The fact that quarterback Tarvaris Jackson took the first-team reps with the offense at the first of Saturday's two minicamp practices at Winter Park came as no surprise. It was interesting, however, that rookie Joe Webb worked with the second team, leaving Sage Rosenfels to get very limited reps with the third-team.
"We're moving those guys around," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Trying to get them as many reps as we can. We keep track of the reps of each guy. This morning that was one of the things that we went over with coach [Brad Childress] and we wanted to get Joe just a few more reps to make sure that he has a good accounting for himself before we take off here."
The Vikings will wrap up their minicamp with a practice this afternoon and then one more on Sunday morning. The Vikings started Saturday's first session under cloudy skies outside and then moved into the indoor facility after individual drills.
With Brett Favre still deciding on his future, Jackson is clearly this team's top quarterback right now. He got off to a rough start during during an 11-on-11 drill. Jackson's first two passes were intended for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. The first was nearly picked by safety Madieu Williams and the second went in and out of the hands of left end Brian Robison.
Jackson then completed back-to-back passes to wide receiver Sidney Rice before Webb took over the offense. Webb, who was expecting to be moved to wide receiver when the Vikings took him in the sixth round of the draft last April out of Alabama-Birmingham, completed three of his first four passes with the only incompletion coming on a pass to Greg Lewis that was broken up by cornerback Asher Allen.
During his second round of drills, Webb threw a perfect deep ball down the right side to an open Jaymar Johnson but the wide receiver dropped the ball. For the most part Webb looked extremely sharp, although he was intercepted by former Gopher cornerback Marcus Sherels near the end of the session. There was no receiver near the play so it's very possible someone ran the wrong route.
Asked what he thought of Webb, Bevell said: "He's a big athlete, he's a tall guy, he's got a strong arm, he can run around, he can move around. But that's not the first thing that he's thinking. He's dropping back, he's able to go through progressions, he's able to go through reads. He's very raw at this point. There are a lot of things that he can continue and improve on from his footwork to his decision making. Just learning our offense.
"As we've talked about, there's a lot of verbiage to it, there's things that you've got to remember. There's motions, there's protections, there's hots [hot reads]. There are a lot of things that he's thinking about it. He's done a nice job with it but there are still some things that he's missed a little bit."
Childress expressed his frustration on Friday about the fact Adrian Peterson won't be at this minicamp because he wanted to attend the fourth annual "Adrian Peterson Day" on Saturday in Palestine, Texas. Bevell was asked for his opinion on the matter Saturday.
"We're just building our offense for the basics for some of these younger guys that are here," Bevell said. "They're trying to do some things to challenge the older guys. Maybe formationally, that kind of stuff. So any guy that's missing, whether it's Adrian or anyone else, it's something that they are going to have to catch up on when they get here. We'd love to have every guy here but they're not."
The Vikings have done an offseason study of Peterson's fumbling issues and started working with him on some drills when he was at Winter Park for the first time this offseason earlier in the week. That included carrying a 14-pound weighted football -- the purpose being that the normal ball will feel lighter in Peterson's hands.
Bevell was a key part of the study and spent time reviewing Petereson's 2009 performance. So what did he see?
"I think the No. 1 thing is Adrian Peterson never gives up a play," Bevell said. "It's important for him to know that that's his running style and when you're not giving up plays, at the end of it, when there's more than one guy on the pile, there's going to be people raking at it and trying to take it away from you. So first of all just to put it in his mind, we're not going to change the way he runs. That's how he is. But there are some things we could do technique wise with him. Some drills that you saw that [running backs coach Eric] Bieniemy is working on him with that we can make sure he does a better job of holding onto it."
Greenway, Cook continue to sit
Linebacker Chad Greenway isn't taking part in this minicamp and it appears as if some kind of offseason procedure or injury is the reason. The Vikings aren't commeting on the topic. Greenway went through stretching exercises the past two days but then has left the field. Erin Henderson has replaced Greenway in working with the first team.
"Chad's been doing well and I know coach has been working with him on whatever he's working with him on," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He, along with some of the other guys, we'll learn more about as we continue on with this camp. But Coach Childress is doing whatever he's doing with him."
Cornerback Chris Cook, the Vikings top pick in last April's draft, also was a spectator again Saturday and is dealing with some type of injury.
"I know that [head athletic trainer] Eric Sugarman and his staff, they'll take a look at some things and just try to gauge how much they'll let him participate in this minicamp," Frazier said of Cook. "I'll learn more about it this afternoon."
Frazier said it helps that Cook took part in all 12 practices that were part of Organized Team Activities.
"Everything we're doing now is going back to what we've done in those 12 practices," Frazier said. "The good thing for us is having everybody here, sitting in the meetings, talking about the things that we want to do as a defense and what we want to accomplish. In some ways being able to get it mentally at this time of the year is as important as what we're going to do physically because when they leave here tomorrow afternoon [the rookies are actually around for part of next week] all of those guys are really going to have to work hard to not come into camp trying to get in shape. The mental part, in a lot of ways, is as important as what we'll do physically."
Sanford will get his chance
Jamarca Sanford, a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2009, got some work with the first-team defense Saturday and is expected to get an excellent opportunity to push starting safeties Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams in training camp.
"We're going to let those guys fight for that starting position," Frazier said. "Tyrell and Madieu are our guys but there's competition. Husain Abdullah is in that mix as well. He's fighting for playing time. So between the four of them we'll see how things shake out."
Asked about Sanford, Frazier said: "He's one of those guys, like a lot of second-year players, that really has benefited from that fact that he's been in this sytem for a year. He's moving a little bit faster, he's making decisions a little bit quicker and he's always been an aggressive guy so now you combine that with the fact that he's a little bit more alert when it comes to some of the calls that are coming into the huddle. You've got a pretty good package. We'll just see how things play out over the course of training camp."
The latest Favre update
Bevell, who is good friends with Favre, said the quarterback is "doing fine," adding that Favre is "just taking care of his ankle right now." Favre had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle last month and is expected to announce his intention to return later this summer.
Odds and ends
-- Peterson, Favre, defensive end Ray Edwards (has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender) and wide receiver Aaron Rhea (unknown reason) remained absent from minicamp on Saturday.
-- Left guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder surgery), cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee), linebacker E.J. Henderson (leg) and nose tackle Pat Williams (elbow) are not taking part in any team drills in practice. Henderson continues to do individual work. Hutchinson and Griffin are not doing individual drills.
-- Wide receivers Jaymar Johnson, Percy Harvin and Ray Small and Sherels got some work early in practice on kickoff returns.
-- Rhys Lloyd, signed to handle kickoffs because of his strong leg, appeared to make four of six field-goal attempts during the portion of practice that was outside. He missed a 49-yard attempt.