StarTribune.com

December 2007


What to expect this week

Monday, December 31st, 2007

The Vikings season might be finished but there is still plenty to come this week. While many teams have their players do exit interviews and physicals the day after their last game, the Vikings are going to wait until Wednesday to go through that process.

That means we’ll have access to players on Wednesday morning and get their thoughts on an 8-8 season. Coach Brad Childress will hold his season-ending news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Just the stats

Monday, December 31st, 2007

The Vikings finished the season leading the NFL in both rushing offense and defense. The offense finished with an average of 164.6 yards per game; the defense, which gave up more than 100 yards on the ground in its final two games, allowed 74.1 yards per game.

The Vikings pass defense, however, finished last in the NFL, giving up an average of 264.1 yards per game

Rice and Winfield out

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Receiver Sidney Rice (ankle) and cornerback Antoine Winfield (strained pectoral muscle) will be inactive for the second consecutive week as the Vikings close the regular season today in Denver.

Marcus McCauley will replace Winfield as the starter at the left corner.

Also inactive are safety Mike Doss; fullback Naufahu Tahi; linebackers Vinny Ciurciu and Dontarrious Thomas (groin); and tackle Chase Johnson. Kelly Holcomb will be the Vikings’ third quarterback.

The Broncos inactives are receiver Brandon Stokley (knee); fullback Mike Bell; linebacker Ian Gold (knee); guard Isaac Snell; defensive ends Larry Birdine and Paul Carrington; and tight end Daniel Graham (ankle).

Teams MVPs named

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Vikings players and coaches have elected Most Valuable Players on offense, defense and special teams. They are:

– RB Adrian Peterson: The rookie is third in the NFL with 1,305 rushing yards entering Sunday’s regular-season finale in Denver. He trails San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson (1,418 yards) and Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker (1,316). Parker’s season is finished because of injury, so Peterson should finish second in the league. Peterson led the NFL in rushing for much of the year but missed two games because of a knee injury. His 296 yards on the ground Nov. 4 against San Diego established an NFL record. Peterson also has rushed for 12 touchdowns.

Defense: E.J. Henderson made a smooth transition from weak-side linebacker back to middle linebacker this season and leads the Vikings with 138 tackles. He also has 4.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hurries and 13 tackles for loss. Vikings coach Brad Childress said he felt Henderson had a Pro Bowl caliber season. Henderson did not make the NFC team but is a second alternate.

– Special teams: Heath Farwell leads the Vikings with 30 tackles playing on these units and is a repeat winner. Farwell set a team mark this year by recovering two on-side kicks in a season.

Last season, running back Chester Taylor was the Vikings’ MVP on offense and cornerback Antoine Winfield earned the honor on defense.

Williams returns; Ciurciu sits

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Nose tackle Pat Williams (knee, elbow) returned to practice Friday after sitting out the previous two days. It appears certain Williams will play in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Denver.

Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (sprained ankle) was not taking part in practice for a third consecutive day and it’s unlikely he will be on the field Sunday. Ciurciu’s loss will hurt the Vikings on special teams.

The Vikings will issue an injury report later today that will give the expected status of their injured players.

The injury report

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Nose tackle Pat Williams missed a second consecutive day of practice Thursday because of knee and elbow injuries. The elbow problem was a new addition on today’s report. Coach Brad Childress expressed no concern about Williams missing Sunday’s game at Denver.

There is a good reason for this. Williams has not missed a start since the 2001 season when he was a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Also sitting out Thursday was receiver Bobby Wade. Wade has been bothered by a knee injury since late October but has not missed any playing time.

Linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (ankle) was the only other player to sit out. Taking part on a limited basis were cornerback Antoine Winfield (shoulder); linebackers David Herron (concussion) and Dontarrious Thomas (groin); and receiver Sidney Rice (groin).

Childress said that Winfield did more work today than he was able to do on Wednesday.

For the Broncos, linebacker Ian Gold (knee); tight end Daniel Graham (ankle); and receiver Brandon Stokley (knee) did not take part in practice.

Access Vikings

Join Vikings beat writers Judd Zulgad and Chip Scoggins on a usually informative and often irreverent journey inside the Vikings.

Just like the NFL, Zulgad and Scoggins go at it all year long -- on and off the field.