Minicamp Observations: Fourth Session

Mixing up the personnel was the theme of the fourth session during Saturday afternoon's Vikings practice. See which players were bumped up to the first team, along with several other notes from the session.

Just when we thought we had the whole defensive line and safety rotation figured out, the Vikings threw a wrench into things Saturday afternoon.

Kenechi Udeze and Darrion Scott had been spitting sessions at left defensive end with Ray Edwards getting the vast majority of the first-team work at right defensive end. That changed in the fourth minicamp session, as rookie Brian Robison was given a long look with the first-team defense on the right side.

At 6-foot-3, 259 pounds, he is generally considered too small to be an every-down player, but the team's 2007 fourth-round draft pick used his quickness to his advantage early into his newfound promotion.

On one of the opening downs with the full teams going against each other, Robinson rushed the quarterback and got his hands up quickly to deflect a pass into the air that was intercepted by safety Darren Sharper, who pitched the ball to cornerback Cedric Griffin. (Sharper had another interception later in the practice off of quarterback Drew Henson.)

Robinson also showed that he sticks with plays. On one occasion, he appeared to get man-handled by left tackle Bryant McKinnie, but Robison came back into the play to get a touch sack of Tarvaris Jackson.

Robinson wasn't the only rookie getting at least a temporary promotion. Cornerback Marcus McCauley received a number of reps with the first-team nickel defense in place of Dovonte Edwards.

Like Robison, it might have been McCauley's best practice. Unlike Robison, McCauley has good size for his position – 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds.

He also made a strong reach-around move to rip a pass out of the arms of Billy McMullen.

In other Saturday afternoon observations:

  • Rookie Alex Reyes did most of the punting in the afternoon practice and used a gentle breeze to his favor, kicking a number of balls 55-60 yards deep with decent hang time.

  • Bobby Wade and Aundrae Allison appear to be two of the top players to challenge Mewelde Moore for return duties.

  • With Mike Doss sitting out the afternoon session, Greg Blue and Tank Williams were the second-team safeties.

  • Second-round pick Sidney Rice might have had his most consistent and impressive session of the minicamp. However, he still made at least one rookie mistake. He followed an excellent diving catching during seven-on-seven drills by forgetting to continue his pre-snap motion on the next play. He came back later in the practice to make an impressive jumping catch at the sideline and touched down both feet in bounds. He had another nice sliding catch toward the end of practice as well.

  • Martin Nance also had a solid session, showing some needed West Coast Offense run-after-the-catch ability on one pass. Brooks Bollinger hit him in stride about 10 yards deep and Nance found the seam to take to the pass for a long touchdown.

  • Receiver Billy McMullen is being used as the fourth receiver in some formations while Cortez Hankton is also getting work with the first-team offense in some situations.

  • One of the most interesting alignments of the day: With two tight ends in the game, they were lined up on the outside of two receivers.

  • After missing a blocking assignment two times in a row in the morning session, rookie running back Adrian Peterson missed going in motion once in the afternoon practice. But there is no denying his skills. Even after stuttering off the line of scrimmage after correcting his motion mistake, he burned past a linebacker and created separation. However, that pass was slightly overthrown.

  • Receivers Bobby Wade, Troy Williamson, McMullen and Allison were staying after practice to work on their eye-hand coordination taking passes out the JUGS machine.

  • Minnesota Gophers head coach Tim Brewster attended practice with his son, Clint.

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