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.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Lito Sheppard, Marcus Sherels, Percy Harvin, Ryan Longwell, Sidney Rice
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 5 Comments »