2005 Mini-Camp Archives

May 1, 2005
Mini Camp Report IX & Final: Wide Receiver

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

05: Thomson Omboga; R
07: Michael Nordyke; R
09: Aaron Hosack; 1st season
12: Skyler Fulton; 1st season
15: Christopher Jones; R
16: Kelly Campbell; 4th season
17: Ben Nelson; 1st season
18: Ryan Hoag; 1st season
19: Troy Williamson; R
81: Nate Burleson; 3rd season
82: Keenan Howry; 3rd season
87: Marcus Robinson; 9th season
89: Travis Taylor: 6th season

Note: I'd like to take a little roll call and ask a question of the readers. If you haven't already done so, by using the Comment link at the end of this blog entry, leave what city and state you are from. I'd sure love to know if there are Vikings fans in all 50 states. And leave your country if you are outside of America. Also, would you like to see me change the site to a white background with dark purple font...or leave it the way it is. Thanks for your time!

Let's get right to it. This is the report you've been waiting for.

The Kid did fine. The Kid gets off the line fast. The Kid can cut on a dime and leave the CB muttering.

Yes, The Kid did drop a pass or two. But then he'd come right back and catch a ball off his shoe strings (I told you Culpepper's passes weren't crisp Friday!).

I really thought that The Kid did well for someone trying to fill a very large pair of shoes.

And just when you were thinking, "Yeah, this Kid is nice but he isn't Randy Moss", he'd off and do something outstanding that had the sidelines murmoring.

Like when The Kid fought off the CB at the line. And then make a cat-like cut in front of the CB leaving him behind. The CB being Fred Smoot. Which earned The Kid a pat on the butt from Smoot.

Or the time when The Kid ran right past rookie CB Adrian Ward. And made this catch with Ward's paw in his face.

Yeah, The Kid will be alright. Give him a chance. Make no comparisons. Let him prove himself his way. He's a winner and he is ours.

Nate Burleson also looked just fine. Very comfortable as the team's #1 WR. And it should come as no surprise that Burleson ran the best routes during this practice. Nice, clean, and crisp.

Burleson also had some of the best hands, actually making a reception of this poorly thrown ball.

Of course, Mr. Motor-Mouth was there. Yet, Kelly Campbell's mouth has been relegated insignificant by the addition of Fred Smoot. But Campbell, as much as I dislike his 'style' is still one of the fastest receivers on the team. You must remember that Campbell can catch....turn....and go like the wind. We need him.

I guess only time will tell if Campbell is in the outhouse or just running from it.

Another guy, fresh blood in fact, showing good moves was Travis Taylor. I thought Taylor worked the hardest of all the wide receivers I viewed at practice Friday. He went through every drill like his life depended on it.

Taylor's routes seem to be of the inside variety and then every now and then he'd break deep. Taylor made every pass count.

So, will Moss be missed. Without a doubt. Will he be missed a lot? We'll see as the summer months go by. But I'll say this much. I haven't seen this much WR balance on the team since the late 80s. And balance sometimes can be better than one Super Freak.

Sometimes.

Other Photos

Troy Williamson makes a cut.

Travis Taylor leaves the line.

Williamson and other watch Keenan Howry run a drill.

Williamson at the line.

Williamson brings in a pass.

What do you think? Does The Kid need some weight room help? Or just let it go?

Burleson leaves the line.

Burleson awaits a pass.

Burleson at the line.

Williamson runs along the sidelines.

Williamson turns for the ball.

Campbell gets slowed by Napoleon Harris.

Taylor and Darren Sharper

Williamson returns from a deep route.

Taylor leaves the field with former Vikes punter Greg Coleman. Marcus Robinson, who did not dress for practice, can be seen behind them.

And then you have it. My 2005 Vikings Mini Camp report. I hope you've enjoyed them. I've enjoyed sharing them with you. The blog had nearly 5,000 hits on Saturday alone. Thanks!

Up next: New information on Moss from a source that knows!

