Dan Wiederer began covering the Vikings in 2011, enthusiastically delivering insight on the team across the Star Tribune's print and digital products. Prior to joining the Access Vikings team, he spent seven seasons covering ACC basketball at The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer. He also covered the Chicago Bears in 2003 and 2004. Follow him on Twitter @StribDW.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
George Schwartz, a 25-year-old guard-tackle who played under Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson in Carolina, will visit the Vikings on Monday.
No, it's not a move that's likely to make Peyton Manning change his mind. But, hey, when a team whacks both starting guards like the Vikings did a week ago, it doesn't hurt to take a look at a 6-6, 331-pounder with 32 games and 19 starts under his belt.
Schwartz is likely earmarked for the veteran backup job that Joe Berger held last season. Berger played well as a backup at all three interior positions last year and almost certainly will end up as a starter at one of the guard positions. If the team drafts Matt Kalil third overall, Kalil would play left tackle, while Charlie Johnson probably would slide in to left guard. Berger would be the right guard.
And Schwartz, a seventh-round pick of the Panthers in 2008, would be provide young depth at guard and tackle. And, who knows, he could end up at right tackle if he plays well and Phil Loadholt continues to be inconsistent.
Update: Cedric Griffin has agreed to a one-year deal with the Redskins that could be worth up to $2.5 million, according to his agent. The ex-Vikings cornerback was hampered because of knee injuries the past couple of seasons.
Update II: Former Vikings special teamer Kenny Onatolu is now current Panthers special teamer Kenny Onatolu. NFL.com reported that Onatolu signed a three-year deal. It reunites Onatolu with former Vikings special teams coach and current Panthers special teams coach Brian Murphy.
The Vikings will add Chris Doleman to their Ring of Honor this season, it was announced this morning.
The team's official release:
Former Minnesota Vikings DE Chris Doleman will receive the highest honor the team can bestow upon an individual when he is inducted as the 19th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor on Sunday, October 23, 2011, at halftime of the Vikings-Packers game at Mall of America Field.
The first somewhat of a surprise on Vikings cutdown day just arrived when Heath Farwell's release was tweeted by punter Chris Kluwe.
"Thanks, Kluwe," Farwell, a seven-year veteran, managed to joke when I caught up with him by phone.
About an hour later, tight end Jeff Dugan, an eight-year veteran, confirmed he had been cut as well.
"I guess it's disappointing, but it's part of the business and something your sign up for when you get into this business," Dugan said. "You know every year, the team is going to go out and get young guys and bring them in to take your job. Turnover in the NFL is like 40 percent of the roster or some crazy number.
"It's been fun. I loved playing in Minnesota. But it's time to move on."
Dugan joined the team as a seventh-round draft pick in 2004. His release means undrafted free agent Allen Reisner probably has made the team.
Farwell, meanwhile, made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2005. He and Dugan were mainstays on special teams over the years. Farwell made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer two years ago.
"Yeah, it was a surprise," Farwell said of being cut. "But it's part of the business. I understand. I've been here long enough to know the business. But there's no question in my mind that I will be picked up by someone. My career is not over."
Farwell, who was due to make $1.75 million this year, battled a hamstring injury during the preseason. So his releasae isn't entirely unexpected. His release could mean the team has decided to keep undrafted rookie free agent Larry Dean, last year's NCAA D-II Defensive Player of the Year.
"It hurts, I can't deny that," Farwell said. "Believe me, it hurts. I have a lot of respect for the Wilf family, the organization and the coaching staff."
Other players cut or reportedly cut so far include:defensive ends Stylez White and David Akinniyi; defensive tackle Tremaine Johnson; receivers Jaymar Johnson, Stephen Burton, Juaquin Iglesias and Emmanuel Arceneaux; guard Byron Isom; cornerback Devon Torrence; safety Ryan Hill; running backs Tristan Davis and Alexander Robinson; linebackers Ross Homan; and both fullbacks, Ryan D’Imperio and Matt Asiata.
The deadline for cuts is 5 p.m. The Vikings get a roster exemption for the suspended Kevin Williams, so they have to be down to 54 players. They also might place Jasper Brinkley (hip) on injured reserve.
Former Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie has decided to donate the furniture and appliances from his Eden Prairie home to a local chartity, his publicist said today.
"All of my furniture in my old home is practically new and in decent condition, I look at this as a positive way to move to my new location, while still providing families in need of appliances and household goods," McKinnie said in a release from his publicist.
McKinnie was released on Day 2 of training camp after reporting overweight. He was signed last week by the Baltimore Ravens and is expected to play left tackle after getting back in shape.
Former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson will be at the Dick's Sporting Goods store in Richfield from 4-6 p.m. today as part of a partnership to increase awareness about the importance of baseline testing to properly treat concussions in youth sports. He'll also be signing autographs.
"I have two boys in youth sports, so that's a concern of ours," Johnson said by phone this afternoon. "I've also had two concussions during my playing days. One playing basketball in college. The other playing football in 1996, I think. So I'm definitely concerned."
Concussions have been a hot-button issue in the NFL for a couple seasons now. Johnson said he wanted to do something to help extend the awareness and treatment of concussion to the lower levels of athletics, particularly youth sports. His sons, Max, 10, and Jake, 8, play multiple sports. Max is a quarterback. Jake is a fullback/tight end.
Dick's Sporting Goods created a program called PACE, or Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education. The program will provide concussion education and baseline testing for up to one million young athletes in more than 3,300 middle and high schools nationwide.
I also talked to Johnson about some other topics. Here are the highlights:
Q: What do you think of the Donovan McNabb trade and how do you think he'll do?
A: I think this transition will be smoother for him. He was in one place for a long time. The first time you make a transition, it's hard. You don't know where you're living. You don't know the system. You don't know your teammates. That will make this transition easier for him. Plus, the system with Bill Musgrave is more similar to what Donovan ran in Philadelphia for all those years. I think that will help. He can still play and it was probably a wise choice for Minnesota to go get him.
Q: What are your thoughts on the fact the Vikings are going to take it slow with Christian Ponder?
A: The slow-path thing is not a bad thing. That's what happened with Philip Rivers sitting behind Drew Brees. That's what happened with Eli Manning behind Kurt Warner. That's what happened with Carson Palmer behind Kitna. That's what happened with Michael Vick behind Chris Chandler. It's what Steve McNair did. It's what I did. I think there's some validity to that path. This is a great situation for Christian and Donovan.
Q: Does McNabb have anything left?
A: Donovan can still play. I wouldn't get caught up into what happened last year. I think the system suits him better this year. And he's still young. I think everyone should jump on his bandwagon and roll with it. When Christian's time comes, he'll get his chance.
Q: Musgrave and coach Leslie Frazier have both made it a point to say how much they like and encourage player input when it comes to molding a system to fit the players. Brad Childress was known for not being open to that and wanting his players to adapt to the system. Was that a problem for you with Brad?
A: Well, you know what, I think you're play-caller and your quarterback have to be on the same page and agree upon things. The more friendly the system is to the quarterback, the more successful the team is going to be, the more successful the quarterback is going to be. That's why you find teams that are good. You got the play-caller and the quarterback who agree upon what plays they want to run and what the audibles are. So I think there has to be some dialogue there. It definitely is something that has to happen. It's different for every team. Coach Childress had his way of doing things. That's the way things go. But you also can't fault him for too much. He did take them to the NFC Championship game in Brett's first year here.
Q: What kind of quarterback is Max at 10 years of age?
A: He's stubborn. He's hard-headed. He wants to do his own thing. So that means he's got a great chance of being a great quarterback some day.
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