I'm finally back home after an intense several days at Vikings Training Camp with Eric, and I'm simultaneously both extremely relaxed and very disappointed that I'm home. Anyways, you know the drill: Quick hits, injury, press roundup, 2nd and 3rd team news. Apologies for the late reviews, but my cat allergies decided to kick in as punishment for leaving the cat for three days. Trust me when I say this sidelined me.
- Christian Ponder is 12 for 17 over the course of the last two days, making him 22/37 in the all padded practices
- Kyle Rudolph is the MVP of practice
- Greg Childs had the best play of the offseason so far, rescuing an underthrown ball by Joe Webb by reaching around defender Brandon Burton's helmet and pinning it to his shoulder pads. He held on to it as they crashed down into the end zone.
- There was another great play, where Ponder threw a ball that traveled 50 yards in the air to Jerome Simpson, who raced behind the safeties for a touchdown in 7-on-7s.
- The Right Guard battle is heating up, with Schwartz getting a number of first team reps in the past two days, although Fusco is still getting the majority of them.
- Reggie Jones is eligible for above-the-jump quick hits, as he took first team nickel reps in team drills on Thursday, with Winfield getting the day off. Over the past two days, Jones has recorded two interceptions, and 4 or 5 pass deflections. He's looked good since the day Eric and I showed up, so take that for what you will. Jones started out the week on the third team.
- Chris Cook had two impressive interceptions on Thursday—one in team drills and one in one-on-ones. He also gave up a long bomb to Jerome Simpson. He also had one on Wednesday.
- Letroy Guion is showing consistency and focus.
- More camp pictures!
- John Carlson is expected to miss the next two weeks due to his Grade II MCL sprain
- Jordan Todman is day-to-day with a sprained ankle, after being tackled by Everson Griffen
- Pat Brown has a minor MCL sprain, which he incurred during a screen pass ... to Todman. He is only expected to miss a few days
- DeMarcus Love is still expected to miss several weeks for his shoulder injury
- Adrian Peterson is making good progress, but remains on the Active/PUP list. He has promised to score a touchdown in the first game of the season.
- Robert Blanton is day-to-day with a hamstring injury
- Josh Robinson was in pads the last two days, but did not participate in contact practices. Still looks like he could recover some more
- In sort-of injury news, Kyle Rudolph reports, via Tom Pelissero at ESPN1500, that Carlson avoided a very serious injury with quick thinking and a fast reaction time.
I like to start of the media review with Pelissero's notebook, because it's my favorite of the bunch. He wrote Thursday's, and Zulgad wrote Wednesday's. Tom touches on the opportunities afforded players like Rhett Ellison and Reggie Jones because of breaks or injuries to other players. He also goes into a little more detail on some injuries, and does a lot more on the Childs catch, which should show up on the Vikings official site soon. The final two things are a piece on Webb staying as a number 2 QB—something I strongly agree with after watching all the quarterbacks up close—and on how much Priefer enjoys the focus on special teams; it allows him to set the pace.
One of the most interesting speculations in either notebook is Tom's assertion that Erin Henderson could have playcalling duties in both the base set and the nickel package. While Erin is taking the starting reps as the Nickel Mike and playcalling there, Pelissero thinks that Erin could commandeer the defense from the Will.
Zulgad doesn't cover as much, but his piece is worth a glance for sure.Percy Harvin won't be the primary kick returner, but he is definitely happy with the Vikings. For more detail on Percy Harvin, check out the Star Tribune'stake or the much more in-depth coverage from Eric. Zulgad also mentions that Jared Allen thinks the media coverage of the battle between him and Matt Kalil is overblown. Eric happened to beat Zulgad to that punch, as well. I happen to agree with Jared Allen, but I love the progress Kalil is making.
I should also mention that Judd Zulgad wrote a real story on this Jared Allen business that has a bit more information than his notebook. Outside of his notebook, he's written a story on the possible resurgence of Kevin Williams and why this season will be better than the last.
ESPN1500 also reports that Priefer advocated for the Vikings to draft Longwell's replacement.
Naturally, the two beat reporters (I have yet to see Phunnsie's face and doubt that he's real) from ESPN1500 have put together another video:
- They start with an overview of the week. The Vikings love how low-key things are and that there are no distractions or drama. Big improvement. There's a lot of coverage of how they like how much the Vikings are avoiding these issues.
- Judd isn't necessarily impressed with the Vikings, but thinks they are accomplishing their goals.
- Tom gives Judd a lot of crap for the sunglass/cap combo
- Tom likes how Spielman is doing things—reducing snap counts of veterans is a wise long-term move.
- They put a lot of the "hockey line" ideas in context. It will be reasonable.
- Tom also contexts Childs' play and what that might mean for Childs' long-term impact on the team. Judd calls the play a "Sidney Rice" play.
- Some more discussion about injuries. Tom is a bit concerned that there might be too many injuries for tackles in order to maintain health.
I like this video more than most of the others I've posted. Give it a look.
Mark Craig and Dan Wiederer from the Star Tribune were on the beat as well, but Mark's Wednesday notebook doesn't offer much that's new. There's a bit of a discussion about how loud Jamarca Sanford is (and he is loud), but the Pioneer Press article that Eric linked to earlier covers it much better. Let me clarify—this isn't just random trash talk; it's really fun, it's really motivating, and it really provides a great atmosphere for the camp and during games. He is pushing people to get better.
