Who's My Backup?

Among those that arrived at training camp for the first sessions include all three quarterbacks vying for the backup role behind Brad Johnson. Since only two of them are likely to make the 53-man roster, this could be one of the training camp battles to watch closely in the coming weeks.

One of the biggest battles of training camp is already underway in Mankato – determining the pecking order at quarterback behind Brad Johnson.

The competition could end up as hot as the drought-affected weather in Minnesota, with Mike McMahon, J.T. O'Sullivan and Tarvaris Jackson in the middle of a training camp battle that likely won't include one of them when all is said and done. Jackson has the easiest path to making the final 53-man roster because typically a second-round draft pick – much less one you traded picks to move up to get – is rarely cut in his first training camp. With the high praise Jackson has received from his coaches already, his making the roster is a given.

That leaves McMahon and O'Sullivan. Seeing as teams almost never keep four quarterbacks on a roster, it is safe to assume that one of them will likely be gone. McMahon comes to the Vikings after spending last season as the second-half starter for the Eagles when Donovan McNabb went down. His familiarity with the Eagles West Coast Offense and, more importantly, his working relationship with Brad Childress, should be a huge plus.

O'Sullivan also has experience in the WCO, having played it as a backup with the Packers. But his entire NFL regular-season career has consisted of taking a pair of clock-killing kneeldowns as Brett Favre's backup.

What it might come down to between McMahon and O'Sullivan is which one Brad Johnson feels more comfortable with. More than likely, whoever wins the No. 2 job will be the person talking in Johnson's headset, relaying plays from the sidelines. Either way, it looks like one of the top two guys on the backup depth chart will be gone when the Vikings open to the 2006 season vs. the Redskins. So every good impression they can make as one of the "selected veterans" already at training camp will be critical in their remaining a member of the purple and gold.

* Weather remains a dominant issue at training camp. After getting something of a respite from the heat in the early practice Saturday, forecasts have temperatures near or above 100 degrees both today and Monday.
* The rest of the veterans are expected to be in Mankato by 5 p.m. today.
* One of the vets already in camp is punter Chris Kluwe, who is recovering from a knee injury. The early prognosis was good, he handled almost all of the punting duties Saturday and is currently atop the depth chart as the holder for field goals and extra points. Johnson had that job last year, but Brad Childress said he doesn't want his starting QB risking injury as a holder.
* Another veteran in early is safety Willie Offord. With the signing of Dwight Smith, Offord, who spent most of the offseason workouts and minicamps playing free safety, is going to be moved back to strong safety. However, both Offord and the coaching staff mentioned that the safety positions in the Tampa-2 defense are effectively the same.
* Center Ryan Cook, who never played offensive tackle in college, is expected to get a look at both center and tackle during training camp.
* The Vikings currently have 12 wide receivers on the roster, but are only expected to keep five. At the present time, the clear favorites to win spots are Koren Robinson, Troy Williamson and Travis Taylor, with Marcus Robinson and Dez White having a leg up on the competition.
* Former Viking Daunte Culpepper kept his promise of being on the field for the first veteran workout for the Dolphins Saturday and looked trimmer and showed little effects of his knee injury that was supposed to sideline him into the regular season.

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