Previous: Defensive Back, Offensive Line & Tight End, Kicker & Special Teams, Running Back, Linebacker, Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 10:49 PM
Mini Camp Report VIII: Defensive Back

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

21: Corey Chavous; S; 8th season
22: Ken Irvin; CB; 11th season
24: Willie Offord; S; 4th season
25: Will Hunter; S; 1st season
26: Antoine Winfield; CB; 7th season
27: Fred Smoot; CB; 5th season

28: Laroni Gallishaw: CB; R
29: Brian Williams; CB; 4th season
31: Rushen Jones; S; 3rd season
33: Ralph Brown; CB; 5th season
36: Dovonte Edwards; CB; R
37: Dustin Fox; S; R
39: Brandon Pinderhughes; CB; 1st season
42: Darren Sharper; S; 9th season
47: Adrian Ward; CB; R

Note: I'd like to take a little roll call and ask a question of the readers. If you haven't already done so, by using the Comment link at the end of this blog entry, leave what city and state you are from. I'd sure love to know if there are Vikings fans in all 50 states. And leave your country if you are outside of America. Also, would you like to see me change the site to a white background with dark purple font...or leave it the way it is. Thanks for your time!

And on the seventh day, God created Fred Smoot.

Let's give a loud (loud because that's what Fred would want) welcome to the newest cornerback for the soon-to-be-Super-Bowl-champion Minnesota Vikings! Mr. Fred Smoot. Always talking and always smiling. You cannot help but love this guy.

Smoot runs so easily. And he lets you know he has a lot of heart.

Antoine Winfield and Smoot seemed to have already hit it off. They were regular dance partners in a series of positioning drills early on in practice. The quick Smoot found it hard to get by the more physical Winfield. Smoot tried and tried and tried but Winfield would have none of it.

It's plain to see when looking at Smoot that he will be the main cover guy and Winfield will be there for run support. Freddy ain't built for tackling. But then Winfield wasn't a bad shut-down corner last year either!

What a dilemma! Which of our potential Pro-Bowl corners is the shut-down guy? Who gets the opposing teams #1 WR? You know what? It doesn't matter. 'Cause Smoot and Winfield can BOTH shut anyone down.

And it's been a long time coming since I was able to say that about two Vikings CB's on the team at the same time.

The DB's did a lot of foot and hand drills. And they were right up in the face of the receiver. Breathing on them, face-masks almost touching. Again, something that we haven't seen for a long time....a challenging cornerback at the line of scrimmage.

And I especially like the way the CB's were using hand-checks this year as opposed to previous years.

In reading some of the other reports from the local rags, they made it sound like Winfield was just standing around the whole day. As you've seen here, that was not the case. Winfield was actively involved in all the drills, only sitting out the little scrimmage at the end.

Unlike the running backs that I spoke of earlier, the defensive backfield was having a grand ol' day. They were all smiles and constantly encouraging one another.

Smoot could also be seen playing teacher, often grabbing the rookies and bringing them into proper position.

And by now, I'm sure you have heard and read about Smoot, shall we say, delivering a sermon from the sidelines? Yes, Smoot did talk a lot. But you know what? So did Culpepper. So did Winfield. So did a lot of players.

This team has some serious attitude this year. A big ol' chip on their collective shoulders. Maybe it's because they are sick of answering questions about Moss. Maybe they just want to go out and prove they can win without the most prolific TD maker in NFL history.

The talking did not bother me in the least. It did not interfere with the drills or scrimmage. It gave me a "look out NFC 'cause the Vikes are going to be in your face" type of feeling. And I liked that edgeness. I think you will too.

The elder statesmen of the backfield also seemed to be quite chummy with each other. Yes, isn't it strange to see this guy dressed in purple?

And I tell you what, and I mean this in a very good way....Sharper had this pissed-off serious type of look on his face the whole practice. Like he has something to prove to some team east of the Twin Cities. Maybe even to someone sitting home on the front porch swing outside his shack in the middle of Mississippi.

That's not to say Sharper didn't smile. Yeah, he broke a smile after practice when addressing the media. But then that turned to this when asked about playing Green Bay. And when asked about #4 he just looked like this. Just stood there like that. Not...saying....a....word.

Yeah baby.

The other half of the middle of the defensive backfield, Corey Chavous, seemed to be in better physical shape than last year. Maybe Chavous came in more determined once he got wind of all the trade rumors..being the NFL draft guru he is.

