For most players taking part in the Vikings' rookie minicamp on Friday at Winter Park, the day's activities amounted to another in a long line of football workouts.
That wasn't the case for receiver Todd Lowber.
Rather, Friday marked the first time Lowber competed in an organized football activity at any level. "It was good, it was great," he said after the team wrapped up the first of three days of workouts. "I love it. Love the tempo. Just learning every day."
The 25-year-old Lowber has plenty to learn and he knows it. A former point guard and the 2006 NCAA Division III men's high jump champion at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., Lowber turned his attention to pursuing a career in the NFL last summer.
A handful of teams took notice of him when he posted an eye-popping time of 4.1 in the 40-yard dash in his personal workout. Lowber eventually decided to sign a three-year deal with the Vikings last month.
Lowber showed some ability during Friday's session making a nice catch at one point but he also failed to hang onto at least two balls. The Vikings also had him rotate through on kickoff returns with several teammates.
"I thought he flashed a little bit just with his speed," Vikings coach Brad Childress said of his initial impressions of Lowber. "Good things hand-wise; he didn't catch them all. He's swimming a little bit from the installation."
Said Lowber: "I'm coming along steadily. It's an adjustment because you have to know so many things other than just run and catch the ball. You have to know what everybody is doing. So it's going to be an adjustment. "
Although the Vikings have made it clear that character is an important issue in deciding to draft or sign players, the team did elect to bring in rookie free agent Braden Jones of Southern Illinois.
Once a promising linebacker at Northwestern, Jones left school after a series of off-field incidents. According to the Chicago Tribune, he redshirted as a freshman after suffering head injuries in a fight in 2001. Two years later, Jones pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and unlawful use of a driver's license. In October 2004, he was convicted of battery and left the school. Jones then spent 37 days in rehab for alcohol and anger management between his time at Northwestern and Southern Illinois.
"I think when you dig into that, we were satisfied in the long run that he was OK," Childress said. "He was in a fight, transferred. He's already passed the MCAT. He is going to medical school. I believe that he is squared away, and we feel like we were able to dispel anything that would have been a problem with him."
After getting to Southern Illinois, Jones switched positions to tight end and had no documented off-field incidents. He posted a 3.7 GPA.
There were approximately 28 players at the rookie camp on a tryout basis. The Vikings, however, would not reveal their names, citing the embarrassment factor for players who try out and aren't signed. Childress did say that eight players from schools within Minnesota were on the field. Cornerback Trumaine Banks and offensive tackle Joe Ainslie of the Gophers were believed to be among those present.
Friday's workout was held in the team's indoor facility because of the rainy weather. Childress is hoping to get outside either today or Sunday.
Staff Writer Kevin Seifert contributed to this notebook.