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2019 Roster Predictions: Offense Edition

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By: Tanishka Mhaskar
August 30th, 2019
Photo: Tanishka Mhaskar

The Minnesota Vikings have finished the preseason, thankfully without any major injuries. Now the Vikings have to narrow 90 men to 53. 

This is my first offensive 53 man roster projection, so be sure to comment below and let me know where you agree or disagree!

Quarterbacks (3):

1) Kirk Cousins
2) Sean Mannion
3) Kyle Sloter

Practice Squad: Jake Browning

This is pretty self explanatory. Head Coach Mike Zimmer prefers having three quarterbacks on the roster. Cousins signed a big money deal last offseason, Coach Zimmer likes Mannion for his experience, and Sloter is Mr. Preseason--also a good developmental piece. Browning is a QB that the Vikings picked up as a UDFA out of Washington and we've seen him play once this preseason, vs. the Saints. 

Running Backs/Full Backs (5):

1) Dalvin Cook
2) Alexander Mattison 
3) Mike Boone
4) C.J. Ham
5) Khari Blasingame

CUT: Ameer Abdullah, De'Angelo Henderson 

Cook is back and healthier than ever, so the Vikings will likely be relying on him to be the workhorse. Behind him, the Vikings third round pick out of Boise State, is Alexander Mattison. This preseason, Mike Boone has especially impressed as he currently leads all RBs in scrimmage yards. He put up 136 total yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He's been simply explosive. 

One thing to notice about this new look Vikings offense is that there have been many two back sets in the backfield. With both C.J. Ham and Khari Blasingame playing well, it's going to come down to the wire. I would not be surprised if we kept them both. 

Wide Receivers (5):

1) Adam Thielen
2) Stefon Diggs
3) Chad Beebe
4) Olabisi Johnson
5) Brandon Zylstra

PS: Jeff Badet
CUT/TRADED: Jordan Taylor, Dillon Mitchell, Alexander Hollins, Laquon Treadwell, Davion Davis

Thielen and Diggs were the best duo in the league last season but the question was, "Who's after them?" Well, the Vikings might have just found the answer in Chad Beebe, son of the legendary Don Beebe. Behind Beebe, Olabisi Johnson has done well this preseason. There arguably wasn't enough hype for him during the draft. Finally, Brandon Zylstra was stellar vs Seattle last week. After a long injury recovery, Zylstra seems to be gaining back some of his explosive abilities.

Badet has speed and could be used as a deep threat if he develops more. Finally, the Vikings will likely be looking to trade Laquon Treadwell after Zimmer talked about how they were trying to showcase him--essentially as a tryout for other teams.

Tight Ends (3): 

1) Kyle Rudolph
2) Irv Smith Jr.
3) Tyler Conklin
4) David Morgan (PUP)

PS: Cole Hikutini
CUT: Brandon Dillon

The Vikings arguably have one of the deepest tight end groups in the league. Rudolph just inked in a deal to keep him in Minnesota for four more seasons. Second round pick Irv Smith Jr. should be used for mismatches and even has the occasional third wide receiver. Behind them, Tyler Conklin has played well ever since Stefanski became interim OC and he's simply got better this offseason. Finally, David Morgan has basically missed this entire offseason rehabbing injury, so it will be interesting to see when he starts practicing. As one of the most solid blocking TEs in the league, I doubt we cut him.

Offensive Tackles (4):

1) Riley Reiff
2) Brian O'Neill
3) Rashod Hill
4) Dakota Dozier 

PS: Storm Norton, Oli Udoh
CUT: Aviante Collins, Nate Wozniak

The starting bookends are set and it's a nice pair. Behind them, Rashod Hill is serviceable if anyone happens to go down. Dakota Dozier is a surprise for most as he's played well enough to earn second team LT reps. 

The man with the most Vikings name, Storm Norton and Oli Udoh, the sixth round pick out of Elon have done enough to guarantee spots on the PS, and they should be a nice project for OL Coach Rick Dennison.

Aviante Collins has frustrated most fans with his injury bug and due to the other tackles playing well in his absence, I would not be surprised to see him as a surprise cut.

Interior Linemen (5): 

1) Pat Efllein
2) Garrett Bradbury
3) Josh Kline
4) Brett Jones
5) Dru Samia

PS: Danny Isadora
CUT: Cornelius Edison, John Keenoy

The interior line is all changed up from last season, and for better. The Viking also have considerably better depth here by spending two of their draft picks on linemen. With the new Kubiak/Stefanski system, the offense as a whole should be better.

