VU Daily Blog: Memorial Weekend Edition

From Toby Gerhart to Rhys Lloyd to Joe Webb, there was plenty of Vikings nuggets and news over the holiday weekend. See all the Vikings news and speculation as it progresses through the VU Daily Blog.

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Posted by: Tim Yotter
on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 7:42:00 AM

Familiarity could help ease Gerhart's absence

Second-round draft pick Toby Gerhart isn't able to attend the Vikings' organized team practices this week or next, and he hasn't been able to participate in any of the month-long sessions because of an NFL rule and Stanford's later class schedule.

But there is a silver lining with the absence of Gerhart.

"We are fortunate that Stanford runs a similar offense, so when he came in here for rookie minicamp he was able to pick things up quick," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "Obviously he's from Stanford and has a great mind. The offense was similar, so some of the things that he did, he was able to step in and run it right away because he's had multiple reps on it. So I think that will help him, but as (with) any guy that is not here we would like to have them here and be able to put them through our workouts."

The Vikings still have plenty of young running backs to work put through their practice paces, including the transitioning Darius Reynaud. Reynaud, a high school running back, is moving to the backfield after spending his first two seasons with the Vikings as a receiver.

Reynaud's biggest issue at running back is expected to be blocking, just like it is with most rookie backs. The Vikings asked their running backs to process a lot of information when looking for blitz pickups and it might take Reynaud some time to become comfortable with that aspect of his new position.

"He is definitely natural back there. With any of these guys that you move positions or doing it for the first time, rookies coming in, it's how fast they can digest the playbook. For him it is going to be protections," Bevell said. "He's a willing blocker. He will step up and hit somebody. He's tough enough. It's just to be able to have the nuances of who he's supposed to pick up and when."


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CB Lito Sheppard impressed his playing partners with his first drive of the day at the #Vikings charity tourney.

Posted by: Tim Yotter
on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 11:58:00 AM

Lloyd adds new dimension

After a dismal 2008 season on special teams, when the Vikings set an NFL record by allowing seven touchdowns on special teams, that unit has been on the upswing with Brian Murphy taking over the coordinator duties and more emphasis on the players who contribute on special teams.

This year, the Vikings added another dimension, bringing in kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd, who was released by Carolina and quickly scooped up by the Vikings.

"Obviously he has a big kickoff leg. He had a lot of success during his time in Carolina," Murphy said. "He will start off as our kickoff man and we will see where it goes from there. It will be good competition for both he and Ryan (Longwell)."

Lloyd isn't initially expected to see much action kicking field goals because of Longwell's steady success with the Vikings, but eventually that could be a possibility.

"Ryan is a very good kicker. He just finished year 13 and going into year 14. Since he has been in Minnesota he has had the best years of his career here. To kick over 90 percent on your field goals and kick off the way he did, he is at his peak right now," Murphy said. "We are not taking anything away from Ryan Longwell."

Actually, they will be taking kickoffs away from Longwell. Lloyd had a career-best 30 touchbacks in 2008, the most since the NFL went to the special K-ball, and he followed that performance with 21 touchbacks last season, tied for sixth in the NFL.


Posted by: Kevin Brown
on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 9:34:00 AM

Vikings Kanavy captains team in Race of the Saints and St. Ubaldo Day

Vikings strength and conditioning coach Tom Kanavy spent his Memorial Day weekend in Jessup, Pa., serving as captain for the team of St. George in one of only two places in the world where the Race of the Saints and St. Ubaldo Day are celebrated.

Immigrants of Gubbio, Italy, brought the festival with them when they settled in Jessup.

Kanavy, a native of Archibald, Pa., traveled from Victoria, Minn., to participate in this year's festivities.  Kanavy, who participated in the races as a teenager, said he's proud to see how resilient the tradition is in the Midvalley.

"I think it's only growing stronger and stronger," he said. "The older guys kept faith, they kept recruiting, talking about the importance of not only this day, but what it represents to the people of this town and this area. It's a unique tradition, and it should last forever."

You can read the entire story from the Scranton Times Tribune.

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Posted by: Kevin Brown
on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 5:48:00 PM

Weekend Update

A compilation of news and notes from around the web this Memorial Day weekend:

Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is comfortable with Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson as the starting safeties, with Jamarca Sanford and Husain Abdullah pushing for reps.

Undrafted rookie free agent OG Adrian Battles, who went to school at Minnesota State in Mankato, says he feels like a college freshman all over again.

Ex-Viking DE Kenechi Udeze is finding success and keeping himself busy since health issues forced his early retirement from the NFL.

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield was named to the Buffalo Bills 2000s All-Decade team.

Talk continues to swirl about possibly pursuing OL Chester Pitts, an unrestricted free agent from the Houston Texans, but so far the Vikings look ready to move forward with their same starting five.

Ex-Vikings QB Gino Torretta is now CEO of Touchdown Radio Productions.

Posted by: Tim Yotter
on Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 10:11:00 AM

Vikings challenging Webb

Joe Webb continues to be one of the more intriguing stories of the Vikings offseason. A position switch – or rather a switch back to his college position – will do that.

Webb, a sixth-round pick of the Vikings, was drafted to be a receiver despite spending his career at the University of Alabama-Birmingham as a quarterback. He spent Senior Bowl week working as a receiver, showing off a 6-foot-4 frame and good hands. 

He also spent most of rookie camp weekend at receiver, but on the final day the Vikings had him take some snaps at quarterback, and that's where he's been ever since.

"We drafted him as a big athlete. Just kind of bring him in and see what he is capable of. We got a chance to watch him down at the Senior Bowl as a wide receiver and we liked that," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "But we want to get the opportunity to see him throw. All of the sudden you see him throw and the guy can spin it. He's got a strong arm and we want to be able to take advantage of those skills." 

The Vikings put a lot on the playbook plate of Percy Harvin last year and he responded with a very solid season as a receiver and a Pro Bowl season as a kickoff returner. This year, Webb is being challenged with his skills at quarterback and his ability to be an athlete at that position – he was the first player in NCAA history to have back-to-back seasons throwing for 2,000 yards and running for 1,000 yards.

"I think Joe has done a nice job. We have put him out there in a lot of difficult situations," Bevell said. "He's doing some different things because of the offense that he played in. He can throw it, he has good arm strength. It's just a matter right now of getting all of the nuances and continuing to get in that playbook to make sure he knows what he is doing."

So far, the Vikings don't have any immediate plans to move him away from quarterback.


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