Giants TE Kyle Rudolph returns to practice, excited to play with Jones

New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph passed his physical and returned to practice on Wednesday. The 31-year Rudolph had been on the physically unable to perform/active list since training camp after undergoing foot surgery in the spring.

Rudolph, who spent the first ten years of his career in Minnesota, signed with the Giants in March after being released by the Vikings.

I feel good,” Rudolph said after his first practice. “It was exciting to be back out there with my teammates. For me, this was the first football I’ve gotten to play since December. I’ve still got a long way to go, a lot of work left ahead, but this is what I love to do. The last few months have been tough just watching each and every day, but I’ve got to give a ton of credit to our medical staff, our trainers, our doctors. Here I am today back at practice, and it felt damn good.”

The two-time Pro Bowler was a big fan of Giants QB Daniel Jones from a distance and can’t wait to play with the third-year quarterback.

“It’s been awesome to watch him,” Rudolph said of Jones. “I was a huge fan of his from afar. Obviously, we came up with the Vikings a couple years ago, and our defensive guys just raved about his talent. Now, getting to know him as a player and as an individual, his leadership ability, guys gravitate towards him, and that goes a long way, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Continuity is huge, and we all rally behind Daniel.”

Rudolph worked on individual drills on Wednesday, and Giants head coach Joe Judge expects Rudolph to do increasingly more.

When asked if he is confident that he will be ready for Week 1, Rudolph said the following:

“I’m just going to keep working each and every day to make sure that I’m continuing to progress the way I have for the last five months,” he said. “Like I said, two weeks from now, we’ll look up and see where we’re at.

The Giants continue their second day of joint practices with the New England Patriots on Thursday.

Vikings bring back DE Everson Griffen

The Minnesota Vikings bring back a familiar face as they signed DE Everson Griffen, the team announced on Monday.

Griffen, 33, rejoins the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent following a stint with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys last season.

Before the start of the 2020 season, Griffen signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys before being traded to the Lions for a sixth-round pick in October of last year. Griffen posted 6.0 sacks in 2020 over 14 games played with Dallas and Detroit.

The four-time Pro Bowl defensive end spent ten years with the Vikings, recording 74.5 sacks and 86.0 tackles-for-loss in 147 games played and 88 starts with the club. During his time in Minnesota, the 11-year veteran was named to three-straight Pro Bowls (2015-17), with his last Pro Bowl selection coming in 2019. His 74.5 sacks with Minnesota ranks seventh all-time in Vikings history.

Griffen recorded three double-digit sack outputs in Minnesota, with his career-high coming in 2017 when he tallied 13.0.

In 2018, Griffen had a mental health crisis that forced him to miss five games with the Vikings that season, but he has gotten that behind him, and hopefully, he can help Minnesota on the defensive line.

In other moves, the Vikings signed RB Ito Smith, waived LB Christian Elliss, QB Danny Etling, DT Jordon Scott, and placed DE Janarius Robinson on injured reserve.

Also, LB Cameron Smith, who was hoping to return from open-heart surgery, announced his retirement from football on Monday. The 24-year-old was drafted in the fifth round by Minnesota in 2019. He spent most of his time on Minnesota’s practice squad during that 2019 season.

Vikings’ Dennison to serve as senior offensive advisor, Rauscher named offensive line coach

The Minnesota Vikings have named Phil Rauscher as offensive line coach and added Ben Steele as the team’s assistant offensive line Coach.  Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols and his reported refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, former offensive line coach Rick Dennison will serve as senior offensive advisor, the team announced on Tuesday.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

Therefore, without the vaccine, it would be difficult for Dennison to his job.

Rauscher is in his second season with the Vikings and his seventh NFL season. Prior to joining the Vikings, Rauscher served as the offensive line coach for the Washington Football Team after being promoted from assistant offensive line coach during the 2019 season.

Steele joins the Vikings staff in his 8th NFL season and his 14th season of coaching overall. His connections with the Vikings date back to his early playing career when he went to training camp with the club in 2003 and 2004. Steele most recently coached in Atlanta, overseeing tight ends in 2020 and spending 2019 as an offensive assistant.  

Vikings’ Dennison not fired, talks still ongoing with team

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Rick Dennison is still with the team after reports surfaced that he was dismissed due to his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Friday, the Vikings released a statement, and according to the team, talks are still ongoing with Dennison.

“The Vikings continue to hold discussions with Offensive Line Coach Rick Dennison regarding the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols for training camp and preseason games,” the team said in a statement,” team said. “At this time, Coach Dennison does not have an exemption to the vaccination requirements of those protocols. We will adhere to the requirements of the protocols and of applicable law.”

Dennison’s refusal comes on the heels of the league’s announcement about the possibility of forfeits and loss of game checks if they’re cancellations caused by unvaccinated players.

According to the league, Tier 1 staff members, which includes coaches, are expected to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical reason not to do so. Without being vaccinated, coaches will not be able to interact with players on the field or anywhere else at a team’s facility.

The 63-year-old Dennison has been the offensive line coach in Minnesota since 2019 and has been a coach in the NFL for 27 years.

This is an interesting situation for sure. Obviously, some will refuse to take the vaccine, but the NFL, as a private entity, can mandate that their coaches and players get vaccinated. The league has not said that they have to get vaccinated, but they are not making it easy for anybody that doesn’t get it done. 

Vikings’ Cousins talks COVID-19 protocols for training camp, preseason

On Wednesday, the NFL came out with updated COVID-19 protocols for training camp and preseason. As a result, life will look a little different for players and coaches who are vaccinated for the virus and those who are not.

Look at it below:

Based on this list, there seems to be an advantage for vaccinated players and teams that have several of their players vaccinated. Keep in mind, these guidelines are just for training camp and preseason, so they could change when the regular season starts. 