And there you have it. Your defensive backfield for the coming season. And doesn't it make you sleep better knowing these two are your starting cornerbacks this coming season!!?!?!!

Our maybe is it that after reading this you can't sleep?

Other Photos

Corey Chavous

Darren Sharper with Sam Cowart

Darren Sharper behind the LBs

Smoot! I sure hope that isn't toilet paper!

Sharper in a drill.

Winfield and Smoot in positioning drills.

Winfield

Winfield, Offord, Smoot

Winfield and Smoot go toe-to-toe

Willie Offord and Dustin Fox

Sharper with Tice lurking in the background.

Even standing still, Smoot looks fast!

Smoot

Sharper takes a Gatorade break.

Smoot chases after a small rodent that hasn't gotten an earful of his banter yet...the only thing on the field that hadn't up to that time.

Sharper meets the media.

Sharper did smile...after practice!

Up next: Wide Receiver! (Projected to be up Sunday)

Previous: Offensive Line & Tight End, Kicker & Special Teams, Running Back, Linebacker, Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:07 PM
Mini Camp Report VII: Offensive Line and Tight End

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

40: Jim Kleinsasser; TE; 7th season
44: Sean Berton; TE; 3rd season
45: T.J. Cottrell; TE; 1st season
48: Matt Ross; TE; R
49: Richard Owens; TE; 2nd season
60: Cory Withrow; C; 6th season
61: Shannon Snell; G; R
62: Kyle Schmitt; C; R
63: Chris Jahnke: G; R
65: Nat Dorsey; T; 2nd season
66: Brandon Newton; G; 1st season
67: Anthony Herrera; G; 2nd season
68: William Obeng; T; R
72: Marcus Johnson; G; R
73: Adam Goldberg; G; 2nd season
74: Bryant McKinnie; T; 4th season
75: Mike Rosenthal; T; 7th season
76: Chris Liwienski; G; 7th season

78: Matt Birk; C; 8th season
79: Rian Melander; T; R

Note: I'd like to take a little roll call and ask a question of the readers. By using the Comment link at the end of this blog entry, leave what city and state you are from. I'd sure love to know if there are Vikings fans in all 50 states. And leave your country if you are outside of America. Also, would you like to see me change the site to a white background with dark purple font...or leave it the way it is. Thanks for your time!

The Vikings missed two players a great deal last season. Both were responsible for protecting Daunte Culpepper in one way or another.

Both are back.

The first is a player that I hunted down as soon as practice started. I just had to see the 3-day facial hair growth, huge calves, and large arms of the North Dakota farm boy that we in Section 101 yell "JIIIIMMMMMMMMMYYYYY!" at.

Yep, Jim Kleinsasser.

Even though Kleinsasser was only practicing in a limited mode, it was still great to see him in uniform catching balls. It was especially great to see him do what he does best.....block.

It was not great to see the huge brace on the right knee, but then one must remember it is most likely precautionary. Especiallly since Kleinsasser seemed to be practicing in most every drill when he was expected to be sitting them out.

And think of the extra options Culpepper will have when both Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins are on the field together. I bet Culpepper will love having his favorite backfield blocker return and still have the option of finding Wiggins down the middle of the field if he needs an outlet pass.

I still find Wiggins a hoot to watch on the football field. He does not have a football body. He does not have speed, of any kind. But he has that knack to find the open seam and soft hands to pull in pass after pass. Resigning Wiggins this past off-season was a huge move and it should pay-off in dividends this coming season.

The other face that I was glad to see back in uniform was Mike Rosenthal. It was way back in September last year that the Minnesota Vikings ended the seasons of Rosenthal and Kleinsasser.

If you'll recall, Rosenthal broke his right foot in the Monday night game at Philadelphia. Kleinsasser had surgery to repair damage to his right knee sustained in the opener against Dallas. I don't think the Vikings ever missed two blockers more. Except of course when it was Rosenthal, Kleinsasser AND Matt Birk that weren't in the line-up. And Birk still was not dressed for this particular practice.

I'm sure all three players will be introduced to the wild crowd as starters when the opening game at the Metrodome comes in September.

