Vikings Equipment Manager Dennis Ryan has seen football gear come a long way over the years. Now, he's seeing jerseys — more than ever — left behind because of an uptick in jersey swapping.
Dave Campbell of the Associated Press noted that third-year defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has been so active in the marketplace that "he thanked a reporter recently for asking him about it."
"I spend so much time away from my family and friends that I've got to have something to look back and say, 'Yeah, this is why and this is what it's been,'" Floyd said. "It's more of a remembrance thing for me."
Former Florida Gators are Floyd's priority, in honor of the alma mater, but Vikings star Adrian Peterson is also on his to-do list. One's own teammate ought to be the low-hanging fruit of this pastime, but Peterson is predictably a man in demand.
"It seems like every game someone is asking me for it," the NFL's rushing leader said. "Previous years, of course every now and then, but it seems like even more so this year people have been asking."
Floyd makes a preseason list of his trade targets and presents it to Ryan, as a planning courtesy for the equipment staff. The collection is not on display yet, just folded safely out of sight at home. That's to keep his family and friends, Floyd said, from greedily asking for giveaways.
As for Ryan and others tasked with keeping track:
*Ryan tracks his inventory and sends replacement tallies to the team's finance department for billing. The team has a bunch of blank jerseys on hand from manufacturer Nike, and each week Ryan visits a local seamstress the Vikings work with to get the names and numbers put on. Usually there are a few per week, maybe five at the most. *
*Even a couple can cause a headache for the equipment staff, though. *
"I was talking to a colleague on another team earlier in the season. He was out in the middle of the field watching it all go on and telling me how angry he gets just watching this," Ryan said. "I said, 'You should do what I do.' He said, 'What's that?' I said, 'Don't watch.' Just wait to check it off on Monday, and your blood pressure will be much lower."
Block by block by block
Adrian Peterson was named this week as the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November, but living legend Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune highlighted an unsung hero who has helped Peterson return to the top of the league in rush yards (1,164).
*Peterson has come back to be the star of the Vikings offense, but one of the unsung heroes of Peterson's great rushing season is Rhett Ellison, the former Southern California tight end whom the Vikings drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. His great blocking is a big reason for the team's successful running game. *
*Ellison is having a productive season offensively with nine receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown, already the second-highest total of his career behind last year's 19 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown, but he is really making his presence felt with his blocking. *
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll recruited and coached Ellison at Southern California. When the Vikings drafted him, Carroll said: "He's a perfect caliber tight end for the pros. He may not catch many passes, but he'll block with the best of them." And he has done just that.
Ellison wiped out two Falcons defenders as Peterson turned the corner during his 35-yard TD run to seal last week's 20-10 win in Atlanta.
Hartman's colleague Matt Vensel made note of the Vikings success at running the ball with multiple tight end groupings. According to Vensel, Minnesota is averaging 4.4 yards per carry when using two or three tight ends, but the inflation occurs the most with a three-tight end set:
On 181 carries with multiple tight ends on the field, the Vikings have averaged 4.4 yards per carry, according to ESPN Stats and Info. They have fared particularly well when using just one back with multiple tight ends. They have averaged 4.0 yards per carry when using their 12 personnel. When using 13 personnel, they have averaged a league-high 8.7.
Elements won't be too harsh
The forecast for Sunday's when the Vikings host the Seahawks is a high of 41 and a low of 28 with sunshine. It will be the first time the Seahawks have played outdoors in Minnesota since their inaugural 1976 season.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press noted that Carroll, a Vikings assistant from 1985-91 is looking forward to a game in the elements.
"I'm glad we get a chance to play outside there," said Carroll, in his sixth season as Seattle's head coach.
*Carroll heard a lot of stories from Vikings who played outdoors at Metropolitan Stadium, the Vikings' Bloomington home from 1961-81. This is the second, and last, season the Vikings are playing outdoors as they await the opening of indoor U.S. Bank Stadium next fall. *
"I know we're not getting all the weather that can be had there (on Sunday)," Carroll said, "but I think the Vikings were always known back in the days when (coach) Bud (Grant) was there and playing in the freezing cold and all the stuff."
John Holler of Viking Update writes that Minnesota's habit of starting halves strong could be one of 10 keys to a Vikings victory against the Seahawks:
Of all the stats that have been in the Vikings favor, one that can be attributed to coaching preparation and adjustments deals with scoring in the first and third quarters. Teams come into games with scripted plays to start and adjustments to game plans made at halftime. In the first and third quarters, the Vikings have outscored their opponents 107-48. If the Vikings get off to a fast start at the beginning of the first and second half, they could be hard to beat.