And that's the entire offense! Let me know what you think, and I'll be sure to update this after the preseason! SKOL

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Chatting with Chad Greenway

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Chatting with Chad Greenway

Photo: Chad Greenway
By: Preet Shah
    I was recently very fortunate to be able to Interview former Pro Bowl linebacker and career Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway. He was kind enough to speak on everything from his playing career, his opinions on some of the new rules, and what he’s up to post-retirement. We at VikingNations thank Mr.Greenway for his time and ask you to check out his family foundation and Gray Duck Vodka.

When did you decide, as a multi sport athlete in high school, that football was the sport for you?

Greenway: “I really didn’t decide, I actually was a four sport athlete out of high school, loved basketball and track, but it really came down to receiving a high level Big 10 offer for football, which I only received one but that really set the tone for where I was gonna go.”

Who was the person you were closest with on the team and who was the most talented player you played with on defense?

Greenway: “I would say that the closest guy was definitely Ben Leber and the most talented is Jared Allen and you could also put Kevin Williams up there.” 

Who was your favorite coach that you have ever played for?

Greenway: “The most talented coach I ever played for in my career, it would be hard to go against Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, and he's talented in multiple ways: in one sense he's taking 18 to 22-year-old guys and making them into men and great people. I would say the most talented football coach from an Xs and Os standpoint and a motivational standpoint is Coach Zimmer. As far as Xs and Os, he’s brilliant, and he understands the game at another level that I never had an opportunity to learn until I met him. He teaches you another level of the game and how to see it differently from a defensive standpoint. Given that he did that on the other side of the ball as well, I would say hands down Coach Zimmer because he has the total package.

What was the hardest transition to make in your specific position from a Leslie Frazier lead defense to a Mike Zimmer lead defense?

Greenway: “Just learning really how to blitz and learning how to be that player to fit the more aggressive style. The Tampa 2 system I played for 8 years under Mike Tomlin and Leslie Frazier was more of the ‘bend but don't break’ mentality. In that system it was more of a 'we will give you yards but make the stop when we need to,' and we had some very successful years with that style of defense, but Coach Zimmer is much more about playing downhill, being the aggressor, and more of taking the game to the offense. I think that was something I had to learn and try to fit more of the attack mentality, and from a schematic standpoint it was about getting better in Man Coverage and learning how to blitz.”

You played against a lot of great players in practice like Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre, what do you think is one thing that you've learned from them by facing them every day? 

Greenway: “I would say from guys like Brett, it was learning how to anticipate but also how to have fun and love the game. Brett had a love for the game and a certain kid mentality with the game that kept him playing for so long at such a high level. He was never into the ‘Normal’ stereotypical way to prepare for the game, but he was such a talented player. The NFL is a reaction business and you just really have to let your instincts play and I feel like that's how Brett played. Now you hear about these Quarterbacks who are really smart, try to see what happens before the play comes, and know what to expect - I would say that Brett had all of those intangibles. What made him really legendary was his ability just to play and react to what he saw, and just go do it and that's what he did really well. Adrian was just a guy who was just physically so good, and it was incredible to see him just constantly stay on top with the way he trained.”

Most people grow up wanting to play offense and score touchdowns, you got 2 touchdowns in your career while playing defense, what was the feeling like after scoring a touchdown?

Greenway: “Well it's even sweeter as a defensive player because they don't come as often, but it's certainly a great feeling and it's something you certainly can't put into words. It's a feeling of complete exhilaration and excitement, especially when you’re surrounded by your teammates.”

In the 2009 NFC championship game there was a 4th and inches in overtime where it had looked like you had knocked the ball out of Pierre Thomas’s hands, what was your initial reaction after that play and after it was ruled a first down?

Greenway: “Yeah, I knew I had knocked the ball loose and knocked him back, so the initial feeling was that he had got the yardage he needed on the initial jump - which was like 4 inches. Although I didn't think he was stopped on the first surge, it turned out when the ball is knocked loose, it needed to be respotted where he recollected the ball - and with the respot he clearly would have been short. I mean it was just a play in a football game that turned into be a controversial play even though it was just a 6-inch difference. That's just how football works and it was just one of those situations where if that play happens now you feel like it's probably respotted, but the game in 2009 just didn't have that level of review, and they were not willing to flip that call in that situation. But certainly on a 4th down it turned into an impactful situation.”