And the biggest cheer will come from #11. I have no doubt in that.

Other Photos

The offensive line works out.

Bryant McKinnie

Even Daunte is hidden by his offensive line, not to mention well-protected.

Even the 2nd line looked good in drills. (NO! That is not holding by Goldberg...he's just wiping his hands on someone's jersey.

Up next: Defensive Backs! (Projected to be up late Saturday or Sunday)

Previous: Kickers & Special teams, Running Back, Linebacker, Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 4:37 PM
Mini Camp Report VI: Kickers & Special Teams

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

01: Jose Cortez; K; 5th season
02: Darren Bennett; P; 11th season
03: Jonathan Nichols; K; R
05: Travis Dorsch; P; 2nd season
08: Aaron Elling; K; 3rd season
46: Cullen Loeffler; LS; 2nd season

Ah, the life of a kicker. Sit around practice for two hours, not doing a damn thing, and still get paid. One wonders why photographers even waste the time of day to snap a photo of them.

They can't even stretch without doing something goofy, like Jose Cortez.

But as Vikings fans know all too well, sometimes the balance of the game hangs on placing a punt deftly inside the 10-yard line. And we know all too well how exhilarating it is to see a kicker win the game with no time on the clock.

And how bad one feels when the kick sails wide.....

Ever since Coach Mike Tice has become head coach, kicker has been a very, shall we say, acid-in-our-collective-gut-moment?

This year, the battle may not even come down to Cortez or Aaron Elling. Tice could scour the waiver wire and bring in any number of veteran kickers cut for salary cap reasons....or as it has been lately with the Purple....age.

Speaking of aged veteran kickers, looks like we'll have another year of 40-year old Darren Bennett. I just hope this season is better than his last.

I did not observe any kicking at Friday mornings practice. It's quite possible that they returned to the field after practice ended, as they've done in years past, but I had a pressing appointment and was unable to hang around to find out.

So, I'm sorry I cannot provide you with an eyewitness account.

But, there was a very different take on Special Teams this year. About every 20-minutes a horn sounded ending the drill session each position was practicing at that time. All players then raced to the center field for special teams practice.

On one end of the field, the punting unit practiced their block-and-go technique. At the other end, the gunners and end-blockers worked on their special skills. And they worked for a good 10-minutes. This was repeated several times throughout the two hour practice.

Tice is certainly emphasizing Special Teams this year. I hope it shows up this coming season.

Up next: Offensive Line and Tight-End! (Projected to be up Saturday night)

Previous: Running Back, Linebacker, Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 4:02 PM
April 30, 2005
Mini Camp Report V: Running Back

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

20: Moe Williams; 10th season
23: Michael Bennett; 5th season
30: Mewelde Moore; 2nd season
32: Onterrio Smith; 3rd season
34: Butchie Wallace; 1st season
35: Ciatrick Fason; R

As with the linebackers, I really didn't get a chance to observe the running backs.

But unlike the linebackers, it was not because I was afraid of what I might see. Rather the opposite. What is there to worry about? Well, maybe one thing but we'll get to that later.

There was a new boy in town. His name is Ciatrick Fason. Fason has some upper body conditioning to be done....as you can see. But then, Robert Smith was much the same and within a year or two looked like he wanted to be considered for a cage match on W.W.E. wrestling.

S.O.D. walked right past me early on. And I can swear on the Bible the man had NO odor of any smoke on him. Medicinal or recreational. I'm a pharmacist...I know these things. And Smith looked good. Caught everything thrown his way.

But one wonders how he and Michael Bennett will share time this coming year. Will they play nice or will each sulk if they don't get enough carries each game to satisfy their individual drives?

And who can really blame them? Each could start for about half the teams in the NFL, right now. But with the Vikings, they will be expected to fill certain situational roles. Something I just can't bring myself to really accept. I'm old-school. I want a featured back.

And then there is the old man of the bunch, Moe Williams. As I stated way back with Mini Camp Report I, it was very cold at mini camp Friday. And there were a bunch of macho players in short-sleeves and shorts who probably have a little sniffle or tickle in the throat about now. Not Williams. He's been in Minnesota long enough to know about wearing layers. And let me tell you something else about the old man. No one ran harder on each and every drill than Moe did.

