StarTribune.com

July 2009


Day 1 in the books

Friday, July 31st, 2009

MANKATO — Pretty busy first day of training camp with lots of national media in town. The quarterback competition obviously received most of the attention but there were a lot of angles to follow.

Here are some quick thoughts as we wrap up the day:

  • First-round pick Percy Harvin remains unsigned but one would think that the sides must be getting closer. Harvin’s arrival is certain to create a buzz around Mankato.
  • It’s only one day but Tarvaris Jackson stood out more than Sage Rosenfels in the QB competition. Jackson looked more comfortable and in control running the offense. We’ll see if that changes tomorrow.
  • Rookie Phil Loadholt worked primarily with the first team at right tackle and seemed to have a good day. He had one false start penalty but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t win that job.
  • E.J. Henderson said he feels great physically after missing most of last season because a foot injury. Henderson said he’s a step slow but he loved getting back on the field and can’t wait to put on full pads and tackle.
  • Henderson said he believes the Vikings can finish No. 1 in the NFL in total defense. “I was looking in the huddle today,” he said. “I told the guys there’s a lot of familiar faces, a lot of football on that starting defense so the sky’s the limit. Of course we’re shooting to be that No. 1 defense.”
  • Pat Williams said he’s not worried about his court case and whether his and Kevin Williams’ four-game suspensions will be upheld. “I’m just letting it play out as it plays out. Whatever happens, happens. That’s how I look at everything. I’ve blocked it out. I don’t control that. I’m just here having fun.”
  • Jared Allen said he’s in “phenomenal” shape and hasn’t felt so good after the first day of training camp in years. Asked about the difference in Allen now versus his first camp with the team last year, Brad Childress said: “He’s a little spunkier, if you can believe that.”
  • Marcus McCauley worked with the second team at cornerback along with Benny Sapp while free-agent newcomer Karl Paymah worked with the third team.

That’s it for now. First practice tomorrow is at 9 a.m.  

Peterson checks in at 220 pounds

Friday, July 31st, 2009

MANKATO — Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson said he learned a valuable lesson this offseason.

“Not to talk about my weight,” he said, smiling. 

Peterson made headlines this offseason when he said he hoped to add 7 to 12 pounds and report to camp between 225 and 230 pounds. Peterson said the topic got overblown but he did manage to reduce his body fat while adding three pounds.

“It was overblown a little bit,” he said. ”That’s one thing I learned I must say. Not to talk about my weight because it’s something you’ll hear about the whole summer.

“I came in at 220. I feel like that’s a pretty good weight if I can stay in the 220-range. I’m feeling good. I’m not feeling too heavy. I put on some good weight this offseason. I’m just ready to get it going.”

Peterson said he focused on little things this offseason that he believes will help improve his overall game.

“Just going out and running better routes,” he said. “Things like that. Having the right position and body language when you’re going to take on a block. Just little things like that really make a difference.”

Peterson said the arrival of Percy Harvin when he signs should help loosen things up on the offense because he’s another playmaker who defenses must account for.

“The potential is great,” he said. “We have the potential with the guys we have here to really make a defense switch up the scheme. Not able to stack the box and add that extra defender. Hopefully when the season comes around we won’t be getting that full box.”

Peterson was asked about ball security after he experienced some fumble problems last season.

“That’s all a mindset,” he said. ”Of course during running back drills you do ball security work, but it’s not something I think about. That really was my problem last year. I was thinking about it too much. I got caught up in it. It’s not something I’m really focusing on. I’ve been doing this since I was 7. I know to hold onto the ball so that’s what I’m going to do.”

Peterson also talked about his individual goals, specifically the 2,000-yard mark. 

“It’s something I think about and dream about, but I don’t focus on it because you’ll never accomplish it that way,” he said. “That’s my bar. It will always be 2,000 or more. God willing and with the guys I have surrounding me, I’ll be able to accomplish that one day.”

What about NFL MVP?