What was the locker room feeling after you had later found out about Bountygate? 

Greenway: “No it wasn't, certainly was not. It was just really a feeling of sheer disappointment. Disappointment in ourselves because when you turn the football over as many times as we did against a good football team. I'd love to say we were the better football team on paper and in that game, to be in that game with 5 turnovers was pretty incredible, but at the end of the day we weren't the better team, we didn't win and you have to move on, but certainly sheer disappointment after walking back into that locker room. It wasn't a sense that we had got robbed or screwed or jobbed, it was just a sense of we didn't do enough. That's just the way it was. You come to find out that some other shenanigans were going on but I still don't know that impacted the direct outcome of the game, although I know some Vikings fans will certainly argue with me on that.”

How do you feel about the new NFL rules that clearly favor the offensive player and how would you try to work around them?

Greenway: “Yeah it's an ongoing challenge. I would just try to take the rule in and understand it and try to react and play that way. A defensive player isn't going to always be 100 percent perfect and clean, and you are going to have some issues with timing and people having their bodies in different positions. It's a tough thing to pull off: slow down, lift your head, or whatever the situation. I get the rule, it trying to protect offensive player and people who put fans in seats so it is what it is and as a defensive player you complain, you whine, and you just go play. That's the way it goes.”

What made you want to stay in Minnesota your whole playing career in an era where players move around all the time?

Greenway:  “Close to home for me, being from South Dakota, and my wife and I went to school at the University of Iowa, so it's just felt like home to us. The team took care of me and I got my second contract and I really thought about where we were, so I took a pay cut at the back part of the contract and I thought about what kind of legacy I wanted to leave, what kind of player I wanted to be, and what type of person I wanted to be in the fan’s eyes. If you ask people now, nobody remembers that I took a pay cut, nobody remembers all the bad things that happened, they just remember a guy who finished his the Minnesota Vikings and being a Viking for life and that's something that I am very proud of and that happy to have been a part of. Looking back the controlled years of my career were important and I’m certainly thankful that the organization, the Wilf family, and Rick Spielman put me in that position, Obviously had something to do with my play and ability but also my leadership qualities and consistency things that they look for in a football player, to be more than just a player but organizationally someone who can help the team.”

What season in your 11 year career and what moment in particular stands out as your most memorable?

Greenway: “2009, just making it to the pinnacle of the football world, there was just 1 game left that we never got to but that was the highest level. Although it was a disappointing moment, looking back it was a cool part of my career and amazing to just play in that kind of game. To have a good game against the Saints and to play well was so cool, and it's one of those things where you look back and say that was one of the highest points of anybody's career - it’s a bad situation because we lost, but it's a pretty good bad situation.”

Did you ever have one specific moment when you knew you wanted to retire? 

“My retirement was just a growing concept of my family and my personal life becoming much more important professional life and it always was priority but football and my weekends and the things that I was doing when my kids were younger was something I wasn't willing to miss any longer for my career, with my career being near the end the mentality was that I felt so good about being done that I was done with the process so to speak. The moment when I knew that I had one exact year left was when Blair missed the Kick in the playoffs against Seattle, I knew I couldn't end my career on those terms. That moment solidified in my head that I needed one more opportunity at this, I just didn't want that to be the last moment I remembered. Coming back the next year we didn't have the year that we wanted, finishing .500 with a win against Chicago at US Bank Stadium. Getting to play in US Bank stadium for the first year was so impactful that it was just the perfect storm to be done that year.”

What was the hardest transition from your career to your retired life?

Greenway: “Nothing from a football perspective. I really haven’t missed the game and the competition. I feel like when I played I competed as highly as I could and gave everything I had. I felt like I had nothing left in the tanks so to speak so I never had that what if mentality going into retirement so that's been really nice. I have kept myself busy in my personal life with my kids, my Vodka brand, and everything else I have going on. Staying busy and enjoying what I'm doing is really the most important thing. I'm fortunate enough financially to be able to do what I want to do to an extent.”

Anything you would like to endorse?

