Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress spent 2 hours on Saturday morning driving his team toward improvement on the practice fields as the upcoming season fast approaches. After practice, though, Childress wasn’t the one doing the driving. Instead, he took a joy ride with Vikings legend Alan Page in a 1906 Buick Model F.
Pictures say 1,000 words, so check out the photo gallery for yourself to get a better understanding of what actually took place in Mankato on Saturday morning.
I’ll put it this way: A Hall of Fame defensive lineman from the late 60s and 70s drove an NFL head coach from 2010 around town in a car that was made over 100 years ago. Now there’s something you don’t see every day.
The car was purchased in the 70s and restored by Page’s father-in-law. It’s in great shape and, as you can imagine, is much more difficult to drive than the cars we ride around in today.
Next week, Page will have the car shipped to Canton, OH, where he’ll drive it as part of the Hall of Fame’s annual parade just before the Class of 2010 is enshrined. Of course the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 includes another former Viking – DT John Randle. Page leads all DTs in franchise history with 9 Pro Bowls and Randle is 2nd in the category with 6.
Tags: Alan Page, John Randle
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 5 Comments »
After stepping in for an injured E.J. Henderson in Week 13 of the 2009 season, LB Jasper Brinkley was able to immerse himself in the Vikings starting defensive front in just his 1st season in the NFL.
One might think that Brinkley, or any 2nd-year player following a season with ample starting time, would set out a few goals to help reach a higher individual status with a season’s worth of experience under their belt.
But that is not the case with this 2nd-year middle LB.
“I really have no individual goals,” Brinkley stated. “I just have team goals. Win more games than we did last year. Hopefully we can go in and do that this year.”
Having no individual goals does not mean that he’s not improving himself. Rather, it speaks volumes to how much of a team-oriented player #54 really is. Brinkley also explained his feelings coming off a season in which he started the final 4 games of the regular season and the 2 playoff games, with a total of 32 tackles on the season.
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable,” Brinkley said. “Now that I got a season under my belt, I got a lot of experience from last year. This year is a chance to better myself off of what I did last year.”
Even with Henderson spending most of the practice on Saturday morning with the 1st-team defense, Brinkley also saw plenty of practice time with the 1st unit as Henderson is easing his way back onto the field. During non-contact drills, Henderson played with the 1st team and during contact drills Brinkley stepped in.
With no sense of entitlement to a starting position, Saturday’s morning practice may be a common sight during the early games of the 2010 campaign for #54 and #56.
“Whichever role is best to help the team win I’m ready for,” Brinkley said.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Jasper Brinkley
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 4 Comments »
Practice #2 of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp was highlight-filled, as the squad begins to hit full stride here in Mankato in preparation for the upcoming season. The team practiced for approximately 2 hours in warm and partly cloudy conditions.
All 3 Vikings coordinators held press conferences following practice, so stay tuned for quotes and comments from that. Also, CJ got together with LB Jasper Brinkley and will have a report on him and the Vikings defense later today.
Tonight is Football and Fireworks Night at Verizon Vikings Training Camp, as the team will practice under the lights from 7:00 p.m. to 8:55 p.m. and then fans will be entertained with a fireworks display right after practice.
Let’s run through a few highlights from this morning’s practice…
– You’ve heard the expression “Welcome to the NFL, rookie” several times in the past. The expression typically represents a moment when an NFL rookie experiences a “wake up” call during practice, usually a big hit that jars them a bit. Rookie RB Toby Gerhart got his “Welcome to the NFL” moment today…a couple times. DT Pat Williams got him first after the RB caught a pass in the right flats and then Brinkley jolted Gerhart a few plays later as he waited to catch another pass. Neither hit was malicious and Gerhart wasn’t the least bit shaken up by them, but it did generate a reaction from the crowd and you know that Williams and Brinkley got a little joy out of the moment.
– There is a drill called the “inside skeleton” where QBs, RBs and TEs work together in a passing exercise against LBs and Ss. In the early part of an inside skeleton drill, both Chad Greenway and Ben Leber stepped in front of passes to nab INTs. Greenway’s came off of rookie Joe Webb and Leber’s came off of veteran Sage Rosenfels. But Rosenfels bounced back right away to complete a pair of nice passes, the first to TE Garrett Mills over Jamarca Sanford and the next one to RB Darius Reynaud over LB Heath Farwell.
– Speaking of Reynaud, the converted RB ran with the 3rd team offense primarily today, with Gerhart and 3-year veteran Albert Young rotating between the 1st and 2nd teams. It’s too early to glean much off of the rotations right now, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
– While we’re on the topic of depth charts, one spot I’m curious to watch develop during training camp and the preseason is DT. This morning, Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy took the most reps with the 2nd team defense.
– CB Antoine Winfield generated some laughs from the crowd this morning. He was standing on the sidelines while WR Greg Lewis and CB Marcus Sherels went head-to-head in the 1-on-1 portion of practice. Lewis and Sherels got locked up right off the line of scrimmage at the snap and eventually Sherels was on the ground and Lewis was running away with a reception. Seeing Sherels thrown to the ground, Winfield tossed his sweat towel in the air to signify a pass interference penalty flag, right in front of the bleachers off of field #1. The crowd got a kick out of it.
