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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Sheldon Richardson loves a good football story

By Matthew Coller

EAGAN, Minn. — Players on the Minnesota Vikings know they have it pretty good when there’s a casual lounge area connected to their spacious locker room. If you forgot from early media coverage of TCO Performance Center, has two fireplaces, multiple televisions and large pleather couches in the middle.

Inside the lounge within a lounge — which is right around the corner from the smoothie bar — is two more big TVs, more couches, some with extended cushions to allow for full relaxation. Sheldon Richardson makes himself at home on one of those, strokes his beard and starts talkin’ football.

Midway through his first sentence, wide receiver Adam Thielen walks by and shouts, “are you telling him about your days as a tight end?”

Richardson has apparently told this one before.

So indeed the Vikings’ defensive tackle explains that he played everywhere in high school and loved it.

“The only thing I didn’t play in high school was probably corner,” he says proudly. “I played safety a few plays. If they had a big guy who wasn’t fast, they’d say ‘if he comes across the middle you got him.’ Anything to do to win, I was all for it. It was fun.”

Rivals rated him as the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect and the fourth best recruit in the country. Unfortunately his days as an Alge Crumpler wannabe came to an end when he registered 19 sacks and scored six defensive touchdowns and it was clear he’d be on the defensive side of the ball for the rest of his playing career. After all, those are some Deacon Jones numbers.

We know Richardson now as a guy on a one-year deal with the Vikings fighting to prove he deserves to be named along with some of the best defensive tackles in the game a la Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox, Akiem Hicks — and in turn pushing to prove he deserves a long-term contract.

We know him as the player who dominated early in his career and then wore out his welcome with the New York Jets after a handful of off-field issues in a short period of time. And as the player who didn’t quite put up the same numbers you’d expect with Seattle — though the team and stat analysts will argue he was better than his sack stats suggested.

But during his days in Missouri at Gateway Institute of Technology, where he was an All-American high school football player, Richardson was an unexpected star from a magnet school of 1,200 that has rarely produced professional sports stars. At that time he was a kid who loved learning about the history of football from his dad and taking in everything he could about the superstars of the NFL on Sundays.

Kids of the 1970s might have emulated Roberto Clemente or Mickey Mantle’s battling stances. For Richardson, on any given play he would attempt to mimic a Richard Seymour pass rush move or try to read the play like Ray Lewis, stuff a run like Tony Siragusa or play with the intensity of Brian Dawkins. When he got the ball he wanted to run like Jerome Bettis. And Crumpler was his favorite tight end.

“I love the way he’d take a hit,” Richardson said. “Across the middle, safety blowing his chest up and he still holding the ball, throwing it at ‘em like ‘I’ll sign it for you next,’ stuff like that. It was just fun.”

No matter the question, Richardson has an answer that is layered with NFL player references from both back in day and when he was a teenager. The Deacon Jones shoutout came from his dad, who was a high school and a semi-pro football player.

“I never really had a favorite team, I always liked players,” he says. “You come across cats that you’ve heard about. Deacon Jones had 40 sacks in one season. They blocked different with their elbows back in the day, but still you have to go back there and get it. Dominance like that. Javon Kearse, ‘The Freak,’ Leonard Little, all those guys, I’ve been a history buff for awhile now.”

Coincidentally Richardson now plays with Kearse’s nephew, Jayron.

There’s no hesitation in the defensive lineman’s voice when he’s name dropping. He doesn’t have to look anything up on his phone or struggle to recall names, positions or backgrounds. You might bet Richardson knows more Pro Bowlers from ’02 than ’17. It’s like Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity, except for a distinct period of NFL history.

“There’s all types of cats, it might be just one play and then I would research them,” Richardson said. “Just look where they came from, what schools they went to, what types of D-line coaches that coached them up and how they play the way they play.”

If you know something about a star player from the early 2000s, the soon-to-be 28-year-old wants to hear it. When he played for the Jets, the former 13th overall pick watched the moving NFL Films “A Football Life” documentary on Curtis Martin. He respected the way Laveranues Coles went over the middle. The best part was coming across factoids about how the player rose to the top of the game and some of the lore surrounding the greats.

“Ray Lewis…I heard someone say he could tell by the sound of the shoulder pads that it’s a play-action pass because he’d hear hands instead of helmets colliding with his linemen,” Richardson says. “There’s a whole bunch of stuff you’d come across.”

