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True Professional

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Jamie Harmer
Published 9/1/18
Image: DHartist 

Hearing the recent news that 11 year vet Brian Robison has been released. So instead of writing about why he was, and how we have to trust the process, I'd rather look back on a player that I've looked up to for many years.
Robison was drafted to the Vikes in the 4th round of the 2007 draft.( That's not a typo, he really has been in MN that long) Spent his first couple years as a back up. Getting his shot after the departure of Ray Edwards, Robison took his spot among the starting front four. Didn't take long for the long haired Longhorn to make his mark as a pass rusher. Combining with the likes of Jared Allen to create quite the pair of bookend DE's.
As the years went by, Robison became a Fan favorite. Launching 96 questions on, adding flair to his sacks with the Reel 'em in celebration, and most importantly never taking his profession for granted. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Robison interact with fans. Be it over social media or in person, B-Rob always had time for the fans.
It's never easy to write a piece on a players release, but I chose to write this one to express my graditude for 96. It's not often a player goes 11 years with the same team in today's NFL. Hell, it's not often a player goes 11 years in the NFL period. We as fans were lucky to have a guy with such high character suit up every Sunday for the passed 11 seasons for the Purple and Horns! Here are Robison's on field stats: 289 tackles, 60 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, and 1 TD.
One stat you won't find on any stat line is what he has done outside of the game of football. The Reel em In foundation maybe Robison's most impressive stat of all. We all have seen the awesome merch and the fishing tournaments Robison has done. What we don't see is the countless hours he has spent creating a foundation that provides financial assistance in the training of law enforcement K9s.
On behave of the crew here at VikingNations, we thank you Brian Robison for being a true professional in every sense of the word. No matter where life takes you, you will always be a Viking!
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Vikings Cut Kai Forbath

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The Vikings kicking battle has come to an end

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Tanishka Mhaskar
August 21st, 2018

On Monday morning, the Minnesota Vikings made some roster changes, including the release of veteran kicker Kai Forbath. This move comes a couple days after Forbath missed a 41 yard field goal vs the Jaguars.

5th round pick K Daniel Carlson is now the undisputed kicker for the Vikings. Carlson hasn't missed a single kick in his short NFL tenure. During the first Vikings preseason game vs the Denver Broncos, Carlson hit all of his kicks, including an impressive 57 yard field goal.

Head coach Mike Zimmer has been highly impressed with Carlson. "He's got a pretty strong leg. Kickoffs were really good. Pretty accurate on the field goals."

It will be intriguing to see how Carlson handles the pressure in the NFL, which is the biggest stage he's ever played on. Luckily Carlson seems like he knows just what to do. “There are certain mental things and training techniques with breathing and different things you kind of learn over experience and feeding off other kickers and see what works for them,” Carlson said earlier this month. “Just not get overwhelmed in the big moments and make sure you’re able to perform at your best and make sure you’re in control and not letting the adrenaline take over. Saying a quick prayer goes a long way for me. You treat every kick the same, whether it’s out here at practice or in a playoff game or the game’s on the line. Whatever it is, you’re just trying to compose yourself and do your technique and what you’ve done a million times.”

Zimmer is also happy with the way Carlson has handled pressure and how calm he manages to remain. “He’s been pretty calm all along. Time will tell on that. It was nice seeing him in Denver, going out and kick those. It will be a little bit different when we’re playing San Francisco, I’m sure."

The Vikings have made their decision on kicker, which bring us one step closer to the final 53 man roster. We'll see how it goes.

"You make your decision and live with it," Zimmer.
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A Look At Position Battles and Depth

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Jamie Harmer
Published 8/19/2018

