Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Seen and heard at Vikings minicamp Day 2
By Ben Goessling
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A look at the highlights from Day 2 of the Minnesota Vikings' mandatory minicamp on Wednesday:
Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater runs through drills in Wednesday's minicamp.
1. Bridgewater solid, drops hurt Cassel: The Vikings again gave Matt Cassel most of the first-team snaps at quarterback, but Cassel's final numbers were tarnished by a handful of drops from his receivers. Jerome Simpson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Adrian Peterson each dropped a pass, and one of Teddy Bridgewater's two incompletions for the day was a drop (from Jarius Wright). Cassel also had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater mostly threw to backup receivers like Adam Thielen, Josh Cooper and AC Leonard, but connected on 15 of his 17 passes for the day, and won praise from offensive coordinator Norv Turner for throwing a better deep ball than many expected him to have. "It's just been all footwork -- laying it and playing," Bridgewater said. Christian Ponder got just three throws, completing all of them.
2. More work for Barr: Once again, the Vikings gave rookie linebacker Anthony Barr plenty of different looks in their defense, lining him up as an edge rusher and working him in their nickel package alongside Chad Greenway. Barr flashed some impressive edge speed on one rush from the left end spot, and might have sacked Bridgewater had he been allowed to do so. It's clear the Vikings are exploring the options provided by Barr's versatility; they dropped Brian Robison into coverage at one point while Barr was rushing the quarterback.
3. Blanton paired with Smith again: The Vikings continued their rotation of safeties, but once again, they had Robert Blanton working with Harrison Smith. They've used that combination quite a bit in organized team activities and minicamp, though it's hard to assume anything with Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo limited because of injuries. Still, Blanton is getting a chance to make a case for a job opposite his former Notre Dame teammate.
4. Greenway impresses: Playing in nickel coverage, Greenway had a nice breakup of a throw from Cassel over the middle, diving in front of Kyle Rudolph to swat a pass away from the tight end.
5. Audition for Patterson's backup: With wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson likely to take on a bigger role in the Vikings' offense this year, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is making similar plans to what the Vikings did to keep Percy Harvin fresh. Priefer said he wants a second kickoff return man ready to go in case the Vikings need to reduce Patterson's workload there, and he had Captain Munnerlyn, Jarius Wright and Kain Colter fielding kicks on Wednesday.
6. Notable visitors: Former University of Minnesota linebacker Peter Westerhaus, who was forced to retire from football after he was diagnosed with a severe form of ulcerative colitis, visited practice on Wednesday. Westerhaus was presented with this year's Courage Award from the Minnesota chapter of the National Football Foundation in May, at an event sponsored by the Vikings. Mike Grant -- the son of Hall of Fame Vikings coach Bud Grant and the winner of six state championships as the coach at Eden Prairie High School -- also was on hand for practice. Grant is also the athletic director at Eden Prairie, where two of Vikings general manager Rick Spielman's sons won a state lacrosse championship last week.