It was pretty wild for the Vikings’ starting three-technique when Hall of Famer Warren Sapp bristled at comparisons between the two in 2014.

“As soon as that kid gets off the ‘I think I was better and should have been drafted in a different position,’ maybe he’ll see his future,” Sapp told the Daily News. “Let’s not anoint this kid the next best thing since sliced bread yet.”

That’s like writing a hit song and then having Paul McCartney say, “what have you done?”

“Can’t take away from him though I might not like the guy he is, he had some negative things to say about me and my grind, but even still, his work shows,” said Richardson, who had tried to copy Sapp’s swim move as a teenager.

Sheldon has takes, too.

Joe Montana is the GOAT to him because back then quarterbacks had to be tough. Montana had to get up from being a crumpled ball underneath Lawrence Taylor — though he offers no disrespect to Tom Brady and his rings.

Getting fined $20,000 earlier this year for a hit on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t seem to annoy him as much as mediocre QBs putting up Montana numbers.

“[Toughness] was a big deal because you got hit!” he said. “You can be average Joe Schmo and be soft, mentally, physically and they will still try to hype you up as a dominant QB.”

There’s a joy in Richardson’s voice when he shares back-in-the-day stories that you rarely hear in an interview with an NFL player. About 15 minutes into the chat, he was supposed to wrap things up for another interview, but instead he opted to keep the conversation going.

“It’s all good, we’re done when we’re done,” he says.

It’s hard to explain the rarity of this event.

The conversation reaches a different type of place with him than questions about, say, matching up with James Daniels and Cody Whitehair of the Bears — though he might just drop Olin Kreutz’s name on you in that case. Regardless, he says his passion for the game goes back to his earliest memories.

“I first got my love for the game is when I was five,” Richardson says. “It was when I hit my first dummy bag and I was the youngest cat on the team because I started playing football even before I went to school. My birthday is in November and if your birthday isn’t before the school year starts, you have to wait until you are six. I was literally like punishing kids, like they were crying and stuff and I was like, yeah, this is something I need, this is fun.”

“It wasn’t too long after that I started being a student of the game.”

It’s a feeling still exists within Richardson, but in different ways. He doesn’t watch his peers on YouTube because those are folks he’s competing with every Sunday. That passion gets redirected into his profession.

“I’ve been really impressed with Sheldon,” head coach Mike Zimmer said in mid-October. “And not just his play, but the way he’s come in here and tried to learn the techniques we’re trying to teach him, his professionalism, (and) how he handles himself in the meetings.”

But Richardson thinks about the old days a lot. The excitement of being a highly-recruited player and young football fan. He seems to feel about football how you might feel about your first crush. He says he wants to help more kids from his area experience that type of relationship with the game as a coach or mentor when he’s done playing.

“It was a great feeling, I want other kids to experience that feeling,” he says. “Some kids don’t ever leave the city that they are in and they just see it on TV and think that’s a pipe dream. I tell them, anything in life, you can achieve it, it’s just going to be hard…. People think football players are crazy…or that they do it for money, but there’s more to it than that because there’s nothing in life that’s given. Pretty sure where you are at right now, it was hard as hell…you take that work and you appreciate it, you hold value.

Because he’s having a great season, it might be easy to say Minnesota has helped him recapture some of his football glee. Richardson picked a heckuva good situation to help re-shape his image and enjoy his time in the North — and not just because of the smoothie bar and lounges. Not only do the Vikings have Pro Bowlers across the D-line, they have a strong organizational infrastructure with a long-time GM, five-year head coach and one of the most highly respected D-line coaches in the game in Andre Patterson.

“He’s been really good with everything,” Zimmer added. “There’s been some plays that a lot of people don’t recognize that I see on tape and I’m like, ‘that’s a heck of a play.’ Everybody sees the sacks and the hits on the quarterback. But they don’t see sometimes when you split the double team and you make a tackle or you run 20 yards down the field and make a tackle. Those things are impressive to me.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson ranks ninth in the NFL among interior defensive linemen in QB pressures with 32 and third in QB hits.

