Johnson's experience key at left tackle

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2011 - 9:44 AM

MANKATO - Unwanted in Indianapolis just days ago, Charlie Johnson is much needed in Mankato, where on Day 2 of training camp the Vikings gave up on out-of-shape left tackle Bryant McKinnie and released him.

Johnson, signed on Sunday after a contract impasse ended his five-year stint with the Colts, will move in at left tackle Thursday when the collective bargaining agreement is ratified and he's allowed to begin practicing. He doesn't plan on moving out anytime soon.

"What they brought me in for was to compete and try to get one of those five [starting] spots on the line," said Johnson, who has started 53 games over the past four years with the Colts. "So, I'm not going to sit back and try to bide my time and wait. I'm going to come in and compete and see what happens."

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, there is lingering concern about the Colts' left tackle situation. First-round draft pick Anthony Castonzo didn't sign and report to camp until Tuesday. Until he catches up, the starting job will belong to Jeff Linkenbach, a second-year undrafted player who has one start at left tackle, or current starting right tackle Ryan Diem.

Johnson also can play guard, but it's obvious the reason he's in Mankato is because he has extensive experience at left tackle, where he was trusted with protecting Peyton Manning's blind side. Johnson also is here because he and the Colts disagreed on what he was worth as a free agent.

"I guess the words they were saying to me were different than their actions," Johnson said of the Colts. "But that's in the past. That situation worked itself out and I'm here, so I couldn't think of a better place to be."

Until Johnson can practice, the Vikings have Thomas Welch working with the first team. Welch, however, is unlikely to push Johnson for the job. He is a second-year undrafted player with no NFL game experience.

Johnson, a sixth-round draft pick of the Colts in 2006, is only 27. Obviously, it's unusual for a successful team to let a starting left tackle that young walk away.

"I had a great time there, played in a lot of games, won a lot of games," Johnson said. "But it's a new opportunity here and, hopefully, we can keep going and keep winning games here."

With 10-year starter McKinnie being kicked from the non-football injury list to the curb, Johnson will play a major role in determining the Vikings' ability to win.

Peterson misses practice

Running back Adrian Peterson missed Tuesday's practice and could miss Wednesday's practices as well. He left the team Monday afternoon because his fiancée was due to give birth. Coach Leslie Frazier said he didn't talk to Peterson Tuesday, but "did get a report that things are moving right along ... everything I've been told is positive so far."

All in on Thursday

There will be no easing in of the 14 players who can't practice until Thursday per rules of the new CBA. That includes three of the top four receivers, No. 1 nose tackle Remi Ayodele and starting quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"They will be thrown right into the mix," said Frazier, referring to Thursday morning's first full-contact practice. "That's what they're here to do. ... This is the hand we've been dealt and our guys are excited to get started."

Etc.

• With projected starting cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) still limited, the Vikings had Asher Allen work with the first team during team drills and Chris Cook with the first team during seven-on-seven drills.

• Frazier said the team will not have a conditioning test this year. He said he's happy with the practice tempo and the overall conditioning level of the team.

• While an NFL source has said the Vikings are no longer in the hunt for free-agent wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the team appears to still be pursuing Chargers free-agent receiver Malcom Floyd. Floyd, 30, is a big target (6-5, 225 pounds) who caught 37 passes and six touchdowns in 11 games last season.

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