings were never interested, but veteran wide receiver Keenan McCardell has signed with the Houston Texans, inking a one-year deal.  Here’s the ESPN report.

>Team reports for training camp
More as players reported for training camp yesterday from Chad Courier of the Mankato Free Press.  And another from Frank Rajkowski of the St. Cloud Times.

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