Sunday, August 5, 2012

Training Camp: Week One Recap

With the first week of Vikings' training camp wrapped up in Mankato, here are some quick hits, impressions and tidbits:

With the exception of injuries starting to pile up, Vikings training camp so far has not exactly made for an AMC television series in terms of its drama — which, of course, is exactly how they prefer it.

As for the injuries, it is a bit unusual that a team suffer so many in but the first week of training camp; especially when hitting has been limited. Aside from the most recent injury to rookie WR Greg Childs, John Carlson was the first to go down. Signed this offseason as a free agent, the tight end is expected to miss anywhere from 1-4 weeks with a Grade 2 MCL sprain. This should hardly come as a shock to anyone:  Carlson has been a durability lightning rod since entering the league in 2008. In fact, here's a look at what Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman brought with him to Mankato in anticipation of treating Carlson's numerous inevitable injuries.

Another free agent signing of the Vikings in the offseason, offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz is out indefinitely with a sports hernia. If Schwartz needs surgery, he'll be out 4-6 weeks, putting his status for Week 1 into jeopardy. The unfortunate injury likely locks Brandon Fusco into the starting job at right guard.

The strangest sojournment at the infirmary came courtesy of Adrian Peterson, who ate some bad jambalaya in the team's training camp cafeteria on Monday. It resulted in shortness of breath and swelling in his face, leading to a trip to the hospital. But he was already back at camp and in high spirits Tuesday, talking about how he wants to play in a preseason game. For those wondering, jambalaya is a Cajun dish consisting of rice with shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. Peterson's allergic reaction to it doesn't exactly ameliorate its chances of being added to Perkins's Fall Menu.  

CB Josh Robinson, the Vikings third-round draft pick, continues to be limited at practice as he nurses a sore hamstring.

Receiver Stephen Burton (jammed toe) had been day-to-day until returning later in the week. In the case that Greg Childs is sidelined for an extended period of time, the Vikings certainly will give Burton an opportunity to impress.

Robert Blanton (hamstring), Pat Brown (knee), Jeff Charleston (ankle), Eric Frampton (chest), Kamar Jorden (wrist), DeMarcus Love (shoulder), Kevin Murphy (heat illness) and Jordan Todman (ankle) were all treated for non-serious injuries this week.

In other news...

Coach Leslie Frazier indicated that Adrian Peterson (knee) is getting closer to coming off the camp PUP list, but is "still not quite ready to put him out there." Peterson was fighting hard to avoid the PUP list entering camp, so it's no surprise that the Vikes are already talking about letting him practice. All signs continue to be positive in Peterson's recovery.

The "Blair Walsh Project" has looked good so far in camp. Not only has he consistently driven the ball into the endzone on kickoffs, he was 17 of 18 on field-goal attempts during 11-on-11 drills through Friday. His conversions included a 55-yarder. Speaking of which...

Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer offered a remarkably candid recap of the way rookie placekicker Blair Walsh took the job from stalwart Ryan Longwell. Priefer said he made the recommendation to Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman that the team release Longwell, believing Walsh would be a better option. “Rick and Leslie, we were all on the same page,” Priefer said. “It was a tough deal, because he’s been a great kicker in this league for a long time. I just thought for the future of this team, kickoff-wise and even field goal-wise, it was the best move.”

The Vikings say they plan on reducing Jared Allen's snaps this season. Allen annually plays more than 90 percent of the defensive snaps. He racked up 22 sacks last year and just turned 30 years old in April. Allen told reporters that he will get angry if he's approached on a plan for reduced snaps, but he also said: "I'm going to do what's asked of me."  No matter how Allen feels about his workload, the question remains whether the Vikings have a reserve player worthy of getting more snaps if Allen's are reduced.

Speaking of Jared Allen, he insists that this year's training camp heretofore has been the toughest he's participated in since 2005 in Kansas City. 

Coach Leslie Frazier believes TE Kyle Rudolph, who has shined in camp, has "a chance to be special." Frazier stated:  "The way he can catch the football is second-to-none. His catching radius is amazing ... If Christian gets it close to him, he knows that Kyle is going to come up with the football." Ponder has indicated that he's confident throwing to Rudolph even if he's just "barely" open. Which takes us to the "stat" of the week:  Rudolph's hands are 10 3/4-inches; which are larger than Matt Kalil's (10 3/8 inches).

Might there be a roster battle for the number three quarterback between veteran Sage Rosenfels and camp invite and former Miami Dolphin practice squadee McLeod Bethel-Thompson?  It has been reported that Rosenfels has looked awful throwing the football so far in camp. McLBT, on the other hand, has displayed a strong arm which might interest other teams if the Vikings should cut him.

In an interview with ESPN 1500's Patrick Reusse and Phil Mackey, QB Christian Ponder acknowledged that he weighs 233 lbs. and has gained 21 pounds since last February when he weighed 212 lbs. Here's his secret

Veteran CB Antoine Winfield was given two days off this week as the Vikings try to keep him fresh and injury-free for the upcoming season. After hearing from 23 year-old Chris Cook about how refreshed he felt after missing virtually all of the 2011 season due to off-the-field troubles, the Vikings decided to implement a similar modus operandi for the 35 year-old Winfield—though they have concerns that it won't be nearly as effective for Winfield being how he has always been a model citizen and consummate professional.

And finally, the Tweets of the week:

Blair Walsh:  Big Easy-bound?
Brandon Fusco:  May you have many more! 
Christian Ponder:  Oh, you'll be back.
Chris Kluwe:  Cue drum roll...