“Oh yeah,” he said. “That fits into that category as far as my personal goals.”

 

 

 

Wilf: Pursuit of Favre is finished

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Echoing the comments made by coach Brad Childress in recent days, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said today that the team’s pursuit of Brett Favre has ended. Asked if there was any chance the Favre topic could be revisited down the read, Wilf said, “No, no.”

Wilf expressed no public disappointment about the quarterback’s decision to remain retired and not join the Vikings after an offseason of considering a return to the NFL.

“Just like the coach said, when you have an opportunity to go get a Hall of Fame quarterback you try and do it,” Wilf said. “We realize, like he did, that when training camp came around that it was in or out and we’re very happy with what we have here. [We're] very excited about being out here. To be coming back this season [as] the division champs and the talent out there is great and the competition is going to be great. I’m looking forward to a great season this year. A lot of good things to look forward to.”

Asked about the business side of things and what not getting Favre meant from the ticket and merchandise sales angle, Wilf said the team “never factored that in at all.”  

“We just wanted to make sure, as we always do, that we get players on our team that will make us better,” he said. “It didn’t work out and we move on. We’re looking forward to what’s going to unfold here. We have a very talented team and there’s going to be a lot of competition. Excited to be back here in Mankato as division champs and we’re going to fight hard to keep that.” 

Wilf said he has “great expectations” for this season, one that will be the second to last on the five-year contract Childress signed before the 2006 season. Wilf did not say if there have been any talks of a contract extension for his coach, although there are no indications that has happened.

“We never make any pre-conditions on how the season should turn out or what conditions would be necessary,” Wilf said. “We’re very happy with our coach and the coaching staff and the players. We’re very excited for this year. That doesn’t ever come into my mind.”

So when would Childress’ contract situation enter Wilf’s mind? “Right now, what’s on my mind is Mankato and enjoying this preseason and looking forward to starting off this year as division champs and proudly to defend it. We have some tough competition as you all know and every game last year was a tough one. We want to make sure that we get better and we improve and we stay ahead of the competition. That’s all we can expect.”

As for the Vikings’ push for a new stadium on the site of the Metrodome, Wilf said: “We’re working with the [Metropolitan Sports Facilities] Commission to bring up a plan that will address a new home for the Minnesota Vikings currently on the Metrodome site right now. We look forward to working with the people on the Hill [in St. Paul] and trying to get a home that we all know is something that all Minnesotans want to have for our Vikings. We’re going to work to find solutions and I think we’ll be very successful as long as we continue to communicate with the people on the Hill and try to find those solutions. That’s what we’re doing right now and hopefully as we get into the session we can be more pro-active in terms of the plans that we and the commission are going to unveil.”

Wilf said he does feel like the politicians are giving the Vikings an open ear on the stadium matter despite the fact nothing has been resolved for his team.

“Yes, I think more and more as the years go on and as we get close to the end of our lease in the Metrodome [after the 2011 season], I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that the current Metrodome site is the right place to be,” Wilf said. “It has the infrastructure, the fans want it there, the people want it there, the corporate leaders want it there. It’s central to the whole planning of Downtown East. It’s something that’s needed right now in today’s economy. I think it’s important that when we talk about [economic] stimulus that you talk about [economic] stimulus in the right places. I think the Metrodome and the transportation system that’s going to be part of the whole Twin Cities is vital toward the vibrancy of the economy.

“Let’s not underestimate how important the Minnesota Vikings are to all the fans and to everybody who supports them. Like I’ve always stated, it’s a very important quality of life issue when you talk to anybody about the Minnesota Vikings. It’s one of the few sports franchises that the fans throughout Minnesota can really be proud of because we hold our heads up high and we’ve been able to in the last many years create a team, have a team that’s both a class act on the field and off. So we’re very happy about that and how we represent [the state]. Our goal was always to establish a world class franchise here and with the team we have here I think we’re there. We expect great things this season.”

