Position Changes On Day 2

Offensive lineman Marcus Johnson was the target of one change made in Day 2 of Vikings minicamp. Johnson played more right tackle in the morning session and responded with a physical fight. Other substitutions were made on defense as well, and Troy Williamson responded with an explosive play.

Second-round draft pick Marcus Johnson saw action at left guard on the opening day of Vikings minicamp. Saturday, head coach Mike Tice threw Johnson a curve ball, placing the rookie at right tackle to see how he'd respond after one day at left guard.

If getting into a fistfight with last year's first-round pick, Kenechi Udeze, is any indication, Johnson isn't one to back down from a challenge.

"He was one of the guys I wanted to look at a different position to see. … I'm projecting him as a left guard and see where he seems in his initial movements more comfortable," Tice said. "He certainly has the footwork to play either position. He's a ways away technique-wise. He doesn't use his hands, as most college guys don't when they come to us. He leads with his head so there's a lot to be improved on. But he's certainly a big, smart guy with a lot passion."

During one segment, Johnson's passion boiled over while blocking Udeze. The two started hitting and punching each other, both with their helmets on and to the amusement of some coaches and players. After the skirmish, which lasted about 10 seconds, the two resumed practice as normal and Udeze was even spotted smiling shortly after the last slap made contact.

The whole incident became a joke for teammates, especially cornerback Fred Smoot. The talkative new addition tried to coax his defensive teammates into more contact without pads on a couple of occasions, at one point urging safety Will Hunter to give more than a bump to a receiver. "Yeah, start another fight," Smoot yelled from the sideline to Hunter, laughing the whole time.

While Smoot's good-natured jabs have kept offensive and defensive teammates alert throughout minicamp, it didn't distract first-round draft choice Troy Williamson.

After a rough start Friday in his first practices, in which he dropped a number of balls, Williamson responded to Smoot on a long touchdown pass during the Saturday morning session. The speedy receiver ran about 20 yards and, grunting just as he kicked in the afterburners, beat Smoot on a deep post route, resulting in about a 70-yard touchdown.

Talkative receiver Kelly Campbell was the first player to meet Williamson for a chest bump.

Williamson admitted he was nervous in his first practice, and his improved hands showed up Saturday morning, as he caught long passes and dove for a great sideline grab.

His speed is what set him apart from Mike Williams in the draft, according to several Vikings sources. During the afternoon session, a little bit of his inconsistency showed again.


  • Quarterback Daunte Culpepper was having fun early in practice when he decided to switch sides of the field and played some cornerback. In his first stint at the position, he intercepted a Brad Johnson pass intended for Keenan Howry. Later, Ben Nelson beat Culpepper for a touchdown.

  • Erasmus James is the most impressive rookie of minicamp so far. His first step is as quick as anyone the Vikings have had at defensive end in the last 10 years, drawing comparisons by Tice and pro personnel director Paul Wiggin to Chris Doleman during the former Vikings heyday. James was all smiles when told of those comparisons.

  • With Ken Irvin a no-show at the morning session, Ralph Brown became the Vikings' dime back.

  • The defensive linemen seem to be batting down an inordinate amount of passes, but part of that may be due to the fact that the team can't practice in pads and offensive linemen, therefore, aren't supposed to cut block.

  • Tice said running back Onterrio Smith may be in the best shape of his pro career, and he looks as quick as ever.

  • Napoleon Harris tweaked a hamstring, so recently re-signed linebacker Keith Newman was in Harris' spot on the strong side. Raonall Smith and Dontarrious Thomas are leading candidates for the weakside spot.

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