Daniel House provides the highlights of days 2 and 3 of OTA's at Winter Park
Wednesday and Thursday OTA #2 & 3 Highlights
Ponder Struggles Early
The Vikings continued practice and were able to move outdoors for Wednesday's workout at Winter Park. We could see the struggles in the passing game and the lack of continuity between Christian Ponder and the new set of wide receivers. Greg Jennings missed practice with a sore ankle, which Coach Frazier later ruled as no problem. With Jennings not participating, Ponder completed 6 of 12 passes in 11-on-11 drills. Ponder overthrew several passes and missed a wide open Kyle Rudolph in the seam of the field. He did later hit Rudolph on a strike, despite an oncoming blitz from middle linebacker Erin Henderson.
Ponder hinted that the continuity wasn't as ready with his wide receivers and that when they get more practices under their belt, this area will improve.
"We're doing some things good, some not so well," Ponder said. "That's how it happens first few days. Always have to have that heightened sense of awareness and pushing ourselves and knowing it's going to take a lot of work to get where we want to be."
So many ask ask if Matt Cassel was any better and if there could be a quarterback controversy looming if Ponder continues to slide. Cassel was better on Wednesday, with 6 of 9 passing, but we must remember we are only two practices into the season. We can't expect perfection, but it certainly will be interesting to see if the trend continues into training camp. If so, we could have a quarterback competition between Cassel and Ponder.
Locke to hold, Walsh searching for continuity
From a special teams aspect, Jeff Locke took reps as the holder and is looking to be the leading candidate to replace Chris Kluwe. Walsh and Locke are looking to develop an understanding for each other, but know it will take some time for this to happen.
"We just need to get consistent, we're just over-analyzing things right now so we can correct it and don't have to do it during the season," explained Walsh.
Walsh drilled 6 of 7 field goals during the session, including a 41 yard field goal missed wide right. Walsh didn't over extend his leg and didn't reach past the 45 yard line during the practice.
Henderson takes MLB reps, Mitchell OLB
Erin Henderson received all the reps at middle linebacker and that is no surprise to us as media members. Henderson told us he would be calling the shots in the middle and we have seen this will be the trend. Coach Frazier indicated that Audie Cole and Michael Mauti would have a chance, but Mauti has been limited with recovery from an ACL tear during his previous season at Penn State.
Marvin Mitchell was on the outside, replacing Henderson's former position, but rookie linebacker Gerald Hodges is looking to compete for the job. The bulk of the snaps won't require these players to be on the field the entire game and they will only participate in about 40% of the snaps, based upon the Vikings base scheme being the primary defense.
Patterson impresses Jennings
Greg Jennings has missed practice (as we eluded to earlier), which has given him time to monitor the wide receiving situation. He has expressed his first impressions of rookie Cordarrelle Patterson are impressive and that he feels like he will make a smooth transition to the NFL.
"You can definitely see the talent that is there (in Patterson)," Jennings said. "It's raw, but you can tell he's a guy that's been gifted, been better than most he's gone up against.
Patterson has been taking reps as a kick returner, but Coach Frazier indicated punts would still be held by Marcus Sherels. Patterson has huge shoes to fill in the departure of Percy Harvin and the Vikings will be counting on him to contribute and send an injection to the Vikings special teams unit.
Vikings give back to community
Practice broke early on Thursday and the Vikings contributed to the community by building a playground at Hiawatha Community School in Minneapolis.
"Everyone of our players will get back in the community, so this gives them a flavor of how important it is," said Coach Frazier.
Nearly the entire roster attended to partner with non-profit organization, Kaboom to build the playground.
When asked about the meaning of giving back to the community, running back Adrian Peterson responded,
"It makes you realize the position you're in and how the young kids really look up to you," said Peterson.
This is the eighth playground the Vikings have contributed to local Twin Cities communities and shows the commitment the organization is making to giving back to the state of Minnesota.
Remaining OTA and Offseason Workout Schedule
The Vikings have a the weekend off and will return to Winter Park for more voluntary workouts next week. Below is the schedule for the remaining portions of OTA's and Minicamps.
OTAs #4-6: Tuesday, June 4 – Thursday, June 6
OTAs #7-10: Monday, June 10 – Thursday, June 13
Mandatory Minicamp: Tuesday, June 18 – Thursday, June 20
Training Camp Dates Released
The Vikings also recently released the dates of Verizon Wireless Vikings Training Camp in Mankato, MN. They will be attending camp for 3 weeks again this season and will play one preseason game before camp is over. The schedule below highlights key dates before the full practice schedule is released later this summer.
Report To Training Camp – Thursday, July 25th
First Practice of Training Camp – Friday, July 26th
Scrimmage / Night Practice – Saturday, August 3rd
Preseason Game #1- Texans @ Vikings- Friday, August 9th- Mall of America Field
Break Camp – Thursday, August 15th
We will keep you posted with the latest information as OTA's progress next week at Winter Park.