– Later during 1-on-1s, CB Lito Sheppard locked up WR Marko Mitchell with an impressive display of press coverage and DeAndre Wright made a nice play on a deep pass down the left sideline that was intended for Logan Payne.
– One of the most impressive offensive plays of the day came when QB Tarvaris Jackson threaded the needle on a pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe down the right seam during 7-on-7 work.
– And finally, during team work near the end of practice, S Husain Abdullah stepped in front of a Jackson pass to notch an INT. On the play, Jackson executed a play-action fake and then bootlegged to the right. He slipped and tried to get a pass out to the flats anyway, but Abdullah was there to jump the route and pick off the pass.
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber, Chad Greenway, Darius Reynaud, DeAndre Wright, Fred Evans, Husain Abdullah, Jasper Brinkley, Jimmy Kennedy, Lito Sheppard, Pat Williams, Sage Rosenfels
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 9 Comments »
Are you following the Vikings on Twitter? If not, you should because just like the vikings.com Blog, it’s a great way to stay on top of Vikings news.
It’s an especially great way to follow the Vikings during training camp, as news comes fast and heavy. The official Vikings Twitter account has been active over the past 2 days and will remain that way through a busy weekend of practices here in Mankato.
Remember, you don’t need a Twitter account yourself to follow the Vikings on Twitter. Just go to Twitter.com and follow @VikingsFootball.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 1 Comment »
His rookie contract wasn’t signed, but it’s clear what RB Toby Gerhart’s intentions were leading up to training camp. The 2010 Heisman Trophy runner-up is all about football and that was clear from his comments to reporters following the Vikings 1st training camp practice late Friday afternoon.
Gerhart and his family took a road trip from California to Minnesota over the past week and the Gerharts were in Mankato all day on Friday afternoon waiting for details on his contract to be finalized. Once the deal was complete, Gerhart signed the paperwork, took a physical, weighed-in and attended meetings.
Then he was finally able to step onto the football field with his teammates, a place Gerhart feels comfortable and natural.
“It was a long day,” Gerhart acknowledged. “[But] as soon as you walk out here, it’s just football and it’s fun.”
When asked how he thinks the competition for the RB2 job will shake out, Gerhart answered like a pro by saying only time would tell, that the group of RBs are friends and will push each other and that at the end of the day he hopes to come out on top.
It was also interesting to hear Gerhart talk of his first Vikings training camp experience after 4 seasons on campus at Stanford.
“It’s great,” Gerhart said. “This is way more than I expected coming from college training camp and having a couple people along the fence. Here you have thousands of people cheering as you come out on the field, all of the media here and just a beautiful setup and city to be at. That makes it a lot of fun.”
Tags: Toby Gerhart
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 8 Comments »
The day has finally come and gone – the Vikings 1st practice of training camp on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato is now in the rear-view mirror and fans of the Purple can settle in for what is sure to be another exciting year of Vikings football.
I, too, have been waiting a long time for this day to come after spending over 2 months away from vikings.com and am ready to get the ball rolling again.
As Mike mentioned earlier, I spent most of my time Friday afternoon watching the core of LBs with a close eye on a rehabilitated E.J. Henderson. Henderson, who had his 2009 season cut short due to a fractured femur suffered at Arizona in Week 13, eased his way back onto the field by working out with the defensive linemen while his fellow LBs took a few snaps with the punt team early in practice.
Once the punting was over, Henderson joined the group of LBs to take part in position-specific drills that had each of the LBs quickly running to and from 4 cones placed in a square about 5 yards apart. This particular drill proved to me – and anybody else watching – that Henderson’s rehabilitation period has exceeded any expectations that one may have put on his ability to recover from such a horrific injury. Henderson was making his cuts just as quick, if not quicker, than the rest of the group.
The next drill – which had each LB dropping back into pass coverage and receiving the football – proved that not only Henderson’s quickness was back but also his range to cover his position is well on its way back to Vikings Defensive MVP form.
“Everything felt natural,” Henderson said when asked how his leg felt. “There’s no uncertainty about my ability to play again. A lot of mental toughness is involved but we put together a program and I followed it to a T, so it’s important to get back out there and show my veteran leadership.”
Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has consistently expressed his astonishment with Henderson’s rehabilitation period. Henderson expressed to Childress the first day after his injury that he was “going to change the protocol with the way this injury is rehabilitated,” and that seemed to be evident with the way Henderson went about his business on the practice fields Friday.
When asked about a timeline on his return to the game field, the 8-year veteran had no qualms about what the future has in store for him.
“I know I can start now,” Henderson said. “It’s just a matter of not doing too much too soon.”
Although his practice time was limited on Friday afternoon, Henderson’s body of work showed me, and Vikings fans alike, that we might be in store for an impressive comeback year from #56.
Tags: E.J. Henderson
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 4 Comments »