Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Posts about Heath Farwell

Talent and many question marks return to work

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: September 5, 2011 - 7:51 AM

Welcome to the NFL. Happy Labor Day. Now get to work.

The Vikings return to Winter Park this morning after three days off. Since they last gathered for the 28-0 preseason finale victory over the Texans, they've cut from 80 to 53 players, put a middle linebacker (Jasper Brinkley) on IR, released three linebackers (Heath Farwell, Ross Homan and David Herron) and signed a linebacker (Xavier Adibi) that started against them on Thursday night. And, oh yeah, Kevin Williams found out he'll be suspended for the first two games.

It should be a short, non-padded practice when the team takes the field at 11 a.m. today. Here are some of the question marks we're looking at heading into Sunday's regular-season opener at San Diego:

. New starters at left tackle, quarterback, flanker, defensive tackle, nose tackle, left defensive end and weak-side linebacker.

. The team still hasn't announced a starter at strong safety.

. Two players, CB Cedric Griffin and RG Anthony Herrera, haven't played full games since tearing ACLs. Griffin, of course, has torn both over the past two years.

. Weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson has never started an NFL game.

. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. Both backup running backs -- Toby Gerhart (Achilles'/ankle) and Lorenzo Booker (back) -- are nicked up, although coach Leslie Frazier said everyone should be ready to practice this week.

. Depth at offensive line, linebacker and secondary.

Don't misunderstand. Pointing out question marks isn't meant to imply that an area is hopelessly lost or that the answer to that question won't turn out on the positive side. These are just areas that we'll all be watching closely.

For instance, as good as Pat Williams was for most of his Vikings' career, I'll still take Remi Ayodele at 28 over Big Pat at 38 and coming off a subpar year. I also think Donovan McNabb has looked surprisingly comfortable. And all eyes will be on LT Charlie Johnson, but let's face it, it's not like Bryant McKinnie was on top of his game the past couple seasons.

It's not the worst thing in the world that the Vikings head into a season picked to finish last in their division because of so many question marks.

After all, last year's team went into the season picked to win the Super Bowl because the perception was it had no question marks.

 

Ryan Cook, DeGeare among final cuts

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: September 3, 2011 - 5:18 PM

Here are the cuts and moves theVikings made to get down to 53:

INJURED RESERVE
Player                           POS.                 EXP.                  COLLEGE
Jasper Brinkley................ LB....................... 3........... South Carolina
 
TERMINATION – VESTED VETERAN
Player                           POS.                 EXP.                  COLLEGE
Ryan Cook...................... OL....................... 6............... New Mexico
Jeff Dugan....................... TE....................... 8.................... Maryland
Heath Farwell................... LB....................... 7......... San Diego State
Stylez G White................ DE....................... 5.................. Minnesota
 
WAIVED
Player                           POS.                 EXP.                  COLLEGE
David Akinniyi................. DE...................... R................... N.C.State
Emmanuel Arceneaux... WR...................... R............... Alcorn State
Matt Asiata....................... FB...................... R........................... Utah
Stephen Burton.............. WR...................... R....... West Texas A&M
Tony Carter..................... DB....................... 2............... Florida State
Tristan Davis................... RB....................... 1....................... Auburn
Ryan D’Imperio............... FB....................... 1...................... Rutgers
Chris DeGeare................ OL....................... 2.............. Wake Forest
David Herron................... LB....................... 3........... Michigan State
Ryan Hill.......................... DB...................... R......................... Miami
Ross Homan.................... LB...................... R.................. Ohio State
Juaquin Iglesias.............. WR....................... 1.................. Oklahoma
Bryon Isom...................... OL...................... R....................... Auburn
Jaymar Johnson............ WR....................... 2............ Jackson State
Tremaine Johnson.......... DT....................... 1.......... Louisiana State
Caleb King....................... RB...................... R...................... Georgia
Cedric McKinley............. DE....................... 1.................. Minnesota
Cord Parks (Injured)....... DB....................... 1.............. Northeastern
Alexander Robinson........ RB...................... R.................. Iowa State
Devon Torrence.............. DB...................... R.................. Ohio State
Thomas Welch................ OL....................... 1................... Vanderbilt

 

Veterans Farwell, Dugan discuss being cut today

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: September 3, 2011 - 12:53 PM

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.

