Friday was the best day of practice so far at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp and the outstanding work on the field was seen by the biggest crowd of camp to this point and also most pleasant weather conditions. Mild temperatures, a slight breeze and complete cloud cover provided a nice break from the bright sun and humid conditions we’ve seen for most of the week.
The afternoon practice on Friday was a full pads, full contact affair and the intensity continued to rise. Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier is guiding a smooth ship so far during his first training camp as a head coach. The intensity has steadily risen each day, crowds continue to get larger and there’s not an assistant coach I’ve spoken to who hasn’t said that his guys have improved each day.
The players that really stood out to me on Friday were DE Jared Allen, WR Michael Jenkins and RB Adrian Peterson. I’ll say a little bit about each of the three players…
– Allen is having an outstanding camp and no one has been able to slow him down. Vikings QBs should be very thankful for the invention of the red jerseys that signify they are off limits from being hit, because Allen would have VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman looking for new passers if he was able to finish the plays he’s been making in the backfield. This is great news for the Vikings because having Allen at his best will help not only the defensive line look good, but it will also help the back end of the defense as they try and defend the pass. Less time for the opposing QB to find receivers means the Vikings secondary’s job gets a lot easier.
– Friday was just the second time Jenkins put on the pads for the Vikings because he was a player operating under a new contract, which meant that he couldn’t practice until the CBA was ratified (that happened on Thursday). But already Jenkins looks like a natural fit in this Vikings offense. McNabb and Jenkins connected for long receptions twice in the early part of full team drills. The first reception was deep down the right sideline and the second reception was in traffic as Jenkins sprinted down the right seam. We’ll have more from Jenkins later tonight because we taped an interview with him on the field right after practice. So stay tuned for that.
– Peterson returned from Houston last night and was back on the field this morning for the walk-through. He of course looked good at the walk-through – it’s natural for athletic specimens such as Peterson to look good while practicing in shorts and no pads – but he looked even better this afternoon when everyone strapped on their pads. Early on in practice was a 9-on-7 period, where nine offensive players go against seven defenders in a drill that features run plays only. This is one of my favorite drills because of the collisions that take place between the two lines and because you can really see which group – the defensive line or the offensive line – is getting more push and is winning more plays. It’s rare for a RB to go through the drill untouched, but Peterson did it twice in three carries on Friday. Also, Peterson was a major factor in the passing game on Friday. He was the reason McNabb and Jenkins connected on their first long reception because E.J. Henderson was coming in on a blitz and Peterson picked it up beautifully. Peterson hauled in at least three catches that I saw for long gains as well, including one down the right sideline that required him to slow down, spin around and leap before hauling in the football and then sprinting toward the endzone. I’m glad Peterson is on this team.
A Few Notes
— Former Gopher Marcus Sherels continues to stand out. He even grabbed an INT during Friday’s afternoon practice.
— Devon Torrence, an undrafted free agent who went to Ohio State and even played pro baseball before coming to camp with the Vikings, also grabbed an INT during Friday’s afternoon practice. He might be a guy to keep an eye on as a surprise bubble player who could content for a roster spot.
— Both CB Chris Cook and LB Erin Henderson dropped INTs on Friday afternoon. In my estimation both of these guys are having nice camps and it’s certainly great that they got their hands on a couple of passes, but those dropped INTs can be killers for defenses.
The Eye Test
Passing Friday’s eye test were: FB Matt Asiata, DEs Jared Allen and Everson Griffen, WR Michael Jenkins and RB Adrian Peterson.
Asiata is a little-known FB out of the University of Utah and was probably considered an extreme longshot to make the team. But I must say that I’ve really liked what I’ve seen to this point. He’s actually shifty and has good speed. I will pay more attention to his skills as a lead blocker, since that is what a FB does more times than not.
Griffen, I’m told, is having a nice camp and is showing up quite a bit on tape. This isn’t something I picked up on myself, but I’ll be sure to make note of it and follow up with an observation or two on the blog in the next couple of days.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Chris Cook, Devon Torrence, Erin Henderson, Everson Griffen, Jared Allen, Marcus Sherels, Matt Asiata, Michael Jenkins
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 46 Comments »
I just returned from a meeting with Jeff Triplette and a few officials on his crew. They took some time to explain the rules changes and points of emphasis that will take effect this year. We’ve gone over the rules changes here on vikings.com in the past, but it makes sense to revisit them right now.
