Given the CBA/lockout situation we all endured over the course of this past offseason, it was only appropriate that we had to wait just a little longer than anticipated to finally see a full pads practice at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
Policies within the new CBA prohibited players operating under new contracts from participating in their team’s training camp until the CBA was ratified, something that was widely expected to happen by this morning. But as things tend to go in situations such as collective bargaining, there was a hang up.
The Vikings had a full pads practice scheduled for 3:00 on Thursday, but 3:00 came and no players were in sight on the practice fields. As it turned out, the CBA had not been ratified and therefore players with new contracts were still unable to participate. Finally the locker room doors opened and players filed outside to the fields, but even still the players with new contracts didn’t participate in the early part of practice.
Eventually – about 30 minutes into practice – Vikings VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman gave the thumbs up to his players while in between two of the practice fields, and Donovan McNabb and Co. hopped into the action and participated in their first practices of training camp.
“We were like little kids at Pop Warner who didn’t make weight,” McNabb said during his post-practice press conference. “We were just standing around. But you know the whole thing about it, the guys who were off on the sideline awaiting that opportunity have been working extremely hard the last couple days just getting the mental reps and then spending time together working out and pushing each other. Just trying to perfect our craft.”
Speaking of perfecting the craft, McNabb began the practice perfectly, connecting on his first three passes of full team work. McNabb’s first completion was a deep pass down the left sideline to WR Bernard Berrian, who fought off a defender and hauled in the pass for a 50-yard TD. A huge applause from the packed crowd ensued and practice was off to a great start.
McNabb held a press conference after practice and we’ll have the full version of that in on-demand format for your viewing pleasure, so stay tuned.
The overall energy and intensity of practice remained high and the fact that the guys were in pads for the first time was certainly a big reason. The Vikings have a one-hour walk-through scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. and then they’ll practice in full pads once again tomorrow afternoon at 3:00.
Odds and Ends
– RB Adrian Peterson did not participate in practice but is expected back tomorrow.
— S Jamarca Sanford, competing for a starting position, intercepted a pass during the first team period of practice. The pass was thrown by McNabb and TE Visanthe Shiancoe was the intended target, but Sanford jumped the route and made a nice play.
— McNabb looked sharp, especially considering it was his first practice with the team. He completed his first three passes of the day before the Sanford INT and then he began 7-on-7 drills going four of four.
— Frazier said after practice that rookie QB Christian Ponder and Joe Webb are rotating in and out of the second string QB role.
— Rookie TE Kyle Rudolph had the catch of the day – and maybe the catch of training camp – when he was able to collect a one-handed grab while running down the right seam in a full team portion of camp. But he wasn’t done there. When practice concluded, Rudolph and Visanthe Shiancoe stayed several minutes after to work with TEs coach Jimmie Johnson and then on their way to the locker room Rudolph and Shiancoe took a few minutes to stop and sign autographs for fans.
The Eye Test
Our new feature this year – the eye test – has gotten pretty good reviews actually, so I’m going to keep it going. Passing the eye test from today’s practices were: RB Lorenzo Booker, WRs Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins and S Jamarca Sanford.
For those of you keeping score at home, the only player to pass the eye test in all four full practices is Harvin. LB Chad Greenway has been mentioned after three practice and CB Cedric Griffin, DE D’Aundre Reed and Sanford have passed it twice. It should also be noted that Jenkins passed the eye test in his first opportunity and I probably should’ve included McNabb, but we have high expectations of him and I know he’ll be a regular mention in this part of the notes down the line.
Tags: Bernard Berrian, Chad Greenway, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Rudolph, Michael Jenkins, Percy Harvin
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 34 Comments »
It’s another perfect day at 2011Verizon Vikings Training Camp on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Mankato. The Vikings wrapped up a morning walk-through at about 10:00 a.m. and now they’ll rest and recover before heading out for their first full pads practice at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon.
Assuming a few issues with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are worked out before this afternoon, the 3:00 p.m. practice today will be the first time players with new contracts can practice.
The Vikings had several special visitors at this morning’s walk-through, including U.S. Senator Al Franken (Minn.). Franken addressed the team after the walk-through and also spent some time with vikings.com. He talked a little Vikings history, touched on the stadium situation in Minnesota, gave his opinion on the acquisition of QB Donovan McNabb and gave us his outlook for the season. We’ll have the interview with Franken posted shortly.
Also visiting practice today was NFL referee Jeff Triplette and his crew. An NFL officials crew visits Vikings training camp each year to go over new rules with coaches, players and the media.
Let’s empty out the notebook before I start filling it up again at this afternoon’s practice. Here are a few topics I’ve made notes on but haven’t mentioned yet…
– There is a vacant starting position at outside LB on the Vikings defense and head coach Leslie Frazier has said that Erin Henderson is penciled in as the starter. But he’s one player under a new contract, which means he hasn’t been able to practice yet. In his place, Jasper Brinkley and Heath Farwell have taken reps with the first team. This will be a position to watch as training camp rolls on and as we get into the preseason.
– Staying with the defense, there is also competition for starting positions at safety. Husain Abdullah is a likely starter, but he is under a new contract and hasn’t been able to practice yet. Taking reps with the first team has been Tyrell Johnson and Jamarca Sanford. Also, don’t discount rookie Mistral Raymond as someone who could earn some playing time. Right now, I’d guess that Abdullah is a favorite to start and then the other starting spot will come down to Johnson and Sanford.
– This is a tough environment for coaches because many of their players have not been allowed to practice and because contact was prohibited in practice for the first three days of camp. Compounding the difficulty, of course, is the fact that the lockout wiped away all offseason practices, such as minicamps and OTAs. Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave spoke with reporters on Wednesday and I thought he gave an interesting explanation of what it’s been like for coaches around the NFL, particularly new coaches who are trying to get acclimated with their teams. Here is his quote:
“It’s unchartered territory. We’ve never been through anything like this whether as a coach or a player so we’ve tried to be smart and whittle down the volume we present to the players. We want to be difficult and diverse to defend on offense but at the same time we want to know what we’re doing. We also want to get these guys back in football shape and not just work hard mindlessly. We want to work smart. We’re bouncing all of those factors with our eye on September 11 down in San Diego. Fortunately we do have the month of August and we’ve planned as such I believe.”
Tags: Bill Musgrave, Donovan McNabb, Erin Henderson, Husain Abdullah, Jamarca Sanford, Leslie Frazier, Tyrell Johnson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 39 Comments »