Vikings chat today at noon

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: September 2, 2011 - 10:42 AM

Want to talk about the No. 2 QB position, the never-ending strong safety competition (or lack thereof), the punt returner? Or how about the biggest question mark facing the team heading into the Sept. 11 season opener at San Diego.

Whatever it is, join today's live chat at noon. I'll try to type as fast as possible.

The Vikings will huddle over the next two days to set their 53-man roster. There doesn't appear to be any big names in fear of being cut. Here are some of the bigger names that might be on the bubble:

TE Jeff Dugan: I think he'll make the team. This is a tight-end heavy offense. There's no experienced fullback, and Dugan can play that position. He's also a solid special teamer. I think he survives and the Vikings put Allen Reiser, a promising undrafted rookie, on the practice squad.

S Tyrell Johnson: This would be the biggest surprise. I don't think it will happen, but a team can only wait so long for a guy with such high expectations to finally step up. Johnson competed with Jamarca Sanford for the starting job throughout the preseason. The team hasn't announced a winner, but it would be a shock if it's not Sanford. The guess here is Johnson gets another season before the team seriously considers giving up on him.

LB Heath Farwell: A Pro Bowl special teamer two years ago, Farwell battled a hamstring injury this preseason. I don't think he'll be cut because of his special teams play and the fact he's a versatile linebacker at a time when the team is desperately thin at the position. It also didn't hurt Farwell that undrafted rookie Larry Dean had his first poor showing of the preseason last night. He had two penalties on special teams and was out of position at linebacker a number of times.

WR-PR Jaymar Johnson: I'll stretch by throwing him in the big-name category only because he started training camp with such promise as both a receiver and a punt returner. He tailed off considerably. Last night, he averaged 3.7 yards on three returns. Marcus Sherels can return punts, and he's also done nothing but climb the charts at his cornerback position.  

One man's stab at the Vikings' final 53

Posted by: Mark Craig Updated: September 1, 2011 - 9:41 AM

In today's paper, I took a stab at predicting the final 53 players the Vikings will keep when Saturday's cutdown deadline arrives.

Although no major surprises are expected (of course, when is a surprise expected, eh?), there are some interesting choices that lie ahead for the Vikings. And that's not even counting the fact that the roster shuffling could continue beyond the deadline as the Vikings and other teams scramble to try and sign some of the 864 players that will be whacked. (Keep in mind, however, the Vikings are tighter against the salary cap than any other team in the league).

With three specialists on the roster, which side of the ball do you give 26 players and which side do you give 24? I gave the defense the extra two players because of the uncertainty and depth issues at cornerback and linebacker.

Do you go with five receivers and nine offensive linemen? Or six receivers and eight offensive linemen? The difference could mean saying good-bye to Chris DeGeare or Jaymar Johnson.

Do you go without a fullback and keep an extra tight end that can double as a fullback? The Vikings have two inexperienced fullbacks, which is one reason they put in a claim today for former Lions FB Jerome Felton, according to ESPN. Felton was awarded to the Panthers.

Do you keep veteran TE Jeff Dugan or eye-catching rookie Allen Reisner? Do you keep veteran safety Eric Frampton or promising rookie Mistral Raymond? Or do you keep veterans and put guys like Reisner and Raymond on the practice squad?

Do you keep five corners and give up on injured Asher Allen? Or do you keep six corners and carry Allen for as long as it takes his toe to heal? And if you keep six corners, you probably have to keep only four safeties.

At linebacker, is veteran Heath Farwell, a former undrafted rookie who climbed his way to a Pro Bowl as a special teamer, in danger of losing his job to this year's surprise underdog, Larry Dean, a linebacker/special teamer who was last year's D-II Defensive Player of the Year.

