Camp Season Winding Down

As a three-week period of four camps winds down, a few players are starting to find a role and other battle lines are still being drawn.

In the span of three weeks, the Vikings have had a series of three developmental camps (officially optional) and one minicamp (mandatory two-a-day practices with a corporate sponsor presence this year). This round of camps started on May 28 and will end tomorrow, at which time many of the coaches and players will have a month off to relax, regroup and re-evaluate.

If there wasn't much known about this 2002 team before that time, much more is coming into focus. That focus could change dramatically once the pads go on and training camp starts on July 26 in Mankato, but some players have stepped forward to gain the coaches' attention in the past three weeks.

While two shorter practices yesterday and Monday allowed a bit of a breather for all the players after three days of last weekend's minicamp, most of the starters didn't participate in today's full-team workouts.

That didn't hold true for one player in particular. On offense, while rookie left tackle Bryant McKinnie reported out of condition in late May, he continued to get a majority of the work today — even while much of the rest of the first-team offense was on the sidelines coaching the younger players.

With only five true tight ends on the roster, even the starters at that position had to go through most of the full-team plays surrounded by second- and third-team players. At running back, James Wofford and David Allen are in a strong competition to assume the role of third-down specialist.

At wide receiver, Derrick Alexander was sporting his new No. 82 that he received from D'Wayne Bates, while Bates went to No. 85 (also shared with Johnny McWilliams). Alexander was sidelined with most of the rest of the first-team offense during full-team drills, and Bates continues to draw good reviews from coaches. Rookie free agent Nick Davis had another strong practice, showing the ability to pull down the ball in traffic several times.

On defense, safety Kyries Hebert continues to impress with good range and an all-out work ethic that transfers to special teams coverage, and cornerback Brian Williams looks to be earning more looks as a cornerback and in nickel packages with the second and third teams.

On special teams, Brody Liddiard still looks to be the lead candidate at long snapper, with Cory Withrow getting repetitions there, as well. Allen and Wofford also are the leading choices as punt returners, with Davis not far behind.

For the players, it is one more day of practice, then six weeks until training camp. That's when the pads go on and the career-changing evaluations start in earnest — by coaches and fans.

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