Vikings Open Dev Camp With More Missing

From injuries to excused absences to unexcused absences, the Vikings had more than a handful of players that didn't attend the start of their developmental camp.

The Vikings began the second of four weeks of developmental camp Wednesday with more than just the three players they were expecting to miss.

Safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Brian Williams continued to be no-shows for the voluntary camp, each for slightly different reasons. Chavous was reportedly upset with the Vikings for pursuing safety Donovin Darius during the offseason and might also be unhappy with his contract situation. However, it's unlikely the team would renegotiate his deal.

Williams also was reportedly unhappy with the Vikings signing cornerback Fred Smoot in March. The Vikings are hoping both will be back for training camp.

At running back, veteran Moe Williams was absent, giving rookie Ciatrick Fason more opportunities in the backfield. Fason was practicing behind Michael Bennett and Mewelde Moore, but Williams is still expected to assume the third-down role when he returns to action.

Wide receiver Kelly Campbell was also missing, giving more practice plays to rookie Troy Williamson.

"They (Campbell and Williams) were excused," offensive coordinator Steve Loney said. "They both had personal business and Mike (Tice) excused the two of them so we knew that they weren't going to be here."

The absence of Chavous would have created an opportunity for third-round draft pick Dustin Fox in practices to become more familiar with the Vikings' system, but under NFL rules Fox is not allowed to participate in voluntary workouts while Ohio State is still in session. He is expected back for the last week of developmental camps in mid-June.

Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was still in California recovering from his fourth surgery (labrum/hip) in nine months on Wednesday and was scheduled to fly home for the birth of his child on Thursday.

"The Birk household is rather hectic right now," Loney said.

In his absence, backup center Cory Withrow will be starting through the summer camps and training camp, and probably well into the preseason. Withrow brings five years of NFL experience, along with two years additional years as training camp and practice squad material.

"This is my eighth training camp with these guys, with a lot of them. We've had a lot of fun. We've had a lot of ups and downs and it's great to know that your teammates count on you and that you can be counted on," Withrow said. "There's a lot of pressure, but no one puts more pressure on me than me. This is awesome. We have awesome team chemistry and an awesome atmosphere, and I'm looking forward to the season to get going."

As the NFC preseason favorites in a number of national football publications, the Vikings have the talent on the roster. Now they need to get their "holdouts" to attend training camp and their injured players back on the practice field.

NOTES

  • As Withrow moves up to first-string center for the time being, undrafted rookie free agent Kyle Schmitt was taking reps with the second team. Anthony Herrera, who was on the active roster last year, is also a candidate.

  • Rookie Marcus Johnson spent the majority of his time as the second-team right tackle behind Mike Rosenthal.

  • Head coach Mike Tice remained in a walking cast after having surgery on his ankle a month ago.

  • Undrafted rookie wide receiver Skyler Fulton had the catch of the day, maintaining control of a high throw in the middle of traffic while receiving contact.

  • Ryan Hoag blocked a punt during the special teams portion of practice.

  • Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, recovering from offseason surgery, sat out of the team drills.

  • Dontarrious Thomas spent the majority of the practice working with the first-team base defense as the weakside linebacker.

  • Safety Darren Sharper was back from his NFL Europe stint, where he spent time doing commentary for two games. Sharper was in the starting lineup at safety alongside Willie Offord.


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