Vikings' Camp Review 5/31: Childress Disguised; Johnson Keeps Learning
Vikings head coach Brad Childress, who many think of as a boring, monotone kind of guy, proved that he actually might have a sense of humor during Vikings mini-camp practice on Sunday.
And if he does, it's an interesting sense of humor.
Childress sported a visor and also a wig that resembled spiked brown hair, making him look like a different person. He addressed the media after practice.
"There’s a bunch of those guys who walked up and had no idea who [I was],” Childress said. "My wife tells me all the time, it’s the bald head that gives you away. Put a hat on."
He said his wife Dru-Ann purchased it for him when she was in Florida. This isn't the first time he had fooled players and others in the football world.
"I wore it to the Senior Bowl with a little bit of a beard and some sun glasses," he said. "I looked at probably 15 people that I know pretty well in the face and was able to fool them. They didn’t know who it was. Including members of my staff."
But the practice portion of the day was all business.
Second-year center John Sullivan is impressing coaches with his play during this weekend's mini-camp session. He will definitely be under the microscope this year if he is the starter after six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk signed with the Baltimore Ravens this offseason.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that just because Sullivan has a different body type than Birk, it doesn't mean he can't play at a high level.
"I'm not saying he hasn't handled himself well (physically), because he has," Bevell said. "I just think it's pretty easy mentally for him."
Quarterback Sage Rosenfels also agreed with Bevell on Sullivan's mental advantage.
"He's a very, very smart guy," Rosenfels said. "He grew up (with a) silver spoon in Greenwich, Conn., so they have a pretty good public-education system there."
Another second-year player that will likely become a starter this year is safety Tyrell Johnson, who will take over for veteran Darren Sharper after he signed with the New Orleans Saints in March.
Although many have written him in as the starter going into 2009, Johnson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he still must earn his job in practice.
"I see it as being in a competition," Johnson said. "Everybody tells me, you're the starter, don't get a big head. It's impossible for me to get a big head because I always feel like I have something to prove. I always view myself as the underdog. I always feel myself needing to do better than the next guy."
"I know it's not an individual game, but I feel like if there are 11 individuals on the field, shoot to be the best individually and collectively we'll be good also."
Starting opposite of Johnson this season will be veteran safety Madieu Williams, who attended the team's organized team activities two weeks ago so he and Johnson could work on feeling each other out.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says it is not only important for them to be able to communicate with each other, but it is important for the success of the whole defense.
"We count on those guys to be able to communicate and get information to our corners and also help our linebackers with some information," Frazier said. "To get those two working together is extremely important. It takes a lot of time and a lot of repetition."
The Vikings wrapped up their first mandatory mini-camp on Sunday. The team will next hold an OTA (organized team activities) session on June 2 that runs through June 5.
Photo by Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune
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