Jul 27, 2012; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Lex Hilliard (38) runs away from defensive end D'Aundre Reed (91) and tackle Patrick Brown (79) at training camp at Blakeslee Stadium at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
Another day of Vikings training camp has gone by, and with it comes another set of marginal updates! It was the first practice, and quite a bit has been revealed about how the Vikings intend to move forward. We'll start with the smaller updates, move into a media review, and then close out with a summary of 2nd and 3rd string news.
- The first play of practice was a completion—Christian Ponder to Kyle Rudolph over Robinson. Ponder is apparently developing all kinds of chemistry with Rudolph-lots of connections. Pelissero calls it a solid day for Ponder and "Better than any he had last year. Still early but that's encouraging."
- Chris Cook is having trouble jamming receivers—Simpson has been burning him. They ran soft coverage drills, so don't read too much into this.
- Josh Robinson pulled a hamstring during a one on one drill. He was out for the day, but was running fine after a brief recovery. Expect him to be out of practice for a few days.
- The first team nickel package consisted of Chris Carr at outside CB, Winfield in the slot and Henderson and Greenway at linebacker, as expected. This configuration may have been partially because Robinson is out, but it's unlikely.
- Jasper Brinkley was on the field as the base middle linebacker and with the second string LBs in nickel sets.
- We won't have any intriguing one on one news about Kalil until Monday—they played no shells in pass-rushing practice, which was run concurrently with 7-on-7 drills.
- A lot of defensive and offensive install today was related to soft coverage—how they'll deploy it on defense and attack it on offense.
- In this install, Ponder was 16 of 17 in 11-on-11 drills. A little less successful in 7-on-7s, but there were more deep routes there. Most notable was an overthrow to Simpson.
- After 9 plays, we saw a false start from Loadholt, an offsides from Ballard and a good pass deflection at the line from Evans.
- Jon Cooper has retired in order to become an assistant coach at OU. We wish him well.
If you're heading down (or up, for some of you) to Mankato, the Star Tribune has a primer.
Remember, you can watch practice live (in a fashion) until 4PM every day at the Vikings Live Stream. After that, they'll show you NFL Network clips.
Join us after the jump for the media review
First, let's get some news straight from the horse's mouth. You can click here to watch the presser, or just read the recap below:
- Adrian on Active/PUP (a small explanation as to why)
- Mickey Shuler has a field injury he's recovering from; he's on the Active/Non-Football Injury list
- Stephen Burton has a toe injury also on Active/NFI
- Neither Mickey or Stephen have long-term injuries, and are day-to-day. Stephen Burton drew a few concerns from reporters about injury history, although they are all unrelated injuries (including pneumonia)
- Afternoon practices were instituted to maintain consistency and work in warmer weather conditions
- Kalil is the opening day starter, the rest of the rookies have to earn their spots on the roster
- Ponder and Kyle Rudolph have a "rapport"—an opinion that the beat writers agrees with
- They are committed to having a 2 tight end look. When asked, Frazier compared it to New England; tight ends are evolving to become almost other wide receivers. The tight ends in our system will be put in to confuse defensive playcalling and force nickel sets on running plays and base sets on passing plays.
- There is an open competition for the right guard spot. The Vikings will want to know who comes out ahead by the start of the third preseason game. The competitors are Brandon Fusco, Geoff Schwartz, Joe Berger and Chris DeGeare.
There's a little more, but I'll cover it below.
Given that the offense was running a number of shorter routes, tight ends tended to get the first look, with Rudolph being a primary option and Carlson getting a few targets. For more on the Ponder-Rudolph connection, check out what Tom Pelissero has to say over at ESPN1500.
To see what Pelissero and Zulgad's initial reactions to camp were, check out this video:
For those who don't want to watch or are on mobile, quick recap of the video:
- The installation of the offense is more tight end heavy than we saw last year, and figures to be a significantly different offense this year because Musgrave has more latitude given his personnel, preparation, and player familiarity with key concepts.
- We might see less base Tampa-2 coverage this next year given that the Vikings are not apparently trusting Brinkley in coverage by keeping him out of nickel packages.
- Who took first team and second team reps on the first day seemed more contingent upon who had previous experience with the defense than anything else. Rookies have to earn it.
- We'll have to wait to see Robinson for a bit. They're skeptical Robinson comes back immediately.
- Zulgad still doesn't know if Chris Cook can be a big impact player. He didn't play physical enough to impress.
- Jerome Simpson caught their collective eye by working hard. They contrasted him with Berrian in terms of effort and determination. Berrian didn't care about getting to the ball at all, and Simpson dove for a few. No surprise that Berrian wasn't a hard worker, but it's good to hear that Simpson buys in.
- Childs improved a lot from his offseason performance. Pelissero reiterated that there are some issues with Michael Jenkins, particularly in route running-not much explosiveness, difficulty in and out of breaks, and drifting in routes. He has improved a little bit since minicamp.
