A difference in philosophy in the structure of developmental camps between former head coach Mike Tice and new head coach Brad Childress was apparent Friday as the Vikings opened up a short practice to the media. See what Childress and rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson thought of the new structure and get player notes from FridayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s session.
The changes continue at the Minnesota VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Winter Park practice facility.
The Vikings opened up their Friday mid-day practice to the media, and it showed a difference in philosophy between former head coach Mike Tice and new head coach Brad Childress. Tice would encourage all veterans and rookies to attend all of the VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ offseason organized team activities (OTAs) in May and June (remember the calling out of safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Brian Williams when they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t attend last year?).
Under Childress, however, six of the 14 organized team activities following minicamp have been completed, with only rookies and select veterans in attendance on Friday.
The idea was to get those least familiar with the system and being an NFL player more repetition and closer coaching.
That made the biggest and most noticeable difference for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. The second-round draft pick, who has already switched jersey numbers from 2 to 7 since minicamp three weeks ago, was the only player at his position in attendance Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and that was by design.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the only guy on the line, you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to look around and say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœCome on up here and take a turn,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Childress said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When you get every turn, generally youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to improve, and that was kind of one of our thoughts in terms of just having him take every rep.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Jackson agreed that getting all the reps in FridayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s practice, which lasted about 75 minutes, was helpful. In the VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mandatory three-day minicamp in the middle of May, Jackson had veterans like Brad Johnson, Mike McMahon and J.T. OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Sullivan to learn from. But that also meant Jackson was probably only getting about one in four snaps as the quarterbacks rotated through with the rest of the first-, second- and third-team offense.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a good deal being here the whole time, through minicamp and the OTAs,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jackson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“(The other veterans) come in Monday. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been good taking the reps, but IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m looking forward to them taking the reps so I can learn a lot. Just by them taking the reps, I can learn like that too by watching Brad, J.T. and Mike. I learn by that too and listening to them in meetings and out on the field.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think Coach did a great job with the way he structured it. Just by me being more comfortable with my teammates and them being more comfortable with me and my coaches.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While receivers like Koren Robinson, Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor and Marcus Robinson werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t running the routes as part of the large group of veterans not in attendance, Jackson still had the opportunity to take every snap and increase his knowledge Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and feel Ã¢â‚¬â€œ of the VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ new West Coast offense.
In general, Childress has been trying to teach the rookies the commitment it takes to be a professional over the last two weeks and six organized practice and meeting days.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We tried to teach them our tempo, our system, kind of how we do business. They are doing a good job with all of those things,Ã¢â‚¬Â Childress said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They should be able to compete more favorably than that first mini-camp when the veterans show back up here on Monday.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As a first-round draft pick, Chad Greenway was another player under the spotlight as he goes through his first couple of months as a professional. His progress was displayed on one play when he broke on a ball thrown by Jackson and came away with the interception.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s playing faster,Ã¢â‚¬Â Childress said of Greenway. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The more these guys are familiar with their assignments, the faster they will play, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying to emphasize.Ã¢â‚¬Â
# Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrew was in charge of fullback Joey GoodspeedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surgery Thursday to repair a torn left ACL, according to Childress. Goodspeed has been placed on injured reserve.
# Wide receiver Troy Williamson saw a doctor Friday in South Carolina to evaluate the healing progress of an abscess on his hip. Childress said there is an outside chance Williamson could be practicing in a few weeks, but he is expected to be ready for training camp.
# Mewelde Moore, Charles Gordon, R.J. Cobbs, Jason Carter and Ryan Hoag all took reps as punt returners.
# Punter Chris Kluwe has been participating in some lifting and conditioning, according to a Vikings source, but he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t practicing Friday. Kluwe had offseason surgery to repair a torn ACL.
# As mentioned earlier, Jackson got the No. 7 jersey away from J.T. OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Sullivan, and all it took was Jackson buying OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Sullivan a dinner sometime. OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Sullivan has switched to No. 9.
# Wide receiver Billy McMullen, who was acquired in a trade for wide receiver Hank Baskett a few days after the VikingsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mid-May minicamp, is wearing No. 84, Randy MossÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ old number with the Vikings.
# Wide receiver Aaron Hosack, back from a successful stint in NFL Europe, is wearing No. 13.
# Linebacker Marcus Lawrence, late of the New York Giants, is sharing the No. 55 jersey with offensive lineman Jason Palermo.
# The Vikings will have eight more organized practices before taking a break before training camp.
# Moore continued to wear a yellow jersey, signaling no contact, just as he did during minicamp, in an effort to protect his surgically repaired wrist. He didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appear limited in carry or catching the ball.
# Richard Owens continued to practice with the tight ends Friday. Owens practiced with the fullbacks in AprilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s predraft minicamp and has been working with tight ends in every public practice since. Undrafted rookie fullback Steven Jackson is the second-team fullback behind veteran starter Tony Richardson.
# Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, back from an impressive season in NFL Europe, is wearing No. 39 and knocked away a deep pass just before it reached the hands of McMullen.