Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said the change in training camp routine was made to challenge players in the afternoon heat.
A year ago at training camp, Vikings fans were ecstatic to see the team back in Mankato for camp-as-usual, but, thanks to the new collective bargaining, it was anything but typical.
Under the new CBA, NFL teams couldn't have two-a-day full practices – something many fans weren't aware of when they packed the stands at the practice fields. While the morning practices were typically the full-pad practices – avoiding the heat of the afternoon – those p.m. practices could best be described as boring.
A typical second practice of the day routinely entailed 90 guys out on the field and about a dozen of them actually doing something. For most of those practices, it just seemed as though there was little to nothing tangible going on and the fans had a general look of confusion rather than having a chance to cheer.
This year, the Vikings have changed things up, scheduling most of their "real" practices for the afternoon. Head coach Leslie Frazier explained the team's rationale for making the switch.
"When I looked at what we did a year ago with the new CBA, I just looked back and thought that it would benefit us more to have our full practice in the afternoon with the conditions that you usually get in the afternoon versus the morning," Frazier said. "This was a cool morning and I really wanted us to practice in the warmer temperatures. That's usually the case in the afternoon. I thought it would give us come consistency from a practice standpoint."
The change may have been made last year, but with the whirlwind of activity that was going on to get the CBA finalized, one of the points that only became apparent after the practice schedule was finalized was that two full-pad practice (the proverbial two-a-days) wouldn't be allowed.
"A year ago with the new CBA and the new rules, I found out that you couldn't go back-to-back padded practices," Frazier said Friday. "Everyone was kind of figuring out what was the best way to practice under the new format. After looking at it and evaluating the situation, myself and the staff felt that the walkthrough before our practice would give us the best chance to get the most out of the afternoon practice. For example, this morning we were able to walk through some of the concepts that we are going to practice this afternoon. Then we will go back and watch tape of that this evening. We think it will reinforce some of the things we are teaching and give us a head start on the next day as well. It's a combination of learning as well as what we are trying to get done from a conditioning standpoint."
If nothing else, changing things up will make the afternoon practices better attended and more meaningful. Considering that many of the fans that attend the morning practices do so simply to get in the autograph lines after the practice ends, attendance shouldn't drop. But, considering the Vikings are coming off a 3-13 season, anything that changes things up could be viewed as a positive.
There wasn't a huge clamoring among Vikings coaches and teammates when Bryant McKinnie was forced to the sidelines to start the 2011 training camp because of his weight had ballooned. McKinnie made news earlier this month by accusing the Vikings of exaggerating his lack of conditioning during the 2011 lockout and releasing him a year ago. McKinnie contended he had never missed a game in his career and started every game for the Ravens last year. He also claimed he was going to show up at camp at a svelte 345 pounds. However, he didn't say it would be when everyone else reported. On Friday, McKinnie missed his third day of Ravens training camp. Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that McKinnie has been fined $30,000 for failing to check in Wednesday when Ravens camp opened and missing practices Thursday and Friday. The team failed to give a specific reason for McKinnie's absence, claiming "personal reasons." When a team starts fining said player what would appear to be 10-large a day, it seems clear the organization isn't cool with the "personal reason" being cited.
Chris Kluwe's habit of being a Twitter oracle and online posting machine who isn't shy about sharing his opinions and not-so-subtle about responding to those who disagree with his opinion, is at it again. A story on the website Gawker.com brought out the ire of Kluwe. An entry by Gawker contributor Hamilton Nolan savaging the Crossfit workout regimen brought out the inner critic in Kluwe, who sent a rambling missive that proved that both Kluwe and Nolan seem incapable of critiquing something (or someone) without making it rain F-bombs. If you read Kluwe's post, eight was enough … and more than he used the word "the" in his post.
It may be 45 years to late, but the Summer of Love continues in San Francisco over new wide receiver (and old wide receiver Randy Moss). On Friday, Moss spoke to the media (wait…what?) and expressed his love for the 49ers, the game of football and his personal passion for the game. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh came off sounding more like a fan with a man-crush on Moss than a head coach. As Vikings fans (and Patriots fans) are thinking, "Wait for it…"
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was sent a letter by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce – a committee that includes the widow of Sonny Bono, who took over his seat as a representative of California after Bono died in a skiing accident and has retained the seat ever since – to have the NFL take a stronger stance on drug testing for Human Growth Hormone. It said that, without HGH testing, there isn't a deterrent from NFL players – and, more importantly from the committee's standpoint, younger athletes could use HGH to increase their chances of becoming an NFL player. A veiled threat was made that Congress might tend to be inclined to get involved (is that ambiguous enough?) unless the NFL and NFLPA add HGH to its drug testing regimen. Just as Goodell changed the focus of the Vikings stadium issue by making the persuasive argument that, without a stadium deal, the Vikings could be free to move elsewhere, it seems that Congress (or at least an obscure four-member House committee) is trying to send a similar message to RG1 and the NFL – quit delaying getting an HGH program in place or Congress may find itself inclined to get involved. Considering what it has done to baseball, Rog and De should get to work.
From the Gone But Not Forgotten Department comes this: Saints coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the 2012 season by the NFL, but his presence in New Orleans remains. At the team's practice facility is a huge video screen that, somewhat akin to Big Brother, has a stern-faced Payton peering to room with the phrase "DO YOUR JOB" written underneath – a constant reminder that, while Payton isn't there now, he's coming back (ominously).
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.