Don’t forget to submit your comments/questions to the Monday Morning Mailbag. With minicamp concluding on Sunday, the Monday Morning Mailbag will be a great forum to discuss the latest developments with the Vikings.
To submit a comment/question, send an email to me at email@example.com.
Remember that we can’t post every comment/question, but I’ll try to respond to every question.
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The Vikings will practice twice on Saturday – 10:30 and 3:30 – as their mandatory minicamp rolls through the weekend. Threatening weather conditions will likely push the first practice of Saturday indoors, and hopefully conditions will clear up for an outdoor practice in the afternoon.
UPDATE: The Vikings will practice outside in the morning.
We’ll continue to be your source for minicamp coverage throughout the weekend, so be sure to check back here frequently for written updates, photos and videos. Also, remember that you can follow us on Twitter (@VikingsFootball).
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Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe is a go-to guy for reporters covering the team because of his candor and humor in answering questions. There’s no doubt he enjoys the attention that accompanies cameras and tape recorders, but it’s also clear to me that Shiancoe is truly a team player who puts the success of his team ahead of his own personal media-related interests.
With me, Shiancoe has always been a straight shooter and a reliable subject for interviews and vikings.com projects. So when I was curious as to whether this Vikings team had a different attitude at this point in the offseason than it’s had at this same point in previous offseasons, there was no question that #81 was my man to go to.
I caught up with Shiancoe following practice on Friday, once he finished up meeting with a larger group of reporters. On top of his loquacious demeanor, a friendly feud this offseason via Twitter with friend, former teammate and current Saints S Darren Sharper made the Vikings standout TE a popular target for reporters.
Shiancoe actually used discretion when asked about the Twitter battle with Sharper and moved the conversation on to other topics. He was asked about RB Adrian Peterson missing minicamp because of “Adrian Peterson Day” and had no qualms about the 3-time Pro Bowler not being at Winter Park. And of course he was asked about QB Brett Favre and his prospects for playing in 2010. Shiancoe’s response was that as long as the QB is here for Week 1, everything is good with him.
After all of that, I asked Shiancoe if this Vikings team, coming off an appearance and heart-breaking loss in the NFC Championship Game, had a different attitude or disposition at this point in the offseason compared to other offseasons. Shiancoe’s answer was interesting, and should also be encouraging for Vikings fans.
“The attitude of this team is that we have a lot of confidence and swagger, but we’re very humbled because of the loss (to New Orleans last year) and because it’s a brand new season,” Shiancoe explained to me. “The thing is, we don’t have to get motivated. We’re self-motivated as players, so we see each other out there working hard and doing extra things and it’s a contagious atmosphere out here.
“Our coach is allowing us to be professional out here and he’s seeing the results. He’s seeing us work, he’s seeing us doing these extra things to get that edge. That’s one thing that is very important in a championship team.”
Tags: Visanthe Shiancoe
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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
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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.
Tags: Chad Greenway
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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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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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Pro Football Hall of Fame QB and former Viking Warren Moon was at Winter Park on Wednesday and he took a few moments to chat with vikings.com. Click here to watch the interview.
Moon was invited to the facility by Head Coach Brad Childress and Executive Director of Player Development/Legal Les Pico to speak with the club’s rookies about life in the NFL and potential challenges that could arise in their careers. If he was as insightful during his time with the rookies as he was with us on camera, both Childress and Pico will be very pleased with the impact Moon will have on the rookies.
We addressed several topics with Moon during the interview, including his time with the Vikings, the franchise celebrating 50 years, John Randle’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and QB Brett Favre.
Following the interview, Moon and RB Adrian Peterson had a casual chat inside the fieldhouse. Peterson is of course a native of Texas and Moon was a fabulous player for the Houston Oilers from 1984 to 1993, so I’m sure Peterson has many memories of watching Moon set several NFL passing records.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Warren Moon
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Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and emailed questions for RB Tony Gerhart. I was able to chat with him in the locker room over lunchtime to ask him your questions and I’ll include the complete Q&A in this entry.
It’ll be a hectic time for the former Stanford RB over the next month or so. He completed his last final exam on Tuesday, took a red eye flight to Minneapolis last night, is getting caught up as much as possible now and will participate in minicamp this weekend. He also will fly back to Stanford for graduation ceremonies, then return to Winter Park for the offseason program and then head to the annual NFL Rookie Symposium later this month.
That’s a lot for a young NFL player to go through, but after chatting with him at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and then this morning, it’s clear to me that he can handle it all.
Without further ado, here is the Q&A…
What are your personal goals for the season?
“To find a way to contribute and get on the field to help this team win. And to win a Super Bowl.”
Will you be able to catch up with the offense before training camp?
“Oh yeah, I think so. (RBs) Coach (Eric) Bieniemy and I are meeting quite a bit right now and he’s doing a great job of getting me up to speed. It’ll take a lot of work and I know it won’t all happen fast, but there’s a great offensive staff here and I’m looking forward to diving right in and learning as much as I can.”
How would you describe your running style?
“Physical and deceptive. I think I’m faster and shiftier than most people realize.”
What are you most looking forward to about playing with the Vikings?
“Getting into the stadium and playing in front of the fans. I’m told that we have the most passionate fan base and I think it’s fun to play for fans like that. It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NFL and I’m looking forward to getting that chance.”
Who do you think will win the World Cup?
“Wow, that’s a good and random question. I obviously hope the U.S. wins it. I’m looking forward to their game on Saturday.”
Tags: Eric Bieniemy, Toby Gerhart
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Vikings 2nd round pick RB Toby Gerhart has arrived at Winter Park after taking a red eye flight to Minneapolis following his last final exam at Stanford. He’ll participate in this weekend’s minicamp but before that will get schooled up by RBs coach Eric Bieniemy and other offensive staff members.
I chatted with Gerhart briefly this morning but didn’t want to distract him from whatever else he was doing, so I asked if we could meet up during the lunch hour for a quick Q&A session.
I thought it’d be cool to ask readers to submit questions for Gerhart in the comments section below this blog entry. So submit your questions below and I’ll select several of them to ask Gerhart. Then check back this afternoon for his responses.
Tags: Toby Gerhart
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