Name: Erik Thibault
Hometown: Stillwater, Minn
College: Minnesota State University, Mankato
Favorite teams: Minnesota Wild
Favorite athletes: It’s actually a wrestler: Ric Flair
Favorite KFAN Show: Bumper to Bumper with Dan Barreiro
Best sports memory: I attended both the Blake Wheeler Diving Goal Game at the 2007 WCHA Final Five and the infamous 2007 Stanley Cup Playoff Game Four Ducks vs Wild and the fans in Xcel Energy Center were never louder. Attending Gabby’s five-goal game and meeting Mikko Koivu while camping out for Wild tickets in 2010 were pretty cool too.
Best part about being an intern: Assisting in call screening and show content. Providing accurate information and statistics or screening interesting and thought-provking callers gives me a sense of self-satisfaction
Worst part about being an intern: Answering phones during ticket giveaways.
Dream job in ten years: I’m open to anything. My two college degrees in business and mass communications leads my life down no distinct path.
Anything surprise you about the KFAN Personalities? I expected all personalities at The FAN to be self-absorbed, egotistical and unfriendly and I was completely off about my expectations.
Name: Barrett Anderson
Favorite KFAN Show: Paul Allen
Best sports memory: Our Wayzata/Minnetonka football game, my senior year.
Name: Isaac Wenzel
Hometown: West St. Paul, MN
College: Winona State University
Favorite Teams: Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild, the Twinkies and #TeamBringIt
Favorite Athletes: Ricky Rubio, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Adrian Peterson and The Rock (yes, he counts).
Favorite KFAN Show: The Power Trip, Extreme Pro Wrestling Radio, The Common Man Progrum, Saturdays with Sauce
Best Sports Memory: Henry Sibley Boys Basketball winning in 2008 Section Finals for the first time in school history against Cretin Derham-Hall following a missed three pointer from current Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver, Michael Floyd.
Best part about being an intern: Having the opportunity to work with and learn from such unbelievably talented people in this business. I honestly couldn’t be more grateful.
Worst part about being an intern:Not the biggest morning person, but working with the guys on The Power Trip makes it a heck of a lot easier to wake up so early.
Dream job in ten years: Honestly, working with The FAN or any of the sister stations in the cities would be a dream come true.
Anything surprise you about the KFAN Personalities? Most of the personalities were actually how I imagined them. That’s why they are so great at what they do – it’s second nature.
Coaching Staff: Leslie Frazier (Head Coach), Bill Musgrave (Offensive Coordinator), Alan Williams (Defensive Coordinator), Mike Priefer (Special Teams Coordinator)
Key Additions: LT Matt Kalil (DP), WR Jerome Simpson (FA), TE John Carlson (FA), WR Greg Childs (DP), CB Brandon Carr (FA), CB Zack Bowman (FA), S Harrison Smith (DP), WR Jarius Wright (DP), T/G Geoff Schwartz (FA)
Key Departures: LG Steve Hutchinson (TEN), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (NE), CB Cedric Griffin (WASH), DT Remi Ayodele (NO), MLB E.J. Henderson (FA), G Anthony Herrera (FA), S Tyrell Johnson (MIA), S Husain Abdullah (FA), K Ryan Longwell (FA)
Offense: The big question is whether or not Christian Ponder (1,853 yards, 13 TDs, 13 INTs) can make some sort of leap from his rookie season. The second-year quarterback said that he lost confidence last season after a few big hits late in the year. With the addition of No. 4 pick Matt Kalil, the offensive line should improve immensely. Look for Charlie Johnson to move to left guard after playing left tackle last season. It was clear Johnson wasn’t entirely comfortable at the tackle position. Ponder won’t have any excuses this season as General Manager Rick Spielman has given him plenty of new toys. After former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Jerome Simpson (50 catches, 725 yards, 5 TDs) returns from his suspension, Ponder will have a deep-threat and that will enable Percy Harvin (87 catches, 967 yards, 6 TDs) to move back to the slot. Toby Gerhart (531 yards, 1 TD) should be able to hold his own until Adrian Peterson (970 yards, 12 TDs) is back to full-strength from his ACL injury he suffered in Week 15 last season. Peterson says that he intends to return for the first week, but if he’s not at full-strength, the Vikings won’t risk anything.
