Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Reason for optimism, concern as camp ends

  • Article by: VIKINGS INSIDER DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 16, 2012 - 11:52 AM

MANKATO - That's it. It's over. Vikings training camp is complete.

The doors to the dorms at Gage Hall have been closed. The mountain bikes players and coaches rode around for three weeks have been locked up for good.

Now it's time for the Vikings to turn their attention to their second preseason test, a Friday game against Buffalo. But before we look ahead, here's a rundown of the five most important things we learned during camp:

1 Not even a scary run-in with Cajun food could slow Adrian Peterson's recovery.

On July 30, Peterson had a serving of jambalaya in the dorm cafeteria, suffered a severe allergic reaction to the seafood and felt his face swelling and his breathing passages closing.

An injection of Epinephrine and a trip to the hospital got him right again. And then, the next day in the blazing heat, Peterson effortlessly attacked a strength and conditioning workout that would have weakened even the healthiest civilian.

Yep, that was the strangest episode of what was an eventful three weeks for Peterson. He began camp on the physically unable to perform list but left as an active participant in practice -- less than 33 weeks after having surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee.

Is Peterson back to full strength and ready to resume a normal workload? Nope. There's still a ways to go.

But it's a wonderful sign that he is back practicing and continually pestering Vikings coaches for more work and more contact. Peterson plans to play in the third preseason game against San Diego, another boost to his superhuman reputation. As General Manager Rick Spielman said, "He's just different."

Early on during camp, coach Leslie Frazier was watching clips from 2011 and came across a handful of impressive Peterson runs.

"Great plays," Frazier said. "So I came up to him and said, 'Can you see yourself in your mind being able to do that again?' Adrian said, 'Coach, I can do that right now if you let me.' In his mind, there's nothing wrong; he's going to be fine."

 

2 Jared Allen is not in a competition with Matt Kalil. It's more of a partnership.

One of the story lines heading into camp centered on the anticipated match-up between the Vikings' star defensive end and their promising rookie left tackle.

Allen graciously discussed the topic on the first day of practice. Then he fielded more questions about it a few days later. And somehow, even as repetitive as that plot line became, still more questions came with Allen handling them with a good-natured chuckle and explaining he did not come to Mankato to win a 1-on-1 war with Kalil.

Instead, the duo has used their daily battles as growth opportunities to prepare for the season.

Allen has gotten the better of the matchup overall. But Kalil hasn't exactly been a turnstile against the NFL's reigning sack king.

"I've had a few good days against him," Kalil said. "Which fuels my confidence. But with Jared, if you feel like you're on top of the world, he'll beat you three plays in a row."

Kalil has also reminded himself to stay receptive to Allen's pointers.

"Jared's beaten offensive tackles a lot better than me," Kalil said. "And he's so multidimensional with everything he does -- his footwork, all of his moves, his hands. He's helped me refine my footwork so I don't open up too fast. He's shown me ways to better use my hands. Plus, to see the way he works his butt off out here, there's never a threat of complacency."

3 Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave won't stand for lethargy.

After a sluggish effort from his offense spoiled the afternoon practice on Aug. 6, Musgrave used that night's meeting to light a fire under his players. Literally.

Musgrave delivered a passionate pep talk that included fiery mannerisms and, yes, a flaming pile of sticks and leaves.

"All of us sometimes need a bur under our saddle to get us going," he explained.

So how large did the flames get?

"I'm sure they got too big for the fire code," the offensive coordinator said. "But luckily we got to put them out quickly."

Aside from that motivational mojo, Musgrave has delivered a straightforward message to his offense. For three weeks, all of his starters have been reciting some version of the same theme -- success in 2012 will come from every player doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.

In other words, heroics won't be required. Instead, mistake-free football will be celebrated more often. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder will be most responsible and most closely watched in responding to that command.

4 The defense might still have serious depth issues, especially at linebacker and safety.

Here's a quick round of applause for Chad Greenway, who turned in a solid camp. Fellow linebacker Erin Henderson also seems to be developing well heading into his second year as a starter. And in the secondary, rookie safety Harrison Smith has done as asked and earned a starting job. (For the next 10 years, perhaps?)

Smith's spirited play has been fun to watch. He is rarely out of position and likes to get his licks in whenever possible.

