We hear it every year about this time; it’s the word “vanilla” and it’s used to describe the types of schemes NFL teams use in the preseason. Rather than spending several days preparing a detailed game plan filled with complex ideas and adjustments, teams typically strip the playbook down to basics in the preseason.
One reason for this is teams don’t want to give away any tendencies or secrets in exhibition games; they want to save that for the season. But another side-effect of the vanilla strategy is that it allows coaches and scouts to evaluate their players more effectively.
“We are going to intentionally make it as vanilla as it can be because you can say what you want, but guys that may be playing for the first time in the NFL, [they] are going to be excitable,” Childress explained to reporters after Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “So, hopefully there’s not a ton of thinking involved.
“Now, do they have to make checks? Do they have to convert routes? Yeah, they have to do that in our offense. Vanilla, and then with a premium on guys playing fast, so you don’t see a lot of thinking and gears grinding. They can just play football and if they’re making a mistake they’re making a full speed mistake but you can see their football prowess.”
The Vikings will practice 2 more times in Mankato and they’ll likely have a walk-through on Friday morning as they prepare for the 1st preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, which will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. CT on Saturday evening in St. Louis. Wednesday afternoon’s practice was held inside Blakeslee Stadium and it was steamy, with temperatures and humidity at high levels.
Here are a few other notes from Childress’ meeting with reporters…
Childress on WR Logan Payne: “He’s getting more than maybe he expected, for a guy that we signed late in the process. He made a roster, then got knocked off that roster because they had another need. But yeah he’s benefited by his turns and he’s shown that he can make plays when called to.”
Childress said QB Tarvaris Jackson will play with the 1st-team offense on Saturday evening and that he and the 1st team offense will leave the game “pretty quick.”
Childress was asked about WR Percy Harvin, who has yet to return to the team after his Grandmother passed away and after Childress said his migraines have resurfaced. Asked if he’s communicated with the 2009 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, Childress said that he did on Wednesday morning and that there is no timetable for his return.
“I will say this,” Childress said, “just as you guys saw him in our very first minicamp (in 2009), he has an A football IQ, he did a bunch of those things at Florida, so it wasn’t completely foreign to him and every game plan that we have we have plays that may be his where he’s touching the football. So it’s not as if they’re not going to be re-installed. I’m happy he’s been around the block one time so he knows some of the types of things that we’re trying to do.”
Tags: Logan Payne, Percy Harvin, Ryan Moats
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 7 Comments »
A light fog and good cloud cover gave the Vikings nice conditions to work out for Wednesday morning’s practice. Believe it or not, the men in purple have only 3 practices remaining in 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and then it’s preseason action down in St. Louis on Saturday with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m.
Just as Mike noted, a pair of Vikings marquee WRs in Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice have missed a significant amount of time throughout training camp and that has resulted in more reps for players further down the depth chart, specifically Jaymar Johnson and Logan Payne. While Harvin and Rice have not been able to make it back to the field, there is 1 defensive player who has been able to recover from an illness and make it back.
“I feel a lot better, everything’s coming along,” CB Benny Sapp said on Wednesday. Sapp suffered from dehydration earlier in camp, causing him to be sidelined for about a week.
Sapp is now in his 3rd year with the Vikings and has gradually increased his role on the team. He recorded a career-best 7 starts in the 2009 regular season along with starting in both playoff games after Antoine Winfield went down with a foot injury. The 7-year veteran has aspirations of continued growth after proving his capability as a starter last season.
“Take my game to the next level,” Sapp mentioned. “I had the opportunity to start a couple of games here. You don’t want to stop there. Whatever I have to do to take my game to next level, that’s what I did this offseason and worked on.”
Having other veterans in the secondary such as CBs Lito Sheppard and Winfield has helped Sapp improve his play, but #22 feels that it’s not just the veterans that are helping each other out.
“Everybody helps everybody on this defense,” Sapp said. “In the secondary at least, we come in the meeting room, talk, and when you’re doing something wrong, Antoine, Lito, myself, Madieu Williams, everybody helps out everybody. It’s the most competition that I’ve ever had at corner or any position in the secondary. It’s all love here, man. It’s all love. Good competition.”
The Vikings currently have 8 CBs on the roster and that number will be trimmed down to make the 53-man roster, so keep your eyes on the secondary as it will be a fun, competitive battle to watch during preseason games, which happen to start in just 3 days.
Tags: Antoine Winfield, Benny Sapp
Posted in All, CJ Siewert | 5 Comments »
Another day of training camp practices, and another day of no Percy Harvin or Sidney Rice on the practice field. We’ve written about this a couple of times here on the vikings.com Blog during 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and the prevailing positive spin on this situation is that the absence of 2 of the club’s top 3 WRs is giving others on the WR depth chart a chance to showcase their abilities.
That’s true. But now I want to take it a step further.
Who is making the most of that opportunity? I’ll qualify my opinion by reminding you that we’re far from being able to make a final judgment on the matter because we haven’t even played 1 preseason game yet. This decision won’t ultimately be made until after the 4th preseason game, which is in early September.
For now, though, I’d point to Jaymar Johnson and Logan Payne as 2 players who might be able to carve out a roster spot for themselves in light of the unavailability of Harvin and Rice during camp. Both Harvin and Rice should be ready to go once the regular season comes around, and both Bernard Berrian and Greg Lewis have had good camps and will be on the roster. But I wonder if the absence of Harvin and Rice for such an extended time during training camp might cause Vikings brass to consider keeping 1 more WR than originally planned.
If so, a solid camp from Payne and 2+ years of experience in this system from Johnson make them the top candidates to land the job, in my eyes. Johnson is slight in frame, but he’s continually improved since the Vikings grabbed him with a 7th round draft pick in 2008. Johnson was at Winter Park on a daily basis this offseason and he possesses the straight-line speed and shifty feet necessary to compete for a roster spot. Payne has slowly worked his way into a good training camp, plodding along in the early days but picking up steam along the way. He carries himself well on the football field and doesn’t seem to miss any assignments. I’ve also noticed him on kick coverage units, which is going to increase his chances.
As we stated, there’s a long way to go before this decision is made. But for the time being, don’t sleep on Johnson or Payne just yet.
Tags: Jaymar Johnson, Logan Payne, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 9 Comments »