Competition Rules End Of Workout

While much of the time during developmental camps is spent working on techniques, the end of Thursday's practice was all about being back in competition, complete with trash talking.

Developmental camps aren't for wearing full pads and they aren't for putting the finishing touches on a system. It's more a time for working on techniques and the beginning stages of implementing a defense or offense.

But on Thursday it started to heat up, the weather and the trash talking.

After more than an hour of technique work and less-than-full-team drills, the full offense and full defense finally got together for the real competition, and in the center of the competitive trash talking was wide receiver Randy Moss.

Moss was busy doing his usual harassment of defensive players, challenging their ability or lack thereof to stop the league's No. 1 offense from 2003.

"I think we kind of mirror the mentality of our coach," free safety Brian Russell said. "We have a competitive, aggressive coach. He was that way as a player and he's that way as a coach. You feed off that. When he gets excited and let's us compete at the end of practice, that's the most fun I could have. We can be doing drills and walk-throughs and non-competitive things, that's no fun. You want to use your football skills to compete. I just get really excited when he does that."

The trash talking really started when head coach Mike Tice called for "best two of three" competitions, where the offense has three plays to get a "win" by getting a first down. The defense conversely is credited with a win if it stops the offense.

It was all about competition on Thursday.

Starters, series one: Wide receiver Nate Burlson got 9 yards on a first-down reception, but cornerback Brian Williams ended the first series with an interception.

Second team, series two: After a first-down incompletion where the offense was lobbying for pass interference, Tice had enough of players and coaches trash talking him. He stopped practice to tell the assistants to coach, the players to play and let him run the practice and make the calls. Nobody threw the challenge flag on Tice. Two plays later, a 9-yard reception by Keenan Howry and a 3-yard loss by Onterrio Smith, and the defense had its second win.

Third team, series three: A 19-yard completion over the middle to tight end/long snapper Richard Owens gave the offense its first win.

Starters, series four: A 22-yard rope up high to Moss evened the score with the quick offensive first down.

Second team, series three: A 6-yard pop to tight end Sean Berton and a 16-yard completion to Kelly Campbell gave the offense a 3-2 lead in the competition.

Third team, series five: Rookie free agent Lane Danielson gave the offense its fourth consecutive win with a 19-yard post reception on first down.

Starters, series six: The defense stopped Daunte Culpepper for no gain as he scrambled for daylight, and Burleson gained 6 yards on second down. But on third down, Moss lined up wide and continued his prodding of the defense in his pre-snap set. It didn't distract him from making 13-yard reception for a first down look easy. "It's third down," he yelled at the defense. "Who do you think they're going to?"

Second team, series seven: Smith was stopped for a short loss again on first down, but Kenny Clark closed the competition with a 12-yard reception and the offense's sixth consecutive win.

With only helmets on and no tackling, the overall analysis is a bit deceptive, but trash talking coming from many of the players Thursday was an indication of them embracing the competition again.

* The offense and defense also squared off in red zone competition, and Burleson gave the first-team offense a win with a 14-yard touchdown reception. On the next series, despite allowing the second-team offense to get to the 1-yard line with a pass interference penalty in the end zone, the second-team defense wouldn't give up the final yard, as four straight incompletions closed out the red zone competition.
* Thursday was the second straight day the weather cooperated and allowed the team to practice outside.
* Middle linebacker E.J. Henderson trotted onto the field during practice, his first appearance at this week's developmental camp after attending his brother's graduation in Maryland. He didn't practice in full-team drills, but he was testing his mobility with change-of-direction drills with trainer Chuck Barta.
* Tight end Jermaine Wiggins is back in practice after attending to a personal matter earlier in the week.
* Blaze Winter was back in town working with offensive and defensive linemen on the use of their hands. Winter was a consultant for the Vikings during last year's camps as well. He is a former NFL defensive lineman with training in the martial arts and hand-to-hand combat.

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