Two down, two to go in the 2018 preseason. Figured it would be a good time to take a peek in on the Vikings position battles.  Let's start with the RB3 spot. Three running backs started this camp vying for the spot behind duo Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Veteran Mack Brown, and two undrafted rookie free agent signings Mike Boone and Roc Thomas. Boone has flashed in camp, while Thomas took off in his first NFL action against the Broncos. Boone tighten the competition with some hard nose running over the weekend verses the Jags. Brown has fell behind the two rookies do to injury. Going forward, I'd say this is now a two man competition between Mike Boone and Roc Thomas with two games left to sort it out.
Next up, rookie Mike Hughes and third year corner Mackensie Alexander for the nickel slot spot. This isn't a one make one cut situation, but does play a huge role on who will start in the Nickel package. Alexander has the experience, working two full seasons now in the slot. Mack struggled with the move last season. Although he still doesn't look entirely comfortable in year two. Mike Hughes comes in with a lot of good intangibles. His size seems to fit the slot better, he has great quickness to jump short routes, and has impressed me with his tackling ability. Zimmer has heaped praise on the rook for his ability to learn so much so quickly. With Alexander suffering an ankle sprain in Saturday's game(MRI today) it would seem Hughes will get work with the first team in the Nickel package in practice leading up to Friday's game against Seattle. If Alexander is out any length of time, I think the team goes with Hughes as its slot corner.
Let's stay on the defensive side of the ball and move on to the linebackers group. Lots to shake out in way of depth at this level. Eric Wilson, Reshard Cliett, Devante Downs, and Antwione Williams are all names I really like backing up Barr, Kendricks, and Gedeon. Eric Wilson has stood out among these names, I see him making the 53. Beyond that it will come down to who makes the plays without the mistakes.(Or even who can remain healthy) Kentrell Brothers is in a vulnerable spot with the team. He faces a four game suspension to start the regular season, and hasn't had a good preseason dealing with an injury. The deck is stacked against Brothers, with the one saving grace is his experience among the LB depth. If the Vikes carry six linebackers I see the six being: Barr, Kendricks, Gedeon, Wilson, Downs, Williams. (Cliett could be stashed on the practice squad) unfortunately, I think Brothers is the odd man out of this group.
Continuing on to the secondary, we see four players standout depth wise. UDFA rookie Holton Hill who has had an up and down preseason to this point. (Note: more good than bad)  Horace Richardson who has been solid from camp on. Two other names to keep in mind are Trevon Mathis, and Tray Matthews. Both guys playing positive minutes. Not sure just how many defensive backs the Vikes will keep on the active 53, but they have some hard decisions to make. Let's not forget that other teams will be keeping a close eye on which players the Vikings release especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Now it's time to look at the WR4, WR5 and possibly WR6 spots. We know that's WR1-WR3 will be Diggs, Thielen, Treadwell. The Vikes have eight wide outs to choose from for those final three spots. Names at the top of the list would have to be Cayleb Jones, Kendall Wright, Stacy Coley.  Let's not over look Chad Beebe, Tavarres King, and Jake Weineke. I think that the Coley and Zylstra injuries have opened the door for players like Chad Beebe and Cayleb Jones. As we all know "You can't make the club from the tub." -Zimmer
The last group I'm looking at is the rotation up front on the defensive line. This team is deep up front, and versatile. Players like Robison, Odenigbo, and Holmes playing both DE and DT give this group the kind of quality rotation it needs for the long haul. Again, depending on how many the Vikes carry will decide just how hard the decisions will be when it comes to roster cut down.

Oh, and the kicking battle. I think it ended Saturday afternoon when Kai Forbath doinked the upright on his second field goal attempt. I noticed that Carlson was in to kick the p.a.t. following the Mike Boone touchdown.
Baring any melt downs, I think Daniel Carlson will be the Vikes Kicker in '18 and beyond.

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Vikings fall to Jaguars

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Reflecting off of the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars

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Tanishka Mhaskar
August 18th, 2018

The Minnesota Vikings did not look like themselves on Saturday afternoon when they fell short of a victory in a sloppy, penalty filled game. They lost 14-10, and although were very banged up going into the game, somehow ended up more banged up after the game. 

The Vikings first team offense looked very unimpressive today after coming off of a very impressive preseason debut in Denver. QB Kirk Cousins who was perfect last week, completing all of his passes and scoring a touchdown, went 3 of 8 for 12 yards. Cousins was pressured often as the Vikings had four backup linemen in against one of the best defensive lines in the league, penned as "Sacksonville." 

The Tay-train didn't roll today either, as RB Latavius Murray put the ball on the ground twice. The first time it was recovered by LG Tom Compton, but the second time Jaguars DE Calais Campbell snatched it.

It is unclear what the Vikings will do at offensive line, but luckily for them OL Mike Remmers should be back on Friday for the tilt against the Seattle Seahawks. Zimmer is unsure when, but he expects both C Pat Elflein and RT Danny Isidora soon. This a very early prediction, but if all things go well, the offensive line might look like this:

LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Tom Compton
C: Pat Elflein
RG: Mike Remmers
RT: Danny Isidora

Whatever happens, it is okay to presume that the Vikings will be just fine with the return of Elflein and Remmers. If things are shaky, they can always look to trade during the season. 

The first team defense played fairly well today. S Harrison Smith picked of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles setting the Vikings up deep in Jaguars territory. The second team defense, still going against the starting QB for the Jaguars played exceptionally well. 

