The Vikings 10-player draft class plus 61 other players trying out for the club joined Vikings coaches and scouts on the field Friday morning for the first of five scheduled practices at this year’s rookie minicamp. Conditions were perfect, with the coaches and players working under sunny skies, moderate temperatures and a slight breeze.
The group of 71 players is comprised of the 10 draft picks from last weekend, 15 rookie free agents, 7 pre-draft signees and 39 players present on a tryout basis. The players were in helmets, jerseys and shorts with no pads, with the individual and team drill work similar to a full-squad minicamp practice; they are non-contact practices, however.
There will be another practice this afternoon at 2:55 p.m., two more on Saturday and then one final practice on Sunday. Here are a few thoughts from this morning’s practice…
– Although it’s presumed he’ll be the starter at LT from Day 1, #4 overall pick Matt Kalil doesn’t have an entitled attitude. Speaking with reporters after practice, Kalil acknowledged he has plenty of learning to do and he said playing next to a veteran such as Charlie Johnson – who will likely play LG in 2012 – will be an advantage.
– Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier came away impressed with Kalil after the first practice. “You can see why we have high hopes for him,” Frazier said. “He was excellent today.” Frazier was also asked about CB Josh Robison, whom the Vikings selected in the 3rd round, and Frazier said he noticed Robinson had an impressive burst while fielding kicks/punts.
– When asked what he’s looking for out of the rookies and tryout players in attendance this weekend, Frazier noted that standout plays are what catch coaches’ attention. Keep in mind, during the season and even training camp, coaches want to see playmakers but they also emphasize consistency and making routine plays. At this minicamp, though, a premium is being placed on making splash plays.
– Several Vikings veterans, who are not permitted to participate in this weekend’s minicamp, observed the morning practice from the sidelines. The players I noticed watching practice were: QBs Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, TEs John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, OL Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love and John Sullivan, DL Everson Griffen, WR Manny Arceneaux and RB Jordan Todman.
– Last year during training camp I made mention of players who passed the “eye test” during practice. Today’s eye test winners were Kalil and S Robert Blanton. I already explained that Frazier was impressed with Kalil, but what I liked about Blanton was the way he carried himself on the field and added energy to the defense. He appears to be an intelligent player with a passion for the game. That observation is off of one practice, admittedly, but it was obvious this morning that Blanton enjoyed being on the field.
– K Blair Walsh met with a group of reporters after practice and said it was an honor to be on the roster with a player of Ryan Longwell’s stature and accomplishment. Asked if his best trait was his strong leg, Walsh acknowledged that many people credit him with a strong leg, but he also noted that all NFL kickers have strong legs and that he isn’t distinguished among them. Walsh also said that a player has to earn his place in the NFL, regardless of whether he was selected in the NFL draft or not.
– There are five former University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in camp this weekend. They are: WR Da’Jon McKnight, TEs Tiree Eure and Nick Tow-Arnett, DE Anthony Jacobs and DT Brandon Kirksey. McKnight met with a fairly large group of reporters after practice and called it a “blessing” to be in camp with the Vikings. He dealt with a knee injury last season, but says the knee is completely healed now.
– Two other under the radar players who stood out today were CB Bret Lockett and WR Josh Philpart.
– There are three QBs in camp this weekend. They are: Blake Bolles (NW Missouri State), McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Sacramento St.) and Spencer Ohm (Concordia – St. Paul).
Tags: Blair Walsh, Josh Robinson, Leslie Frazier, Matt Kalil, Robert Blanton
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