No one.

Oh, and did I mention Mewelde Moore? The fourth in the Barbershop Quartet that we call the RBs of the Vikings? Well, MeMo was there as well. And MeMo had the longest play from scrimmage the entire day. He broke over the middle, took in a pass from Daunte Culpepper, put a unknown DB on his butt with a juke that would have made Barry Sanders smile.....and went literally untouched for 20+ yards. That even shutup Fred Smoot.

So, what is there to worry about? Because, if one of the RBs goes down with an injury during the season, the Vikings won't have to worry about filling a big void. They just plug in the next guy and away they go.

Well, between you-me-and-a-fence-post....I really didn't see these guys yukking it up out there. Not a lot of smiles and such. Lot of standing off to themselves which I only noticed because it was so glaring that you couldn't help but to notice it.

After practice, each unit came off the field as a cohesive unit. The running backs came off solo. And only MeMo hung around for interviews and photos. All the other running backs bolted.

I could be completely off base on that. And I hope I am.

Other Photos

Michael Bennett ran hard all day.

MeMo takes in a catch.

Michael Bennett awaits the play call.

Moe Williams behind the line of scrimmage.

Ciatrick Fason heads to the locker room after practice.

MeMo hangs around for the media.

Up next: Kickers & Special Teams! (Projected to be up Saturday night)

Previous: Linebacker, Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 10:52 PM
Mini Camp Report IV: Linebacker

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

38: Sarth Benoit; R
41: Ira Cooper; R
43: Heath Farwell; R
50: Rod Davis; 2nd season
52: Keith Newman; 7th season
54: Dontarrious Thomas; 2nd season
55: Sam Cowart; 8th season
56: E.J. Henderson; 3rd season
57: Raonall Smith; 4th season
58: Naploeon Harris; 4th season
59: Quincy Stewart; 4th season
91: Grant Wiley; 2nd season
92: David Barriro; R

I'll be completely honest here. I didn't spend that much time observing the linebacker corp. I think this is the weak link (kicking doesn't count!) on the Vikings team. And it didn't help early on when I saw newly aquired Napoleon Harris (yes, that guy we got in the Moss trade) get yanked aside for being out of position. But then, this was the first mini-camp practice. That is going to happen. A lot. Better now then when the season starts.

But Harris and the rest of the linebackers also have some tremendous potential for the coming year.

There is no doubt that Harris has speed as he showed during passing drills, often making up tremendous ground to reach the ball. And I mean the man can flat-out motor.

One linebacker that did catch my eye, and a pretty nice grab, was Raonall Smith. Smith seems to be back to full health and could prove valuable as backup to the starting LBs as well as special teams.

According to the depth chart handed out at this practice, Sam Cowart will be your opening game middle linebacker. Now that could change but I think Mike Tice would like to have someone who's head is not on a spindle this season playing MLB.

But if E.J. Henderson can learn from his mistakes last season, you could see him back in at MLB at some point.

But for now, it appears that Dontarrious Thomas, Sam Cowart, and Napoleon Harris will be your opening game starters.

And if that doesn't make you all warm and fuzzy inside, well, I don't blame you. But, they say speed kills. So here's hoping for some speedy linebackers making some kills behind the line of scrimmage this season.

Other Photos

E.J. Henderson during passing drills.

Napoleon Harris shows some quick feet.

Napoleon Harris looks for the ball.

Rod Davis during passing drills.

Sam Cowart

Napoleon Harris. And note the former Packer in the background!

Napoleon Harris and Sam Cowart

Nice shot of Napoleon Harris.

Up next: Runing Back! (Projected to be up Saturday night. Hey! I have to work part of Saturday and The WifeŽ has a healthy Honey-Do List for me as well. Be patient!)

Previous: Quarterback, Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 9:38 PM
Mini Camp Report III: Quarterback

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

04: Jonathan Bowenkamp; R
06: Jason Fife; 1 season
11: Daunte Culpepper; 7th season
13: Shaun Hill; 4th season
14: Brad Johnson; 14th season

Let me make this perfectly clear. This team belongs to Daunte Culpepper. From the moment he stepped onto the practice field he had control of the team. Both sides of the ball.

