New Faces Dominate First Minicamp Session

A chilly Minnesota spring day didn't deter the Vikings from taking the practice field, some in shorts, for the first practice gearing toward the 2005 season. Here is the initial observatory practice report.

As the Vikings inserted new names all over the place – on the bench, in the coaching ranks and certainly in the starting lineup -- here are a few observations after the first practice:

  • As with all of minicamp, the team was in helmets and shorts. There was no full contact, making judging the lineman more difficult.

  • Head coach Mike Tice made his entrance on a golf cart, his own personal "Popemobile," with his left ankle in a hard purple cast after having surgery earlier this week.

  • Kicker Aaron Elling emerged with no brace on his surgically repaired knee, but tight end Jim Kleinsasser was wearing a brace.

  • Linebacker Raonall Smith was in full action after suffering two concussions last October and being placed on injured reserve.

  • With wide receiver Marcus Robinson on the sideline after minor surgery to remove a cyst, Kelly Campbell assumed the role of the No. 2 wide receiver.

  • Travis Taylor looked like the better No. 2 receiver in the morning practice. Taylor and Keenan Howry started running as the third and fourth receivers, and the Vikings generally shied away from inserting first pick Troy Williamson in with the first team.

  • Williamson displayed his speed on a number of routes, but he was often double-covered early.

  • Williamson's speed only helped bring to the forefront the improved speed in the secondary, with Williamson and Fred Smoot showing man-for-man speed. They are both two smooth runners.

  • Smoot is also a smooth talker, and his comments will only help a team with many new faces to jell quicker.

  • Cornerback Brian Williams was in full action for the first practice after signing his offer sheet.

  • Second-round pick Marcus Johnson looked good pulling as a lead blocker from his guard position, but he still had Adam Goldberg ahead of him in the rotation.

  • Wide receiver Nate Burleson assumed the traditional Randy Moss attire, wearing the fringes at the waistline of his under armor.

  • With Mike Rosenthal out of heavy action, Nat Dorsey was the starting right tackle much of the morning.

  • Middle linebacker Sam Cowart knocked down two passes and looked comfortable in the defense. However, without coming away with an interception, his teammates and coaches from the sideline were hassling him by calling him "Roberto Duran" and urging him to take off the gloves.

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