The Vikings special teams haven't played very well in both preseason exhibitions. The kicking battle continues, now with Forbath on thin ice. K Kai Forbath kicked two field goals today. He drilled his first, a 44 yard kick, and missed his second, a 41 yard kick which hit the right upright. 

Last week K Daniel Carlson hit every kick and extra point, including a field goal from 57 yards. He received a lot of praise from HC Mike Zimmer. 

Other than the kicking battle, the special teams was very rusty. They almost gave up a punt return touchdown, and a couple of really long returns. 

The Vikings have a lot of players to evaluate before they put out the depth chart for the home game vs the Seattle Seahawks on Friday. It is unfortunate to see so many injuries and a couple season ending injuries when the season hasn't even started.

Today's loss isn't something to get hung over, but to see where to go from here as the Minnesota Vikings arguably have the best roster in the league. SKOL

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Cousins sharp in Vikings debut.

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Jamie Harmer
Published 8/12/18

Kirk Cousins looked comfortable leading the first team offense on its only series of the night. Going 4 of 4 for 42 yards and finding Diggs for a 1 yard touchdown to cap it off. Stefon Diggs had a impressive 28 yard catch down the right sideline that lead to the score. Latavius Murray added 43 yards of his own to the drive. The running back found open lanes, and was able to capitalize. All in all, I'd say the offensive line did a great job considering the unit was missing 3 starters. Kept Cousins clean and opened up two massive holes for the Tay Train to motor through.

The first team defense was as advertised in its only drive. Getting pressure on Keenum, forcing the Broncos into a quick 3 and out. The defensive line was without starter Linval Joseph, non injury related scratch. Both the Vikings 2nd team units played well. Back up Trevor Siemian lead the Vikings to a pair of scores that included a 78 yard screen pass to rookie UDFA Roc Thomas. Thomas had himself a night. Finishing with 102 yards recivicing and 2 touchdowns. Tightening up that competition for the RB3 spot.

The 2nd team defense held in its only drive of the night. Holding Keenum and crew to a second 3 and out.(Keenum was 1 of 4 for 5 yards on two drives) Jaleel Johnson and Tashawn Bower showed flash. Johnson was able to get pressure up the middle. Bower had a sack and pass deflection. Kyle Sloter played most of the 2nd half. Leading the Vikes on scoring drives, eventually capturing the win in a 42-28 high scoring affair. Players that stood out: rookie kicker Daniel Carlson. He made all his attempts including a 57 yard field goal. LB Eric Wilson, both Anthony Harris and Jack Tocho got in the mix with an interception a piece.

Overall it was a successful preseason opener. From all accounts no serious injuries, and let's face it, that's all that really counts in preseason. Next up the Jacksonville Jaguars at US Bank. SKOL VIKES!

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Preview: Vikings vs Broncos

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By: Tanishka Mhaskar
August 10th, 2018

Old friends, new enemies

Vikings visit the Mile High Stadium for a date with the Broncos

The Minnesota Vikings are set to kick off the preseason today, August 11th, 2018 vs the Denver Broncos. Although this is just the preseason, the game is highly hyped. QBs Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum make their debut as a Viking and Bronco respectively. Almost all of the quarterbacks on both teams have a connection to the other team. 

Kirk Cousins was the unicorn of free agency, and the Denver Broncos were one of the teams coveting him. Case Keenum was the former QB for the Vikings, the one that took the team to the NFC championship. The Vikings backup QB Trevor Siemian was the starting QB of the Denver Broncos last season. Third string QB Kyle Sloter was on the Broncos for preseason last year. The Vikings picked Sloter up after he was cut by the Broncos.

Siemian and Sloter would want to show the Broncos how much they've grown and why Denver shouldn't have let him go. Same goes for Case Keenum, who will likely only play 1-2 series. He will still try to outplay Vikings QB Kirk Cousins.

Here are 5 things to keep an eye on as the Vikings play their first game of the 2018 preseason.

1) The offensive line

Did the Vikings draft plan backfire? Should they have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round? These kind of questions have been surfacing since the news of OG Nick Easton being out for the season with a herniated disk. The Vikings have 1 starter from the 2017 season practicing at training camp in LT Riley Reiff. 

In a recent press conference HC Mike Zimmer said "calm is the new." Luckily for us it's August 11th, not September 11th. There is a lot of time for the hard working offensive linemen such as Tom Compton, Cornelius Edison, Josh Andrews, Brian O'Neill, Danny Isidora, Rashod Hill and others to step up

Second year C Pat Elflein should be off the PUP list soon, according to Mike Zimmer. After the preseason game tomorrow, the offensive line can be evaluated again and if needed the Vikings can take a look at free agents. 

