MANKATO – With an extra preseason game to prepare for, the dog days of training camp have arrived earlier than normal for the Vikings. But you won’t hear Jarius Wright complain through the beads of sweat.
The fourth-year NFL receiver has been feeling extra appreciation for being a, well, fourth-year NFL receiver. His best friend is Greg Childs, the former Vikings receiver whose persistent leg injuries continued recently when he blew out an Achilles’ tendon in training camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
“It’s a tough time for him right now,” Wright said.
Childs is done for the year. Again.
Childs and Wright were fourth-round draft picks in 2012. Childs was turning heads in camp as a big receiver that year when he tore the patellar tendons in both knees while trying to leap for a pass in the end zone.
Childs spent two seasons on injured reserve. He was released in 2014 and failed to make the roster of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL last season.
Wright said he worries about Childs’ long-term health.
“Sometimes you want to tell him [not to play], but at the same time, you know his dreams and what he wants to accomplish. Sometimes you don’t want to break somebody’s dreams. He felt like he could still do it. I didn’t want to tell him he couldn’t.”
Wright and Childs became friends in grade school and played together in high school and at the University of Arkansas. Wright said he thinks Childs will have to accept that he’ll never play again.
“If you ask me, I would think he would be done,” Wright said. “I don’t think he can bounce back from another one.
“I feel like I’m carrying the torch for more than just him. I’m carrying the torch for all of Arkansas, my hometown [Warren, Ark.], for my family. All my family and friends. He’s family, he’s friend, he’s hometown and he’s from Arkansas. So I’m carry the torch for him and the rest of my people.”
Zimmer’s father ill
Coach Mike Zimmer left camp after Monday’s practice to be with his father, Bill, who is seriously ill. Zimmer won’t be at Tuesday’s practice.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will run the team in Zimmer’s absence. Turner, the longtime former NFL head coach, ran practice last year when Zimmer was out because of kidney stones.
Tyrone Carter in camp
Tyrone Carter, the former Gophers two-time All-America safety and a 2000 fourth-round draft pick of the Vikings, is in camp this week. He’s part of the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, started by the NFL in January to educate former players interested in a career in professional scouting.
“I’m focusing on the defensive backs,” said Carter, whose 11-year NFL career included two Super Bowl titles with the Steelers. “Anything to do with football, I love.”
Carter said he’s contemplating a career in scouting eventually, but is still focusing on running his TC Elite Training School, which helps young players develop.
Sullivan misses practice
Center John Sullivan participated in Monday’s morning walkthrough but wasn’t at the afternoon practice. His wife, Ariel, is pregnant. Sullivan also left practice early Saturday night to be with her.
Zac Kerin got reps with the first team with Sullivan out.
Defensive coordinator George Edwards said the increased number of reps in the nickel slot position for cornerback Terence Newman has something to do with Captain Munnerlyn not being fully healthy and the team wanting to look at different combinations. Munnerlyn was slowed because of a foot injury during the offseason. When he’s out, Newman has slid inside to make room for rookie first-round draft pick Trae Waynes at left corner.
“Captain had been a little bit injured as far as nagging injury,” Edwards said. “We’re trying to get our best people on the field, look at their skill sets and just see the different things.”