Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Rookie safety Smith doesn't back down in practice scuffle with Harvin

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, NFC, Leslie Frazier, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Leslie Frazier, Percy Harvin Updated: August 8, 2012 - 5:58 PM

MANKATO -- Finally, a camp scuffle ensued on the 11th day of Vikings practice.

Star receiver Percy Harvin and rookie Harrison Smith, a hard-hitting safety who quickly has gained the reputation for not taking any guff from anyone, were the key combatants during a shoving episode that came during an 11-on-11 team drill.

Players wore shells rather than full pads, but the tempo was aggressive because players are fed up with practicing against each other. This was the last practice before Friday's night's preseason opener at San Francisco.

The incident began when Harvin caught a short pass and turned hard upfield into a crowd of defenders. Safety Eric Frampton tried to strip the ball, but was unsuccessful. Another defender swiped at the ball as Harvin kept running. When Smith became the third defender to reach in and tug on the ball, Harvin lost his temper and the two players started pushing and shoving.

Teammates hurried into the fray. Receiver Jerome Simpson shoved Smith. Defensive end Jared Allen and offensive tackle Phil Loadholt were separating players. Meanwhile, safety/team screamer Jamarca Sanford yelled "Calm down, 1-2. [Harvin's number]" a few times from the defensive sideline.

Smith, a first-round draft pick who's still running primarily with the second team but has seen some action with the first team, shrugged the incident off after practice.

"It's football," Smith said. "That stuff happens sometimes when you play football."

Smith said players are getting tired of hitting each other without being able to unleash at full game speed. That comes -- finally -- on Friday.

So much for no hazing:  Coach Leslie Frazier isn't a fan of player hazing. He has a policy against it. Well, that policy was broken by some of his best players after Wednesday's practice. Don't worry. No one was hurt. But Chase Baker, an undrafted rookie from Boise State, did get a little wet and messy.

Members of the defensive line taped him to a goal post. Allen then dumped ice and a jug of water over his head while telling the youngster to sing the Boise State fight song. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams then dumped Pepto-Bismol over Baker's head.

Baker took it all in with a smile. Frazier didn't seem happy. He was talking to Allen as they walked off the field together. Allen threw an arm around the coach's shoulder and said, "Don't worry. We didn't beat him."

In other news: 

  • Frazier said the coaches will spend tonight determining playing time for Friday night's preseason opener at San Francisco. He said the injured players who won't play are safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), tight end John Carlson (knee), receiver Kamar Jorden (hand), offensive tackle DeMarcus Love (shoulder), guard Geoff Schwartz (sports hernia), running back Jordan Todman (ankle) and cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring). Robinson has returned to practice, but the Vikings are being extra cautious with a player they think has the potential to be the third cornerback and return punts.
  • Training camp has been quiet and unusually devoid of drama and controversies. And that's A-OK with Frazier. "Yes, I sleep a whole lot better at night, no question about it," he said. "You want guys to be focusing on football and the team and the message that you're delivering in that first meeting. You have some of those outside distractions and it takes away from that focus. Part of what we do requires great focus and great determination, and if you don't have that it shows up on the field. We've had our share of distractions as you know, so it's refreshing at this point that we can concentrate on what's important. And that's getting ready to play football."

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2014 preseason     
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