MANKATO, Minn. -- It was a crisp 60 degrees here Friday morning when the Minnesota Vikings took the field for their first walk-through practice of training camp. Temperatures had warmed up a bit by the time they returned for their full mid-afternoon practice, but gusty winds wreaked havoc with a presumably improving passing game that most of us came to see.
Or, at least that's the benefit of the doubt I'm giving the Vikings on the first day of training camp, when optimism reigns the highest. Friday's wind was unusual for July 25 and it redirected passes from quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel. But it wasn't much different than what the Vikings could see, say, in Week 2 at Soldier Field, and at that point, I'm not sure anyone will want to hear about the wind.
To be clear, Ponder made some nice passes Friday -- most notably a long throw down the left sideline that rookie receiver Cordarrelle Patterson caught with his left hand. But far too many of his passes either sailed over the heads of receivers or were closer to defenders than their intended targets.
"The first day was tough with the wind especially," Ponder said. " … On certain throws, you try to [put] touch on the ball, and if you do that it's gone. A couple hung in the air and the wind took them away and it looked like some bad plays. It's going to happen."
A few other thoughts from Day 1 at Minnesota State University, Mankato:
Patterson's catch was an early highlight for a player who already has generated excitement from fans. But do me a favor and watch the video of it over on Vikings.com. See if you can count how many seconds elapsed between the time the defender (Andrew Sendejo) jumped and when the ball actually arrived.
Friday was the first football activity for linebacker Desmond Bishop since he tore his hamstring tendon in August 2012. From what I could tell, he was working with the second team at outside linebacker behind veteran Marvin Mitchell. But Bishop was pretty pumped afterwards. "I was very eager to get out there," he said. "You can do all the running, but nothing is like football. This is my first step to really getting back on the field, and I had so much fun just lining up. I felt like I was at home. This is just one step. I need to keep focusing and getting better. When the pads come on, it will be another step."
Center John Sullivan didn't take every rep in his first practice back after offseason microfracture surgery, but he was on the field at the end during the important 11-on-11 drills.
Rookie cornerback Xavier Rhodes continued to show good strength at the line of scrimmage. Receivers have to work to get their release against him. Rhodes left the field briefly during coverage drills with what appeared to be a lower leg injury.