Big Hit Highlights Sunday Morning Practice

The intensity of practice heated up Sunday, highlighted by one big hit and reaction to it as the defense looks for higher standards.

After just a day and a half of training camp, Vikings coach Mike Tice is already blown away by his team's intensity.

"The approach to their work is as good as any group I've ever been associated with," Tice said, "not just as a coach but as a player."

Although Sunday morning's two-hour session was conducted in helmets, shorts and shoulder pads, some players were hitting like they were in full pads, which they will wear Monday.

During 11-on-11 drills, second-year cornerback Brian Russell knocked the helmet off receiver Sean Dawkins, who was laid out trying to catch a pass along the sidelines. The hit drew one of the loudest cheers of the practice from the fans that were present.

Although Tice said some players had to play smarter, he didn't fault them for making those types of hits.

"I can't talk about creating turnovers and admonishing them for not creating enough of them and then yell at them for going out and hitting somebody," Tice said.

Said tight end Byron Chamberlain: "The weather kind of warmed up, and the intensity of the practice warmed up, and guys were out there hitting guys. It's a good thing. As long as nobody gets hurt and you can keep that high intensity with no injuries, it's a good thing."

Practice Notes
* Tice was most impressed with his running backs and defensive backs Sunday. Running backs Michael Bennett and James Wofford each caught the crowds' eyes, avoiding defenders and reeling off long runs.

* Offensive lineman Lewis Kelly and linebacker Henri Crockett participated in practice during position drills but were held out of the "crossover" scrimmages Sunday due to minor injuries. Tice said his goal is to have the team 100 percent healthy for Friday's joint practice with the Kansas City Chiefs.

* Another player Tice wants ready for later in camp is defensive lineman Willie Howard. Howard is on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing knee and ankle surgeries in the offseason. He is working out on his own with a trainer during camp.

* By 10:30 a.m. the temperature had reached 91 degrees.

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