I visited the Vikings at Training Camp in Mankato Minnesota last Saturday, Aug. 1. It was the first practice after Jackson suffered a level one MCL sprain in his left knee (I hear he'll be OK) and the last practice before Percy Harvin signed his deal, so that was unfortunate.
I did get a chance to see many other Vikings I was curious about or excited to watch, and I'll share my observations with you here.
Adrian Peterson is fast and awesome. Duh.
He's still struggling with pass protection, however. The team did drills where defensive ends would go one-on-one with an offensive player and try to get to the quarterback.
Chester Taylor was awesome at stuffing rushing first-team linebackers, but Leber and Henderson got past Peterson without too much trouble. You could see that Peterson was frustrated about this, but he's young, has time to learn, and is superman when carrying the ball.
I like his drive, but I hope he pauses from the drive to improve himself from time to time and recognizes that he's a great player.
Sage Rosenfels had a few nice, sharp plays and definitely looked better than Josh Booty (who, I hear, looks much better than he did last year).
He checked down too often, however, and I saw Kleinsasser get more passes from Rosey in one practice than he did all last year. At one point Rosenfels left the pocket to scramble and my heart just about stopped. It's nice that he's mobile, especially considering the Vikings o-line is much better at run blocking than pass protection, but I hope he doesn't try to scramble too often in regular season games.
I'll be watching through my fingers.
Phil Loadholt is mammoth. He's pushing people around, which is nice to see. I'll be anxious to see if he can keep the rookie false-starts to a minimum. I'll also be anxious to see how he handles edge rushers. I think he'll slow defensive ends enough to let a quarterback get rid of the ball (so long as whoever's back there doesn't hang onto it for too long), but rushing linebackers in a 3-4 defense might be too fast for him. If he starts the season, the Cleveland game will be a very interesting one to watch.
Heath Farwell looks fantastic. I'm comfortable with him improving the special teams and providing linebacker depth.
Sidney Rice is fast and fluid. He made some pretty impressive catches and got the crowd cheering a couple of times. I'm fairly excited about the wide receivers this year.
Tight end Garrett Mills caught a few nice passes. I'm not all that worried with him backing up Shiancoe.
Jared Allen's mullet must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.
Winfield was all smiles. A big ol' contract will do that to a fella.
All in all, it was an encouraging time. I hope Tarvaris Jackson recovers speedily and that he and Rosenfels both have great camps. May the best man win the job.