Surprise Receivers at Vikings Camp

While Troy Williamson might actually be more effective in the West Coast offense – a surprising statement to some – another younger receiver has been looking good the last couple of days at training camp.

When Troy Williamson came out of South Carolina last year as the Minnesota Vikings' first-round draft pick, the common opinion seemed to be that the rookie's speed would be perfect for the vertical passing game.

But in college, Williamson's forte was to take short passes, then use his speed to turn those into long gains, which might make him better suited for the Vikings' new version of the West Coast offense than most might anticipate.

"Sure, the West Coast offense is a ball-control offense," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Saturday. "But built into this offense is the opportunity to take shots (down the field). We take shots based on coverage."

Williamson, who made 24 receptions and scored two touchdowns as a rookie, said he's taking advantage of these first training camp practices to work on techniques, running more precise routes and making quicker cuts.

"I'm trying to put in a lot of hard work and effort," he said. "Good things come out of hard work."


With starter Brad Johnson excused from practice until Monday, backups Mike McMahon, J.T. O'Sullivan and Tarvaris Jackson have begun the battle to be Johnson's backup. McMahon, a six-year veteran, is the favorite, having spent last season in Philadelphia where coach Brad Childress was the offensive coordinator.

"He's doing a nice job," Bevell said of McMahon. "He's going to come in and compete every day."

O'Sullivan was drafted by New Orleans in 2002, and he spent the 2004 season in Green Bay. He spent half of last season on Chicago's practice squad before signing with Minnesota when Daunte Culpepper's season ended because of injury.

Jackson is one of the Vikings' second-round draft choices, and he's considered more of a project.

Childress said earlier this week that there is a scenario in which the team keeps four quarterbacks, though he wouldn't discuss details.


In a franchise that has had some pretty good pass-catching Carters in Anthony and Cris, rookie free agent Jason Carter has been impressive in workouts, making a nice deep catch on Friday, then diving to grab a couple of short passes Saturday morning.

"I'm trying to get everything I can right now," said Carter, who made 102 receptions for 1,467 yards and six touchdowns during a four-year career at Texas A&M.

"I'm getting a lot of reps. I know when the veterans get here, I'm going to have to learn by watching," Carter said. "I feel like I'm off to a good start."

Though Carter's chances of making the final roster are slim, with veterans Koren Robinson, Marcus Robinson, Travis Taylor, Dez White and Williamson among those ahead of him on the depth chart, he said watching those players work throughout the summer has been important.

"He's all ears at practice," Bevell said. "He's a guy who will make this team better."

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