“Sheldon has been an ultimate pro since he’s been here, with his work habits and the things that he brings to the table with his skill set,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “He’s bought in to what we’re trying to get accomplished defensively, and he really has helped us a lot inside. Against the run game, he’s very stout against the run, you’re not going to move him off the ball. In the passing game he’s getting push in the pocket. I know his sack numbers aren’t as high as he’d like them to be right now, but I can tell you that he’s right there and the quarterback feels his push inside.”

There isn’t much debate about how good Richardson can be. The elephant in the room is whether he will continue to play at an elite level inside over the course of a long-term contract and whether he can avoid any suspension-worthy incidents like the ones that caused the Jets to move along.

Richardson, as one would, says he’s grown up and is playing for his daughter these days — and the sample size of him fulfilling potential is growing.

“I want to be great,” he says. “I want to win a ring. I want to win a ring. That’s something I really want to do. Yeah, I want to get paid but I really, really want to win a ring more. I really want to win a ring.”

So maybe now with a lot of noise removed, his focus is closer than it’s been in a long time to youthful appreciation for the game. And if he does get that ring, he might very well be one of the players whose story football-crazy kids are telling years later.

The post Sheldon Richardson loves a good football story appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Bears activate 2017 second-round pick Adam Shaheen

By Michael David Smith The Bears used the 45th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft on tight end Adam Shaheen, but so far he hasn’t done a lot in his NFL career. Chicago can see if that changes starting on Sunday night. Shaheen has been activated from injured reserve, making him eligible to play tomorrow night against the [more]

Source:: ProFootballTalk

NFL, Microsoft Team Up To Find Future Sports Tech Experts

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

nfl pro experience sports technology NFL, Microsoft Team Up To Find Future Sports Tech Experts

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is about sports, with a different angle. NFL Alumni and Microsoft have come together to encourage students to look for careers in sports that don’t require athletic ability — but a focus on technology.

We all know what goes on in high school sports. For most, this is where their athletic career ends. But it doesn’t mean their sports career is over.

A group of NFL alumni have teamed with Microsoft and others to create a Pro Experience Day. It is a seminar that introduces high school students to think about sports beyond between the lines.

“Started out there was going to be some activities and some Microsoft involvement where the kids, if they wanted to be in sports, weren’t the athletes, to be involved in sports in other avenues. And then there was going to be my expertise, combine-type drills on the field,” said former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice. “It has evolved to no football-related drills on the field, and all mental, head stuff.”

And so they now bring it on the road; a one-day exposure to how technology and sports are married.

(credit: CBS)

“We see huge opportunities. We see from sportsmanship, you know, we talk about it, to collaboration, teamwork, resilience and everything from the football players and other athletes,” said Chun Lu, Microsoft senior business program manager. “And at the same time, we see the technology part is going to be integrating everybody’s life.”

Take kids that have had success and teach them there is something else that can captivate a new thought process.

“I have a torn ACL right now, and over there he said that GPS would like know that I have that based on what I do with my movements and everything,” said Cooper High School center Cedric Williams.

Much of it has to do with teaching safety tools through technology. In other words, the market place is looking at health factors.

“I always wanted to be a mechanical engineer, so just thinking of all the things, like the things they’re building was pretty amazing, and I want to be part of the people that build those things for all the players,” said Osseo High School senior Ellise Elomangstose.

But the only way to do that is to make sure you stimulate the audience.

“Our first group we did a few weeks back, we had 50 students at the Microsoft workshop, and at the beginning of the 50 students, three of them raised their hand when asked the question, “Would you ever think about, you know, a career in technology,’” said Dean Dalton, co-founder Pro Day Experience. “After the workshop, 38 out of 50 raised their hands and said, ‘Absolutely.’”

So they are constantly trying to invigorate, to use video gaming as a tool to whet an appetite.

“Fun is the number-one priority [laughs]!” Lu said.

Because as they much as they enjoy the big game, technology is where the direction of a possible future. Marry the two and you have something special.

“The future is technology, right, and we all know it,” Dalton said. “You and I didn’t use to carry around a computer in our pocket and make calls and do all those things, so that’s the future. So we’re using sports as the attraction, and we’re showing technology used in sports, but we’re also using technology to show STEM education and other opportunities, and open up all these career paths.”

Source:: CBS Minnesota

Alan Page Receives Presidential Medal Of Freedom

By Vikings – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and former Vikings player Alan Page has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump honored Page and six other recipients with the highest civilian honor in the nation.