Wade: ‘I shouldn’t have said that’

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Wide receiver Bobby Wade made his first public comments since creating a mini controversy with his remarks on KFAN this week.

In an on-air interview Wade said Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher used a lewd word to describe new quarterback Jay Cutler. Word quickly reached Chicago and Urlacher was forced to deny saying those things to Wade when they hung out in Las Vegas recently.

Asked about it after Friday’s first practice, Wade said: “It’s something I definitely probably shouldn’t have said. I can definitely tell you that. If I had the opportunity back, I probably wouldn’t have said it. However, moving forward it was said and my communication with Brian is still good. It is what it is. Like I said, if I had the opportunity I wouldn’t say it again.”

Asked if he stands by the accuracy of what he said, Wade joked: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Wade said he talked to Urlacher to clear things up.

“That’s the biggest thing. You guys know he’s a friend of mine. You don’t want to ever put anybody in a situation like that. He’s just a really good guy. But we’ve communicated and everything’s good so it’s not a problem.”

Packers, Bears single-game tickets to go on sale

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Vikings announced today that single-game tickets for the Green Bay (Oct. 5) and Chicago (Nov. 29) games at the Metrodome will go on sale Monday morning. The Vikings had previously only sold tickets to those games as part of their season-ticket package, in part because the team knew if Brett Favre decided to end his retirement tickets to those two games would have had a significantly higher value.

Fans wishing to purchase tickets to the Packers game also are going to have to buy a ticket to the Aug. 21 preseason game against Kansas City. The two-game minipacks — the Vikings have packaged the Packers ticket with another game for several years — will range in price from $96 to $220 per package. The Bears tickets will not be packaged with another game.

The tickets will go on sale at 9:30 a.m. Monday in person at the Metrodome Vikings ticket office (under Gate C). All ticket sales at the Metrodome are cash or credit card only; no checks will be accepted.

At 10:00 a.m., tickets will be made available in person at all Midwest Ticketmaster locations, by phone through Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

 

Harvin misses first practice; QB reaction

Friday, July 31st, 2009

MANKATO – Brad Childress said there was no update on Percy Harvin’s negotiations with the Vikings after the team’s first practice of training camp Friday. The Vikings selected the wide receiver with their first-round pick, No. 22 overall, in the April draft.

“It’s kind of the nature of the beast, seems like first-round picks and that cat and mouse game [of negotiations],” Childress said. “He needs to get here as soon as he’s able.”

Veteran wide receiver Bernard Berrian said he wasn’t disappointed that Harvin isn’t with the Vikings yet and described it as “part of the business,” with first-round picks. 

Added Berrian: “It’s going to happen every year, it’s going to happen next year. So it’s going to be the same thing every year.”

Today’s first practice went two hours and wasn’t met with glowing reviews from wide receiver Sidney Rice. On his twitter page, Rice wrote: “It was an average practice. First time in shoulder pads since [January]. We WILL have a better practice this afternoon.”

Both Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels got reps with the first team and both spoke following the practice.

Although he finished last season as the Vikings starter, Jackson said he does not feel like this is his job to lose. “I just look at it just like it’s 50-50,” he said. “I’m just coming here to compete, just like I would do if I was named the starter. I wouldn’t work any different. I work hard anyway and I just take it as I’m trying to prove myself anyway. I am competing against [Rosenfels] but I’m also competing against myself. Just trying to get better.”

Rosenfels, meanwhile, called training camp and the season a marathon and thus wasn’t all that excited to have one practice under his belt.

“It was fine,” he said. “I felt pretty comfortable. I’ve definitely felt more uncomfortable on my first day on teams I’ve been around for years. For being this sort of my first year out here with the pads on, I felt very comfortable.”

It’s clear Rosenfels has grown very tired of the Brett Favre talk. Asked about it today, he said, “I don’t think about it. I wasn’t thinking about it out there today at practice and I’m not thinking about it right now until you just asked me that question. The more you guys stop asking those questions the less I’ll even have to worry about it.”

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