Greenway: “My family foundation, we would love for readers to get involved in our family foundation, and you can go to to learn more about the things that we do and the kids and the families we affect. I would love for people to get involved and request the Vikings fans who've been so supportive of what we have done to stay involved. Also Gray Duck Vodka; our brand was launched in August and we are a Minnesota based Vodka company that I am a partner in and part of the day to day process.” 

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Interview with Chad Beebe

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Interview with Chad Beebe

Image result for chad beebe

By: Preet Shah

With the start of Training Camp right around the corner and the preseason following that, we at Vikingnations were lucky enough to be able to interview last preseason’s standout wide receiver, Chad Beebe, son of former Super Bowl winner Don Beebe.

We asked a total of 10 questions and hopefully, this gives you a better insight into Chad Beebe as both a person and a player.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

What did you learn from being around other professional football players at such a young age?

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned and am still learning is how to best take care of my body. The best ability is availability.” 

Who are you the closest with on the team?

“Tough question because there are a few guys, but to name one probably Adam.”

What have you learned from the Vikings coaching staff about your game?

“That I need to keep working on the vertical route game as I continue to grow in the NFL game.”

What changes have you noticed in the new offensive regime?

“That our offensive room is full of confidence as well as attitude to prove ourselves this year.”

What are you looking to improve upon in your second season with the team?

“I hope to improve my vertical route game. I also hope to bring another element to our offense this year to help us go far in the postseason.”

What type of music do you listen to before the game?
“I listen to a bit of everything honestly. Variety is key. Some worship music, some Bob Marley, a little bit of hip hop.”

How do you think going against the Vikings secondary has improved your game?

“We have one of the best secondaries in the league and there is no doubt that they have made me a better wideout. Super thankful for that.”

What is something you hope to accomplish by the end of this year? Doesn’t have to be football-related.

“My goal is to always just do my best in everything I do and try to be the best example for young kids. I want to be an impact for the better.”

How has playing alongside Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen improved your game?

“I’ve been able to watch how they run routes and how they carry themselves on game day. Those two aspects have been crucial for me to improve my game. But another big key is how I’ve been able to watch them off the practice field. How they live life outside of football. Whether it’s taking care of their bodies or the camaraderie they bring to the locker room.”

Describe an experience you’ve had with Coach Zimmer?

“After my first first down catch at the Detroit game at home, I ran to the sideline and coach Zimmer gave me a nod and said ‘good job.’ Haha small but nice to hear as a rookie.”

That concludes the interview with Mr. Chad Beebe, we thank him for his time and for allowing us to put this on our website. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to be alerted to more interviews as they come out. As always, Skol Vikes.

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Chatting with Zylstra

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By: Zac Brown
August 22nd, 2019
Photo: Brandon Zylstra/Twitter Account.

Recently I had the privilege of having a conversation with Vikings WR Brandon Zylstra and we talked about numerous subjects including OTAS, how he has been impacted by his teammates and his expectation for the 2019 season.
I started the conversation by asking how the offseason training programs were going to which he expressed a great deal of optimism. Zylstra explained how he has enjoyed getting back to the grind of playing along with his excitement of the new offensive scheme. This past offseason the Vikings made former quarterback coach Kevin Stefanski the full-time offensive coordinator after liking what they saw from him in that role that last quarter of the season. While not receiving a lot offensive reps last year, one area Zylstra did get a lot of playing time was special teams including brief action as a punt returner. I asked Brandon if being a punt returner is something he would be interested in full-time this season to which he replied “ I’m 100 percent a team player, I’m cool with wherever they want to put me, wherever is going to help the team succeed.’’ The Vikings have the need for a primary punt returner after long time returner and Minnesota native Marcus Sherels left via free agency to sign with the New Orleans Saints.

Another topic we talked about was his NFL journey and how it compares to that of fellow wide receiver and all pro Adam Thielen. Thielen and Zylstra have similar journeys that both include being from small Minnesota towns, not receiving any Division 1 college scholarships, playing college football locally and having to try out for the Vikings before receiving a contract offer. Zylstra acknowledged the comparisons and noted that he does receive a lot of questions about Thielen and also mentioned how their games are similar and that he tries to learn as much from Adam’s game as he possibly can.

