As promised here is a Friday edition of the Access Vikings Q&A. We’ll start trying to do this on a more frequent basis. First up, Akvikesfan.
Q. Any chance the Vikings are looking at Shane Olivea to help shore up the offensive line? – akvikesfan
A. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat recently reported the San Francisco 49ers were told that Olivea has agreed to terms with a team and that he will sign the deal in June. No word on which club Olivea plans on joining. The right tackle started 57 of 60 career games with San Diego but was benched in 2007 and released after the season. The depth chart for the Vikings at right tackle at the latest OTA practice went like this: Ryan Cook, Marcus Johnson and rookie free agent Drew Radovich.
Q. Any updates on center Matt Birk or left tackle Bryant McKinnie? – akvikesfan
A. It’s no secret that Birk is staying away from the optional activities at Winter Park this offseason, including the OTAs. He’s entering the final season of his contract and the Vikings have yet to show an interest in discussing an extension. Birk hasn’t said much about his decision but is expected to be at the team’s mandatory minicamp next weekend.
As far as McKinnie’s situation and a possible NFL suspension after his latest legal troubles, it appears a meeting has yet to be set up between Commissioner Roger Goodell and the big left tackle. That is going to happen at some point. McKinnie’s next court date is scheduled for June 20 in Florida.
Q. How are the tight ends doing in organized team activities? – akvikesfan
A. Making any real judgments from OTAs is dangerous considering contact is not allowed and the players are in shorts with no pads. That being said, the tight ends were getting plenty of passes thrown their way during the sessions that were open to the media the past two weeks. Visanthe Shiancoe, who had a disappointing first season with the Vikings after being signed as a free agent, made some nice catches over the middle but struggled to hold onto the ball at times after running shorter patterns. On Wednesday, I had him with three drops.
Q. Would the Vikings sign punter Todd Sauerbrun? He could be great in a dome. – John Lauritsen
A. Nope. Brad Childress doesn’t need a headache like Sauerbrun and the Vikings signed Chris Kluwe to a contract extension last season.
Q. Every year one or two second- or third-year players seems to make an extraordinary improvement. From what you’ve seen and/or heard, who will make that jump in production this year? – NH Bred
A. The obvious one – and the guy who is going to need to make the jump – is Tarvaris Jackson. Jackson should benefit from the addition of a receiver (Bernard Berrian) who can not only run deep patterns but also catch the ball. There is no doubt the Vikings coaches are encouraged by what they’ve seen from Jackson this offseason and the work he has put in. But is this simply wishful thinking?
While it’s too early to say Jackson is going to be much better than the guy who threw 12 interceptions and had a 70.8 rating last season, there is one encouraging sign I’ve seen in watching him during four OTA sessions the past two weeks. Jackson’s on-field demeanor seems to be much improved over this time a year ago. He appears far more confident and in control. Having a much better understanding of the West Coast offense certainly doesn’t hurt. Even, veteran Gus Frerotte talked about how much verbiage he has to learn in making the transition.
I know Sidney Rice had a solid rookie season and led the Vikings with four touchdown catches, but I think he also could be in for a very good year. Rice has added about 8 pounds to his 6-4 frame. The thing about Rice is he’s the anti-Troy Williamson. Williamson just never looked comfortable attempting to catch the ball. Rice, on the other hand, often makes catching passes look easy. The Vikings decision to take Rice in the second round of the 2007 draft over USC’s Dwayne Jarrett should continue to look very good this season.
Q. What purpose is served by Ray Edwards coming out and predicting he will break Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record? Why doesn’t Edwards just do his talking on the field? – Dadsman
A. Excellent question and I’m guessing the coaches might talk to Edwards about this. In case you missed it, Edwards said at the Vikings draft party that he wants to break Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks set in 2001. He reiterated that during the recent OTAs.
Edwards knows he could have a huge year because opposing offenses are going to have to spend so much time focusing on new right end Jared Allen, as well as Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams. This means Edwards, who is being shifted to left end, won’t be seeing double teams and could get plenty of shots at quarterbacks.
There are two arguments to be made about Edwards’ statements. One, you could applaud him for setting such high goals. Two, you could ask why the heck would a guy want to make a statement like that and draw attention to himself? Odds are defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would rather have Edwards do his talking on the field.
Q. I’ve heard the hosts on NFL Radio and on the NFL Network’s “Total Access” show telling us to watch the competition for the starting quarterback job between Tarvaris Jackson and John David Booty. Do you have any evidence of this from OTAs? – Mark Penner
A. Nope. This is Tarvaris Jackson’s job to lose and if anybody is going to challenge him short term it’s going to be Gus Frerotte. Booty might be familiar with the West Coast offense from his days at USC but he isn’t ready to step in at the NFL level. Keep in mind, it’s May and these 24-hour football networks need something to talk about.
Q. Will the state legislators and governor let the Vikings slip out of Minnesota or will the stadium issue get resolved next spring? – Matthew Svendsen
A. Wish I had an answer on this one. All I know is the Vikings’ lease to play in the Metrodome expires after 2011 and while for many years that seemed a long way off this is a situation that is going to need to be addressed very soon. Zygi Wilf has made it clear he wants this franchise to be in Minnesota but he didn’t become an incredibly rich man by making stupid business decisions either.