Reason for optimism, concern as camp ends

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

The Vikings can feel good about the progress made by Adrian Peterson, but real questions remain at linebacker and at safety.

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

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
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 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do against Atlanta?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close