The honor for Page, who lives in Minneapolis, comes just weeks after the loss of his wife, Diane. Page and Diane launched the Page Education Foundation in 1988. It has helped young people of color attend college for more than 30 years.

“Meeting Alan Page himself and having a chance to work with him, it’s a very fortunate thing for me,” said Anel Braziel, a current Page Scholar attending Metropolitan State University.

She says Alan and Diane Page push scholars to foster positive mentor relationships, as well as serve as role models for children.

Anel says watching her hero be honored at the White House is encouraging, but Justice Page says this recognition is not about him.

“It’s about the things Diane and I have worked to accomplish, trying to ensure educational opportunities for all children, particularly children of color,” Page said. “It is about fighting for equal justice.”

Anel says she’s thankful for Alan Page’s words of wisdom.

“What sticks with me is when he told me what you give to the world, you will receive back,” she said.

The Page Education Foundation is responsible for $15 million in education assistance for more than 7,000 students over 30 years.

Justice Page will share the Presidential Medal of Freedom with students at the middle school that is named in his honor on Monday.

Page played for the Vikings from 1967 until 1978, and was a member of the legendary “Purple People Eaters”. He was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1972, the first defensive player to earn the honor.

He also served on the state’s Supreme Court for 22 years.

WATCH FULL CEREMONY HERE:

The other recipients include doctor and philanthropist Miriam Adelson, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Roger Staubach, the Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Posthumous honors were granted to Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth and Antonin Scalia.

Source:: CBS Minnesota

Mychal Kendricks rejoined Seahawks on Friday

By Charean Williams Linebacker Mychal Kendricks rejoined the Seahawks on Friday, coach Pete Carroll told reporters. Kendricks will return to practice next week but remains ineligible to play until Dec. 10 against Minnesota. The NFL suspended Kendricks eight games under its Personal Conduct Policy for his guilty plea to federal insider trading changes. When the league announced the [more]

Source:: ProFootballTalk

Week 11 injury report roundup

By Josh Alper Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season kicked off on Thursday with a Seahawks win and it continues with 11 more games on Sunday, which means that the 22 teams in those games submitted their final injury reports of the week on Friday. Questionable players are uncertain to play, doubtful players are unlikely to play [more]

Source:: ProFootballTalk

Zulgad: Bears will provide big-time test for Vikings’ fumble-prone Cousins

By Judd Zulgad

Kirk Cousins has done plenty of positive and productive things in the first season of his three-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings.

The quarterback is seventh in the NFL in passing yards (2,685), third in completion percentage (71.4) and ninth in passer rating (102.2). But as has been the case since Cousins became starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins in 2015, he has continued to be plagued by one very important thing — fumbles.

Cousins has lost an NFL-high six of eight fumbles this season, or five more than Case Keenum lost in 15 games and 14 starts for the Vikings last year. That brings Cousins’ fumble total to 39 with 17 lost in his past 57 games. This season, Cousins have 11 turnovers, including five interceptions, in nine games.

There are some who want to ignore Cousins’ turnovers, pointing to the fact the Vikings’ faulty offensive line is more at fault than the quarterback and that, for whatever reason, any criticism of Cousins is unfair. This, of course, makes no sense. Cousins needs to limit the turnovers if the Vikings are going to win the NFC North for the second consecutive season and secure a home playoff game.

Sunday night in Soldier Field would be a good time to start.

The Bears (6-3) are currently sitting in first place in the NFC North ahead of the Vikings (5-3-1) but a Minnesota victory would change that. The difficult part about this is that Chicago is so good at forcing turnovers. A defense that added outstanding linebacker Khalil Mack just before the season is second in the NFL with 24 takeaways, including eight on fumble recoveries. Mack is tied for the NFL lead with four forced fumbles and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks has forced three.

The Bears are fifth in the NFL with 30 sacks — one behind the Vikings — and Mack has a team-leading seven of them.

It’s not realistic to think that the Bears are going to get to Cousins a few times on Sunday — right guard Mike Remmers is questionable because of a lower back injury and left guard Tom Compton continues to battle a knee issue and is questionable — but he will go into the game fully aware of how dangerous the Bears can be. The important thing will be what Cousins does when the pocket collapses and the pressure means making a play is no longer possible.

