Rookie Reports: What Might Have Been

Minicamps are in full swing for many teams, which means several rookies that were often talked about as being potential Vikings draft picks have been making impressions around the league, good or otherwise. See the initial reports on some of the top receivers, defensive ends and tight ends that didn't end up in purple.

  • Panthers WR Dwayne Jarrett admitted being a little surprised when he dropped into the second round of the NFL draft despite catching 41 touchdowns in three seasons with USC. "I was, but there's not much you can do about it in these situations. You just roll with the punches. I'm excited." Jarrett said the plays he ran at minicamp were similar to what he ran in college. "Yeah, I think so, a program like USC and a lot of college programs, they're running pro systems and a lot of the terminology both on offense and defense is very similar," said coach John Fox. "And Pete Carroll of course coached in the National Football League and he does a great job of preparing them."

  • Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez didn't take part in the Colts' recent minicamp and will most likely miss some of the Colts' early summer school workouts as well. Gonzalez has been prohibited from participating -- by the NFL, no less -- because he was one of 35 rookies invited to Reebok's NFL Player Rookie Premier in Los Angeles. He initially declined the invitation, preferring to spend the time practicing with his new team. But when a few other players around the league followed suit, the NFL's Management Council stepped in and sent memos to all 32 teams. Even if a player decided not to participate in the sponsor-related event, he could not attend his team's minicamp. "Gonzo is distraught," his agent, Mike McCartney, said. "He wants to play football." His academic requirements at Ohio State will preclude him from participating in the early portions of the Colts' summer school.

  • Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe struggled during rookie minicamp. Bowe showed up late, dropped some passes, and generally looked a little out of place. "He's a guy that is very excitable," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "He wants to make things happen and he was probably pressing. I could see that. But you could see that he could do very, very well and that's why we drafted him."

  • Saints WR Robert Meachem, the 27th overall pick in last month's draft, was limited by a twisted left ankle and a little extra weight in his first minicamp. "It didn't go as well as I wanted it, as far as fatigue goes, but other than that I did good in spurts," said Meachem, who hurt the ankle in his first practice. "It's frustrating because you know what you can do, and it's kind of hard to show the coaches what you can do when you can't give it your all." Meachem, who is listed at 214 pounds, said he gained a little weight while making pre-draft visits to at least nine teams.

  • Lions WR Calvin Johnson, the second overall pick in this year's draft, made the most impressive play of minicamp -- a one-handed grab during one-on-one drills with defensive backs. "I'm sure that he'll continue to surprise us all the time with what he can do," offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. Quarterback Jon Kitna praised Johnson after just one practice. "He doesn't have a quizzical look on his face," Kitna said. "Coming out of the huddle, bam, he's out there. You see guys who've been in it for a year and they still have that kind of 'I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do' look, but he doesn't have that. So he's either fooling us or he knows what he's doing."

  • Falcons rookie DE Jamaal Anderson (first round and once thought to be a decent option for the Vikings at No. 7) drew plenty of praise from coaches, even though it was hard to get a true read on the left defensive end because players were not in pads. Anderson's size (6-6, 280) and athleticism generated a lot of excitement. Coaches did say he had to get stronger and get into better condition.

  • Bears TE Greg Olsen was fortunate to have his older brother Christian with him during the recent rookie minicamp, and not just because it provided the tight end with a familiar quarterback throwing him the ball. It was also beneficial off the field. "I was lucky I was able to work with my brother (because) this was actually his offense in college, so he knew a lot of it," Greg said. "So before we came in, I had a playbook, and he was able to teach me a lot of stuff because this terminology to me was like Chinese. They could've been speaking a different language. "But to him it made a lot of sense. Any time you study with someone who knows it already and they can kind of teach you in layman's terms rather than just reading it out of a book, it always makes it easier. He's a quarterback, and they know a lot more than the rest of us. They're supposed to know a lot more than me." Christian Olsen, who played sparingly at Virginia, was one of about two dozen players who received tryout invitations for the weekend.

  • Cardinals TE Ben Patrick, the team's seventh-round pick last month, is limited because of a hamstring strain.

  • Raiders rookie TE Zach Miller has looked good early on in the Raiders' offseason program. Miller, the second-round draft pick from Arizona State, made an impression several times during the club's mandatory minicamp and Organized Team Activity sessions. Miller would find an open spot in the defense, settle in, and catch a pass to move the chains. It was nothing spectacular, but it was out of the ordinary where the Raiders are concerned. The Raiders haven't had a tight end catch 40 passes since Rickey Dudley had 48 receptions for 787 yards in 1997. Miller was six years old the last time a Raiders tight end caught 50 passes (Ethan Horton, 53, in 1991). "Sometimes it's hard to feel that void in a zone," Miller said. "It takes a feel for the game, where linebackers are at, where safeties and corners play. To find those spots is kind of a skill."

  • Giants rookie TE Kevin Boss (6-6, 252, Western Oregon), the Giants' fifth round pick has made a strong first impression on the Giants' coaching staff. "He's big and he's fast," said position coach Mike Pope, "and while he was better at receiving in college (Division II) he has the body to put on 15 pounds and the smarts to master the blocking skills he'll need." The Giants are frantically searching for a backup to starter Jeremy Shockey, and Boss, eventually, will be that man.

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