MANKATO — Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson missed a fourth consective practice this afternoon because of a sprained left knee. Jackson, however, did do rehab work while his teammates practiced and was wearing a protective sleeve on the knee.
Jackson, who injured his MCL on Saturday morning when he tripped over defensive tackle Letroy Guion, rode a stationary bike near the field as practice began. He then went to one of the open fields to do some running and throwing with one of the team’s athletic trainers. Once Jackson completed his rehab work, he joined the rest of the team and watched the remainder of the session.
Jackson was not made available to reporters following the practice. Coach Brad Childress said Jackson is “doing good” but gave no indictation when Jackson will be back. “I acquiesce to the medical staff here, so I don’t have any timetable,” Childress said, before adding, “when [Jackson] can protect himself,” is when he will return.
Childress expressed optimism over the weekend that because Jackson had a Grade 1 sprain of his MCL that he would be able to return this week. Meanwhile, Sage Rosenfels and John David Booty continue to take all the reps. That has helped Rosenfels, who appeared far more comfortable in today’s two practices than he did in the first few days.
Rosenfels and Jackson are battling for the starting job and this injury is definitely giving Rosenfels a chance to pull ahead.
Asked about Rosenfels looking more comfortable, Childress said: “I just think that’s a natural evolution as you go through camp. There’s a different urgency. You’re going a lot of repetitions of the same plays, you’re practicing twice a day.”
Childress was pleased with the morning practice, which marked the first time the Vikings went through a session in pads and with hitting. “We had some crisp hitting,” he said. “You always get to see if everybody forgets everything that they’ve been learning assignment wise or technique wise. You want to see the guys that can get it in the play when it’s heated up a little bit and do it the way you want it and obviously execute it the way you want it.”
Some other items from Childress:
- Phil Loadholt, the Vikings’ second-round pick, has been playing with the first team at right tackle and, according to Childress, is where the coach would want a starting caliber offensive lineman to be at this point. “He is,” Childress said. “He learns every rep, that’s what I love about him. He wants to know and he takes coaching and tries to put the corrections in the play. It’s great that he’s getting all these turns against some premium rushers.”
- First-round pick Percy Harvin has been getting work on kickoff and punt returns and looks far more comfortable with the former than the latter. “I would just say in general it’s easier to catch a kickoff,” Childress said. “Just because it’s more of a ready revolution. Left-footed kicker, right-footed kicker. How the ball tails. Usually the end over end one you’re just worried about is the wind stopping it or what direction is it headed? It’s always easier to do that and he’s got work to do here in terms of the punt return game.”
- Cornerback Cedric Griffin (leg) was limited in the afternoon practice and defensive end Brian Robison (hamstring) did not take part but Childress said both should be fine. With Griffin missing some time, Marcus McCauley, Karl Paymah and rookie Asher Allen got reps with the first-team defense. Rookie running back Kahlil Bell also did not take part in the second practice but was on the field. Bell took a big-time hit from linebacker Kenny Onatolu in the morning and might have had his bell rung.
- The afternoon practice was scheduled to end at 4:55 p.m. but Childress called his players together and ended it at 4:15 p.m. He wasn’t upset but rather simply wanted to wrap it up early after the hitting in the morning.
- Among those in attendance at the afternoon practice was former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman.
- Agent Drew Rosenhaus, who already lists Vikings Aundrae Allison, Bernard Berrian, Fred Evans, Glenn Holt, Sidney Rice and Marcus Walker among his clients, has taken over as the rep for left tackle Bryant McKinnie. McKinnie had been with Ben Dogra. It’s interesting that McKinnie is switching agents now because he signed a seven-year contract extension worth $48.5 million (just under $18 million in guarantees) in September 2006 and is under contract until 2013. Rosenhaus was in Mankato today and made it clear the switch isn’t contract related. “This has nothing to do with respect to his contract or anything else,” Rosenhaus said. “It’s just purely, in his mind he wanted something different. We’re very honored to be working with him. It’s only a positive situation for us and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him.”