Rumors and reports of QB Brett Favre’s decision to retire did not buzz kill the Vikings morning practice on Tuesday, as the squad was padded up for their first “live” periods of 2010 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Head coach Brad Childress’ team worked on goal line and short-yardage situations and the action was intense.
“First extended work with pads on,” Childress said in his opening remarks after practice. “It’s amazing, as the players said, how the weather can turn hateful when we finally put the full pack on and pad them all the way up. A lot of good work and nobody got hurt. A lot to teach from over here and we’ll see (on film) which guys eyes got big and which guys showed up.”
After a rough first couple of days in training camp, the offense has really begun to sharpen up and the defense continues to perform consistently while also showing flashes of dominance. I spoke casually with assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier following practice and he was bright-eyed in talking about camp and his defense’s performance in general.
Here are a few of my observations from the morning practice as I tried to watch while also handling the developments with regard to Favre…
– C John Sullivan returned to the field after missing the last couple of days with a leg injury. CB Benny Sapp (illness) was not in action and I noticed rookie Chris DeGeare replaced Steve Hutchinson at LG several times; that’s likely just to give Hutchinson some rest as a precaution. Not much action for LB E.J. Henderson today and I also saw WR Sidney Rice working out on the side.
– The 2 biggest defensive hits of the day were registered by LBs Erin Henderson on RB Albert Young and Jasper Brinkley on RB Toby Gerhart.
– CB Chris Cook closed the morning practice with an INT return for a TD off of a tipped pass from QB Joe Webb to WR Marquis Hamilton.
– Childress specifically mentioned that Gerhart and Darius Reynaud showed up during the morning practice.
– As I indicated earlier, it was difficult to pay attention to every snap of this morning’s practice because of the Favre situation. But I did put my phone down for a good 20 minutes to watch live periods of short-yardage and goal line situations. Here’s a quick breakdown:
2 Defense vs. 2 Offense - The defense made 3 consecutive stops, with DT Tremaine Johnson and LB Kenny Onatolu making great plays. Johnson penetrated the offensive line with a quick push at the line of scrimmage and Onatolu leaped to deflect a pass in the endzone.
1 Offense vs. 1 Defense - The defense made stops on 2 of 3 snaps, with S Husain Abdullah making a nice play by knifing into the backfield and then an incomplete pass following that play. The offense’s win in the series came on the 1st play, when Gerhart powered his way into the endzone for a TD.
3 Offense vs. Mixed Defense – QB Joe Webb had a fumbled exchange on the 1st snap and then RB Ryan Moats pranced into the endzone for 2 TDs, giving the offense a 2-1 win in the series.
2 Defense vs. 1 Offense - The offense acquired a 1st down on 2 of the 3 snaps.
1 Defense vs. 2 Offense - The defense made stops on 2 of the 3 snaps.
3 Defense vs. 3 Offense - The offense acquired a 1st down on 2 of the 3 snaps.
Tags: Chris Cook, Erin Henderson, Husain Abdullah, Jasper Brinkley, Kenny Onatolu, Toby Gerhart, Tremaine Johnson
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A few notes from this morning’s practice before we head out to a 1 hour special teams practice this afternoon…
– Vikings WR Sidney Rice had a nice morning practice today, hauling in a number of catches during various periods and making a great play over a CB down the right sideline. At 6-4, 202 pounds, Rice is a big target with great hands and he’s entering a year that could really be a turning point for him.
– Another Vikings WR, Percy Harvin, also had a great day. He caught deep balls from both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels today, stirring the Vikings fans in attendance and showcasing his impressive speed.
– Speaking of Vikings fans, they continue to pack both sets of large bleachers and crowd the fences surrounding the Minnesota State practice fields. I don’t know what the exact attendance numbers have been so far during camp, but I’m betting they are higher than last year’s numbers.
– A group of NFL officials joined the Vikings today for practice. They will be hear today and also tomorrow, when they will meet with the media to go over rule changes for this season.
– LB E.J. Henderson met with a large group of youngsters from his E.J. Henderson Youth Foundation following this morning practice.
– DT Tremaine Johnson has switched to jersey #95. He previously was wearing #67.
– Weather conditions remain pretty ideal for training camp, but I hear that the temperatures are expected to increase, maybe well into the 90s. We’ll see, but so far we’ve been fortunate with the weather we’ve had.
Tags: E.J. Henderson, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Tremaine Johnson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 7 Comments »
Training camp continues to creep closer, as we are now only about 48 hours from the 1st practice (as of this posting). Players have begun to arrive back in Minnesota, much of the Vikings football staff has migrated to Mankato and Brett Favre has made his decision. So now we just have to finish up our “Analyzing Training Camp Battles” series here in the vikings.com Blog.
The Vikings have led the league in rushing defense the past 3 seasons, a feat that has not been accomplished in the modern day NFL (since the 1970 merger). And the anchor of this dominant run defense is the Vikings excellent DT tandem of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Since Pat Williams signed with the Vikings in 2005, the tandem has appeared in 3 Pro Bowls together.
Given how important the Williams Wall is to the Vikings defense, it’s also important for the Vikings to have solid backup options in the event that the Williams Wall suddenly becomes the William Wall or no wall at all. This happened last year, when Pat Williams was injured and was forced to miss the final 2 games of the regular season.
As the team opens camp, there are 3 veterans who will be the primary candidates to backup the Williams Wall – Fred Evans, Letroy Guion and Jimmy Kennedy. As it stands right now, Evans is probably the most reliable option, given his presence in the DL rotation over the past 2 seasons. Kennedy, a former 1st round pick, was added as a free agent last year and Guion was a 5th round pick in the 2008 draft.
Guion is the wild card in this position battle because although he hasn’t played in many games since being drafted, he continues to be included in the team’s plans. He was inactive for 15 of the Vikings 17 games in 2008, seeing action at Tennessee in Week 4 and then also at Detroit in Week 14. Guion stands at 6-4, 303 pounds, so on paper he appears to have the physical stature to hold up in the trenches. Now, he must go to work during camp and prove that he can hold up on the field, too.
Aside from those 3 veterans, the Vikings also have a couple of undrafted rookies who will be added to this competition. They are Antoine Holmes (NC State) and Tremaine Johnson (LSU). Both players are 6-2 and weigh in a roughly 290 pounds, and both players will look to learn behind a pair of Pro Bowlers. Holmes, who was a junior college transfer, played both DE and DT at NC State. Johnson played behind Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, a pair of 1st round DTs, during his career at LSU. As a freshman at LSU, Johnson was coached by Karl Dunbar, who is now the Vikings DL coach.
It’s always a numbers game for the coaching staff when it’s time to decide how many DL to keep on the 53-man roster. Given his past with the Vikings, look for Evans to be a favorite to get one backup spot. But any other spots that become available are wide open as the team is nearly set to open training camp.
Tags: Antoine Holmes, Fred Evans, Jimmy Kenney, Kevin Williams, Letroy Guion, Pat Williams, Tremaine Johnson
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 4 Comments »