New coach Brad Childress pulled back a bit after putting his players through an extremely physical opening week of training camp, and now the players face their final day of camp at Minnesota State-Mankato Thursday.
Childress shortened up several of last week's morning sessions, giving players time to heal from various bumps and bruises that caused many to emerge from the locker room with large bags of ice strapped to various parts of their bodies. Childress also cancelled an afternoon practice last Wednesday.
"You go on the pedal and you go off the pedal," he said. "A lot of it is by design, and a lot of it is by feel. You have to see where those guys are at. Some of it is just straight hard work. Some of it you just have to be able to push through. ... If you unload them mentally and you unload them physically, it's amazing what wonders that does.
"The big thing for those guys is after you give them the night off, after you give them an afternoon off, are they able to come down and refocus? ... Because you have to be able to do that during the course of a game. ... You have to be able to flip that switch."
During the first week of training camp, Childress had at least one "live" period during each full-pads practice, meaning there was plenty of hitting.
Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield was among those left aching as a result.
"This is the most physical camp I've ever been associated with," he said. "I've never been associated with tackling people to the ground in camp. It's a long season. You have four preseason games and 16 regular-season games. We're definitely going to get enough hitting. But I understand where they are coming from. They want to see what we can do when everything is full-go.
"I can understand it from that aspect, but this is my eighth year in the league. I know how to tackle. So (in training camp drills) I just try to get myself in position. I'm only 185 pounds. I can only take a certain amount of hits. I'm trying to last the whole season."
Quarterback Brad Johnson does not take any hits during practices but he certainly realized his teammates were beating up each other at times.
"The first week was a rough week," he said. "There were more padded practices. It does wear on you. The coach wants to find out what kind of players he has, who's in it for the long haul."
Obviously, Childress wanted to accomplish this without getting any of his players injured, though safety Tank Williams had suffered the only serious injury of a Vikings player in practices (linebacker Chad Greenway also was lost for the season during the preseason opener).
Williams fractured his left kneecap during seven-on-seven drills on Aug. 5 but it wasn't because of any contact. Williams' knee simply gave out when he planted his foot in the end zone.
Physical Camp Nears Conclusion
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