Parts of this team are good enough to have fun and still get all their work done in training camp. That was the case this morning with one unit, but another unit showed its weakness, which could lead to a personnel move.
These are the dog days of training camp, even if they aren't the hottest dog days of summer. It's during this point of camp that players need to push themselves to get through the drudgery, and the defensive line is playing so well that they are able to have fun, even after two weeks of two-a-day practices.
Today, the defensive line was laughing hard and having so much fun that it reminded me of the old days. They understand the importance of every practice, and they have a swagger of confidence … they are finally good enough to do that.
Having fun right alongside them were head coach Mike Tice
and Daunte Culpepper
, who were each adding to the fun. When you're a good football team and know it and you make a mistake, it's a huge mistake no matter how small. Your teammates will jump in to help you correct it. However, when you're a losing team and you make a mistake, that's just part of your practice routine and no reason to get excited. This is a good football team, and they look to correct each mistake, even if they can have fun while doing it.
While the defense is certainly better this year, the offense still was able to win the end-of-practice competition. During a best-of-nine series and with the score tied 4-4, the coaching staff called for the first teams to decide the competition. The offense won on — what else — a Culpepper-to-Randy Moss
Cornerback Rhett Nelson had a good practice this morning and even got some work in the first-team nickel. Safety Brian Russell was held out as a precaution with a muscle strain, and with Nelson pushing Rushen Jones, the first nickel at one point consisted of Nelson, Corey Chavous, Antoine Winfield, Tyrone Carter and Willie Offord. Ken Irvin was gone for personal reasons, but it showed that this team needs more depth in the defensive backfield and is looking for a cornerback.
Just as the Vikings were shuffling around their nickel package to find the right combination, they were toying with different combinations of snappers and holders for the field goal unit. The kickers were having a good day, but a mishandled snap during Saturday's game against Arizona has them looking for other options.
Anthony Herrera continues to look good as a deep backup on the offensive line and should make the team.
Wide receiver Ben Nelson had a couple of great catches this morning, increasing his chances to make the team.
Lane Danielsen continued to be steady, catching everything he should and being counted on in special teams. In Saturday's game, he showed how dangerous he can be on special teams when he went down on punt coverage, was flagrantly held and still altered the path of Arizona's return man.