Defense: The biggest weakness on the team last season (with many to choose from) was the secondary. While the Vikings lost Husain Abdullah (49 tackles, 1 INT) and Cedric Griffin (67 tackles, 1 INT), it’s unlikely this group could be any worse in 2012. The Vikings drafted safeties Harrison Smith (Notre Dame) and Robert Blanton (Notre Dame), along with corner Josh Robinson (Central Florida). Expect Smith to start from Week 1. Robinson should get every opportunity to start opposite of Chris Cook (20 tackles), moving Antoine Winfield (40 tackles, 1 INT) to the nickel. Blanton is also getting an opportunity at the other safety spot. The team decided against bringing middle linebacker E.J. Henderson (109 tackles, 2 sacks) back, but did bring back his little brother Erin (70 tackles, 1.5 sacks). The starting linebackers will be Chad Greenway (154 tackles, 2 sacks) and Henderson, while Everson Griffen (21 tackles, 4 sacks) and Jasper Brinkley (17 tackles) will fight for the other spot. The team’s biggest strength is on the defensive line. Jared Allen (66 tackles, 22 sacks) hasn’t slowed down one bit and Brian Robison (44 tackles, 8 sacks) looked like he belonged last season. The question mark on the defensive line will be Kevin Williams (38 tackles, 5 sacks) and whether or not he’s got anything left in the tank.
Special Teams: The biggest change regarding the special teams unit this offseason was the Vikings releasing kicker Ryan Longwell (22-for-28) and replacing him with Blair Walsh, a 6thround pick out of Georgia. Walsh struggled with his accuracy last season, but has Sebastian Janikowski-like leg strength. With a rebuilding team, this move doesn’t exactly hurt the team. Punter Chris Kluwe (45.8 avg) is well-known for his Twitter antics, but not so much for statistically being the best punter in team history. The Vikings drafted Robinson and receiver Jarius Wright (Arkansas) in hopes that they will be able to return punts and kicks. Most Vikings fans would agree that anything other than Marcus Sherels (277 punt return yards, 445 kick return yards) would be an improvement.
Coaching Staff: Jeff Schwartz (Head Coach), Scott Linehan (Offensive Coordinator), Gunther Cunningham (Defensive Coordinator), Danny Crossman (Special Teams Coordinator)
Key Additions: CB Jacob Lacey (FA), SS Sean Jones (FA), LT Riley Reiff (DP), WR Ryan Broyles (DP)
Key Departures: QB Drew Stanton (IND), LB Bobby Carpenter (NE), CB Eric Wright (TB), S Chris Harris (FA), CB Aaron Berry(FA)
Offense: The Lions have a sneaky-powerful offense. Well, maybe not so sneaky if you had Matthew Stafford (5,038 yards, 41 TDs) or Calvin Johnson (96 receptions, 1,681 yards, 16 TDs) on your fantasy football team. In the NFC, the Lions are overshadowed by the Packers and the Saints on the offensive side of the ball, but if the Lions can repeat what they did last season, they might head to the top. When looking at the roster, it might appear as if the Lions lack a running back, and while they don’t have a proven back on their squad, the NFL has showed us they don’t need to. If Jahvid Best (390 yards, 2 TDs) can remain healthy, he could become a Darren Sproles-like running back for this team. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew (83 catches, 777 yards, 5 TDs), the team’s second-leading receiver, could be the next tight end to emerge as a star, especially if Johnson continues to get double covered. Another player offensively that will benefit from the attention Johnson requires is Titus Young (48 catches, 607 yards, 6 TDs). Young struggled at times last season, but has all the tools to be the team’s No. 2 receiver. By drafting tackle Riley Reiff out of Iowa, the Lions admitted that in order to win, they need to keep Stafford healthy, something that has been a problem in the past. It’s very unlikely this group will take a step back if everyone can remain healthy. As a Lions fan, you just have to hope the Madden curse doesn’t hurt Megatron. Crazier things have happened.
Defense: The Lions turned their focus to the defensive line throughout the last two years and while it shows, fans might be more familiar with the baggage of players like Ndamukong Suh (36 tackles, 4 sacks) and Nick Fairley (15 tackles, 1 sack) rather than their play. Suh is regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in football, but most people know him more for his “stomp” against the Packers last Thanksgiving. Fairley, on the other hand, was seen as a steal with the No. 11 pick during the 2011 draft. But a foot injury sidelined him for five weeks last season, and this offseason’s DUI arrest has people wondering if Fairley is mature enough for the NFL. The Lions are the last team that needs any more negative attention when it comes to their players. The defensive backfield took a hit, losing Eric Wright to the Tampa Bay Bucs in free-agency. A young group of defensive backs, led by safety Louis Delmas (51 tackles) and corner Chris Houston (54 tackles, 5 interception) will need to grow up real fast in a division with pass-happy quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. Corner Aaron Berry could have helped the Lions after seeing some time last season, but the team didn’t have much of a choice after he was arrested twice in the month of July. The line backing core is led by feisty and undersized Stephen Tulloch (111 tackles, 3 sacks), who is just 5’11. With no standout names on the linebacker list, rookies Travis Lewis (Oklahoma), Carmen Messina (New Mexico), Ronnie Sneed (Kentucky) and Tahir Whitehead (Temple) will get every opportunity to earn snaps.
Special Teams: In case you’re wondering, yes, Jason Hanson (24-29) is still kicking. No, literally, he’s still kicking for the Lions. The kicker will be entering his 21st season with the club and will likely start again. While the strength isn’t what it used to be, the accuracy has always been there. Ryan Donahue (42.7 average) and Ben Graham (44.1) will fight for the punting position. Speedster Stefan Logan (25.2 yards per kick return) is expected to return punts and kicks for the team. Best has the tools to return kicks as well, but with his injury history, it’s doubtful the Lions will take the risk. Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma could also see some time returning punts and kicks.
Green Bay Packers:
Coaching Staff: Mike McCarthy (Head Coach), Tom Clements (Offensive Coordinator), Dom Capers (Defensive Coordinator)
Key Additions: C Jeff Saturday (FA), DE/DT Philip Merling (FA), DE/DT Anthony Hargrove (FA), DE/DT Nick Perry (DP), DE/DT Jerel Worthy (DP)
Key Departures: QB Matt Flynn (SEA), RB Ryan Grant (FA), OT Chad Clifton (FA), C Scott Wells (STL), NT Howard Green (FA), S Nick Collins (FA)
Offense: Seriously, is there anything this offense is really missing? The Packers have arguably the best quarterback in the game with Aaron Rodgers (4,643 yards, 45 TDs, 6 INTs). A fan probably can’t think of a more talented group of wide receivers with Greg Jennings (67 catches, 949 yards, 9 TDs), Jordy Nelson (68 catches, 1,263 yards, 15 TDs), James Jones (38 catches, 635 yards, 7 TDs) and Randall Cobb (25 catches, 375 yards). Donald Driver (37 catches, 445 yards, 6 TDs) will have fewer balls thrown his way – it’s simply a combination of his age and the emergence of the rest of the receiving core. If Driver played for, say, the Vikings, he might see himself as a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. As if Rodgers doesn’t have enough targets, his tight end is also pretty good. Although he had an off year, Jermichael Finley (55 catches, 767 yards, 8 TDs) remains one of the top tight ends in the league. The running back position doesn’t look especially strong, but then again, running backs aren’t as important as they used to be. James Starks (578 yards 1 TD0 will likely be the starter, with guys like Alex Green (11 yards), Brandon Saine (69 yards), Du’ane Bennett (University of Minnesota) and Marc Tyler (USC) fighting for playing time. The offensive line isn’t especially great, but the signing of center Jeff Saturday will help. As mobile as Rodgers is at quarterback, some of the faults of the offensive line are hidden. It could also be argued that Rodgers might scramble himself into sacks, but now we are just being picky.
Defense: The linebacking core, led by Clay Matthews (50 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 INTs) is one of the most dangerous in the league. Mathews and his scary blonde hair has been keeping quarterbacks up since he’s been in the league. Matthews’ twin, A.J. Hawk (84 tackles, 1.5 sacks), hasn’t had the same success at Matthews has had, but he’s still no scrub. Rookie Nick Perry from USC is a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, which seems to be the new thing in the NFL. Many believe the Packers got him as a steal with the No. 28 pick. B.J. Raji (22 tackles, 3 sacks) hasn’t been as effective as other tackles such as Haloti Ngati, but the 340-pound defensive lineman is primed to breakout, especially when offensive linemen will have to worry about Matthews, Perry and defensive end rookie Jerel Worthy (Michigan State), who the Packers expect to play immediately. As far as the defensive backfield goes, Charles Woodson (74 tackles, 7 INTs) will probably see more time at safety this season. Tramon Williams (64 tackles, 4 INTs) is slowly becoming a very good cornerback and will probably be joined by Sam Shields (45 tackles, 4 INTs) as the opposite starter. Woodson’s move to safety isn’t so much on the fact that he’s lost a step, but more so that the squad isn’t as deep as they’d like to be. The most experienced safety on the team is Morgan Burnett (107 tackles, 3 INTs), who is in his third season. Rookies Jerron McMillian (Maine), Micah Pellerin (Hampton) and Sean Richardson (Vanderbilt) will be fighting for a roster spot, and if they earn one, they could be an injury away from being inserted in the starting lineup. That’s good news for them. Not so much for the Packers.
Special teams: The Packers still have Mason Crosby (23-for-27) at kicker and will for quite some time. Crosby has proven himself as one of the best kickers in the league, and that’s saying a lot for a kicker who plays half of his games at the Frozen Tundra. Tim Masthay is the only punter on the roster and the Packers seemed pleased with his 45.6 average last season. He has 48 punts inside the 20 during his last two seasons. Not too shabby. Randall Cobb (1 KR TD, 1 PR TD) had most of the returning duties last season and unless he becomes a major part of the offense where McCarthy and crew doesn’t want to risk injury, he’ll likely see the same role this season. Cobb was a sparkplug in the return game and looks to fit the part of a rising star in the league.
Coaching Staff: Lovie Smith (Head Coach), Mike Tice (Offensive Coordinator), Rod Marinelli (Defensive Coordinator), Dave Toub (Special Teams Coordinator)
Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall (TRADE), WR Alshon Jeffery (DP), RB Michael Bush (FA), QB Jason Campbell (FA), G Chilo Rachal (FA), LB Geno Hayes (FA), KR Eric Weems (FA), DE Shea McClellin (DP)
Key Departures: CB Corey Graham (BALT), RB Marion Barber (RETIRED), DT Amobi Okoye (TB), DT Anthony Adams (FA), S Brandon Meriweather (WASH)
Offense: It might be hard to believe, but the biggest change/improvement on this offense might not involve wide receiver Brandon Marshall (81 catches, 1,214 yards, 6 TDs). The Bears parted ways with former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and replaced him with former Vikings head coach Mike Tice. Martz might be one of the best offensive minds in the league, but his seven-step drop offense wasn’t a great fit for the Bears below-average offensive line and quarterback Jay Cutler (2,319 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs) paid for it. The Bears will run more of a standard offense, and that should allow Cutler to utilize his arm more and connect with former Denver teammate Marshall. There are questions surrounding Alshon Jeffery’s (South Carolina) work ethic, but his size and frame should give the Bears another option offensively, something they lacked last season. Running back Matt Forte (997 yards, 3 TDs) finally ended his contract saga and will be playing for the Bears this season. Forte should remain to be a big part of this offense, especially because of his ability to catch out of the backfield. Many criticized the Bears for not drafting an offensive lineman their first or second round pick. Only time will tell if that was a smart move.
Defense: The linebacking core, though aging, still remains this defense’s biggest strength. Lance Briggs (105 tackles) led the team in tackles last season and after injuring his knee, Brian Urlacher (102 tackles, 3 INTs) looks ready for his 14th season. The Bears addressed their defensive line by drafting Shea McClellin (Boise State) with their first overall pick. McClellin is a versatile player who is able to play end or outside linebacker. Julius Peppers (37 tackles, 11 sacks) is still a beast as well. Charles Tillman (99 tackles, 3 INTs) remains the team’s top cornerback. Safety Major Wright (58 tackles) tied for the team’s lead with three interceptions last season. With the cornerstones being Urlacher, Peppers and Briggs, this is an aging group and it’s unknown how many years they’ll have left as a feared defense in the league.
Special Teams: Devin Hester (21.9 KR average,1 TD, 16.2 PR average, 2 TD) is the best return man many of us have ever seen, and unfortunately because of the lack of receivers for the Bears over the last two seasons, Hester hasn’t been able to focus entirely on the return game(he fumbled four punt returns last season). While he will still see time at receiver, by acquiring Marshall and Jeffery, Hester should be able to focus more on the return game. Moving the kickoffs up to the 35-yard line hasn’t affected returners as much as we thought it would. That’s a good thing for the Bears. There’s a reason why Robbie “Good As” Gould (87.5 FG %) has that nickname. It’s because the guy is pretty good, and having had to endure Paul Edinger not too long ago, Chicago fans just want consistency. Adam Podlesh (43.9 avg) is entering his second season with the Bears after spending the four previous seasons with the Jaguars. All signs indicate that he will be the starting punter.
* - Playoffs
North MVP: Rodgers
Rookie of Year: Harrison Smith
Fantasy Guy You Should Have: Marshall
Fantasy Guy To Stay Away From: Best