Former Gopher Standout Doing More Of The Same In Training Camp

Posted by cjsiewert on August 9, 2010 – 5:54 pm

Having been through 3 different training camps prior to Minnesota, Vikings WR Logan Payne has continually scratched and clawed his way through each practice in hopes of making the regular season roster. The 3-year veteran has yet to see significant time on game days during his career but this season may have a little more action in store for the Land O’ Lakes, Florida native.

In all honesty, Payne has surprised me the most throughout training camp. I have seen him drop 1 pass in the 10 practices I have covered so far and that 1 pass just came off the fingertips on a rocket thrown by QB Tarvaris Jackson.

As I mentioned after Saturday night’s practice, Payne has the ability to catch balls out in front of his body while using his hands rather than trapping the ball against his chest. His ability to make “hands” catches and then quickly making a move after the catch speaks volumes to Payne’s progression, but having a good set of hands is something that Payne prides himself on.

“As a receiver, the ball comes to you and the quarterback is believing in you,” Payne acknowledged. “You gotta come down with the ball. If you’re an NFL receiver you gotta catch everything.”

Payne got the attention of NFL scouts during his senior season as a Golden Gopher, hauling in 59 catches for 804 yards and 9 TDs. The impression he left landed him a job with the Seattle Seahawks as a rookie free agent in 2007. After spending time on the practice squad throughout the ’07 season, Payne earned a role as a starter in 2008. He stepped in with the Seahawks 1st unit for the first 2 games of the regular season before suffering a knee injury during his 2nd game that left him on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

With the injury well behind #84 coupled with star WRs such as Percy Havin and Sidney Rice missing practice time due to personal matters and injury, respectively, Payne has garnered a significant amount of time getting reps in with the 1st and 2nd offensive units throughout training camp.

“Obviously those guys are superstars and you need those guys back as soon as possible,” Payne mentioned of Harvin and Rice. “When someone’s out and the way the NFL is, the next guy has got to step in and produce. I’ve been getting some more reps and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

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Frazier Senses Urgency From His Players As Preseason Approaches

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2010 – 1:12 pm

As of 2:00 p.m. Monday, there are still 7 practices and 4 days of training camp remaining before the Vikings suit up for the 1st preseason game of the 2010 season. But, according to what Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said after practice on Monday morning, his players want to play right now.

“I got that impression today, by watching practice and the moves prior to practice. The guys are kind of getting to that point where they are tired of hitting one another,” Frazier told reporters. “They are ready to see some opposing uniforms. We are beginning to get to that point in training camp. We still have a lot of work to do before we even get to the first preseason game.”

Vikings players have spent the past 11 days going against one another in practice while trying to make a case to the coaching staff that they deserve to be a part of the 2010 Vikings roster. Doing it in practice is one thing; doing it in a game against a true opponent is another.

“As an individual, it’s a chance to make the team,” Frazier said of the preseason. “Everson Griffen came up to me during pre-practice and said ‘Man, coach, I can’t believe I’m this close to playing in my first NFL game.’ There becomes a sense of urgency for some of those guys that are trying to make the squad.  Maybe not so much for the veterans.  They would rather just get the game over, the guys who are legitimate starters.  For the young guys that are vying for spots, it’s a crucial time. In their minds it definitely changes as you get closer to kickoff.”

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Vikings Work Through Sweltering Heat In AM Practice

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2010 – 11:01 am

The Vikings practiced for approximately 2 hours on Monday morning as the final week of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is officially underway. Temperatures were in the low 80s but it felt much warmer because of the humidity, but that didn’t prevent the team from having a solid practice.

“It was a hot one out there,” Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said to reporters following practice. “But that’s a great thing for the players. It gave them an opportunity to fight through the heat and the main thing that they need to do is focus on their assignments, focus on what they were doing, and I think the guys did a nice job of that. They were sharp in their assignments and it shows that they had some mental toughness.”

