MANKATO, Minn. -- A few thoughts and observations after our first day of practice with the Minnesota Vikings:
Compared to my other stops in this tour, the Vikings spend a lot of on-field time installing plays and reviewing at slow speeds. Their hour-long morning walk-through is, by definition, a half-speed practice. And for the first hour or so of the full-pads afternoon practice, players moved quietly and deliberately through movements that were clearly focused toward mental execution.
The final 75 minutes of the afternoon practice were active. Off the top, the Everson Griffen Fan Club will be happy to note their hero crashed through the line in a goal-line team drill and crushed tailback Jordan Todman short of the end zone. Todman sprained his ankle on the play and did not return.
I'll have more on this later, but I spoke with coach Leslie Frazier about Griffen to understand how permanent or full-time his move to linebacker might be. Frazier absolutely left open the possibility of Griffen getting some time at defensive end but said this is the time to find out what he could give the team as a linebacker. The reality is Griffen is probably the Vikings' third-best defensive end behind Jared Allen and Brian Robison.
Rookie receiver Greg Childs made the catch of the day in the corner of the end zone, leaping over cornerback Brandon Burton and trapping a Joe Webb pass on Burton's back. He held on for the touchdown.
Quarterback Christian Ponder missed on a few throws you would like to see him make, but the difference between now and what we saw at training camp last summer and is night and day. Ponder stayed in the pocket and was decisive on most of the throws I saw, which is always an important point for a young quarterback. The best throw I saw him make was about a 35-yard floater down the right sideline, one that sailed over the shoulder of cornerback Chris Cook and into receiver Percy Harvin's hands.
Cook made two nice interceptions that I saw, including one of quarterback Sage Rosenfels about one second after he whipped his head around to look for the ball.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Ponder said that tight end Rhett Ellison has "some crazy" in him and suggested that receiver Jerome Simpson is pushing Harvin to be better this summer. I'll be looking for evidence of both in the coming days.