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.


Vikings in mix for Sheppard?

Posted by: under Quarterbacks, Vikings, Bears, Lions, NFC, Brad Childress, Anthony Herrera, Antoine Winfield, Ben Leber, Bernard Berrian, Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Brian Robison, Cedric Griffin, Chad Greenway, Chester Taylor, Chris Kluwe, Heath Farwell, Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson Updated: April 14, 2010 - 11:33 AM

Veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard is visiting the Detroit Lions according to a tweet from the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora. LaCanfora also reports the Vikings, Bears and Raiders could emerge as suitors for Sheppard.

This makes sense given the Vikings are looking to add depth at corner with starters Antoine Winfield (foot) and Cedric Griffin (torn ACL) coming off injuries. We had an hour-plus of access to the Vikings strength and conditioning program today and although we did not get a chance to talk to Griffin he looked to be walking just fine. The issue with ACL injuries, of course, is being able to cut and the Vikings are not doing any football-related activities at this point.

The Vikings, who have Asher Allen, Benny Sapp and DeAndre Wright as their backup corners, attempted to sign free agent Tye Hill but he elected to join the Tennessee Titans. Sheppard spent last season with the New York Jets and started nine of the 11 games in which he played. He finished with eight passes broken up and one interception. Sheppard had spent the previous seven seasons with the Eagles, including four in which Brad Childress was Philadelphia's offensive coordinator.

The waiting game

Quarterback Brett Favre sent pairs of Wrangler jeans to his teammates -- "I need to break them in a little bit, they are kind of stiff," punter Chris Kluwe joked -- but what Favre hasn't sent is word of whether he plans to play in 2010.

"Honestly, you can't worry about things that aren't in your control," wide receiver Greg Lewis said. "I can focus on Greg and Greg being here, working out, trying to get better, as well as the other guys that are here trying to get better and working out. Brett is taking his time, doing his thing. I'm pretty sure he's working out, he's thinking about his situation and how it's going to affect his family and that's more power to him. He has that opportunity so go ahead and do it."

Asked if there would be a point at which it would be a problem that Favre hadn't made up his mind, Lewis said, "It's not my decision on how long or whatever. I can't worry about it. We have to get better and prepare to get better as a team each day that we are out here. So whoever is here we are trying to get better and that's the way we're looking at it."

Lewis said he does not have a gut feeling on what Favre might do and expressed support for backup quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. "I'm confident in Sage and Tarvaris, as well as Brett and as well as whoever they bring in," Lewis said. "I have confidence in all my teammates that come in and I hope they have the same confidence in me. So, I'm not worried about it."

On the move

Darius Reynaud appears to have put on some upper-body strength as a result of his move from wide receiver to running back. Reynaud said one of the reasons why the coaching staff shifted him to his high school position was that he served in the role of Reggie Bush on the scout team during the week leading up to the NFC Championship Game.

“I gave a good look,” Reynaud said. “The defense liked what they saw and the coaches liked what they saw. They came to me after the game before we did our exit [interviews] and said I looked natural back there. I’ve been doing it for a while so it’s nothing new to me.”
 
Reynaud will be wearing No. 27 now instead of 82, so this move is official and don't look for him to move back to wide receiver. Chip is going to focus on Reynaud for the Thursday story in the paper so check back later today to read the story on www.startribune.com.
 
In the past

The theme from players coming off the Vikings' overtime loss to the Saints in the NFC title game already has been made clear and it's this: "We've moved on."

Lewis said he has not gone back and watched the game. "I don't plan on it either," he said. "I was there, I saw how it ended, it was unfortunate but we've moved on. It's a new season, a new chapter for us and hopefully we look to get further this year."

Said Farwell when asked if he might watch the Saints loss at some point: “Never. I don’t know if I ever will. Never get over that game. … That’s a game we should have won. We felt like we should have won it.”

Some odds and ends from today's access.

-- Players attending these sessions, many veterans joined Monday, aren't just getting in a light workout. Tom Kanavy, the Vikings' head strength and conditioning coach, is making sure of that. Lewis, running back Ian Johnson and punter Chris Kluwe were among the players who looked worn out after they completed a portion of the workout in the indoor practice facility at Winter Park. The exercises include heavy, long wall-mounted ropes that players move with their arms, as if they are leading a sleigh. That gives them a full body cardio workout. There also are rope machines set up against another wall that look more typical of something you would see in a exercise facility. Those machines focus on the arms. "It's going to help a lot of people, it's going to train different parts of their body and help them to be better football players," Lewis said. "It's like mountain climbing and throwing a rope somewhere. You don't do that playing football but it's training your muscles in different ways and hopefully it helps."

 -- Players have different workout schedules and this program is not mandatory so no one has to show up. That being said, there appeared to be an excellent turnout at Winter Park this morning. We saw at least 35 players, including linebackers Chad Greenway and Ben Leber; cornerbacks Asher Allen, Benny Sapp and Cedric Griffin; defensive linemen Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, Mike Montgomery and Brian Robison; offensive linemen Ryan Cook and Anthony Herrera; linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Heath Farwell; wide receiver Greg Lewis; running backs Darius Reynaud and Albert Young; safeties Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson; quarterback Sage Rosenfels; and wide receiver Bernard Berrian.
 
-- Running backs Young, Reynaud, Ian Johnson and James Johnson all appear excited for the opportunity to compete for the job previously held by Chester Taylor, who left to sign as a free agent with Chicago. Johnson was signed in January after spending last season on the Bengals' practice squad. "I know I can contribute as a third-down back, I can catch and block," Johnson said. "I'm just trying to do anything to make the team." That would include playing on special teams. Right now, Young is second on the depth chart.

-- Defensive end Mike Montgomery will wear No. 99. James Johnson and wide receiver Taye Biddle have not been assigned numbers yet. 

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