Developmental Camp Starts With Missing Veterans

The Vikings were without a handful of veterans as they opened four consecutive days of developmental camp. Some were missing for personal reasons, others are thought to just be disgruntled with their situations.

As expected, the Vikings were missing a few veterans at the opening of their first week of developmental camp (not to be confused by their official minicamp weekend April 29-May 1 or any of their other three developmental camps in the coming month).

First among the missing was safety Corey Chavous, who has admitted to having a down year in 2004. Filling in for him was Willie Offord, who could end up pushing Chavous for the starting job in training camp anyway. Offord filled in for Chavous when the latter was injured in the 2004 playoffs, and Offord performed admirably then.

Also missing from the starting backfield was safety Darren Sharper, who was excused so he could continue his broadcast work covering NFL Europe. Ken Irvin, who was slated to play cornerback last year before blowing out his Achilles tendon prior to the season opener, was used in Sharper's spot in the first-unit defense Monday.

But the defensive backfield endured one more missing in action Monday when nickel back Brian Williams skipped the voluntary workout. Williams has been frustrated with the Vikings' signing of Fred Smoot, who came in and assumed Williams' starting spot.

In Williams' stead was cornerback Ralph Brown, who was used in the nickel defense. Antoine Winfield moved inside to cover the slot receiver in those situations.

Offensive guard Chris Liwienski also wasn't attending, but he was still in Chicago with the baptism of his son and will practice Tuesday, offensive coordinator/line coach Steve Loney said.

The absence of Liwienski saw second-round draft pick Marcus Johnson filling in at right guard Monday after starting minicamp at left guard, then moving to right tackle to fill in for the Mike Rosenthal, who was recovering from foot surgery. Rosenthal was back in the lineup and taking part in all the drills Monday.

Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kevin Williams were both held out of all of practice as they recover from their offseason surgeries. In Birk's absence, Cory Withrow assumed the duties at center and a number of defensive tackles were used in place of Williams.

Four rookies whose schools were still in session also weren't in attendance – first among them being safety Dustin Fox, the third-round draft choice who is still attending classes at Ohio State. The rest of the Vikings' draft picks attended, but rookie free agents Sarth Benoit, Heath Farwell and William Obeng were all still attending classes.

  • Head coach Mike Tice was in a walking cast Monday after spending most of minicamp in a golf cart.

  • Running back Onterrio Smith attended his first full-squad workout since it was made public that he was detained by the airport police when he set up security and was found to be possessing a Whizzinator, a device used to fool drug tests.

  • The Vikings have signed two players in the last week. Linebacker David Bamiro, who is the first player from Stony Brook to sign an NFL contract, and guard Chris Jahnke of Indiana both participated in minicamp and were signed as rookie free agents to continue their pursuit of playing in the NFL.

  • Wide receiver Troy Williamson, the No. 7 overall pick in the draft, dropped a ball while crossing into defensive traffic but later made the catch of the day, a diving reception in between two defenders. The plays illustrated the inconsistency Williamson displayed during minicamp.

  • Linebacker Grant Wiley, who signed as a rookie free agent last year and ended up on injured reserved before the season began, made a leaping interception and was given props on other occasions for making good reads. Even with the improved depth at linebacker, Wiley could be a darkhorse 53-man roster candidate to watch throughout the summer and into training camp.

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