Once again, writer Cristy Brusoe is heading down to Vikings Training Camp for Purple Jesus Diaries to cover all the shenanigans. Here is her first report from Saturday morning practice …
It was a wet, rainy morning at Vikings Training Camp. I made the two-hour trek down to Mankato early this morning to catch a glimpse of the new Vikings’ coaching staff and team. My first stop was along both fan fences, where I recall spending my youth. Anxious children, overly-enthused middle-aged men, and professional autograph sellers stood along the gated passages ways screaming out to their favorite Viking player, or in Cullen Loefler’s case “Mr. Zach Line.” I first noticed Cordarelle Patterson stop. If you’ve ever seen him in person, he’s a hard guy to miss. He’s always smiling and joking and signing for the little ones. Since it is simply a walkthrough, there wasn’t a ton of action to report. But, I picked up the best highlights from the morning’s practice and have included the most pertinent bullet points below. Enjoy!
-The defense took snaps on the far side of the field, making it hard to see from my view. However, I did see Anthony Barr taking snaps with the 2nd team defense. Not surprising after he slacked off to go “finish school.”
-McKinnon, the newest Vikings’ triple threat, looked more comfortable than the rest of the crop of backs (including AP) on the catching drills. This included taking reps out of the backfield and lining up as a wide out. McKinnon up close is a lot smaller than you’d imagine. Although when I walked up to him signing for fans, I noticed he was very friendly, excited and playful.
I couldn’t forget our quarterback of the future in this round up. Teddy took 2nd team snaps ahead of Christian Ponder. The trait that stood out to me during the hour walkthrough was his vocal ability. Yes, Matt Cassel appeared the most calm and collected when directing the offense. But, I was shocked at how assertive Teddy was while calling out the plays and leading his team through drills.
The play of the morning for Teddy was not something you’d catch on a highlight reel. But, it made me double take and stood out in the morning’s session. With Asiata in the backfield, Bridgewater did a hard fake handoff (had me convinced), and opened up to throw a nice down-the-field throw to Rodney Smith.
FAIL of the Morning
I hate to say it but the special teams group had to be the fail of the morning. I’ve been to many practices and scrimmages before and I know the special teams group rarely gets in on the action. But, watching Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke toss the football back and forth in front of the stands for 30 minutes was quite entertaining. Loeffler went to catch a pass from Blair and it tipped over his fingertips. I guess we don’t have a backup wide receiver in him. However, with that, I must say all three did stop long after the walkthrough had ended and signed for every single fan waiting out in the rain. So, they did serve some purpose.
Have you ever seen those Facebook groups or websites that are called “Overheard at So and So?” Well, I stole the idea and you’re just going to have to deal with that. Here’s what I overheard in Viking’s walkthrough this morning:
“Sir, how we doing?” – Jeff Locke to Special Teams Coach, Mike Prieffer.
“Joe, no, no, no…” – Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson to Joe Banyard during blocking schemes.
“RAMBO, RAMBO, RAMBO,” – All three quarterbacks during offensive vs. defensive drills. I’m still trying to crack the code on that.
“I’ll be right back,” – Mike Zimmer smiled and winked to the fans upon arrival at Training Camp. He never came back to sign.
“Thank you for your service,” – Adrian Peterson to a veteran fan along the fence.
-Adrian Peterson participated in walkthrough this morning. Which was actually rare. Last year, he would take the field for a few minutes usually. To see AP line up as a wide out or in the backfield to catch a pass, was something very new for Vikings’ fans who followed the team last year. There is this stigma that he can’t block or pass, but he kept up with the rest of the group. We’ll see how he looks later on this afternoon.
-I walked down for a quick break in action and saw a Viking player standing up along the fence talking to a small group of fans. Nobody noticed, and there was nobody down there. I walked up behind them and couldn’t believe it was Adrian. In all my years coming down here I’ve never seen him sign/stop for obvious reasons. He was playing with a tiny baby being held in a veteran’s arms. AP signed the small one’s jerseys and thanked the man for his service.
-Matt Kalil wore a wrap on his right knee. He participated in walk through with the 1st team offense, but it looked a little bit tender.
-Captain Munnerlyn wasn’t participating in today’s activities. I believe he was put on PUP yesterday. But, he was wearing purple and yellow stripped socks that stood out a football field away.
-Chase Ford made it out to the field on crutches.
-Cordarelle was out on the field as well, but he didn’t take part in any of the WR drills. I’m not sure the reasoning on that.
-Tiny Richardson and Phil Loadholdt might be twins.
-Jerome Simpson: It took me 15 minutes to spot him, despite his bright blue shoes with green laces. It looks like he’s fallen down the depth charts, as I saw him catching most of his passes from Teddy or Ponder.
-Zimmer worked exclusively with the defense and Norv with the offense. I didn’t see Zimmer with the offense once.
-Robert Blanton played alongside Harrison Smith with the Vikings’ first-string defense. He was often covering the tight ends and appeared to be keeping up.
-There was TONS of communication on defense. I’m not sure if there is that one defined leader yet though. Everyone was talking over one another.
-If I had a “walkthrough” play of the day, this would be it. Teddy Bridgewater executed two WR reverses. I’ve never seen something like this in a Vikings’ offense before (except for the exceptional one’s last year with CP). Today’s reverses went to Jarius Wright and Mankato-native Adam Thielen. I knew Jarius was speedy, but Adam kept pace with him. I wanted to keep an eye on Thielen today, because so many have talked about his potential to actually make this team. So far, I approve. He also stood along the fence after practice and talked to every fan and signed/took pictures.
I apologize for the quality of pictures. I realized I left some of my cords back at the room. I will have much better, higher-quality shots for you this evening. In the meantime, the next practice is at 3-5 tonight with shells on.
Make sure to follow me @Cbrusoewriter on Twitter or give a follow to PJD on Facebook. There may just be a contest happening later this afternoon involving a rookie autograph. Thanks, as always, for supporting my passion and “work.”