Early Camp Goal: Beat The Heat

The Vikings don't appear ready to adjust training camp too much, but they are taking precautions to help players survive the heat wave while practicing. Temperatures Monday could reach 100 degrees.

While the Vikings aren't into the part of their preseason where they are playing games, they still want to beat one opponent this week – the heat.

Temperatures have been in the 90s consistently with stifling humidity, and the forecast for Monday calls for temperatures at 100 with a heat index higher than that. So as the team welcomed all 84 players to Mankato on Sunday, the heat was a topic of concern.

"You have to be mindful of the heat," head coach Brad Childress said. "All coaches want to condition in the heat, they want their guys to condition in the heat. As I mentioned to you I thought they did a good job of getting schooled up on how to climatize. Really, (Monday) our conditioning test kind of gives us a pretty good indicator of where guys are. You certainly have to factor in the heat for the big guys as they run the conditioning test, but it gives you a pretty good barometer of exactly where you are in that area and who needs work and who doesn't."

The Vikings will run their camp-opening conditioning test Monday morning before starting full-squad practices in the afternoon. The first full-pads practice begins tomorrow.

While Monday is expected to be the hottest day of the week, going into two-a-day practices in full pads with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity is something that has the team taking precautionary measures.

"The message is hydrate, just like my message to you guys is hydrate," Childress said.

In fact, one of Childress's first messages to the rookies and select veterans was centered on getting plenty of liquids throughout the day.

In order to avoid a tragedy like the Korey Stringer heat-related death five years ago at training camp, the Vikings have several measures in place to gauge players' propensity to succumb to the heat.

The team is using pills with heat sensors, players immerse themselves into tubs with ice water after practices and each of the dorm rooms has a small refrigerator with water and Gatorade.

The team is also testing players' urine in the morning, placing cups outside the players' rooms and sticking litmus paper in the sample.

"We can see exactly if they are a candidate to be dehydrated," Childress said of the test. "It's interesting to take these guys through this drill proudly. There were times when 10 of the guys were at risk and that's after sleeping all night long, hydrating, eating. We really feel like we're on the pulse of that. Particularly those skinny guys with very low body fat, they tend to cramp in a hurry and lose that water in a hurry. We're mindful of that and we feel like we've got some checks and balances in place and the coaches are mindful of it as well."

Despite the heat, the players aren't expecting Childress to back off too much.

"I think it will be a tough camp. Up to this point everything has been very organized and very high tempo, and I'm sure it will remain the same, this training camp more so than most with a whole new staff and a bunch of new players," center Matt Birk said. "We have a lot more to accomplish than we have in past years, so I'm sure there won't be a minute wasted."

Safety Darren Sharper might have been in denial about the heat.

"While I was working out (in Florida) it was hot like this. It's not going to stay like this in Minnesota. It'll be 70 degrees (Monday). I can guarantee it," said Sharper, who shaved his head to try to beat the heat.


  • Childress said there were no unexpected injuries he was aware of as all the veterans reported by 5 p.m. Sunday.

  • Childress said center Matt Birk showed no ill effects after practices without pads at the spring workouts and minicamps. "People talk about having to load him up and see how he carries his pads, but those minicamps are tough in themselves, with a guy lined up on your nose, a Pat Williams or Kevin Williams," Childress said. "In some ways, being able to defend yourself a little bit more in pads, those guys like that a little bit better."

  • Quarterback Brad Johnson tried to diffuse all the talk about his contract and being the lowest paid starter in the league: "That talk really wasn't through me. Pretty much I really don't want to talk about any contract really for the rest of the time. That's kind of where I'm at."

  • Fullback Tony Richardson on the moderate expectations some have for the team in 2006: "If everyone puts you up front, you've got a big bulls-eye on your chest. For us, a lot of people aren't giving us a lot of credit with having a new coaching staff and a lot of new players, but that's kind of good. You never want to try to play the role of the underdog and sneak up on somebody, but if they take you lightly, then you can punch them right in the chin."

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