VikingBuzz BLOG

Some news, notes, tidbits and commentary heading into the start of the 2009 regular season opener at Cleveland.

Taylor not just a drink of water

Adrian Peterson gets most of the publicity, but there's no question the Vikings are fortunate to have a player the caliber of Chester Taylor as the No. 2 running back.

According to head coach Brad Childress: "Like E.B. [running backs coach Eric Bienemy] says, ‘[he's a] consummate professional.' [He] came back in great shape. Did a nice job in the pass game. Does a nice job in the run game. Has a great feel for those screen passes. You know, he's ready and we'll need him. He is not just a drink of water. He is a guy you can go in and win games with."

As terrific a running back as Peterson is, there remains concerns about his ability to pick up the blitz and his feel for the passing game is simply nowhere near that of Taylor, who is outstanding.

A lot of armchair quarterbacks still can't understand why Peterson is often out on obvious third-down passing situations, but he continues to struggle with his ability to consistently pick up the blitz, and opposing defensive coordinators know it and will exploit it.

McKinnie ready to shine?

If you picked up on the exchange between preseason television commentator Mike Mayock and Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman, the team is expecting more dominant play from left tackle Bryant McKinnie this season.McKinnie (Tom Dahlin)

Mayock noted how effective McKinnie was in the team's third preseason contest against the Houston Texans, saying that was the most physical and dominant he had ever seen McKinnie play.

While McKinnie has been criticized plenty and had his share of much-publicized off-field issues as a pro, he really began to hit his stride during the second half of last season and appears on the verge of building on that in 2009.

Like just about any left tackle, he's going to have some trouble with some of the elite, undersized, speed-type pass rushers he will face. But he has indeed become more tenacious and physical of late and with a lot of team success, he could be poised for Pro Bowl recognition for the first time in his NFL career.

Udeze lands college job

Recently retired Vikings' defensive end Kenechi Udeze was hired as a weight-room assistant for the Washington Huskies by coach Steve Sarkisian, who was a member of the USC staff when Udeze played his college football there.

"Kenechi, for obvious reasons, has overcome a lot on the field," Sarkisian said in this Kitsap Sun story. "When he came to (USC), he was 372 pounds. He left as a junior, as a first-round draft pick, and he was 272 pounds. So he's got a great story about getting your body right to position yourself for success. He also was part of a team at SC that finished last in the Pac-10, and when he left, they were No. 1 in the country."

Udeze, 26, spent four years with the Vikings after being a first-round pick in 2004. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in early 2008, sat out that entire season while undergoing a marrow transplant from his brother, and tried to make a short comeback this spring. But the side effects from treatments were too much and he retired prior to training camp earlier this summer.

"He brings motivation, experience and he's overcome a lot," Sarkisian said.

BlitzesMike Mayock

Is there a better commentator than Mayock (on television) or Pete Bercich on the radio?

Recently signed center Kory Lichtensteiger, who got caught up in a numbers game with the Broncos, was actually drafted (fourth round) AHEAD of starter John Sullivan (sixth round) in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Quarterback John David Booty, who was added to the Vikings' practice squad on Sunday after going through the waiver process, indicated his agent received calls to join the practice squad for other teams, but opted to stay where things were familiar.

Booty did not play last season, but he served as Tarvaris Jackson's backup against the Arizona Cardinals with Gus Frerotte sidelined because of a back injury.

The "drama" will continue up until Sunday as to who the official No. 2 and No. 3 quarterback will be behind Brett Favre, which I'm sure is difficult for Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. But is there a team in the entire league who is now as deep at quarterback as the Vikings?

Is there any doubt that tight end Visanthe Shiancoe appears destined for a Pro Bowl season with Favre at quarterback?

With left end Ray Edwards entering the final year of his contract, the Vikings like the potential of Jayme Mitchell to replace him if it comes to that.

Despite cutting him after momentarily making the initial 53-man roster, the coaches still like rookie free-agent center Jon Cooper. "I love Coop," Childress said. "None of this changes that or how we feel about him as a football player."

Third-string running back Albert Young impressed the coaches as much with his improvement as a blocker on blitz pickup as he did his running the football as he earned a roster spot after spending all of last season on the practice squad.

New special teams coordinator Brian Murphy is getting positive reviews for the improvement the team is seeing on special teams.

The potential suspension of the Williams Wall continues to loom, but the coaches had to be impressed with the improvement they saw from both Fred Evans and Letroy Guion during the preseason.

Anyone else notice that cornerback Cedric Griffin is without the dreadlocks this season?

Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Vikings Update web site or magazine, click here.

 

 


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