Johnson's debut won't be among career highlights

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 5, 2011 - 12:13 AM

New tackle Charlie Johnson's first Vikings practice was rough, especially when facing Jared Allen.


New Vikings tackle Charlie Johnson

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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MANKATO - For pinpoint analysis on Charlie Johnson's first practice as Bryant McKinnie's replacement, let's turn to Charlie himself.

"It was ugly, man," said the new Vikings starting left tackle. "You could tell I hadn't done anything since January. You can do as much [blocking] as you want against air, but it's a whole different thing against live bullets."

You can say that again.

To be fair, Johnson was facing a nearly impossible situation. Defensive lines typically are ahead of offensive lines at this point anyway. Throw in league rules that prohibited Johnson from participating in the first three days of practice and the fact he had to single-block multiple-time All-Pro Jared Allen and, well, like Johnson said, "ugly."

With NFL officials in camp Thursday, there were four times when the whistle blew a play dead, which signals a sack. Allen was getting around Johnson consistently and, at one point, was already in quarterback Donovan McNabb's face as Johnson was just rising out of his stance.

Coach Leslie Frazier said he is not concerned at this point because Johnson didn't have the first three days of practice.

Ponder takes second-team reps

For the first time in camp, rookie quarterback Christian Ponder took reps with the second team ahead of Joe Webb. Ponder has had the better camp and obviously will move ahead of Webb at some point.

But Frazier said that hasn't happened yet. "No, no, we were just rotating those guys," he said. "They'll rotate throughout training camp, nothing is etched in stone at No. 2 or No. 3."

Cook aims for right guard job

When Johnson was moved to starting left tackle and Ryan Cook was re-signed, it was assumed Cook was brought in to be the versatile swing guy who can back up every position up front.

Well, that's not what Cook said he was told. And that's not what he's willing to settle for.

"Personally, I'm coming for that [starting] right guard spot," Cook said. "I've been told it's an open competition. So I'm going to be a starter. That's my goal. That's what I'm looking forward to."

Cook, who took over the job late last year when Anthony Herrera went down with a knee injury, worked with the second unit Thursday, his first practice of camp. Chris DeGeare is the tentative No. 1 right guard while Herrera is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

McNabb misses Big Mac

It's never a good thing for a righthanded quarterback when a left tackle is released this close to full-contact games beginning.

Speaking about McKinnie's release for the first time, McNabb said: "Well, as a quarterback you don't want to hear about anything like that. Big Mac was a guy who had a lot of success here. He's one of the best tackles in the game and a friend of mine. His mom is very close to my mom, and I was looking forward to playing with him here.

"But now we're kind of bringing in guys, and you have to have a lot of confidence in those guys that they can fill the hole. That's a big-time hole to fill."


• Wide receiver Bernard Berrian's restructured contract allows him to become a free agent after this season. He was under contract through 2013.

• Running back Adrian Peterson is expected to practice Friday. He has been gone since Monday evening to be with his fiancée for the birth of their son.


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