Who You Calling Old?

Brad Johnson has grown tired of the questions about his age. It's all he seems to hear these days and he addressed the topic for what he hopes will be the last time (good luck with that, Brad) at training camp Tuesday.

It's been the question on the minds of Vikings fans and media wags alike ever since the Vikings traded Daunte Culpepper – is Brad Johnson too old to be a starter in the NFL?

Johnson, who turns 38 two days after the Vikings' regular-season opener vs. the Redskins, addressed the matter Tuesday at training camp – apparently hoping to put the matter to rest and stop hearing the questions about being a 38-year-old NFL quarterback.

"I'm 37, number one," Johnson said with a smile. "I took my family to Perkins a couple of days ago, and they didn't hand me a senior citizens discount card, so I feel pretty good. Perception is funny. My style of play is very similar to how I played at 27. I get back quick, make the read, and get the ball out of my hands. I play the same style that I have always played, and 16 games is tough for anybody, it doesn't matter what age you are. I'm excited when I come to work. I take care of my body, and I have a feeling for what I want to accomplish and what's in my tank. I want to play for a lot more years, not just try and get through a season. That's where I'm at in my career. I plan on playing a long time."

With little in the way of a proven veteran backup, the Vikings are pinning a lot of their hopes for the 2006 season on Johnson's health. Whether he's 38, 32 or 26 doesn't matter. What does matter is how much protection he gets and whether he can avoid big hits. Being younger and mobile didn't save Culpepper from injury last year and Johnson will need to be available for all 16 games or many of the Vikings' hopes for 2006 could be affected.

* Johnson discussed the signing of FB Tony Richardson and didn't mince his words about the value of the signing.

"That has probably been one of the most important moves that we made in this offseason, especially in this system," Johnson said. "What's different between the Minnesota system last year was that we didn't really have a fullback. You'd always move (TE Jim) Kleinsasser to the H-back or fullback type of position. Now you bring in a proven guy, a guy that has blocked in one of the best run offenses in the league for Kansas City with some great running backs. So not only does he bring a presence to our running backs – especially Chester Taylor and Mewelde Moore – he's going to get the job done and be a force for us, so he's a great pickup."
* After weeks of speculation that he could end up with the Rams or the Dolphins to replace veteran running backs that are likely done with their NFL careers, the Saints traded Michael Bennett Tuesday to the Chiefs, an indication that Priest Holmes may not be coming back in 2006.
* Troy Williamson has received a lot of heat from media types since a newspaper story said his problem with receiving is a hand-eye coordination problem – something that should have been either noticed before he was taken with the seventh pick of the 2005 draft or fixed once he came to the Vikings. He's been working with Koren Robinson on the first unit in practice.
* Richardson will miss Friday's practice to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of Warren Moon, who was a teammate of Richardson's with the Chiefs and remains a close friend.
* The weather finally broke in Minnesota after days of near or above 100-degree temperatures. There was rain in the morning practice and the daytime temps dropped below 80 degrees for the first time in more than three weeks.
* Pat Williams continued to practice (or should we say workout) alone Tuesday, working on conditioning drills while remaining on the PUP list.
* The Vikings will practice against the Chiefs this Friday and renew acquaintances with Bennett.

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