MANKATO – The intensity elevated during Tuesday afternoon’s practice with the Vikings holding several periods with full contact and live tackling. During 11-on-11 goal-line competition, the first-unit defense excelled with nose tackle Letroy Guion providing two impressive stops in the trenches, the first for a 2-yard loss on Toby Gerhart followed quickly by a stop of Matt Asiata for no gain.
“That’s where us big fellas usually make our money at,” Guion said. “No doubt that’s what coaches want to see in short yardage and goal line, me making plays back-to-back down there in those tough situations.”
Guion push up front caught the eye of coach Leslie Frazier, who was both pleased and miffed by those stops.
“It’s kind on an in-between when you’re the head coach,” Frazier said. “You want to see guys do well on both sides. That was a good play by Letroy. He did a great job of staying low and getting through. But we’ll have to take a look from an offensive standpoint to see how that happened.”
Guion, who is in the second year of a three-year contract, understands he needs to show much more consistency to continue his development at nose tackle. And Frazier has suggested he see 11th-year vet Kevin Williams as a sounding board and a good example on that front.
“Letroy will make splash plays like you saw today,” Frazier said. “But he has to make sure he can come back and make another good play the next play.”
Finding a comfort zone
Vikings defensive coaches have been thoroughly impressed with Desmond Bishop’s quick growth and nonstop effort over his first few days of practice. Yet the staff continues to maintain proper perspective with its evaluations as Bishop assimilates into a new system and a new environment.
Bishop continues to take his reps as a second-team weakside linebacker, but he almost certainly is in line for a promotion as soon as he can get up to speed.
Said linebackers coach Mike Singletary: “He is a veteran and a professional. And with that he really works. So for him, it’s don’t get frustrated, don’t shut down when the flood of information comes. Just let it come to you, take your time and it’ll all work itself out.”
Added coordinator Alan Williams: “All the rust I expected him to come in with, for him it’s not there.”
There’s a long way to go before roster cuts begin. The deadline for cutting from 90 players to 75 won’t come until Aug. 27. But for those looking to track players on the bubble, it’s always worth noting the special teams depth charts. On Mike Priefer’s punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return units, five players are first-teamers in all four phases: Larry Dean, Rhett Ellison, Tyrone McKenzie, Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo.
• The Vikings have steered clear of significant injury through their first four camp practices. Tight end Chase Ford left the field briefly Tuesday after having the wind knocked out of him. But Ford was fine.
• Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton was absent from camp again Tuesday, still tending to a personal matter. He is expected back on the field Wednesday morning for the team’s walkthrough.
• Frazier still seemed quite iffy as to whether second-year receiver Greg Childs would be taken off the physically unable to perform list during the Vikings’ stay in Mankato. “Working day-to-day; we’ll see how he progresses,” he said. The other player on PUP, linebacker Nate Williams, could be cleared for practice soon.