Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Training Camp Chronicles: Days 1 & 2
The heat has been tough on players and fans in Mankato this season. It seems like each year the heat is always in the 90 degree mark. This has had a major effect on attendance at training camp this season. The Vikings have switched the practice times around this year. They now have 2 hour and 45 minute practice sessions in the afternoon instead of the morning. Which puts players and spectators out in the sun during the heat of the day. I feel this has had a huge impact on fan attendance at camp. I understand it can be good conditioning for the players, but we can't forget about what happened to Korey Stringer several seasons ago.
This was the first day the Vikings threw the pads on down in Mankato. The Vikings used the main afternoon practice to work mostly on short and intermediate passing routes. They were lining the running backs up in the back field and were working on screen passes and short flanker routes. Rhett Ellison's nice hands stood out to me when fullbacks and tight ends were catching short passes. I really like his ability to block and catch, which was a weakness last season. Christian Ponder was 12 for 17 on passing during the afternoon session. He seemed to be very accurate, but several balls had the tendency to sail high. I overall liked Ponder during the Monday practice session. Michael Jenkins did not look impressive during the receiver drills. He just doesn't seem to have the ability to cut like he used to on his repaired knee. He is not coming out of breaks very well at all. Blair Walsh looked rather impressive when kicking during the kicking portion of practice. He drained 8 of 9 attempted field goals, only missing one outside of 40 yards, which is rather excellent for a rookie kicker. Jerome Simpson brings so much athletic ability to this team. He was diving all over for balls across the middle of the field. During the wide receiver drills he was hauling in balls one handed with ease. Also, Jerome is very fan friendly and is always willing to sign autographs and likes to chat with fans for a few minutes.
Overall, things seem to have went fairly well on the first full padded practice of training camp. It was too early to tell who will go under the radar to make a nice impact for the Vikings this season.
Our second full padded practice of the season took place this afternoon. Christian Ponder was 3 for 8 passing today during 11 on 11 drills and just flat out short armed many throws he made. He struggled to connect on back shoulder comeback routes. This was by far his roughest series of camp. John Carlson was injured on a play where he was rolled up on in a large pile. Early indications say he has an MCL sprain pending an MRI. Hopefully he just has a slight sprain. Matt Kalil dominated Jared Allen on several one on one's and Allen wasn't happy. He cursed loudly which shows the improvement Kalil will be at left tackle. Tyrone McKenzie made an impressive leaping interception of Joe Webb. It was a very athletic play. I wouldn't be surprised to see McKenzie make the team due to poor linebacker depth on the roster. Kamar Jorden is a receiver that has stood out over the past few days. He played college ball at Bowling Green, I like his size and strength. He can really go up and get the ball at its highest point. Look for Jorden to contend for a spot on the practice squad. Bobby Felder looked excellent in coverage today. He swatted several balls away and was around the ball making plays. He is another player I could see sneaking on the 53 man or the practice squad. Jarius Wright needs to be more consistent catching the football, but has such sheer speed that he will make an impact when he can make a catch. Greg Childs hasn't looked impressive in the first few days of camp. He has nice speed and can catch the ball, but needs to work on running better routes. He had a man beat on a fade route today, but ran a poor route and missed an opportunity for a big play. Blair Walsh had his first pressure situation today as he drilled a 44-yard field goal to end practice. It will be interesting to watch him as preseason action begins.
Overall, I feel like the defense is ahead of the offense, but feel after more plays have been installed in the offense we will see a vast improvement. Tomorrow I will have a post explaining more about the formations the Vikings offense has been using during practice. Thanks for reading!