These are just some of the questions one faces when trying to pick the Purple's final 53. Here's one attempt:

QUARTERBACK (3)

Starter: Donovan McNabb. Backups: Joe Webb, Christian Ponder.

Comment: McNabb looks comfortable, Webb is a playmaker who can be used a variety of ways and Ponder has no pressure on him. So far, so good.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Starters: LT Charlie Johnson, LG Steve Hutchinson, C John Sullivan, RG Anthony Herrera, RT Phil Loadholt. Backups: G/T Ryan Cook, C Jon Cooper, LT Patrick Brown, G/T Chris DeGeare.

On the bubble: T DeMarcus Love, LG Seth Olsen.

Comment: Love, a sixth-round draft pick, will either sneak onto the active roster or make the practice squad. The Vikings like him at left tackle, but played him at No. 2 right tackle last Saturday.

WIDE RECEIVER (5)

Starters: Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Michael Jenkins. Backups: Greg Camarillo, Devin Aromashodu.

On the bubble: Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jaymar Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias.

Comment: Camarillo’s $1.55 million salary could open the door for one of the bubble guys. Coach Leslie Frazier said early in camp the team would keep five receivers. Making that last cut could be tough.

 

TIGHT END (4)

Starter: Visanthe Shiancoe. Backups: Kyle Rudolph, Jim Kleinsasser, Jeff Dugan.

On the bubble: Allen Reisner.

Comment: Reisner could bump the veteran Dugan from the roster, but the practice squad seems more logical for the undrafted rookie who has turned a lot of heads this summer.

 

RUNNING BACK (3)

Starter: Adrian Peterson. Backups: Toby Gerhart, Lorenzo Booker.

On the bubble: Tristan Davis, Caleb King, Alexander Robinson.

Comment: The Vikings are expecting Booker’s back to be ready for the season. But if it’s not, do they keep one of the bubble guys or go looking elsewhere? King could end up on the practice squad.

 

FULLBACK (0)

On the bubble: Ryan D’Imperio, Matt Asiata.

Comment: With versatile tight ends that can play fullback, it seems logical to go that route than keep one of two raw fullbacks on the roster.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Starters: LDE Brian Robison, DT Kevin Williams, NT Remi Ayodele, RDE Jared Allen. Backups: LB/DE Everson Griffen, DL Christian Ballard, DT Letroy Guion, DE Adrian Awasom, DT Fred Evans.

On the bubble: DT Tremaine Johnson, DE D’Aundre Reed.

Comment: Griffen is counted here because he just started his switch to outside linebacker. It’s a long shot that it sticks. Reed, a seventh-round draft pick, is likely heading to the practice squad.

 

LINEBACKER (7)

Starters: MLB E.J. Henderson, SLB Chad Greenway, WLB Erin Henderson. Backups: David Herron, Heath Farwell, Larry Dean, Kenny Onatolu.

On the bubble: Ross Homan.

Comment: A dangerously-thin position got weaker when Jasper Brinkley had hip surgery this week. He’s probably heading to injured reserve, opening a roster spot for undrafted rookie Dean or sixth-rounder Homan.

 

CORNERBACK (6)

Starters: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin. Backups: Chris Cook, Marcus Sherels, Asher Allen, Brandon Burton. On the bubble: Cord Parks, Devon Torrence, Tony Carter.

Comment: Another thin position that’s weaker because Allen probably has to be kept on the roster despite a toe injury. Torrence’s quad injury probably cost him a roster spot, but he’s a likely practice-squad candidate.

 

SAFETY (4)

Starters: FS Husain Abdullah, SS Jamarca Stanford. Backups: Tyrell Johnson, Eric Frampton.

On the bubble: Mistral Raymond.

Comment: The team says Sanford and Johnson are still fighting for starting SS spot. Raymond, a rookie sixth-round pick, could beat out Frampton, but it’s more logical move is Raymond to the practice squad.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

K Ryan Longwell, P Chris Kluwe, LS Cullen Loeffler

Comment: Ho-hum. There’s a reason these three have been rock solid together since 2006.

 

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT