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
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