It is always a challenge to get caught up after a vacation. When the vacation you’re catching up from isn’t yours, it’s also a surprise.
My sister swept into town, her husband and her baby in tow, and I wasn’t able to find the time to even skim the sports page until they left. Which was tough because plenty of interesting things happened in the wide world of Vikings football while I was distracted by the cuteness of my teething eight-month-old niece.
As far as I can tell, this is what I missed. Percy Harvin spent a night in the hospital for observation after collapsing on the practice field because of migraine complications—he was released the next day. The Vikings lost to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. Sidney Rice went to Vail, Colorado for hip surgery. Javon Walker, who once elicited criticism from Brett Favre for contract antics back when they were teammates together in Green Bay, signed with the Vikings to help shore up the depleted receiving corps. The Vikings completed a rare player-for-player trade with the Miami Dolphins, exchanging corner back Benny Sapp for wide receiver Greg Camarillo. Former member of the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff, Pete Carroll came to town with the Seattle Seahawks to face the Vikings on Saturday night—the Vikings won, but their performance was a mixed bag.
Actually, I did manage to see both the 49ers game and the Seahawks game, but I’m kind of writing off the 49ers game because I was distracted. My niece was watching the game with me and Rookie was a cute, non-sleeping, handful in her Vikings onesie. So I’ll just speak to the game against the Seahawks which I watched without Rookie.
Saturday night reminded me of a Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Really, there was a little bit of everything.
I’m more of a bad news first kind of person, so that’s where I’ll start. The Vikings offensive line needs to gel, protect the quarterback, and give the running game a fighting chance. Certainly, they are affected by not having John Sullivan in at center and having a rookie on the line too, but in the meantime, the quarterbacks are suffering. There were some plays Saturday night where, I don’t know if there was a miscue or what, but Seahawks defenders barreled through the line untouched and flattened Brett Favre. To make matters worse, one of the times he was being flattened Favre fumbled the ball.
For his part, Favre was mostly what you would expect. He some showed signs of fatigue and rust, but it was liberally sprinkled with accurate missiles spread out to nine different targets. Perhaps the most shocking reception was Farve’s first pass over the middle to Percy Harvin. I didn’t even realize that Harvin was going to play because he hasn’t been able to participate much in practice. While Favre did throw two picks, one of them wasn’t his fault—Bernard Berrian couldn’t quite hang on to it and the Seahawks defense snagged it on the bobble.
But now, onto better things.
I’m just going to highlight a few things, but there were lots of good things peppered into an up-and-down game.
Greg Camarillo pulled in passes with his sure hands showing Vikings fans why the team traded Benny Sapp to get him from Miami. Camarillo may not have breakaway speed, which was a liability when the Seahawks defender got two yards ahead of him and intercepted Brett Favre’s pass, but Camarillo’s fantastic sticky fingers could still make him a favorite target for Brett Favre. Some of the local journalists have sneered a bit that he isn’t particularly explosive or dynamic, but I think with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin (when available), and Bernard Berrian (when he’s on the same page as Favre) not every player on the offense needs to be exciting and dynamic—some of them can just get the job done.
Despite being treated a bit like a redheaded stepchild, Sage Rosenfels marched the Vikings downfield and distinguished himself as the only Vikings quarterback to pass for a touchdown during Saturday’s game. He connected with newcomer Javon Walker in the end zone. Walker was in thick coverage but fought to come up with the ball. With the latest talk being that Tavaris Jackson is going to be the second quarterback on the depth chart, I hope that other teams recognize Rosenfels abilities and give him a chance to do more than fondle a clipboard on the sidelines this season.
And on defense, young Chris Cook is making a strong bid to be a starter in the September 9 game at New Orleans. With his height and his speed Cook was a desirable pick, but the coaches have said how much they like his sheer drive to learn everything they have to teach. Buzz-worthy through training camp, Cook was in on several great stops Saturday night. He’s got confidence, ability, and drive—and Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen are going to have to work hard on Thursday night if they want to win the starting job away from him.
On special teams Darius Reynaud had a fantastic game. His kick return from around the Vikings 4-yardline up to the Seahawks’ 22-yardline was a thing of beauty. If he can keep making plays like that, you have to believe he has a future with the Vikings.
It is going to be interesting to see how many starters the coaches decide to play on Thursday. Will we get a repeat of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, or will we see a more cohesive team? Guess we won’t know until Thursday. Is anyone else getting twitching about September 9?
This piece is also posted at vikingsmix.com and http://www.dailynorseman.com under my alter ego Skol Girl. She’s all football, all the time.