The last thing Zylstra and I talked about was what his expectations were for the 2019 season. It can be a conflicted questions because some players only goal and expectation is winning a championship and other players may have personal statistic goals they desire and expect to accomplish. For Zylstra, he explained that his goal is to become the number three receiver on the roster behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, while also expressing his desire to do what he can to help his team win.
Being able to have an opportunity to talk to Brandon Zylstra gave me an in depth look into the journey of becoming an NFL player. Since becoming a Viking he has done nothing but shown up everyday and worked hard to show what he is capable of. I personally am excited to see him play this year and I wish him all the best.
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Kyle Rudolph Stays Home; Signs Extension

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By: AJ Condon
June 11, 2019

While most people were watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals late Monday night, the Minnesota Vikings were able to keep Minnesotan-loving Kyle Rudolph with the team for four more years.

Contract Details

The Vikings and Rudolph have been in contract talks this whole offseason as well as some rumors of being traded. The Vikings draft selection didn't help those rumors simmer out either, when they selected Irv Smith Jr., tight end out of Alabama, with the 50th pick in this years draft.

All those rumors were put to rest late Monday night when Rudolph posted a very meaningful post about how much Minnesota meant to him with the caption "#UnfinishedBusiness #Skol" with this screenshot.

That was quickly followed by multiple reports of Rudolph and the Vikings coming to terms. Later that night, the details came out for the deal, four years, $36 million. This puts Rudolph as the fourth highest paid tight end in terms of average per year behind Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed.

Rudolph's cap hit for this season is $3.55 million and the future four-year breakdown will come out soon. Multiple reports reported that this deal actually freed up $4 million in cap space for this season.

Looking Forward

With Rudolph being locked up until 2023, the Vikings have many weapons that fans should be excited for. Kirk Cousins behind center with Dalvin Cook in the backfield, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs out wide, and Smith Jr. and Rudolph running a two-tight end set.

I will bring back this stat of Kirk Cousins while in Washington when he was working with a two-tight end set. Cousins has been the best quarterback from 2015-2017 when working with two tight ends. Given his two tight ends were Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, Rudolph and Smith Jr. aren't as dangerous as those two were, but don't be surprised if we see the tight ends being used more these next couple of years than Vikings' fans are used to.
The two-time Pro Bowler will turn 30-years-old later this season, but he has been one of the most reliable tight ends in the league and for the Vikings. He has played in all 16 games in the last four seasons, and had his career year in 2016. He has averaged 625 yards and six touchdowns over those years.

Last season Rudolph was targeted 82 times, which was 13.5% of Cousins attempts and had his highest catch percentage catching 78 percent of balls that came his way. He also has only fumbled the ball once in his career.

It isn't just his strong hands that impress me, his red zone presence is very reliable. In the past two seasons, Rudolph has hauled in 71 percent of his targets and reeled in ten touchdowns inside the 20. In the past two seasons he has also been responsible for 20.8 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively, for his teams' targets in the red zone.

This is probably the last offseason move for the Vikings, but caps off a busy one. The Vikings resigned Anthony Barr, restructured Everson Griffen, and signed Thielen to a long-term deal.
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Minnesota Vikings Draft Dru Samina

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Minnesota Vikings Draft Dru Samina

 Oklahoma's Dru Samia poses for a photo during the University of Oklahoma's football media day at Gaylord Family -Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Sunday, July 22, 2018. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

   Photo by: Brian Terry, The Oklahoman 

By: Preet Shah
In the 4th round of the Minnesota Vikings selected Dru Samia. The Vikings started their third day in the draft by trading up to pick 114 to select the guard out of Oklahoma. The Vikings traded pick 120 and 204 to the Seahawks for pick 114. This is the 4th consecutive pick in this draft where the Vikings selected a player on offense, which comes as a surprise due to the well documented defensive nature of coach Mike Zimmer. Samia was part of the best offensive line in college football last year where he helped keep first overall pick Kyler Murray clean in the pocket. He will now team up with the Vikings first round pick, Garrett Bradbury, and join the offensive line.

I would doubt with the signing of Josh Kline that Samia will start right away but instead will prove to be a much-needed depth piece on the offensive line. Samia has experience at both right tackle and guard but will likely play at guard due to his shorter size. I think that Samia will compete with Brett Jones and Danny Isidora to be the first guard off the bench.

This pick, much like the Bradbury pick seems to have Dennison’s and Kubiak's fingerprints all over it as Samia was rated considered one of the best zone blocking lineman in the draft. This pick will be good for providing competition and depth to a position group that in recent years has lacked both. As always leave your comments and opinions below and Skol Vikes.

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