We believe it was Lombardi who said, “You can instantly identify a Super Bowl champion during seven-on-seven drills at OTAs in May.” Or something like that. On Tuesday at Winter Park, the Vikings continued their first week of organized team activities with two hours of drills that were open to the media. And while we won’t trick you into believing anything landmark happened, here’s a trio of things you should know in this OTA installment of Three-and-Out:
1 Joe Webb is handling his transition from quarterback to receiver with trademarked Joe Webb eagerness.
It would be hard to find a player who comes to work overflowing with more enthusiasm and unselfishness than Webb. So it was no surprise to Vikings coaches that when they approached Webb about changing positions earlier this month, he put up little fight.
Said Webb: “I just go with the flow.”
It’s the right approach considering Webb’s days as a quarterback effectively ended when the Vikings signed Matt Cassel as their new backup in March. Plus, Webb has dabbled at receiver before — in college at Alabama-Birmingham and a little bit as a rookie in 2010.
In the coming months, you’ll hear a lot about Webb’s attitude (unselfish) and athleticism (jaw-dropping). And those are two traits that give the fourth-year veteran a chance to succeed in this conversion. Webb also has good hands and a built-in understanding of the offense. But what the Vikings need to see next is that he can quickly gain a mastery of route running, working with receivers coach George Stewart on so many nuances — from getting in and out of breaks to using his hands against defenders to understanding the necessary depth of each route.
Still, the Vikings realized they needed to find some way to get Webb involved.
Said coach Leslie Frazier: “We’ve seen him put on a highlight show in some ballgames when he’s gotten in. One of his strengths is the ball being in his hands. … This is a way to utilize his gifts.”
2 It’s been a different yet refreshing offseason for Adrian Peterson.
Last year at this time, Peterson was off to the side, engaged in intense ACL rehabilitation drills with athletic trainer Eric Sugarman as he worked back from that career-threatening knee injury. This year? He’s where he feels he belongs — in the huddle and at full speed for team drills.
That’s not to say Peterson hasn’t had some challenge in getting healthy again. In February, he had surgery to repair a sports hernia and was unable to lift weights for approximately a month-and-a-half.
But while Peterson said he gained appreciation for the importance of healthy abdominals, he called this winter’s core muscle rehab “a cakewalk compared to recovering from the ACL.”
In vintage Peterson form, when asked if he was again lifting what he was used to before the surgery, he smiled. “More,” he said.
We should expect nothing less from the always ebullient superstar.
Just the fact that the league MVP opted to bring that contagious positive energy to these voluntary OTAs left Frazier ecstatic.
“His attitude and the way he approaches things is what you want to see if you’re a young player coming in and trying to figure out this league,” Frazier said. “To be around Adrian, it’s good for our team.”
3 The starting middle linebacker job is Erin Henderson’s to keep.
For now, Frazier refuses to put his depth chart in ink, insisting that second-year linebacker Audie Cole and rookie Michael Mauti will be allowed to compete for that middle job. But the Vikings coach also established that Henderson figures to take all the middle linebacker reps with the starting defense throughout the offseason. So read between the lines as you see fit.
Henderson remains certain he’ll lock the job up, his confidence stemming from his time playing the middle in the nickel last season.
The next big hurdles: becoming a galvanizing leader while being fully engaged in all that’s going on around the field.
Said Henderson: “You have to understand what everyone’s doing, where the different pieces are. And when [the offense] moves a piece where do our pieces go to? I think that’s one of the biggest things I’m getting used to right now.”