As much of the media gathered at Winter Park in Eden Prairie for the Vikings' first mandatory mini-camp practice of the summer, most of the talk was about retired quarterback Brett Favre or the absence of Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield.
But there was definitely more to talk about, like the players at work.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, rookie wide receiver Percy Harvin showed off his speed at practice Friday, making many great catches over the middle of the field.
When asked about Harvin, linebacker Ben Leber said that he and other players see the same in him as they do a current Vikings superstar.
“We were talking about AP’s first year and everybody was throwing the word around ‘explosive.’ I think it’s same thing you can say about Percy," Leber said. "He’s explosive. You definitely want to get the ball in his hands.”
As for other notes, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson was back in the middle of the defense after being put out for the 2008 season after he suffered a toe injury in Week Four at Tennessee.
Vikings fans have to be excited, as Henderson has been improving every year since he was drafted by Minnesota in 2003, and people around the NFL are noticing.
In 2007, Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said he would be "shocked" if Henderson did not make the Pro Bowl that year. He surprisingly didn't in 2007 but had been producing at a Pro Bowl level before his injury last season.
Another defensive player back on the field was defensive end Kenechi Udeze, who missed the entire 2008 season after being diagnosed with leukemia in February of '08.
Udeze spoke to reporters after practice, and when asked if he ever thought he wouldn't make it back, he gave them a straight answer.
“No. That’s just the way that I’ve kind of been born and raised," Udeze said. "I’ve had great coaches throughout my life and they just instilled in me everything I needed to get through this.
"Besides that, coming from a great family; my mom always being the provider and the force behind our family. Then my older brother, who you guys already know about. I’ve been training for this my whole life. I’m doing good. I’m really feeling great about everything and like I said it’s just great to back out here with the fellas.”
When asked if he would be ready for training camp this summer, Udeze didn't flinch again.
“Of course I’m going to be ready," Udeze said. "There’s only one more thing to do and that’s to keep going. I can’t take a day off. I can’t take a second off. I’m still miles away from where I was before compared to other guys out here — Ray, Jayme, and Jared — I’m not in the same playing field now. But that’s what I’m striving to and that’s what I’m working to. Until today, until the first game, that’s what I’m getting to.”
After all he has been through, it's a victory in itself just to see him practicing. You can be assured he will keep pushing himself and will be back to rushing this passer this season like he did from 2004-2007.
On a minor note, head coach Brad Childress said after practice that defensive tackle Pat Williams' comments on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's work ethic were not to be taken as criticism, in his opinion.
Last week on Sirius NFL Radio Williams said that Jackson needed to put more hours in to be a successful starter in the NFL.
"If you guys know Pat, you guys have covered him on a frequent basis; I've listened to Pat talk to Tarvaris about that (working hard) since Tarvaris has been here," Childress said.
"I'm not sure that his comments, cast as criticism, he might say the same thing to me. But I watch that every day. I watch that dynamic every day, so it takes on a little bit of a different tone for me. I understand everybody wants opinions about everything. But sometimes opinions are your own."
The Vikings will hold two practices tomorrow at Winter Park, so check back for all the updates and quotes from purple country.
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