After a windy and cold day in Mankato, Daniel House provides his notebook of Day 1 at Vikings training camp.
Cassel impressive, Ponder "vanilla"
Matt Cassel boasted a strong arm and poise in the pocket at many moments during Friday's first practice in Mankato, MN. He connected on two long vertical receptions with Jarius Wright and Joe Webb. Wright's catch was an off-balance leaping snag, between both Darius Eubanks and Jacob Lacey more than 25 yards downfield. It was great body control on a perfect touch pass by Cassel.
Christian Ponder was very tentative and relied heavily upon running backs and checkdowns. Some of this could be attributed to the wind, which was gusting near 15 mph for the duration of the day. His accuracy was a little off and he was very "vanilla" at times when he had the opportunity to stretch the field. He did complete the first pass of training camp to Kyle Rudolph for a gain of 15 yards, but failed to show "flashy" moments. This could have been by design, but was very unclear from the onset.
Below is a breakdown of passing statistics during 11 on 11 skeleton passing drills.
Christian Ponder-4 of 5
Matt Cassel- 4 of 5
Christian Ponder- 4 of 6
Matt Cassel- 5 of 9
Christian Ponder- 3 of 3
Matt Cassel- 2 of 2
Christian Ponder- 11 of 14
Matt Cassel- 11 of 16
Wide Receivers Drops: Patterson (x2), Simpson, Brown, Line
More analysis tomorrow after practices regarding the quarterbacks
Peterson ready to have blood tested
Adrian Peterson responded to those who believe he has used steroids during his tenure in the league. Much of this speculation has been fueled after the league is mandating blood tests for each player to receive base-line HGH levels. The testing occurred after today's practice and Peterson didn't shy away from voicing his thoughts.
"I like it. I love it," Peterson said. "I've been hoping they'd do this for a long time. Even out the playing field, make guys honest and true to themselves. I can't wait until they draw my blood."
"I'm all natural, I work hard."
Baca learning, Berger developing
Jeff Baca struggled in offensive line stationary drills, in which the players blocked pads for 30 seconds. In the lateral version of this drill, he was slow and coach Jeff Davidson told him to "speed up." Joe Berger on the other hand, was marvelous and had the best hands out of any of the offensive lineman. Quick smooth and collective, he kept his hands in perfect placement and was able to move in lateral drills.
Childs, Williams placed on PUP list
The Vikings announced wide receiver Greg Childs (patellar tendons) and linebacker Nathan Williams (ankle), will be placed on the PUP list as they recover from injuries. Childs suffered a patellar tear in both his legs during last season's training camp night scrimmage. Williams is recovering from an ankle tear he suffered during his senior season at Ohio State. No timetable has been released regarding when they will be activated from the PUP list.
Patterson starts shaky, finishes strong
Cordarrelle Patterson looked very nervous for the start of his first practice at training camp. He recorded two quick drops in 11-on-11 drills, but made a sensational one-handed catch in traffic over cornerback Jacob Lacey. No surprise, he did work with the second team on offense, but established a nice connection with backup quarterback, Matt Cassel.
Webb makes nice first impression
We witnessed Joe Webb's first day at wide receiver after transitioning from quarterback to wide receiver. Many fans are asking me my early impressions of Webb in his first day at the position. He definitely has been working on route-running, but still has room for improvement. He did haul in a 35 yard reception from Christian Ponder and displayed speed and athletic ability, which is something the Vikings fans are accustomed to.
Blanton displays ball skills
Safety Robert Blanton made an excellent interception off of Christian Ponder during 11 on 11 drills. Blanton, a second year player from Notre Dame is in an attempt to claim the top spot among a wide open depth chart.
Bishop works with second team
Free agent signee Desmond Bishop spent time on the outside, which is no surprise, but he wasn't with the first team defense. Bishop is being eased into his role after recovering from a hamstring tear, which caused him to miss the entire 2012 season. The Vikings used Henderson in the middle, Greenway on the inside, and Marvin Mitchell was placed outside during first team drills. Look for Bishop to emerge more over the next few weeks when the team is confident his hamstring is 100% healed.
Sherels looks comfortable with punt returns
A flurry of players returned punts including, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg McCoy, Joe Webb, Jerodis Williams, Adam Thielen, LaMark Brown, Bradley Randle, Stephen Burton and Jerome Simpson. Sherels is the normal starter and looked the most comfortable out of any player in the group. Wright was a close second in my rankings and has an explosive first step.
Locke booms punts
Early into training camp, Jeff Locke has shown he has a monster leg after booming balls all over the fields during the special teams portion of practice. From my view in the endzone of the media area, Locke was punting the ball 50 to 65 yards with a 15 mph wind gust blowing at his body. The only area that needs evaluation is the coffin corner punts, which need to be efficiently dropped inside the 20 yard line.
Our coverage continues tomorrow from Vikings training camp, check back frequently for our live feed and posts during and after each practice