– Dalvin Cook took a hand­off and ran into a hu­man wall. He bounced backward, like a dirt bike equipped with a re­verse gear, then exe­cuted a few steps that might land him on “Dan­cing With The Stars” be­fore burst­ing into the secon­dary.

This oc­cur­red on the first day of full-squad train­ing camp prac­tice for the Vi­kings. The de­fend­ers were not tack­ling, but his deft foot­work and bursts of speed made Cook the most in­trigu­ing play­er on the field.

I’ve been at­tend­ing Vi­kings train­ing camps since 1990. Most of the prac­tices are so bor­ing they make you crave the rel­a­tive thrills of sixth-in­ning pitch­ing changes ... unless there is a rare tal­ent on the field.

Cook might qual­i­fy. As the Vi­kings spend their last train­ing camp in Man­kato, here are the 12 most en­ter­tain­ing play­ers I’ve watched here:

12. Antoine Win­field

Seem­ing­ly too short and slight to play in the NFL, Win­field sur­vived with in­tel­li­gence and a work eth­ic that was on dis­play in Man­kato.

11. Joey Brown­er

Jer­ry Burns used to rave a­bout Brown­er’s hands. He could reach out and grab a run­ning back’s jer­sey, and the run­ning back would stop mov­ing, like a car­toon char­ac­ter sus­pend­ed above a can­yon floor.

10. Scott Studwell

Studwell liked to bleed all over his u­ni­form to in­timi­date op­po­nents. Or teammates. He also act­ed as a one-man po­lice state.

One year a small, yappy re­ceiv­er was show­ing off early in camp. Dur­ing the first scrim­mage, Studwell nod­ded to a coach, and the yappy re­ceiv­er ran a shal­low route over the mid­dle. Studwell tack­led, lift­ed and plant­ed, and the re­ceiv­er dis­ap­peared.

It was like watch­ing Darth Vad­er play line­back­er.

9. Randall Mc­Dan­iel

It’s tough for a line­man to make this list, but see­ing Mc­Dan­iel pull and lead a sweep or sprint down­field on a screen was to ask why he didn’t play all of the po­si­tions.

8. John Ran­dle

There was noth­ing worse for a Vi­kings of­fen­sive line­man than facing Ran­dle’s pow­er, speed, ac­ro­bat­ic moves and re­lent­less en­er­gy on a hot day.

7. Daun­te Cul­pep­per

His ca­reer dis­ap­point­ed, but his tal­ent was stun­ning.

6. Chad Green­way

As his friend Ben Le­ber says, Green­way was the mas­ter of strange­ly G-rat­ed trash talk.

5. Robert Smith

It would be easy to pick A­dri­an Peter­son, but his pow­er didn’t of­ten come into play dur­ing train­ing camp. Smith glided like an Olym­pic sprint­er fin­ish­ing the 400-me­ter re­lay.

4. Per­cy Har­vin

Even in a league filled with fast, strong play­ers, it’s hard to think of a more im­pres­sive com­bi­na­tion of speed and fe­ro­cious­ness in an of­fen­sive skill play­er of Har­vin’s size.

He also of­fered dra­ma, be­cause you nev­er knew wheth­er he would be in the mood to prac­tice.

3. Cris Carter

Carter ar­rived in Min­ne­so­ta with a terri­ble reputation, in part be­cause of his un­will­ing­ness to work hard with the Eagles.

The Vi­kings claimed him off waiv­ers in Sep­tem­ber 1990. Mid­way through his first camp in Man­kato, he was the most com­pel­ling fig­ure on a team filled with vet­er­an tal­ent. One-hand­ed catch­es, tight­rope side­line catch­es, goal line leaps ... you knew that sum­mer that Carter would be­come a star if he could live a clean life.

2. Brett Fav­re

Part of Fav­re’s ap­peal was the side­show that fol­lowed him, and the angst of Packer fans, but as strict­ly a play­er he was fas­ci­nat­ing. He could make throws oth­ers wouldn’t dare at­tempt. The ball siz­zled in the air. The time el­apsed be­tween de­ci­sion and re­lease was micro­scop­ic. And he pre­sided over camp with a blend of hu­mor and cha­ris­ma that made him im­pos­si­ble not to watch.

1. Randy Moss

As with Fav­re, there was the side­show as­pect of Moss’ ca­reer. He might say or do any­thing at any time. But even judged strict­ly as a play­er, Moss was cap­ti­vat­ing.

No re­ceiv­er in NFL his­to­ry has com­bined leap­ing a­bil­i­ty, speed, a­gil­i­ty and catch­ing a­bil­i­ty quite the way Moss did, and he threw in plen­ty of trash talk that fans could hear from the stands.

He was so spec­tac­u­lar he made the av­er­age train­ing camp prac­tice al­most watchable.


Jim Souhan’s pod­cast can be heard at MNSPN.com. Twit­ter: @SouhanStrib. E-mail: jsouhan@startribune.com