For a quick and dirty readthrough on some other issues, check out ESPN1500's notebook, where they cover the fact that Griffen lost weight by eliminating red meat and alcohol from his diet, that Frazier has addressed offseason conduct problems and that the Vikings staff is cognizant of the issue of overworking Blair Walsh, but will involve the fans in creating high pressure situations for him to respond to. Jared Allen and some other players are buying into Frazier's talk of no expectations, and will not focus on media prognostication.
For more on that issue, Chip Scoggins at the Star Tribune has a full story about how the Vikings are refusing to use the "r" word. Relatedly, we might by a bit sytmied in our efforts to attract players to our blog, as Frazier has told them to focus (by which he means ignore all media). Players seem to be listening.
The Star Tribune reporters on the scene—Dan Wiederer and Mark Craig—also made a video. Like the Vikings video, it's not embeddable, but you can click over, or read the highlights below:
- Everyone has arrived on time.
- Adrian doesn't like being on the PUP list
- The Vikings don't think of themselves as bottom-feeders.
- Wiederer sees a 6-10 season, and Craig disagrees.
Breaking news doesn't usually provide itself come the first day of camp, folks.
Finally, I don't know if anyone caught this as it is two days old, but Patrick Reusse has a story about the Vikings fan generation gap. Basically, anyone who saw the Vikings lose to the Chiefs in that game has been cursed with eternal cynicism, while all others can still maintain a foolish feather of hopefulness.
The Pioneer Press got into the game as well and have their own video (which can be embedded):
- We could see Adrian Peterson in one or two of the last preseason games, but potentially not the first real game. AP's at full form without pads or contact, but his knee hasn't been tested by contact, which is the concern
- Harvin seems happy and has a lot of respect for Frazier, but not many developments here. Brian Murphy is a bit annoyed that Harvin is criticizing the media.
- Frazier seems to be doing his best to combat complacency, which is interesting insofar as he's acknowledging the fact that the media don't give them much credit. Allen is leading the charge
The Pioneer Press has an interesting article about how happy Antoine Winfield is with his paycut, because he thinks it saved his job. The injury would have led to his release if he commanded a higher salary, he says.
Hit up their notebook, too. Some of it will have been summarized already or will be covered below in the 2nd/3rd string section. They are also encouraged by Ponder's good day, and further observed that Ponder had more difficulty throwing while rolling left. He does best in the pocket, throwing with torque. Rudolph's performance today was aided by the fact that he's faster than ever, with a fully healed hamstring. Smoother route runner, too.
Before I get into news about the 2nd and 3rd stringers, remember to take everything in stride. Pads don't go on until Monday.
Still, some interesting developments, mostly with wide receivers.
- Greg Childs says he's over his calf strain from minicamps and the patella injury that plagued his senior year. His return to 2010 health is consistent with what beat reporters have observed. He has also been playing with strength, and is not afraid to hit people. Productive, it seems.
- Jeremy Fowler was impressed with a play that stuck out for him—Jarius Wright blew past Josh Robinson on a go route and created separation.
- Kamar Jorden and Devin Aromashodu both had impressive acrobatic plays.
- Both Childs and Jenkins dropped a ball on slants.
- Mark Craig doesn't think much of Bryan Walter's chances. That's pretty fair, though.
- Kerry Taylor allowed Robert Blanton to box him out and come away with an interception in one-on-one drills. Taylor was also Webb's first completion of the day.
- Again, line play in particular will be hard to assess, but Fred Evans' deflected pass couples well with D'Aundre Reed's impressive pressure.
- Before the injury, Josh Robinson played really, really fast. That's a link to Wobschall's notebook, which also notes that:
- There is quite a bit of competition for punt returns. Names on the list: CB Bobby Felder, DB Reggie Jones, CB Josh Robinson, CB Marcus Sherels, WR Kerry Taylor, CB Nick Taylor, WR Bryan Walters and WR Jarius Wright. One of these players may make the team solely because of proficiency here.
- Joe Webb threw 5 for 11 today. More precisely, he threw 0-6, then 5-5. Rosenfels was 6 for 8.
- Jordan Todman was able to display his speed and quickness—he broke free on one play and sprinted 80 yards, gassing Bowman in the process. Todman took quite a few reps and showcased his agility.
- Everson Griffen:
- Regardless of whether or not Griffen was going to play as a linebacker or a defensive end, they wanted him to lose some weight; they see his initial 274 pounds as a bit too much for their scheme, and would like to see him lose ten pounds to be a prototypical DE.
- They wanted him to lose more weight than that in order to take reps as a linebacker. He responded (with the diet mentioned above) by reporting to camp at almost exactly ideal: 258. The coaching staff overall is very impressed with his offseason dedication.
- Frazier wants Griffen to concentrate on learning linebacker for now. He will almost exclusively take reps at linebacker during camp, but this does not rule out a rotational role along the line—and even potentially the third defensive end—during the regular season. He has so much more to learn at linebacker, that the coaches will spend as much time as possible teaching him what he needs to know. They stressed that they absolutely want him on the field (as part of their "best 11" philosophy), but having two 'star' defensive ends would make that impossible without moving him.
- When he took the field as the third string linebacker, he grabbed a sack on the first play.