Reporters weren't the only ones who couldn't tell the players without a scorecard during the first day of the Vikings' rookie mini-camp at Winter Park.
Leslie Frazier, the head coach, had trouble putting names to the numbers of 70 players who were in camp. Even some of the big names.
"I was watching the guys return punts this morning," Frazier said. "We still have the cheat sheets where we're looking at guys' numbers. Josh [Robinson] caught a punt and he just took off like a guy shot out of a rocket. I said, `Man, that guy's got a nice little burst. See who that is.' And I look and it's Josh Robinson. I said, `That's a good sign. That's a good thing.'"
Robinson, the team's third-round draft pick, ran a combine-best 4.29 40-yard dash.
"That burst, it sticks out," Frazier said. "You can see why he ran a 4.2, 4.3 40 at the combine. He can get from A to B pretty quick."
Robinson will compete for the punt return job and might be given a chance to compete at kick returner. The former Central Florida player needs polish at corner, but Frazier isn't ruling anything out this year.
"We'll keep throwing things at him and watch him compete for a job," Frazier said. "Not just the nickel position. We want him to compete for a starting job."
Robinson said he never doubted he'd be able to run the best time at the combine.
"I've run faster hand-timed 40s before," he said.
Vikings bring in 70 players to evaluate
The Vikings brought in 70 players to this weekend's camp, which includes two sessions today, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. There were 10 draft picks, 15 undrafted free agents that have been signed, seven first-year players they signed before the draft and 38 players who are trying out. There would have been 39 trying out, but Trevor Olson, an offensive tackle from Northern Illinois and Richfield High School, signed a deal with the Buccaneers before camp started.
"When we were talking about this year's rookie minicamp, I asked [General Manager] Rick [Spielman] and the scouts, `Get us some numbers. We want competition at this game.' Get us the best guys you can get, but get us some depth as well because the more guys you have competing, the better chance you have of finding someone who was undrafted who may be able to help your team. So that was the goal, to get some numbers and not have just 20 to 25 guys."
Here are some of the 38 players trying out:
- Former Gophers in camp are: receiver Da'Jon McKnight, tight end Tiree Eure, tight end Nick Tow-Arnett, defensive end Anthony Jacobs and defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey.
- Dan Power, a 29-year-old punter from Brisbane, Australia. Power played professional rubgy in Australia and France for eight years. He's also been a member of the New York Athletic Club of the American Rugby Super League.
- Josh Gatlin, a 6-1, 196-pound cornerback from North Dakota State. His older brother, Justin, a former Olympic sprinter, won the 100-meter dash at the 2004 Games in Athens. Josh ran a 4.32 at the combine.
- Other local prospects include: Concordia QB Spencer Ohm and offensive tackle Tyler Hendrickson, Bethel guard Mitchell Elliott, Winona State defensive end Matt Ulrich and Plymouth's Domonique Hawkins, a safety from North Dakota.
- Alexander Robinson, the former DeLaSalle running back. He was with the team in training camp last year.
- Receiver Marcus Fitzgerald, the younger brother of Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. Marcus also attended the team's rookie tryout in 2010.
- Matt Singletary, wearing No. 50 (naturally), from Cal Poly. Matt's father is Mike, the Hall of Famer and current Vikings linebackers coach. Frazier, a former teammate of Mike's with the Bears in the 1980s, has known Matt since he was born. Matt played defensive end at Cal Poly, but has been moved to linebacker for this weekend's camp. "He has some traits of a Hall of Fame guy, so we're going to see if we can get a little bit of that out of him," Frazier said. "He's a good athlete."
Here are some other highlights from Frazier's press conference:
- On first-round draft pick Matt Kalil: "Very impressed. The first thing that sticks out, of course, is his size. He's a big man. It's one thing to watch him on tape, but it's another thing to actually stand beside him and watch him against the guys we have here. You can see why we have high hopes for him."
- On needing more depth at linebacker. The Vikings have seventh-round pick Audie Cole lining up at middle linebacker this weekend. They also have high hopes for Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen, an undrafted rookie they signed. "We do need to shore up that depth," Frazier said. "That's a crucial area for us, particularly when it comes to special teams. We just have to continue to evaluate them and if we don't feel like we're where we need to be, we'll keep searching the wire."
- On whether the there's concern about the nose tackle position. The Vikings are moving Letroy Guion, a backup to Kevin Williams at the three-technique spot, to nose tackle. They don't have a prototypical Big Pat Williams-sized nose on the roster. "Not so much," Frazier said of the level of concern. "We're counting on the guys we got coming back, both Fred [Evans] and Letroy to really give us what we want. And we feel we got enough depth from a signing standpoint that we should be all right."