Published August 03, 2006 01:41 am

In the best hitting so far in training camp, the Minnesota Vikings defense made quite an impression with some good hits.

[size=18px]Vikings notebook: A whole lotta hitting going on[/size]
Hunter knocks Williamson's helmet off

By Chad Courrier
The Free
Press


MANKATO —
In the best hitting so far in training camp, the Minnesota Vikings defense made quite an impression with some good hits.

Dwight Smith opened the spirited afternoon practice with a hard tackle on running back Chester Taylor, then linebacker Ben Leber threw down running back Mewelde Moore and celebrated loudly. Later, safety Will Hunter hit receiver Troy Williamson hard enough to knock Williamson’s helmet off, with the crowd’s oohs and aahs echoing within Blakeslee Stadium.

“The best way to approach (training camp) is to get physical early,” middle linebacker Napoleon Harris said. You get your pads on, you get a sweat. As training camp goes on, that kind of slows down.”

The highlight of the practice came when the first-team offense went against the first-team defense in a goal-line drill. The offense scored on the first play on a play-action pass as Brad Johnson found tight end Jim Kleinsasser alone in the middle of the end zone.

“Way too easy,” coach Brad Childress yelled to the defense. “You’re way better than that.”

On the next series, the defense stopped Chester Taylor for a 1-yard loss, then fullback Tony Richardson scored on an off-tackle run behind left guard Steve Hutchinson and left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

The other offensive highlight came when Brad Johnson connected with Williamson on a 65-yard pass play. Johnson threw the ball 45 to 50 yards to Williamson, who had gotten behind safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Antoine Winfield.


Edwards impresses

As a sophomore at Purdue, Ray Edwards was considered one of the top defensive ends in the country. Then last season, his production slipped and he was taken out of the Boilermakers’ starting lineup, with questions about his effort.

That caused the 6-foot-5, 268-pound Edwards to slip into fourth round of the draft where the Vikings were waiting. At 21, he’s the youngest player on the Vikings’ roster, and defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said Edwards is the fastest pass rusher.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Tomlin said with a big smile. “It’s very early, and we’ll have to wait to see how the mental grind of training camp wears on him. Talent is not the issue.”


Image is everything

The image that Childress carries as a disciplinarian and taskmaster is no image at all, according to backup quarterback Mike McMahon. What you see is what you get, and McMahon, who played for Childress last season in Philadelphia, says the coach’s no-nonsense reputation is well-deserved.

“When Coach Childress tell you to stay out of trouble off the field, he means it,” McMahon said. “And when he says report to camp in shape, he means that, too.

“That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s very meticulous, he wants everybody to pay attention to detail just the way he does.”

That’s not to say Childress is all business. Off the field, away from football, McMahon knows his head coach as an affable guy.

“We were at a function together in Philadelphia during the offseason and got to talk a little bit. He asked me about my family and told me about his, and we had a great conversation. He’s a nice guy, he just wants things done a certain way when it comes to football.”


Any way we can

When Tomlin coached at Tampa Bay, he often saw the defense win games, leading the team to a Super Bowl championship after the 2002 season. With the Vikings, he doesn’t care if the defense is winning games as long as the team is.

“We will win by any means possible,” he said. “We’ll leave the style points to somebody else.”

Vikings notebook: A whole lotta hitting going on