The Strib has two videos for us to look at. I'll summarize both Wednesday's and Thursday's below:
- Some injury updates. Don't worry, I got you covered above.
- Percy Harvin v. Antoine Winfield is interesting to them, and Winfield is clearly ahead—an analysis I agree with
- Even MORE "hockey lineup" commentary. There's a comparison to the Giants' lineup
- They notice that D'Aundre Reed looks good, and Wiederer takes credit.Thursday:
- Thursday's video has camp footage in it!
- Some Priefer coverage. Priefer seems to like Jamarca Sanford, Larry Dean and Eric Frampton a lot for special teams work
- There's a lot of discussion about Sanford's value at special teams
- Harrison Smith—still expected to start Week 1—looks good with the 2s
- More Walsh coverage. Good leg, improving accuracy, etc.
- This year is unique for Frazier because of the time he got to install what he wanted. They don't believe in win totals—neither do I—and were impressed with how the players played near the end of the season.
Wiederer has more on Sanford's value to the organization. If you wanted more detail on the Vikings defensive line, take a look at Wiederer's interview with Brendan Daly (the Vikings defensive line coach). Dan also talks about three players he highlights in his edition of "Three-and-Out," specifically Erin Henderson, John Carlson, and Greg Childs.
Mark Craig did some writing over the past two days, too, but did his best work with his Chris Doleman piece. He also writes a nice bit of fluff with a discussion a number of the personnel within the organization have had before football. There's a lot of manure.
But if you wanted a character piece, you can do no better than Chip Scoggins on Derrick Coleman's inspiring story as a deaf running back for UCLA.
Everybody is high on Reggie Jones at this point. Seems he has an inside track to make the team.
The Pioneer Press team of Jeremy Fowler and Brian Murphy are also providing some unique content, with some more on Joe Webb. In this piece by Murphy, Musgrave talks in detail about what he sees in Webb. Brian Murphy also wrote a bit about how Harvin and Simpson are not only hitting it off (insert bong joke here), but are competing with each other.
Jeremy Fowler reports that Allen well knows that he'll see fewer snaps, so Allen's surprise is a bit of a... surprise.
Fowler also did a four day review, including a report on Ponder, players who stood out, and players he would like to see get better. He also wrote a small article about how the day went for the Offense and Defense on Thursday.
There are a couple of video interviews. We'll start with an interview with George Stewart, the receivers coach (including his interesting background as an offensive lineman):
Another video that has the Jared Allen interview everyone is referencing in their articles. Good stuff on Letroy. You might see Eric's hand:
A cliche ridden interview with Ponder that still may be worth a look, just because of the length and depth:
If you were starving for Everson Griffen news, the Associated Press published some material, but I don't think any of it is new.
2nd and 3rd team news:
- Joe Webb was 17 for 25 in the last two days, bringing him up to 28 for 40.
- Sage Rosenfels was 3 for 8 on Wednesday, including three touchdowns—Brandon Burton, Bobby Felder, and Reggie Jones. The Felder interception wasn't really his fault, to be fair. Sage was 1-3 on Thursday, bringing his total to 18/31.
- McLeod Bethel-Thompson was 0/1 on both days, making him 4/11.
- Matt Asiata is impressing a lot of people (including Eric and I), but he will still have to do a lot to displace Jerome Felton
- Bobby Felder's minor emergence would be much more interesting if Jones wasn't taking a bunch of limelight. Still, he looks good, and if he doesn't make the squad (which looks likely at this point), I'm pegging him as a practice squad invitee for sure. If they both make the squad, I see Priefer making the decision for the last spot between Sherels and Bowman, who both offer different capabilities on special teams. Sherels is the second team nickelback and both Sherels and Bowman are on the third team defense. Naturally, they have been rotating with Felder and Jones.
- Michael Jenkins still looks expendable
- Jarius Wright is finally exceeding his play from the first two days—he's agile, he's running good routes, he's got explosiveness, and he's gaining confidence as a returner.
- Rhett Ellison is ahead of both Mickey Shuler and Allen Reisner in terms of actual skill and spot on the depth chart
- D'Aundre Reed is turning heads. He figures to be the first backup defensive end.
- Ernest Owusu still looks good, but not as good as Trevor Guyton or D'Aundre Reed. Even if he clearly beats Nick Reed (who has had some good plays) and Jeff Charleston, he'll struggle to make the team. Practice squad material.
- I believe Thursday is the first day Chris Stroud is allowed to practice for the Vikings.
- My predictions for the first ten cuts (which should occur 25 days from now, so I'm jumping the gun a bit here, I know): 30. Corey Gatewood, CB; 34. Andrew Sendejo, S; 45. Tyler Nielsen, LB; 47. Corey Paredes, LB; 49. Derrick Coleman, RB; 60. Tydreke Powell, DT; 67. Anthony Jacobs, DT; 67. Austin Pasztor, G; 68. Kevin Murphy, T; 87. A.J. Love, WR.
- Practice squad predictions: 2. Kamar Jorden, WR; 4. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, QB; 13. Bryan Walters, WR; 15. Kerry Taylor, WR; 31. Bobby Felder, CB; 66. Tyler Holmes, T; 86. Mickey Shuler, TE; 95. Ernest Owusu, DE. Yes, that's three wide receivers, but I can't find good quality in other parts of the roster. Tyler Holmes specifically has a huge disparity in his skill against dummies and air in drills and his skill against actual people. Sounds like a confidence problem.