On one hand, Cousins is being paid big money to help the Vikings win games and take them a step beyond where Keenum led them, which was the NFC title game. On the other, Cousins has to be smart about how he accomplishes this and trying to be a hero in certain situations will only lead to bad things.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer often mentioned his concerns about Keenum, but he has gone the kid gloves route with Cousins. Asked about the importance of ball security against the Bears, Zimmer said: “Their points off turnovers are huge. I think second in the league. We are going to have to do a great job of possessing the ball and keeping it. Making sure that we do a good job with being patient in a lot of ways.”

It’s not hard to figure out that when Zimmer says “we” he is referring to Cousins.

Coming off their bye week the Vikings aren’t facing a must-win Sunday, but it’s an incredibly important game that figures to set the tone for the remainder of the season. The Lions (3-6) are back to being a dumpster fire. The Packers (4-5-1) are coming off a Thursday night loss at Seattle and it appears they might be very close to hitting the reset button after the season and firing coach Mike McCarthy.

That leaves the Vikings and Bears to battle it out for the NFC North title, and while Chicago is a much-improved team under first-year head coach Matt Nagy it’s the Vikings who should be the class of this division. Minnesota has won the North two of the past three years and has a great chance to make that three of four. The Vikings’ seven remaining opponents have a .527 winning percentage, while the Bears’ remaining seven foes are at .464.

Minnesota is entering a four-game stretch in which it will play at Chicago, play host to Green Bay on Sunday night, then play at New England and at Seattle in a Monday night game. Getting back-to-back victories over the Bears and Packers would be huge and although Minnesota is 4-14 on the road against the Bears since 2000, the Vikings have won two of the past three at Soldier Field.

The test on Sunday night will be even more difficult considering the Bears’ improvement, but if Cousins can hold onto the ball and play a smart game, and Minnesota’s defense can continue to play as well as it has in recent weeks, there’s no reason the Vikings shouldn’t depart Chicago holding first place in the division.

The post Zulgad: Bears will provide big-time test for Vikings’ fumble-prone Cousins appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Purple FTW! Podcast: Vikings-Bears Preview feat. Darren Wolfson + Jordan Reid! (ep. 663)

By Andy Carlson

The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings look to retake the NFC North Sunday night as they invade The Windy City to take down the Creepy Chicago Bears. Darren “Doogie” Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) of The Scoop Podcast stops in to chat injuries. Plus Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) of Inside The Pylon swings by to breakdown the Bears.

All that and more “Third City” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

A Carlson Digital Joint

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Listen to the Episode Below!


Dedicated to the Pain AND Pleasure that is the Minnesota Vikings.

Subscribe: iTunes | iHeart | Stitcher | PodcastOne | 1500ESPN

The post Purple FTW! Podcast: Vikings-Bears Preview feat. Darren Wolfson + Jordan Reid! (ep. 663) appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Anthony Barr questionable, Adam Thielen off injury report

By Josh Alper The Vikings may get linebacker Anthony Barr back in the lineup on Sunday night. Barr has missed the last two games due to a hamstring injury, but the bye week gave him time to heal and he returned to practice on a limited basis this week. Barr has been listed as questionable for the matchup [more]

Source:: ProFootballTalk

Barr questionable, Vikings will mostly be at full strength vs. Bears

By Matthew Coller

EAGAN, Minn. – With two weeks to heal, the Minnesota Vikings could be the closest they have been to a full squad since Week 2.

Throughout the year, they have dealt with a number of absences, from Everson Griffen to Dalvin Cook to Anthony Barr and most recently Stefon Diggs, who missed the team’s last game against the Detroit Lions with a rib injury.

Heading into Chicago for Sunday Night Football, the Vikings are only guaranteed to be missing two players in tight end David Morgan and safety Andrew Sendejo. Otherwise there is a chance they will be close to 100 percent.

Linebacker Anthony Barr sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury. He was limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable. Guard Tom Compton is also questionable.

Cook, who was on a “pitch count” against the Lions is a “full-go” according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. He fully participated in practice all week.

There are still nicks and cuts. Adam Thielen, Mike Remmers and Xavier Rhodes all appeared on this week’s injury report. Remmers is listed as questionable while Thielen and Rhodes are expected to play despite being limited in practice.

The post Barr questionable, Vikings will mostly be at full strength vs. Bears appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire