Wednesday's Notebook: OTAs Launch Amid Favre Confusion

Trying to Focus on Football

Monday certainly wasn't the first instance of seeing two separate reports on Favre directly contradict each other within the span of 24 hours, and after this week's back-and-forth between Shooter and Ed Werder, it doesn't seem like an end to the Favre circus is within sight, after all.  Still, you've gotta appreciate what the Vikings have to do as the OTAs kick off: Turn their focus back to the football field.

And hey, it's not like the OTAs give us any shortage of storylines to track -- as of this moment, the quarterback competition between Rosenfels and Jackson is still alive and well, this is Harvin's first on-the-field action as a Minnesota Viking, new elements of the offensive line hit the field this week, and there are other scattered positional battles unfolding around the depth chart.  Plenty of things to watch in addition to the Chronicles of Favre.

I'm probably most anxious to hear about the first impression made by the newcomers on the offensive line.  After years of Matt Birk-provided stability up front, we now get to see what we've got in John Sullivan, a relative unknown.  Not to mention the on-the-job training that Phil Loadholt is under a huge amount of pressure to handle with poise.  True, the continued quarterback speculation and the battle for the starting WR slot alongside Berrian will garner the most media attention, but the storylines surrounding the big uglies up front certainly deserve their fair share of coverage.

There are a few reports on the opening day of the OTAs, and Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com has a solid recap posted on his blog.  I've got a quick highlight from his report after the jump, along with some Sidney Rice talk, more Favregeddon, and an update on the NFL's proposed schedule expansion...

The Young and the Restless

Wobschall notes that Albert Young, who enters the OTAs listed as the team's third-string running back, had quite a bit of action on Tuesday:

RB Albert Young had a lot of touches today and looked pretty good. He has quick feet and is learning from a great coach in Eric Bieniemy as well as 2 pretty solid veterans in Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.

OK, OK...of all the training camp battles to watch, the one for the third-string running back slot might not exactly be the most compelling.  But the acquisition of Boise State's Ian Johnson (otherwise known as that one guy who proposed to his girlfriend after the 2007 Fiesta Bowl) suddenly makes this a spot to watch during the OTAs and training camp.  Although there will be scant carries available to anyone outside of the Peterson-Taylor-Harvin group, a roster spot is a roster spot -- and both Johnson and Young have a legitimate opportunity to nab it.

Rice Blogs About Harvin

Sidney Rice made a new blog post yesterday to mark the first day of OTAs, and he spent some time sharing his thoughts on Percy Harvin -- who, of course, will be competing with him for a starting job:

Lots of questions about Percy Harvin our new receiver. Yes, we’re competing for the same position, but we’re teammates so I want to help him along so he can do his best and help us win games. Anything he needs, I’m going to be there for him. Having someone look out for you when you come into the league is a big help. I had Troy Williamson, Robert Ferguson, Bobby Wade.

Hey, it's great that Robert Ferguson and Bobby Wade helped out Rice when he entered the league, but here's hoping he politely declined Troy Williamson's words of wisdom.  Anyways, I like what Rice has accomplished through his blog: He's shown that he's a class act, that he's just as frustrated as we are about how he played last season, and that he knows he needs to fight to retain a starting job.  There's little question that giving Rice the starting nod over Harvin could be somewhat difficult for Chilly to justify given the excitement surrounding Harvin and Rice's rough 2008 season, and ultimately, I think Sidney understands what he's up against.

Commish: Did Favre Even Retire?

Curious note from a Roger Goodell press conference at the league's owners meetings -- apparently, the Commish isn't sure if Brett Favre even officially retired:

Commissioner Roger Goodell may have thrown intrigue into Brett Favre's status on Tuesday.

Meeting reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Goodell laughed off a question about Favre's status.

"I don't know if he officially retired," Goodell said. "He may have. I don't know."

Sort of a yawner, but hey, now we get to wonder if Favre even filed his retirement papers.  Zulgad reminds us that, according to a February report in the New York Daily News, Favre supposedly filed his papers after informing the Jets that he wouldn't be sticking around, so this Goodell quote certainly calls that into question.  Does it make one ounce of difference whether or not Favre officially retired?  Not really, but Goodell's uncertainty on the topic is a tad strange.

Favregeddon Rolls Along

In other Favre news, we know that #4 may not have met with Dr. James Andrews yesterday to discuss surgery for his right shoulder, but an NFL Network report makes it clear that he's still very active in assessing his throwing arm:

The NFL Network confirmed Tuesday that the retired quarterback, who is in the process of determining if his right shoulder is healthy enough to let him return next season, had a cortisone shot and threw the ball last week.

True, this news may deserve a resounding "meh," but it does continue to contradict Shooter's suggestion that Favre would be open to surgery.  Indeed, it remains clear that Favre absolutely does not want to have his shoulder operated on, and that this thing may very well fall through if nonsurgical methods don't do the trick.

An Expanded NFL Season? Not Quite Yet

Looks like the owners aren't prepared to vote on expanding the NFL regular season schedule to 17 or 18 games -- according to the Commish, a proposal will not be finalized at the owners meetings which would cut the preseason in half and add the extra game or two onto the end of the current 16-game schedule.  This has always been a tough debate, since you've gotta like the possibility of another game or two of meaningful football, but it's also important to take the additional risk of injury and physical wear-and-tear into account.

Both CBS and Fox support the proposed schedule expansion which could have a good amount of influence on the league's final decision -- then again, though, there could be a high health cost for even one or two more regular season games.  A concerning possibility, even for those of us anxious to see an expanded schedule.

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