Culpepper lead the team in stretching. He lead them in drills. And he was still able to find his way to Matt Birk's rear-end.

Daunte was quite animated early on. Or maybe he was just trying to show he could be as loud as Mr. Fred Smoot. If so, he lost that battle. But then Daunte moved into teaching mode.

Culpepper spent the early part of practice working with rookie quarterback Jonathan Bowenkamp. Why, I don't know. We North Dakota State alum know that nothing good ever came out of the University of North Dakota. Oh, and please don't tell Mr. Kleinsasser I said that. OK?

Culpepper then went through a series of drills with backup QB, Shaun Hill who is in his 4th pro season. Will Hill be the 3rd string quarterback this season for the Vikes?

Culpepper then went solo, working on his own skill set. He first started with some running drills and handoffs with the bevy of running backs on the Vikings roster such as Mewelde Moore. We'll save the RB analysis for when I get to that report but it was Michael Bennett as the 1st team RB that Culpepper was handing off to.

At first I thought I was in some sort of time warp as there was Brad Johnson wearing the ol' #14 jersey. But then, Brad did look just a tad older than the last time I saw him in purple. Still plenty of pop in the passes though. In fact, he was much crisper than Culpepper in that department for this first practice of the mini-camp. Can't you just hear the Culpepper bashers screaming for Johnson already!?!?

But it was still Culpepper leading the first team offense in all the drills. So all you anti-Culpepper freaks can crawl back into your little holes.

The one thing Culpepper was doing well was reading the defense, often going to the second and third reads throughout the morning practice. A nice carry over from last season.

And it was Culpepper that the sun eventually shined on when it made a brief appearance during practice. A sign that it is he who is the chosen one to lead this team to the next level...that being a stop in Detroit very, very late into next season.

Other Photos

Daunte takes a little break.

Kenechi Udeze puts pressure on Culpepper.

Brad Johnson drops back to pass.

Culpepper speaks to the media.

Culpepper surrounded by the media.

Up next: Linebacker! (projected to be up Saturday)
Previous: Defensive Line, and Initial Report (just scroll down)

And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Posted by maasx003 at 7:37 PM
April 29, 2005
Mini Camp Report II: Defensive Line

On 2005 roster at present (Bold indicates projected starter)

09: Johnathanio Conley: DT; R
51: Lance Johnston; DE; 10th season
64: Eric Coleman; DT; R
69: David Harley; DT; R
90: Steve Martin; DT; 10th season
93: Kevin Williams; DT; 3rd season
94: Pat Williams; DT; 9th season

95: Kenechi Udeze; DE; 2nd season
96: C.J. Mosley; DT; R
97: Spencer Johnson; DT; 2nd season
98: Darrion Scott; DE; 2nd season
99: Erasmus James; DE; R

Now, I could have lead off the first mini-camp position report with quarterback to let you know how Daunte Culpepper faired without Randy Moss. Did he take over as leader or flounder under the weight of it?

Or I could have gone with wide receiver so you could get a look at #1 draft selection Troy Williamson. Was he speedy or just plain over-rated?

I could have gone with the defensive backfield to give you my first impressions of Antoine Winfield, Fred Smoot, and Darren Sharper. In fact, that's were I first headed when practice started. Over to where the DB's were set up and going through drills. But as I was standing there with my trusty camera, something moved in front of the sun making a cold day even colder.

I turned to see what planet had left its orbit to block out our wonderful Sol. I then just stood there, mouth agape, when I spied the source for the sudden darkening of the sky.

And I was left wondering, "Who in the name of Jerry Ball is this?"

His jersey number was 94 and I did not need a look at the roster listing to know that this was newly aquired Pat Williams. Our new nose planet, er, I mean tackle.

So, I beg of you this question: Would you rather have Chrissy Hovan or THIS!?!?

Hovan or THIS!?!?

Again, ol' Sulking-Hooded-Sweatshirt-Cry-Baby or Pat "The Planet" Williams?

