I'M AT VIKINGS TRAINING CAMP! Woo! So, not only is this my very first training camp, but it's my first as a bona-fide member of the media. I'm still wide-eyed like a little kid over here you guys! Let me put it to you this way. On my way to the walk-through Greg Jennings sprinted across the street just ahead of us. Then afterwards Norv Turner rode past us on his bicycle after the presser. Even Viktor the Viking rode by on his segway. The legendary Charlie Casserly was sitting next to me in the media room, and I finally got to meet Arif Hasan. Oh, his beard is pretty legendary too.
But enough about me, you all want to read about the Vikings. Prefier had the special teams unit on point this morning preaching "penalty-free" special teams. I caught one of his better teachable phrases as he said, "Keep your eye on the ball carrier, and avoid penalties at all costs."
When I got there, they were already under way, but I caught that Kain Colter, Jarius Wright and Donte Foster were back catching fake punts from Jeff Locke, who was fake punting. Later on they swapped sides, and Wright, Sherels and Colter were catching punts. Interestingly Adam Thielen was lined up as the punt protector, which is a good way to make himself extra valuable to the roster. Oh, and if it hasn't been mentioned Justin Trattou has the wildest hair of any Vikings player.
There wasn't a lot to see in the walk-through as they just go through the motions and take mostly mental reps, but immediately following the walk-through was the Press conference with Norv Turner. He touched on a number of topics from Greg Jennings being the consummate professional and being important to what they accomplish on offense, to Patterson's injury (he'll be ready by Week 1) to the CBA and Teddy Bridgewater's work ethic. He spoke about the tight end situation, and mentioned that he was disappointed that Chase Ford is out with a broken foot, and alluded to the fact that AC Leonard is young and inexperienced in his offensive scheme. He said, "We need to get Chase Ford back in here to see what he can do."
But for me, the most revealing part of the presser was Norv's comments about the offensive line. He spoke at length about the importance of continuity along the offensive line, and not to rush to judgement when a player has a couple of bad plays. It seemed to me to be a veiled reference to Charlie Johnson, and I would be surprised if David Yankey ends up supplanting him as a starter coming out of camp. Granted, it's still early and they have a lot of evaluating yet to do, but his earlier comments about Yankey being "behind" because of the quarters system at Stanford, and that he's going to have to go up against significantly harder competition in the NFL than in college leads me to believe that for now, Charlie Johnson's starting spot seems relatively safe.
Otherwise, most of the presser was pretty standard, vanilla Norv Turner fare. I can't wait to get to the afternoon padded session. Until then...food is on the horizon.