It sure felt like a Monday today.
Maybe it was because the Vikings usually have Sundays off during camp. Maybe it was because I got up and left for Mankato the same time I usually leave for work. Or maybe it was because the Vikings eased back into practice like most of us ease back into the work week on Mondays.
I wouldn't say that the Vikings had a full-on case of the Mondays on Sunday, but the first practice after their preseason game against the Houston Texans resembled how must of us we come back to our day jobs after the weekend. Slow, steady, just sort of going through the motions and getting re-acclimated to the daily grind. In fact, Jared Allen and some other defensive linemen moseyed onto the practice field about 10 minutes late for the morning session, prompting a sarcastic cheer from the offensive unit.
Thankfully we all eventually get over the painful start of our work weeks and back to our normal functional selves. The Vikings were no different--there was plenty of good football being played after looking rather lethargic early on. And after a rather lethargic start to this post, I'll give you my notes on everything I observed from the sidelines in Mankato on Sunday.
[Disclaimer: If you're expecting an 8,000-word opus complete with fancy graphs, sabermetrics, and detailed depth charts of the fourth-string punt team like most of Arif's posts from training camp, you're probably going to be disappointed. I have some pretty thorough observations on the offense today (I watched them while Arif looked at the defense Sunday afternoon) but the rest of my takes are of the 10,000-foot variety. I'll leave the posts that leave you saying "Wow, how is this guy not a scout or personnel guy for an NFL team yet?" to the master, Arif. But hey, at least I took some fun Instagram videos!
Oooooooooh. Now enjoy the rest of my notes.]
Let's cover who was and wasn't on the field today. Top Vikings draft pick Sharrif Floyd didn't participate today and had an MRI on his knee. The knee was more sore on Sunday than after the game on Saturday so the training staff took a closer look at it. Thankfully Floyd says it's "nothing to be scared of" and it doesn't sound like he'll miss any significant time. Fellow defensive lineman Christian Ballard was also held out of practice due to some soreness but that didn't sound serious either.
The timetable for the return of Jacob Lacey is a little more significant. Leslie Frazier said that the cornerback will miss 2-4 weeks after getting his knee scoped. Fellow DB Brandan Bishop was ill on Sunday but it didn't stop him from suiting up for practice. Xavier Rhodes and Desmond Bishop were also full participants after suffering some bumps and bruises earlier in camp.
The only other injury of note caught us by surprise. Audie Cole sat out the afternoon session with an ankle injury. We haven't heard anything about the extent of the injury yet. I did see Audie lining up for a couple morning walk-thru defensive formations so I'd be surprised if it was too serious.
Jack Handey Eric Thompson
I'll get to what I thought of individual players in a bit, but here are some random observations I made throughout the day in no particular order:
- It's funny to think that Adrian Peterson is probably working a lot less as a full training camp participant this year than when he was rehabbing last year. Instead of tirelessly running hills with a weight sled attached to him, AP is just waiting in line to run drills like the rest of his teammates this time around.
- Matt Cassel seems taller in person than he looks on TV for some reason. I have no idea why that is; he's only 2 inches taller than Christian Ponder and the same height as McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
- The depth charts on either side of the ball were pretty tough to read at times. The coaches mixed personnel up quite a bit during a lot of the drills.
- The Vikings shuffled their formations around a bunch as well. Among the highlights of quirky formations I noticed:
a) A four-wide shotgun set with tight ends John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph on the outside, Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson lined up in the slot, and Peterson in the backfield;
b) A three-wide set with Jennings in the slot and Jarius Wright at the Z position; and
c) An unbalanced line formation where Phil Loadholt went in motion and lined up directly to the left of Matt Kalil. Unless I'm mistaken I think Loadholt would have to report eligible for that kind of play; maybe something that could be useful or tricky in short yardage and goal line situations?
- I know a lot of people were freaking out on Twitter and the game thread Friday that the Vikings' new jerseys looked blue. After seeing them in person, I can assure you that they are the perfect shade of Vikings purple. I don't know what about the TV broadcast makes them look bluer, but they aren't. As for the helmets and jerseys not completely matching, that's true but not quite as pronounced as it looked on TV. The matte finish on the helmets makes the shades of purple look different, but it's not like the helmets and jerseys were an exact match before the new uniforms either.
- Another uni-related tidbit: the Vikings are still rocking the old white pants from last year in Training Camp.
- I forgot how frickin' hard it is to keep track of 90 players over the course of 3+ hours of practice, especially when some of them have the same number. (I mistakenly tweeted about Brandon Keith and Travis Bond right after I started coverage this morning. Turns out it was their defensive numerical counterparts, Anthony McCloud and Everett Dawkins. Whoops.)