In the second day of practice, many players emerged. Daniel House shares them and provides his notebook of Day 2 at Vikings training camp.
Cassel and Ponder on even playing field
Christian Ponder threw two interceptions, but the playing field was pretty even on day number two of Vikings training camp. Matt Cassel started strong, but struggled in the team portion of practice. He telegraphed some passes and seemed the most tentative he has been during his Mankato tenure. He threw one very nice pass to Greg Jennings in the seam for a 25 yard gain, in which he fired the ball inside a 12" space. Ponder was average and converted across the middle and vertically, but is still struggling with overthrowing the football during out routes. He launched a high pass over a wide open Rodney Smith's head. The playing field has evened and both quarterbacks split my rankings for today.
Patterson named "top-option" as kick returner
After today's practice, special teams coach Mike Priefer announced Cordarrelle Patterson is his current top option as the Vikings kick returner. During the afternoon session, Patterson, Marcus Sherels, Jarius Wright, and Bradley Randle received the bulk of the returns. Randle saw an elevated amount of kicks and continues to be tested on special teams.
Wide receivers being aligned
Jarius Wright, not Cordarrelle Patterson, are currently in the team's three wide receiver sets along with Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings.
Patterson, along with Stephen Burton and LaMark Brown are in the second-team unit.
Joe Webb lined up with the third team, but dominated during moments of the practice.
Webb shows he is transitioning
Joe Webb dazzled in his second day at wide receiver during Vikings training camp. He made several spectacular catches from behind, low, and in any position they were thrown to him. In addition to great hands, I noticed he has trimmed his stature and has insane breakaway speed. I have made the assumption that Webb and Cordarrelle Patterson are two players that are great in space. If Webb can continue his progression, I truly believe he could challenge Jerome Simpson in the Vikings wide receiver rotation.
Thielen continues to show he is ready
Adam Thielen is used to the scenery in MSU-Mankato, after playing 4 seasons at the D-II college. He has made the leap from Mankato, to the NFL with the Vikings. He has definitely caught my eye over the past few days and has great material. Thielen runs great routes, has good instincts and is one of my favorite WR's for a slot option. He is very sure-handed and is slowly creeping up the wide receiver depth chart, which is shifting quickly.
Chase Ford is a sleeper
If the Vikings decide to keep a 4th tight end, Ford is an excellent candidate to fill the role. He has great hands and made a brilliant one-handed catch in 11 on 11 drills. He is very good in traffic and has the body control to make catches with defenders draped upon him. His stature fits an NFL frame, at 6'6" 255 pounds. I will continue to keep a watchful eye on Ford when the pads are pulled out on Monday.
Carlson shows improvement
I have been very impressed with tight end John Carlson and the body transformation he has made in a year of work. He runs much crisper routes and seems like more of a presence across the middle of the field. The Vikings should be able to play Kyle Rudolph and Carlson in two tight end sets and have the potential to cause headaches for defenses. If he can stay healthy, I seriously see Carlson becoming a hot target for Christian Ponder in 2013.
Jefferson impresses in coverage
A.J. Jefferson was extremely impressive during several points of today's practice. He recorded back-to-back deflections of Matt Cassel passes and nearly intercepted a pass later in practice. Jefferson was aligned several times in nickel with Rhodes and Cook. He is catching stride and seems to be improving with continued work. Last season, he was in position, but struggled to finish the play. This season, he seems to be completing the play and understands the benefits it will provide for the Vikings secondary.
Robinson shows some progress
Josh Robinson spent time as the main left cornerback in yesterday's practice, but today he split time at second-team cornerback and at nickel back. He made several great plays and three very nice deflections of some very poorly thrown passes. During a moment of precision he allowed a very untalented Rodney Smith to out-run him for a long completion. The deep ball plagued Robinson last year and is an area he will need to improve upon before he is placed on the outside.
Rhodes sees time with first team
Yesterday, Rhodes saw action with the second team and Josh Robinson was with the first team on the outside. Today, they reversed roles and Xavier impressed in his time at the position. He had a key deflection, which led to an interception by Mistral Raymond. In addition, there were several moments he was tested over the top of the defense and he handled the pressure well, by deflecting or covering the pass very well.
Guion suffers injury
The first known injury of training camp occurred during the afternoon session of Saturday's practice. Defensive tackle Letroy Guion (elbow) is scheduled to undergo X-rays on his elbow, which he injured during Saturday's afternoon session. Coach Frazier had no information at this time, but said they will monitor the situation in the coming days.
Kickoff team formulated
During the walkthrough session, the Vikings worked on technical aspects including 2 yard splits and established the groupings.
First team kickoff coverage included: Sherels, Sanford, Ellison, Dean, D.Bishop, Ballard, Sendejo, Blanton, Cole, McKenzie, J. Robinson
First team kick return grouping includes: Ballard, Felton, Sendejo, Blanton, Asiata, Berger, Cole, Dean, McKenzie, Ellison
In addition, draft picks Gerald Hodges and Sharrif Floyd saw time on the second return team.
When Coach Mike Priefer was asked about whether these player can contribute on special teams, he replied, "I think we can play [S. Floyd] on kickoff return, in the wedge," Priefer said. "He can be a guy who can help on field goal protection and field goal block, maybe on punt return depending on who we match up against, because he's such a great speed. Doing all the drill work we were doing, watching it on tape, his feet are unbelievable."
Walsh booms kicks
Walsh was absolutely killing the football in practice today and made several impressive kicks during his practice portion. We didn't get to see the snap or Jeff Locke hold, but Walsh was kicking 60+ yard field goals through the goal post into the wind. I will be interested to see the continuity Locke, Loeffler, and Walsh have established in the early portions of camp.
Felder ends practice well
Cornerback Bobby Felder ended Saturday's afternoon practice with an interception off of a terrible pass by quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The pass was telegraphed, Felder read the coverage and picked off the pass in the seam of the field. He returned the kick to the endzone, attempted to dunk the ball over the goal post, but was rejected in Dikembe Mutombo like fashion. The horn sounded and practice number two concluded from Vikings training camp in Mankato, MN.
Tomorrow the Vikings have a day off, but stay tuned for a couple posts highlighting players making an impact at training camp.
The team resumes practice on Monday with a 10:30 to 11:30 walkthrough and an afternoon session, which begins at 2:30 and concludes at 5:30.