Vikings Serious About OTAs Under Childress

The Vikings are taking their time to learn new offensive and defensive schemes seriously. Their one session open to the media last week had full attendance by the players even though it was voluntary.

New coach Brad Childress has limited media access to the Vikings' Organized Team Activities (OTAs), but one session he opened last week provided a good indication of how seriously his players are taking the offseason program.

With the Vikings installing new offensive and defensive schemes, all 87 players on the roster were present for a Wednesday workout. Keep in mind the 14 OTAs are optional and usually, for a variety of reasons, there are a few players absent.

"This is a copycat league, and if one team has players putting in 22 hours a day, you want to make sure your team is putting in 23," Vikings free safety Darren Sharper said. "That's just the way it is in the league now."

Sharper is among the defensive players adjusting to the "Tampa 2" scheme that defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin brought with him from the Buccaneers.

Childress already has conducted his two mandatory minicamps — he was allowed an extra session as a new coach — and the Vikings will close their offseason workouts with another non-mandatory minicamp from June 19-21. That's non-mandatory in name only.

While Tomlin has been trying to mold the defense to his liking, Childress has put himself in charge of taking the Vikings' offense from vertical to West Coast.

Veteran quarterback Brad Johnson is familiar with the new system from his time in Tampa Bay and appears at ease running an offense that is based around a short-passing game.

Johnson also knows the importance of having all of his teammates present for these workouts. The repetitions gained in the OTAs should pay off when the Vikings report for their first training camp under Childress late next month in Mankato, Minn.

"Everyone is working hard throughout the league, and everyone got better in free agency," Johnson said. "The biggest deal is you have to hone your fundamentals and be ready for all the schemes and schematics that come up during the regular season. That's why it's good to see everyone here working hard."


  • The Vikings will practice against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 4 during training camp in Mankato, Minn. The Chiefs train in River Falls, Wis.

  • Starting right guard Artis Hicks, obtained in a draft-weekend trade from Philadelphia, is having to make an adjustment after playing on the left side with the Eagles. Asked about what he must work on, Hicks said: "Just stepping with the opposite foot from what I've been doing the last four years. You try to program yourself to step with this foot, put this hand there and when you change teams you are with a different coach, different philosophy. You've got to kind of erase what you've been taught in the past."

  • Cornerback Dovonte Edwards, who made the Vikings last season as an undrafted rookie, was working as the second-team kickoff returner behind backup running back Mewelde Moore last Wednesday. Koren Robinson, who made the Pro Bowl last season for his work on kick returns, didn't get any reps. Robinson is expected to be the Vikings' top receiver, meaning he might only see limited duty on kick returns.

  • Receiver Troy Williamson, recovering from surgery to remove an abscess from his hip, was present but did not practice last Wednesday. He might be ready for a portion of the Vikings' final minicamp. Running back Ciatrick Fason also sat out because of an injury to his right hamstring.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a big guy who comes from Philadelphia, so he knows (Brad Childress') system. You don't have to teach him where to go. He knows where to go, and he catches the ball. It was a great pickup because he can play right away." - Quarterback Brad Johnson on receiver Billy McMullen, who was acquired from the Eagles and is wearing Randy Moss' old number (84).

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