– A new article has been added to Rule 12, Section 2 and it incorporates all rules regarding “defenseless players” into new a new article and it standardizes the defenseless players’ protection. The following types of players will now be considered defenseless: a receiver who “has not clearly become a runner,” a kicker or punter during a return, a QB following a change of possession (unless he enters the play in an attempt to tackle), as well as a player who takes a blindside block from an opponent “moving toward his own endline” and approaches from the back or side.
– Kickoffs have been moved back from the 35-yardline to the 30-yardline and now no kicking team player (except the kicker) can be lined up more than five yards behind its restraining line after the ball has been made ready for play.
– Previously defenders were penalized for any contact made to the head area of a passer, regardless of intent or how hard the contact. But now, hits to the head of a passer by an opponent’s hands, arms or other parts of the body will not be fouls unless they are forcible blows.
– There were also changes with regard to instant replay. A Replay Official will initiate review of all scoring plays throughout the game. The Replay Official cannot initiate a review for a team – and a team is prevented from challenging a play – if that team commits a foul that prevents the next snap.
Here are the points of emphasis mentioned by Triplette and his crew:
— The completion of a catch. Receivers must secure possession of the ball, get two feet down or another body part down in bounds and then after both of those are satisfied the receiver must make a football move common to the game.
— Runners grasping the facemask. Officials are going to cut down on the ability of a ball carrier to grasp the facemask of a defender. Stiff arms are still allowed, but grasping the facemask is illegal and so are forceful blows to the head.
— Horse collar tackles. This type of tackle is obviously dangerous and illegal.
— Illegal low blocks, specifically chop blocks and chips.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 16 Comments »
Vikings superstar RB Adrian Peterson is back at 2011 Verizon Vikings Training Camp after being away for a few days due to the birth of his baby boy. Peterson, who flew back to Houston to be with his family, said his new son’s name is Adrian, Jr.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” Peterson said. “I’ve had time to go back and spend time with my son. It was fun to sit back and hold him. Just the whole experience. But I’m back here and focused on football. I’m ready to get the ball rolling.”
And the Vikings are ready to give the ball to Peterson. He’s the crown jewel of an offense that will surely feature him frequently. Bill Musgrave’s offense will be quite different from the scheme Peterson has played in for all four of his seasons, but Peterson seems to embrace the challenge of learning a new system and he also seems to think the new system will fit him well.
“There are a lot of changes,” Peterson commented. “Obviously it’s different terminology, the running back is definitely asked to do a lot more and I’m excited about it. Different formations and different looks that the running backs have…[it's] outside of the box. I’m excited to get this instilled in my mind, this playbook, and then get out there on Sundays and showcase the new Vikings offense.”
On Peterson’s first day back with the club, he met with reporters after the Friday morning walk-through. Because he’s entering the last year of his rookie contract, he was persistently asked about his satisfaction with his contractual status and with any progress that might (or might not) be happening on a new deal to keep him in Minnesota. Unlike what we see from so many superstars in sports, though, Peterson didn’t seem worried about his contract. He was clearly more focused on getting back onto the field and playing football.
“I’m comfortable with where I’m at,” Peterson insisted. “I’m committed to my deal. It’s obviously the last year of my deal so I have guys that take care of that for me. I let those guys handle that. For now I’m focused on football; I’m not worried about contract at all. At all. My main focus is on doing what I can do, learn this offense and help the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl.”
When asked again if he was comfortable playing while in the final year of his contract, Peterson reiterated his commitment to the team and to the season.
“I’m here,” he said. “I’m here and ready to roll for training camp. I haven’t thought about contract. That’s where I’m at.
“The only thing I can control is what I do. And that’s coming out and helping the Vikings get [wins]. I feel like as long as I continue to do that, then everything else will take care of itself.”
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 27 Comments »
By Monday morning, we’ll be a full week into training camp. Surely you have questions and thoughts about the Vikings. Share them with us by submitting a comment or question to the Monday Morning Mailbag.
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Each year during training camp a crew of NFL officials pays a visit for a couple of days. While at camp, the officials attend practice, go to team meetings and they meet with members of the media. The purpose of this exercise is to get everyone adjust to any rules changes made during the offseason and to discuss the points of emphasis being taken up by the officials in the coming season.
This year’s visit by the officials at Vikings training camp is going on right now, as Jeff Triplette’s crew is in town. Yesterday the officials worked practice, even throwing penalty flags when appropriate. It’s good not only for the teams, but it’s also good practice for the officials as they try to get back into the swing of things after a long offseason.
In between the Vikings morning walk-through and mid-afternoon practice, the crew of officials will meet with the media. I’ll be sure to stick my head in the meeting and report back to you what the officials say about any rules changes and added points of emphasis for the 2011 season.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 8 Comments »