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, more than 50% of the league’s players have at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Wednesday, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was asked whether he was vaccinated and the potential differences that vaccinated and unvaccinated players could experience in 2021.

“I choose to keep my medical history private as with anything else that goes on,” Cousins said on Wednesday. “It’ll be a lot like last year to that degree. We’ve already lived it for one season. It’s a fluid situation and has been since the Covid-19 pandemic began. We’ll take it one week at a time, one month at a time, and see where we are when we get to the season. It’s so important that we focus on football as well and really making sure that we’re winning football games. That’s really what it’ll be about…

“I think people just need to make their own decision and make the one that’s best for them and their families. We’ll let them make their own decision.”

Cousins is correct. This is a fluid situation, but the NFL wants all of its players vaccinated based on these guidelines. It should be interesting to see if these guidelines will encourage players to get vaccinated before the season starts.

Vikings will induct former DT Kevin Williams into team’s Ring of Honor

The Minnesota Vikings will induct former DT Kevin Williams into the club’s Ring of Honor in 2021, the team announced on Wednesday.

Williams was the #9 overall draft pick in 2003 and went on to earn All-Rookie honors and set the team rookie record with 3.0 sacks in a game at Arizona. He went on to start every game he played for the Vikings over his 11 seasons, 177 games including playoffs. Williams played in 2014 with Seattle and 2015 with New Orleans, starting in Super Bowl XLIX for Seattle. For his NFL career, Williams started 202 of his 212 games, including playoffs.

Williams earned Associated Press 1st-Team All-Pro honors in five seasons (2004, 2006-09), was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 2000s and had six Pro Bowl berths (2004, 2006-10). Williams and John Randle are tied for 2nd in team history for Pro Bowl berths by DTs (6) behind only Alan Page’s 9 honors. Williams’ 60.0 sacks as a Viking rank behind only Randle and Page among DTs and he is tied for the franchise record with four defensive touchdowns (2 INTs, 2 FRs). As a cornerstone of the Vikings defense, Williams led a unit that ranked #1 in NFL run defense in three consecutive seasons (2006-08), the first time a defense achieved the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The addition brings the Vikings Ring of Honor to 26 members. Current members include: Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Fred Zamberletti, Jim Marshall, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Carl Eller, Cris Carter, Bill Brown, Jerry Burns, Randall McDaniel, Chuck Foreman, John Randle, Scott Studwell, Chris Doleman, Matt Blair, Joey Browner, Ahmad Rashad, Randy Moss, Dennis Green and Steve Jordan.

Vikings sign DT Sheldon Richardson

The Minnesota Vikings have signed DT Sheldon Richardson, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Richardson returns to Minnesota after spending two seasons with the Browns. In 2020, Richardson started all 16 games for Cleveland and had 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

During his two seasons with the Browns, Richardson started 31 of the 32 games he appeared in and compiled 126 total tackles (78 solo), 16 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, and four forced fumbles.

Richardson originally signed with the Vikings prior to the 2018 season and started all 16 games for the team, grabbing 49 tackles (26 solo), six tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks.

The nine-year veteran started 118 of 121 career contests and collected 461 career tackles (273 solo), 31.0 sacks, 92 quarterback hits, 58 tackles for loss, 14 passes defensed, and one interception while causing 10 fumbles and recovering five.

Also, the Vikings announced that they had released rookie P Zach Von Rosenberg.

Vikings trade Hughes to Chiefs

The Minnesota Vikings have traded CB Mike Hughes and a seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Kansas City Chiefs. In exchange, Minnesota receives a sixth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the teams announced on Thursday.

The former first-round pick for the Vikings back in 2018 missed ten games last season due to a neck injury. The 24-year-old Hughes struggled with injuries throughout his three-year career. He tore his ACL in 2018 and injured his neck in 2019.

In 24 games(seven starts) with the Vikings, Hughes had 80 tackles, two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. 

Minnesota bolstered their secondary in the offseason with the addition of three-time Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson, which made Hughes expendable.

For Hughes, he has an opportunity to resurrect his career with the Chiefs, and if he can stay healthy, maybe things can work out for him in Kansas City.

Vikings sign CB Patrick Peterson

The Minnesota Vikings have signed CB Patrick Peterson, the team announced on Thursday. 

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a one-year, $10 million deal.

The 30-year-old Peterson joins the Vikings after a 10-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played in 154 games, all of which he started after being selected fifth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft.

In 2020, Peterson started all 16 games recording three interceptions and eight passes defensed while playing in 99% of the team’s defensive snaps. While Peterson may not still be an elite corner in the NFL and is a guy that can still play at a decent level. 

A member of the 2010-19 All-Decade Team, Peterson has been selected a team captain five times and has totaled 499 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 28 career interceptions, which ranks sixth all-time in Cardinals history.

Peterson, who has played in three career playoff games, has earned eight Pro Bowl nods (2011-18) and been selected Associated Press First-Team All-Pro three times (2011 as a returner, ’13,’ 15). His four career punt return touchdowns, all of which came as a rookie in 2011, are tied for the most ever in a single season and rank tied for 21st all-time for a career. 

Vikings release K Dan Bailey

The Minnesota Vikings have released kicker Dan Bailey, the team announced on Tuesday. 

The 33-year-old Bailey was not very good in 2020. Bailey was 15/22 on field goals, including missing four kicks(one extra point) in a loss to the Buccaneers. Last March, Bailey signed a three-year, $10 million deal with the Vikings. 

Before the 2020 season, Bailey was the sixth-most accurate kicker in NFL history, converting 87.3 percent of his career field-goal attempts.

The 10-year veteran spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Cowboys before signing with Minnesota in 2018.