Friday, May 29, 2009
Vikings minicamp observations
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Cornerback Antoine Winfield's absence dominated the headlines from the first day of Minnesota's minicamp, but I wanted to circle back with a few more observations. In no particular order:
- Rookie Phil Loadholt worked at right tackle with the first team for all of the drills I saw. Last year's starter, Ryan Cook, replaced the injured Anthony Herrera at right guard. Herrera is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and isn't likely to be ready to practice until training camp, coach Brad Childress said. It's not clear who would have been at right tackle had Herrera been healthy, but I think everyone agrees it's just a matter of time before Loadholt takes over the job. I got a question on our new Facebook page (Kevin Seifert Espn) about comparing the size of Loadholt and left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Here's my observation: McKinnie is taller and Loadholt is thicker.
- Part of the agreement between the Pro Football Writers of America and the NFL is that media members can watch the entire minicamp practice so long as specific proprietary information isn't reported. Mostly, that includes detailed descriptions of plays and formations that could aid an opponent if divulged. That said, I can tell you that the Vikings were using rookie receiver Percy Harvin in some new and intriguing ways, some of them involving the backfield. We've had some discussions on this blog about whether the Vikings might or might not take advantage of Harvin's versatility, but very early indications are that they will make some adjustments.
- It was to see defensive end Kenechi Udeze back on the field and practicing in full, working with defensive reserves on a rotating basis. Udeze missed last season because of leukemia and is attempting a remarkable comeback. I'll have more on his story next week.
- Coach Brad Childress went out of his way to downplay comments attributed last week to nose tackle Pat Williams, who seemed to be questioning the work ethic of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Childress called Jackson "one of the hardest-working guys you're going to find on this 85-man roster right here." He also defended Williams and said: "I've listened to Pat talk to Tarvaris about that since Tarvaris has been here. I'm not sure his comments [should be] cast as criticism." I'm in agreement. I've said all along that Williams sometimes struggles to make a clear point. I highly doubt he intended his comments to be biting. In fact, Childress said Williams visited him the next day in his office to explain.
- Speaking of quarterbacks, Jackson took the first snaps of the team drills before rotating with Sage Rosenfels. Jackson threw a pretty pass down the left sideline to Bernard Berrian, who had run past cornerback Benny Sapp.
- As for That Other Quarterback, Childress said "nothing has changed" on the Brett Favre front since he discussed the matter last week. If the Vikings had a Friday deadline for signing Favre, it passed quietly. I still don't think we're close to a resolution on this issue.
That's it for now. Check back throughout the weekend for more.