But who will start alongside him? Jamarca Sanford just doesn't make enough plays on the ball downfield to retain his starting job. Yet Mistral Raymond hasn't progressed to the point of being a no-brainer starter either.

And consider the rest of the linebacking corps. Jasper Brinkley is starting at middle linebacker by default, but he has been all sorts of rusty and wasn't effective in limited action last Friday night during the Vikings' preseason-opening loss at San Francisco.

The second unit of linebackers consists of Larry Dean, Tyrone McKenzie and Marvin Mitchell. That's a significant drop-off from a starting trio that's far from extraordinary to begin with.

 

5 Fans will ask for anything. Seriously, anything.

After one camp practice, a young fan asked rookie Robert Blanton for his mouthpiece. Said center John Sullivan: "The idea that someone would want that is shocking. Disgusting."

Yeah, exactly.

But that led us to take a quick poll of players on the oddest requests they got during camp.

"I had one guy ask me for my half-drank Gatorade," Josh Robinson said. "But I was like, 'Dude, really? I'm too thirsty.'"

Percy Harvin was amiable in signing autographs most days, even with some odd wishes mixed in.

"I've had a few people wanting me to sign, well, in places on their body that probably shouldn't be signed," he said.

Jarius Wright regularly fulfilled fan requests for wrist bands, skull caps and towels.

"For some of these people," he said, "the sweatier, the better."

Sullivan? He was a little more reticent in giving away souvenirs that had been on his sweat-soaked body for 2 1/2-hour practices. So don't ever ask him for his gloves.

"Trust me, you don't want these," Sullivan said. "In 12 hours, these things are going to smell like an outhouse."

Still, Sullivan gets it. Growing up, he was an avid Steelers fan.

"I really liked Rod Woodson," he said. "I wanted to play corner -- which really worked out physically for me. I was never the real hardcore fan. But I appreciate these fans' dedication to us. Having them out here has really helped break up the grind of these days."

Dan Wiederer • dwiederer@startribune.com

  • VIKINGS PRESEASON

    Up next: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Buffalo • Mall of America Field • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 47 2nd Qtr 2:04
Houston 44
Golden State 5:00 PM
Boston
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Indiana
Portland 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Orlando
Oklahoma City 5:30 PM
LA Lakers
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Denver
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 5:44
Winnipeg 1
Tampa Bay 4:00 PM
Florida
Columbus 4:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Dallas
St. Louis 8:30 PM
Vancouver
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 44 2nd Half 9:15
California 51
South Florida 39 2nd Half 9:01
Houston 60
Marquette 29 2nd Half 19:03
Providence 44
Michigan State 15 1st Half 7:48
Wisconsin 19
Siena 3:30 PM
Monmouth
Pittsburgh 5:30 PM
Wake Forest
Oregon 6:00 PM
Stanford
Purdue 6:30 PM
Ohio State
Arizona State 7:30 PM
Colorado
Washington St 8:30 PM
UCLA
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 34 2nd Half 4:00
Drexel 46
Illinois State 42 2nd Half 10:40
Bradley 39
Southern Ill 48 2nd Half 10:30
Loyola-Chicago 41
Northern Iowa 44 2nd Half 6:50
Wichita State 56
Minnesota 56 2nd Half 8:05
(17) Iowa 63
(15) North Carolina 44 2nd Half 13:27
(16) Duke 49
Alabama 44 2nd Half 9:15
Auburn 58
(9) Florida State 38 2nd Half 18:40
Miami-Florida 24
Arkansas 29 2nd Half 6:11
Missouri 47
Georgia 37 2nd Half 11:09
Florida 30
Dayton 65 2nd Half 8:00
Saint Louis 55
Drake 37 2nd Half 9:27
Missouri State 71
Colorado 14 1st Half 6:10
(10) Arizona State 15
(19) Stanford 22 1st Half 6:35
Oregon 23
Marquette 21 1st Half 6:50
DePaul 31
Southern Miss 21 1st Half 7:41
Texas-El Paso 23
Vanderbilt 4:00 PM
(6) Tennessee
(2) South Carolina 4:00 PM
(13) Kentucky
Utah 4:00 PM
Arizona
Ohio State 4:00 PM
Nebraska
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close