StarTribune.com

August 2007


A Baskett case

Friday, August 31st, 2007

So Billy McMullen is no longer a Viking and Hank Baskett remains a member of the Eagles. Regulars on this blog are likely none too happy about this development. But don’t lose too much sleep. Baskett isn’t exactly turning into the Eagles’ version of Jerry Rice.

Signed as a rookie free agent out of New Mexico after the 2006 draft, Baskett was traded to the Eagles for McMullen in the middle of May that year. He proceeded to have a good training camp and stuck on the Philadelphia roster. Baskett caught 22 passes for 464 yards with two touchdowns in 16 games. McMullen caught 23 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games.

Baskett is going to make the team again but according to folks in Philly he might have lost his role as a slot receiver to Jason Avant, a fourth-round pick a year ago. In other words, Baskett is probably now the Eagles’ fourth receiver.

McMullen, by the way, does not have to go through the waiver process once he’s released so he can simply sign with another team.

The cuts have begun

Friday, August 31st, 2007

As indicated by several players in the locker room last night, the Vikings aren’t waiting until Saturday to begin cutting their roster to the 53-player limit. Here is our list of players who were informed today that they will released or waived. We will update the list as more names become available.

*DB Patrick Body

*C Kyle Cook

*RB Ciatrick Fason

*DT Howard Green

*LB George Hall

*WR Cortez Hankton

*C Norm Katnik

*OT Jimmy Martin

*WR Billy McMullen

*TE Richard Owens

The Vikings went into the Dallas game with 76 players (actually 75 because of an exemption) on their roster and need to get down to 53 by 3 p.m. Saturday.

4 p.m. update: The Vikings had a team picnic this afternoon, so all the moves made today were done before the outing. That means things have quieted down in the past couple hours. Obviously, more cuts will be coming on Saturday.

McMullen admits mistake; notes and quotes

Friday, August 31st, 2007

A few items from the postgame locker room after the Vikings’ victory over Dallas:

– Considering the fact receiver Billy McMullen is one of the more mild-mannered players on the Vikings, it was a big surprise to see him take an unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter when he slapped a Dallas player after the play was dead.

“I lost my cool and that’s something I very rarely do,” said McMullen, who reacted that way after being subjected to trash talk. “It won’t happen anymore. Sometimes things rolls like that when you get so much emotion in the game. It was just a dumb penalty.”

Brad Childress pulled McMullen from the game after the penalty, had a brief conversation with him and sent him back in. It was clear Childress said what he felt needed to be said and let the incident go. “I’ve known him for a while,” said McMullen, who was with the Eagles when Childress was that team’s offensive coordinator. “He knows I’m not like that. I just told him, “Coach, I’ll try to get it back.’”

CORRECTING THE CORRECTION FROM SEIFERT: One thing we can do is exonerate McMullen from a mistake on Jeremy Urban’s 95-yard punt return in the first quarter. We originally thought Artose Pinner (No. 22) was the player who collided with Heath Farwell and Cullen Loeffler, knocking down all three players and allowing Urban some daylight. Then we changed our report to McMullen (No. 12) when Childress fingered him in the postgame press conference.

Upon returning to the palatial estate last night, we watched the replay and are convinced it was Pinner. It’s not a clear shot but it sure looks like him, and not McMullen, who is about 7 inches taller.

– The next time the Vikings take the field it will be for real and right now it sure sounds like the right guard (Artis Hicks vs. Anthony Herrera) and right tackle (Ryan Cook vs. Marcus Johnson) battles remain ongoing. “I would just tell you this — both right guards and both right tackles as it stands right now would be guys that would be up and eligible to play when you go to a 45 [man roster],” Childress said. “So they are going to be there. But we haven’t determined who’s the starter at right guard or right tackle. Usually you go back and look at the tape and see if somebody was extraordinary.”

– Safety Greg Blue has been in a big-time battle for his roster spot but he got an opportunity tonight to make an impression. That came because starters Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith were in the game for only one series and Mike Doss and Tank Williams sat out because of injury. Blue finished with four tackles; he also saw duty on the special teams.

– Special teams had its problems again tonight. The lowlight was a 95-yard first-quarter punt return for a touchdown by Dallas’ Jerheme Urban. Childress admitted he will feel more comfortable come Sept. 9 when the Vikings have their top special teams players on the field. “That’s kind of the double-edged sword of when you’re trying to give guys opportunities to make it, guys that may not be the starter at that position, it’s tough,” Childress said. “It’s tough to watch the ball come back up the field.” Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu, signed as a free agent because of his ability on special teams, missed the past two games because of a broken finger. He should be ready for Atlanta.

– Why does linebacker and special teams ace Heath Farwell keep making this team? One word: desire. Thursday night in what for many was a nothing game, Farwell went out and led the Vikings with nine tackles and had a forced fumble. In the preseason opener, Farwell had a team-high 10 tackles with a quarterback hurry and a sack. He might not be the most talented guy on the field but nobody works harder.

Tonight’s inactives

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

The Vikings have announced five inactives for tonight’s game although there are more players who might not get on the field. Officially, receiver Bobby Wade (ankle); safety Mike Doss (calf), safety Tank Williams (unknown), linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (finger); and defensive end Darrion Scott (unknown) won’t play. Williams and Scott have been missing practice time because Brad Childress said they are “nicked up.”

Although he hasn’t been declared out, running back Chester Taylor isn’t in uniform.

The Cowboys have made big-time changes on their depth chart for the game. Here’s who didn’t make the trip to Minnesota: kicker Martin Gramatica; cornerback Terrence Newman; linebacker Kevin Burnett; defensive end Marcus Smith; tackle Doug Free; receiver Terry Glenn; and linebacker Greg Ellis.

Update: Not only will running back Chester Taylor not play tonight. On defense defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson and cornerback Antoine Winfield aren’t going to get into the game. Winfield and Heath Farwell served as the Vikings’ captains.

Anticipation builds

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Just kidding. Two hours until kickoff and so it’s 2 hours, 11 minutes until the starters call it quits for the night. We’ll get you inactives and other exciting pregame information as soon as it’s passed along. Eagle-eye Seifert just noticed Chester Taylor is wearing sweat pants so there is a good chance he won’t be playing tonight.

Getting ready for kickoff

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

The Vikings close the preseason tonight against the Cowboys. Starters will play only one series so unless you are worried about how the backups look there won’t be much to see. It won’t be surprising if Brad Childress gives the players a few days off before they return to Winter Park to start preparing for the Sept. 9 game against Atlanta. The key thing this weekend will be the cutdown to 53 players. That must come by Saturday afternoon.

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