OTA Observations: Mixing and Matching

The Vikings have been doing a good job of getting different players working with the first teams and getting film on them. Plus, get more observations from Wednesday's practice.

The Vikings moved their organized team activity (OTA) inside Wednesday morning when the thunder rolled and lightning flashed on the horizon. Practice began outside, but during the one-on-one drills early in the session head coach Brad Childress blew the whistle and moved it inside before the rain got too heavy.

Inside, the downpour could be heard on the roof, but the team was able to resume their work without incident inside.

At cornerback, Antoine Winfield continued to be a no-show and third-round draft pick Marcus McCauley continued to see an increased role. Tuesday was McCauley's most extensive work to date, and that trend continued Wednesday with him in Winfield's spot at left cornerback. He and Dovonte Edwards are likely in a battle for the left cornerback role in the nickel defense, with Winfield moving inside to cover the slot and offer his experience blitzing as well.

The Vikings also continued to rotate their defensive ends through the first team. Darrion Scott and Kenechi Udeze are the leading candidates to start on the left side, with Ray Edwards getting most of the work on the right side while Erasmus James progresses with his rehabilitation from two knee surgeries in the last nine months. Rookie Brian Robison also received some work with the first team last week, but the training camp battle likely will come down to Edwards and James for the starting spot on the left side.

With Ryan Cook not attending Wednesday's voluntary session, Marcus Johnson received time at right tackle with the first team.

Other OTA observations from Wednesday's session:

  • It's uncertain how much playing time Brian Robison will get in the Vikings defense this season, but watching him in drills, it's apparent he has some natural athleticism in the lower body.

  • Edwards showed his speed and made a nice pass breakup against Todd Lowber. It wasn't too much later, however, that Lowber showcased his speed on an all-out go route. He got behind Edwards deep and would have had open space in front of him except for an underthrown pass.

  • Wide receiver Billy McMullen put an impressive cut on cornerback Ronyell Whitaker during one-on-one drills, but Whitaker was right with McMullen as the ball arrived.

  • Safety Darren Sharper showed that he can still run with the young guys when rookie receiver Chandler Williams tried to use his speed to get past Sharper during one-on-one drills. Instead, Sharper stayed with him stride for stride and didn't give the quarterback a window to throw to.

  • Bobby Wade continues to be one of the team's most consistent receivers and a frequent target for Tarvaris Jackson. During individual drills, Wade has been showing how his quickness and precise routes can gain separation as much or more than straight-line speed can help other receivers. His quick cuts burned one defensive back in the one-on-one session.

  • Speaking of speed, cornerback Mike Hawkins looks like one of the fastest players on the field and indeed said he thinks he's faster than Lowber.

  • Wide receiver Cortez Hankton continued to show excellent body control, which especially stood out on a passing play where he turned in the air to adjust to a ball thrown behind and came up with the athletic catch.

  • Linebacker Chad Greenway, the team's 2006 first-round pick, came up with another leaping interception during seven-on-seven drills. Without the pads on, it's hard to get a gauge on the front seven players on defense and the linemen on offense, but Greenway has shown his athleticism numerous times on defense, whether it's been with the base package or in the nickel defense.

  • Wide receiver Sidney Rice, the team's second-round draft pick this year, showed one reason the Vikings drafted him when he made a leaping grab over cornerback Chad Johnson. Rice has the height and the speed, and he's been displaying nice ball skills lately as well.

  • The Vikings worked on downing punts inside the 10-yard line during the special teams portion of practice.

  • Reciever Maurice Mann practiced with the Vikings on Wednesday morning but was released shortly thereafter.

  • Viking Update Top Stories