2) Mike Hughes 

The controversial Vikings 1st round draft pick will likely battle with CB Marcus Sherels and WR Jeff Badett for the kick and punt return. Mike Hughes will likely play CB, either in the slot or on the outside, so keep an eye out for him and his development under Mike Zimmer.

3) Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins makes his debut as a Minnesota Viking tomorrow. Mike Zimmer says his starting quarterback will play as long as the first team offensive line pays. After all, it would be tragic to see anyone get hurt in the preseason. It will be crucial to see how timing and chemistry is coming with all of his receivers, and if Treadwell will live up to his OTA and training camp hype.

4) Dalvin Cook

Dalvin Cook will be taking reps tomorrow, probably for a couple series. Sources have said that he looks really good in training camp, so it will be interesting to see how he has come back after his injury. The chef is back in the kitchen. Expect Cook to cook up the Broncos defense. 

5) Kai Forbath vs Daniel Carlson

Denver, Colorado has a high altitude. There will likely be wind. The Vikings kicking battle has been neck and neck through training camp. The game tomorrow, and the other three preseason games will hopefully tell the Minnesota Vikings which kicker is better. So far, each kicker has matched the best and worst in the other. 

VKNT is excited for Vikings football to return! The quest to Super Bowl LIII begins today. 

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Randy Moss and his everlasting impact

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Jamie Harmer
Published 8/4/18
Photo: Vikings 

I was 16 years old when the Vikings drafted Randy Moss in 1998. A die hard Vikes fan who lived his whole life in Chicago Bear country. I took a lot of heat from people around me, even family members for my choice to support the purple and horns. I was a sophomore in high school, working at a local sub sandwich shop located right off Notre Dame campus. Shortly after the '98 draft I purchased a replica Randy Moss Starter home jersey. Nothing flashy, just one of the screen printed jobs with the rubber paint applique. It wasn't my first Vikings jersey, but was by far my favorite. Now back in those days media coverage wasn't nearly as easy to access as it is today. Since I wasn't in or near Minnesota the only games I got to see were the ones against the Bears, and if I was lucky, the Vikes would get a Thanksgiving game or lone Monday night game. Since I was a fan from outside of the land of a thousand lakes, I bought a yearly subscription to the Vikings Update.

 A team tell all that was mailed to me weekly. (I had been a subscriber since the age of 10. Pretty much a Christmas gift from my Dad until I was old enough to pay for it myself.)  Now I could stuff this article full of stats that the Super Freak put up over his first 7 seasons with our Vikes, or go on about games like the '98 Thanksgiving day massacre where Moss put up Madden type numbers, but I would rather share the impact the kid from Rand, West Virginia had on a kid from South Bend, Indiana.

Vikings football had been a part of my life since I was just 6 years old.(long story on how I became a Vikes fan at such a young age, but that's for another time.) As I got older, I became more passionate about the team. As each season passed, my passion grew stronger. Then in '98, coming off a winning season(9-7) in which they made the playoffs under the guidance of Coach Dennis Green. The Vikings(Coach Green) took a chance on a kid with a troubled past outside of the game of football. At the time, it was a boom or bust pick. So with the 21st pick of the '98 draft the Minnesota Vikings selected WR Randy Moss! The team already had two great wide outs in Cris Carter, and Jake Reed, but Moss brought a dynamic to the table that wasn't seen in this game before. It was at this point that I became completely immersed in Vikings football. I read about it, wrote about it, talked about it until my face turned purple with anyone who was down to talk football! One really awesome thing that Moss helped bring was respect from the people around me. It was no longer "oh the Vikings suck" it was "Those Vikings got something going up there in Minnesota."

Maybe it was more fear than respect, but whatever it was I sure wasn't complaining. For those next seven seasons I wore the hell out of that number 84 jersey. Every gameday, no matter win, lose or draw. It was me in my Moss jersey.

 As I look back, it's hard to believe it's been twenty years. Yes, Moss spent his career playing for five different teams over a fourteen year career, but no matter where he finished we all knew where he started. Now five years after calling it an amazing career, he got that ultimate call. Today Randy Moss will enter the Pro Football Hall Of Fame as a first ballot Wide Receiver, and as a Minnesota Viking!

So I want to say thank you Randy Moss for changing the game in '98, giving us fans so many spectacular Sunday's, and for turning this Vikes fan's passion up a few thousand degrees!
This is your day 84. This has been a fun ride.


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