Bevell’s offense was without some key players on Monday morning. WR Sidney Rice remains on the PUP list and the following players were also not practicing – Percy Harvin (personal), RB Darius Reynaud (leg), G Anthony Herrera and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Instead of fretting about the missing starters, Bevell instead pointed out that it provides an opportunity to see other players perform.

“There are a lot of young guys and some younger veterans even that are getting opportunities to show us what they can do,” Bevell said. “That’s what’s going to happen in a game. You’re only going to have so many guys. If one guy isn’t there, if you’re starter isn’t there, someone’s got to step up.”

Bevell mentioned C Jon Cooper and WR Logan Payne as guys who’ve seen increased reps because of starters missing time. Rookie OL Chris DeGeare is another player who’s seen increased reps. He plays LG when Steve Hutchinson is out of the lineup and then on Monday DeGeare played RG in place of Herrera.

Bevell was also asked about Harvin, who has missed extended time this training camp as he grieves the loss of his Grandmother. Bevell said there is no timetable on a return for Harvin and he also said that he’s not too concerned about the absence because Harvin takes good care of his body and is a hard worker.

The Vikings will practice this afternoon from 2:45 p.m. to 4:05 p.m. The team was in helmets and shoulder pads this morning, so I’m anticipating they’ll be in shells and helmets this afternoon.

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Back From Football Immortality

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 9, 2010 – 7:58 am

I’ve returned to Vikings training camp in Mankato, MN after another great Pro Football Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton, Ohio, which has now become one of my favorite weekends of the year after attending last year’s enshrinement ceremony of Randall McDaniel and then this year’s enshrinement of John Randle.

I won’t give a step-by-step account of my trip – check out the Vikings official Twitter account (@VikingsFootball) for that – but I will tell you that it was a tremendous weekend. Randle was a fan-favorite for his entire career in Minnesota and his path to the Hall of Fame is one that not many take. He is from a town of 150 people in rural Texas, wasn’t recruited by major college football programs, went undrafted and was considered too small to ever play in the NFL.

Ultimately, though, Randle became the face of the Vikings defense for nearly a decade and now he’s a Hall of Famer. Although this is said about a lot of people, I truly believe it about John – it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Randle has always been great to me and the Vikings and his wife, Candace, has been a great support to Randle and also to the organization.

On top of watching Randle go into the Hall of Fame, I also got to see the best RB and the best WR of all time (in my opinion) go into the Hall of Fame together. It was quite the site to see Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice go in together. The fanfare in Canton for those 2 players and those 2 teams was quite remarkable.

Other members of the Class of 2010 were:
Russ Grimm – one of Joe Gibbs’ “Hogs” along the offensive line who was a true leader for the Redskins during their glory years.
Ricky Jackson – an underrated LB for the New Orleans Saints.
Dick LeBeau – a great safety for the Detroit Lions and respected defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Floyd Little – a RB for the Denver Broncos who became the first Denver RB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

I’ll close this entry with 2 more thoughts:

1) One reason I love Hall of Fame weekend is because of the opportunity to learn. As much as I’ve followed the NFL in my life, there is still so much I don’t know. Attending Hall of Fame weekend is a true learning experience that opens my mind to other eras, players and teams that comprise the great history of the NFL and football in America.

2) The emotion is palpable in Canton. The players who are enshrined are the game’s greatest warriors, but they are humble and emotional during the enshrinement as they look back at their careers and thank those who helped them along the way. I think players fear the day that their careers end because there’s no going back and experiencing the good times, the times of teamwork and camaraderie and the blood, sweat and tears. They know that one day those days will die. But Hall of Famers don’t suffer that fate. When they’re enshrined, their careers become immortal. They’re part of an exclusive club of great players who will live forever in NFL history. And it’s at the enshrinement ceremony where they first realize this and experience the emotion that accompanies it. They are truly humbled at that point and truly thankful for the aide they’ve received along the way. I love watching those Hall of Famers experience that.

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