At one point, I saw Williams take on three offensive linemen. I know, I know, you're saying, but COD, that's just not possible. Again, look at the girth of Pat Williams. Yes, three offensive linemen. Which, by the way, freed up Napoleon Harris to rush in untouched and wrap his arms around Daunte Culpepper.

This resulted in Fred Smoot taunting Culpepper from the sideline. "I bet y'all haven't seen a real defense here before, eh Pep!?!" It was a beautiful thing.

The study of the defensive line also allowed me to view the other first round selection, Erasmus James.

James reminds me of Lance Johnstone. (By the way, on that last image notice the man wearing a brown coat and white hat? Ol' Bob Benchwarmer Lurstema!). James is best described as cat-quick. He's a light 266 lbs (Johnstone is 250 lbs) but he seemed to always be in someone's face.

James ran the drills very well and often had his teammates stopping to just watch.

Kevin Williams was in attendance but not participating in practice. Kevin spent a lot of time in conversation with Pat Williams in between drills. The two Williams' seemed to be very much at ease with each other. I expect big, big, things from that duo this coming season.

Another defensive lineman that seems very much in the defensive plan for the coming season is Darrion Scott. At least, his number seemed to be called quite a bit to participate in drills. That could mean that he is already in the dog house or Mike Tice has bigger plans for him.

In all, I was really please with the look of this years front four. It won't evoke memories of the Purple People Eaters just yet, but by the time the Tampa game rolls around in September people will certainly notice a huge, and I do mean huge, improvement over last season.

Other Photos

Steve Martin lines up for a drill.

Steve Martin finishes the drill.

Kenechi Udeze runs a drill.

Spencer Johnson

C. J. Mosley from this year's draft.

Darrion Scott

More Darrion Scott

Working the blocking sled.

Even P.W. needs a breather.

P.W. and Steve Martin

Erasmus James shows some speed.

Erasmus James takes a breather.

Erasmus James and others.

Kenechi Udeze and others.

Erasmus James answers media questions after practice.

Up next: Quarterback!
Previous: Initial Report (just scroll down)

Posted by maasx003 at 5:04 PM
Mini Camp Report I: Initial

2005_credential.jpg

Well, it was cold. Very cold. Upper 40s and I swear it was going to start snowing at any time. But then, I had Fred Smoot's mouth to keep me warm. More on that later.

On Friday, I attended the very first session of the 2005 Vikings Mini Camp. And I'm here to tell you that the Top 5 defensive ranking that Darren Sharper spoke of today does not seem so far fetched. As I witnessed the 1st-base defense, as defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell calls his defensive starters, in action for much of the practice.

Since I took well over 300 photos, what I am going to do over the coming days is break down each unit for you and then post the best photos I have for each unit. The photos are uploaded at a 640x480 resolution which are good for a 4x6 print. If you really, really love one of the photos you can e-mail me directly and I will send you 1536x1024 resolution photo which are good for 8x10 prints.

And if you want to use a photo on your own personal site...I simply ask that you credit me and my Vikings Underground web blog.

Vikings coach Mike Tice underwent surgery this week on an ankle that has been giving him a lot of problems so he was riding around in a golf cart and sporting a purple cast.

He was driving the golf cart all over the various practice fields. He stopped frequently to make notes, bark at someone, or flash a friendly grin. Towards the end of practice, he walked on crutches to supervise the scrimmage.

Also watching intently was Scott Studwell, fresh off the 2005 NFL draft. No doubt he wanted to see how his draft picks were performing. He need not worry.

Tice was more comfortable leading the practice this year compared to years past. Whether that can be directly related to the depature of Randy Moss or not, only time will tell. Tice still was smiling and telling jokes...especially with Kevin Williams and Pat Williams...but he was also much more in control. He often stopped scrimmage to insert a rookie to see how the rook would fare. I actually thought that Tice has matured more as a coach than I have ever seen before.

Later this evening I will have my first position review and will follow that with another one Saturday morning. So bookmark the site and come back. And be sure to leave a COMMENT below if you have a specific question you would like to ask me and I'll reply using the COMMENTS field.

You're going to like what you will see and read in the next few days.

Official Roster for Mini Camp

Posted by maasx003 at 2:49 PM