MANKATO — As promised the Vikings went through today’s opening practice in full pads for the first time since training camp started on Friday. However, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was absent for a third consecutive practice as he continues to rehab from a Grade 1 sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Coach Brad Childress was not scheduled to address the media after the opening practice so it remains unclear when Jackson might return to the field. Childress had said Sunday there was “a chance” that Jackson would be able to give it a try on Monday but that seemed like a long shot when Jackson was seen with a brace on his knee.
Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty again took all the reps during the morning practice. Jackson’s absence is giving Rosenfels an opportunity to get a leg up in their competition for the starting job. Rosenfels does appear to be growing more comfortable in the offense and seems to have a nice chemistry with Bernard Berrian.
One of the highlights of today’s session came in 7-on-7 when Rosenfels connected with Jaymar Johnson on a 50-yard pass that the receiver was able to catch in stride after getting behind Marcus Walker along the near sideline. Also in 7-on-7, third-round corner Asher Allen picked off a Rosenfels pass that was tipped by linebacker Erin Henderson.
While no one really stood out in the practice, there were a few good hits delivered once the 11-on-11 action went live.
This included a huge hit that rookie safety Jamarca Sanford put on Darius Reynaud as the wide receiver ran the ball. Reynaud was surprised when Sanford delivered a hit that could be heard in the stands. Linebacker Kenny Onatolu also got into the act by punishing running back Kahlil Bell as the third-team defense went against the third-team offense.
The goal-line drill also was spirited as the first-team offense went against the first-team defense. At one point, Adrian Peterson tried to swing toward the far sideline on a run play but cornerback Cedric Griffin was able to make the stop. Griffin paid a price, too, as he got up limping and left the field. He said afterward he was fine.
On the next play, linebacker Chad Greenway somersaulted over the defensive lineman as he tried to stop Peterson from punching it into the end zone. There was great debate as to whether Peterson did make it.
At the start of practice, first-round wide receiver Percy Harvin took part in punt return drills. Harvin did not return kicks or punts at Florida and after seeing him Monday it’s clear he’s more comfortable catching kickoffs. Harvin dropped a couple of punts and at one point put his hands above his head to try to catch a ball.
“It’s not the natural way, it’s the oddity,” special teams coordinator Brian Murphy said of the way Harvin attempted to catch the ball. “I think he misjudged that one that he caught right off the top of his forehead. He doesn’t normally catch like that. We’ll get him to catch the way everyone else catches.”
Harvin, by the way, signed a $14.28 million, five-year contract that includes guarantees of $8.5 million.