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Fresh Faces Highlight Start Of Minicamp

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 11, 2010 – 4:45 pm

The rain subsided and practice fields drained in enough time to allow the Vikings to work outside as they conducted their first of 5 scheduled minicamp practices on Friday afternoon at Winter Park. The team worked for about 90 minutes on the outdoor practice fields and ran through a typical OTA-type of practice.

What was different from OTAs, though, was the number of players participating in Friday’s activities. OTAs are voluntary, but this weekend’s minicamp is mandatory for most players. As expected, DE Ray Edwards, QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson were non-participants, but aside from those 3 players the Vikings had everyone together.

It was interesting to see some of the fresh faces in a Vikings uniform for the first time since last year’s NFC Championship Game, notably CB Antoine Winfield and WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. It was also good to see a pair of rookies – RB Toby Gerhart and WR Ray Small – who were unable to participate in team activities until recently because of college graduation rules. I had an on-camera conversation with Gerhart immediately after practice, so be sure to check vikings.com tomorrow to see that interview.

Here are a few observations from today’s practice…

– Interesting to note that CB Lito Sheppard, who signed with the Vikings this offseason, was taking turns returning punts during the special teams portion of practice. I don’t read too much into this – Sheppard has only 8 career punt returns – but it’s interesting to note. Ray Small, an undrafted rookie WR from Ohio State, was also practicing punt returns.

– Speaking of special teams, K Ryan Longwell looked sharp early in practice. Rotating from left hash to right hash and backing up after each kick, Longwell was 5 of 6 of FG tries – he missed his final attempt.

– Both Harvin and Rice look as if they’ve added solid muscle mass during the offseason. Rice told reporters after practice that he’s planning on working out with Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. again in July.

– It was great to see LB E.J. Henderson participating in individual drills with the rest of his LB teammates. He of course suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 13 last year and it would be a big boost for the Vikings defense to have him back for training camp.

– Vikings minicamp was a popular place to be for some national media members. ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert, who covered the Vikings for the Star Tribune before joining the ESPN family, was roaming the sidelines and so was one of his ESPN colleagues, Ed Werder. NFL.com’s Vic Carucci was on-hand as well.

– The most impressive defensive play I saw came from rookie and former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher CB Marcus Sherels. He was covering Harvin down the middle of the field and stretched to haul in an INT during 1-on-1 drills.

– Minicamp is open to the media and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear/read a lot of analysis/reaction to which QBs are taking snaps with which teams. Tarvaris Jackson spent the 2009 season as the #2 QB and I’m sure he’ll take a lot of snaps with the 1st team during minicamp and training camp, but I’m not reading too much into things at this stage.

– TE Visanthe Shiancoe met with reporters after practice and was in a jovial mood – par for the course for him. He was asked about Favre and Peterson not being at camp and said their absence wasn’t a problem with him because he knows they are professionals who will be ready to play when it’s time to play. I met with Shiancoe after practice and he shared a couple of other interesting thoughts that I’ll explain in a soon-to-be-published blog entry or headline story. Look for that early tomorrow morning.


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Registration Open For Greenway’s Gridiron Gallop

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 11, 2010 – 8:19 am

As we’re waiting for the Vikings to hit the field and begin this weekend’s minicamp, I thought it’d be a good idea to promote a great event that LB Chad Greenway and his wife, Jenni, put on each year. It’s called the “Greenway’s Gridiron Gallop 5K Fun Run/Walk” and it will be held for the 4th consecutive year on Father’s Day at Lake Nokomis later this month.

The Greenways will be joined by Vikings players, Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, Viktor the Viking and the Vikings Women’s Organization to raise money for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. I’ve been to the event several times and I can attest to the fact that this event gets better every year and it’s a lot of fun to attend. It’s also early in the morning and doesn’t last long, so you can participate in the event and then get on to the rest of your Father’s Day plans.

You can pre-register here or you can register at the event (Lake Nokomis Bath House located at 4955 West Lake Nokomis Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55417). Registration opens at 7:30 a.m. the morning of the event and then the festivities begin with a kids fun run/walk at 8:30 and the 5K run/walk at 9:00.

Players, along with cheerleaders, will be signing autographs for all participants.  The event is $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event.  The cost is $10 for a child (10 and under) in advance, $15 the day of, to participate in the 8:30 a.m. Kids Fun Run.  All pre-registered participants are guaranteed a free t-shirt.


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Minicamp Attendance, Weather Update

Posted by Mike Wobschall on June 11, 2010 – 7:25 am

As Ryan noted in the previous entry, weather is going to be a factor this weekend as the Vikings conduct their annual mandatory minicamp at Winter Park. Currently it’s pouring rain here in Eden Prairie and it’s been that way for several hours, so even though practice is still several hours away, I have serious doubts that the Vikings will be able to work outside today.

UPDATE: The rain has subsided and the forecast now looks pretty good, so perhaps practice will be outdoors today.

Regardless of where the team works today and into the weekend, we’ll have you covered the whole time with written updates and video highlights of practice. We’ll also try and speak with some of the players to get their takes on how minicamp is going.

Speaking of the players, I’ve seen quite a few of them already this morning and I get a feeling that the participation level is going to be very high for the Vikings roster. As Ryan noted earlier, it’s expected that DE Ray Edwards, QB Brett Favre and RB Adrian Peterson will be missing this weekend, but other than that I think attendance will be solid. I’ve already seen WRs Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice and I also ran into CB Antoine Winfield in the locker room.

The Vikings are scheduled to practice later this afternoon, but we’ll try to keep you updated as much as possible between now and then so be sure to stay tuned to vikings.com and the vikings.com Blog. Also, you can follow us on Twitter (@VikingsFootball) to receive important updates regarding the Vikings.


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Minicamp Gets Underway Today

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on June 11, 2010 – 2:00 am

After going through several rounds of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) over the last few weeks, the entire Vikings team — for the most part — will gather at Winter Park today for a 3-day minicamp that will run through Sunday.  This will be the last time the team formally gathers prior to training camp, which will get going in late July down in Mankato.

Players that are not expected to be at Winter Park include QB Brett Favre and DE Ray Edwards, who is a restricted free agent (RFA) and has not yet signed his tender from the team, though he is expected to do so before the June 15 deadline.  RB Adrian Peterson is also expected to miss a portion of the weekend to attend “Adrian Peterson Day” in his hometown of Palastine, Texas.

From a fan’s perspective, vikings.com will have you covered from start to finish.  As you probably know by now, the vikings.com Blog is your best place for frequent and sometimes exclusive access and updates, and that will be the case again this weekend, so make sure to check back often for updates on the goings-on at Winter Park.

Head Coach Brad Childress is scheduled to address the media on Friday night and Sunday morning, and we’ll have those press conferecnes available via on-demand video shortly after they conclude.

One thing to keep an eye on will be the weather.  The team loves to practice outdoors, but it appears as though there’s a good chance of rain both later today and tomorrow, so we’ll see if the team is forced to shift things inside.


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