I was surprised to learn a few short hours before practice started that Sunday afternoon would host the first full-padded practice for the Viking players. This made me even more eager to watch, because the guys seemed to have a spring in their steps having pads on for the first time in training camp. It was a 180 from this morning’s session. There wasn’t an actual scrimmage, but I did get to see a bit more “action,” and made a few more evaluations of each players role or non-role on the roster.
Undrafted Rookie Kain Colter had a rough day on punt returns. He and Jarius Wright were switching off duty as the return man during practice. Colter caught the first ball, but juggled it a bit. He then proceeded to completely evaluate the distance of the punt wrong on the next three attempts. First he was five yards to far to the left, then he was five yards to far back. It was a mess.
Anthony Barr proved himself to me today. During blocking drills (with actual physical contact), Barr destroyed his pass protectors, not only with brute physical strength, but stealth and quick moves as well. On one play he kneed Felton in the gut, tossing him to the ground within the first two seconds. On the second play, he went right around the running back, leaving the halfback group quite frustrated.
In those same drills, it was Jerrick McKinnon who couldn’t handle pass protection. Because of McKinnon’s size and stature, he was physically overpowered by bigger linebackers or linemen.
The first play of the day for Teddy was a hard fake hand off, that again caught me off guard. Thielen made a sneaky cut down the center and Teddy fit it in the window for him to make the catch.
During another play, the defensive line overpowered the offensive and pushed them straight back into Teddy. Teddy avoided the pressure and ran around to the right side, which would have made for a ten yard scramble.
FAIL of the Afternoon
Jeff Locke had a great day during the special teams portion of practice. He had great hang time on his punts and plenty of distance. However, on one of the first attempts, the wind got the better of him and the punt was completely muffed 10-15 yards into the air.
“Get back! Get back! Get back! Get back! You have to get back!” Wide Receiver’s coach George Stewart directed Kain Colter in catching punts.
“Perfect,” Stewart said to Jarius Wright on the very next punt return.
“Dig in on it. Dig in on it.” “Get that ball out.” Running Backs coach Kirby Wilson said to the halfback group while they tried to push the ball out of another running back’s hands.
“Know when the journey is over,” Wilson told Adrian Peterson in regards to getting down before the ball gets punched out.
“I’m not Matt. I’m offended,” Cullen Loeffler said while riding his bike out of practice. The fans were chanting “Matt Cassel.”
I asked my Twitter followers earlier this afternoon to pick a player for me to spotlight and keep a close eye on during the afternoon practice. That player was Sharrif Floyd. And although the defense spent most of the time away from me on the 2nd field and I spent an hour of the time dodging down pouring rain, I happened to make a few notes of his performance.
First thing’s first, he was hard to miss decked in neon orange shoes.
I watched him line up on three possessions during the 11-on-11 drills. The result was a mixed bag. On one of the downs he was a non-factor, being dominated 1-on-1 by the lineman. On the second, he supported the defense and held his position. And on the third, he swarmed the running back five yards back in the backfield. He looked quicker than I remembered from last year.
-As I stated in my earlier notes, Gerald Hodges has been getting some work with the 1st team defense. That stayed true with pads on, and I didn’t notice much of him (not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing).
-Josh Robinson looks MUCH more comfortable on the outside than he did in his role inside last season. He had a solid day, breaking up two passes and getting inbetween the ball and receiver.
-Brian Robison had a “sack” on Matt Cassel and proved he is the leader of this defense. He and Brinkley are the most vocal.
-Jerome Simpson face planted into the wet dirt after the rain clouds had passed. He popped right back up and kept at it.
I know I’ve touched on this in past posts, but I have to report on what impressed me. I noticed about halfway through practice that I had written Adam Thielen’s name down several times on my pad of paper. My Twitter followers asked me if that was a good or bad thing and in this case, very good.
After practice was over Thielen was swarmed with reporters and media. He hasn’t just stepped up this year, he is making exciting and veteran-esqe plays. The crowd was wowed by two or three of his catches during 11-on-11. One that stuck out in my mind was an overthrown pass that he had to jump five feet in the air to grab. Another was a beauty of a tip-toe grab along the sidelines. I had hopes he might make the team as a 5th wide out. I’m starting to think – if he keeps it up – he’ll be higher on the depth charts than that. Just my two cents.
Sooooo…. here’s the sad part. I’ve got to go back to work tomorrow and the coverage will have to cease. But, the positive is I will be back next weekend for some more exclusive coverage! So, if you have any feedback or questions for a mailbag this week, I’d be more than happy to take them. Get in contact with me on Twitter @Cbrusoewriter. If you do, you’ll notice a nice photo of me and your truly, Blair Walsh