Childress Tweaks Training Camp

Brad Childress seems to be softening his approach to training camp in his second year as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

Several Vikings veterans said last year's training camp was among the most grueling they had experienced.

It appears Vikings coach Brad Childress has decided that might not have been the best thing. Entering his second year as a head coach, Childress appears to have pulled back — at least when it comes to the schedule.

The Vikings, who train in Mankato, Minn., released a schedule that includes single afternoon practices on two Sundays (July 29 and Aug. 12) and single home-and-home evening practices against Kansas City on Aug. 3-4. The Vikings will then be off on Aug. 5.

In addition, there will be four practice days on which the afternoon workout will be exclusively for special teams.

Another change Childress has made from a year ago is to have everyone report on the same day. Last year, rookies and selected veterans came in three days before the rest of the team so they had extra practice time.

This time, the entire squad will report on July 25 and workouts will start two days later. Players are expected to go through their conditioning tests on July 26.

The practices with the Chiefs will be at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 3 in Mankato and at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4 in River Falls, Wis. All the Mankato practices — except the one with Kansas City — will be open to the public at no charge.

The Vikings will play only one preseason game before heading to Winter Park. Minnesota's game against St. Louis at the Metrodome will be played on Aug. 10. After having the next day off, the Vikings will return to southern Minnesota for four days before breaking camp on Aug. 16.

NOTES

Any threat that disgruntled cornerback Antoine Winfield might not show up for the start of training camp has been put to rest.

Winfield, who had been staying away from the Vikings' non-mandatory offseason workouts for reasons he refused to specify, has smoothed things over with coach Brad Childress.

Winfield, in fact, agreed to show up for the final two days of organized team activities. (The veterans did not end up practicing in either case, going for a team-bonding activity on Monday and then being given the final day off.)

Winfield did attend the team's three-day mandatory minicamp this month and made it clear his problems with the organization had nothing to do with the $35 million, six-year contract he signed in 2004. Attempting to read between the lines, it became pretty obvious Winfield wasn't thrilled with the direction of the team and his relationship with Childress might not have been the best.

The latter issue was resolved through a series of discussions and correspondences between the two.

"The lines of communication are more open now," said Ashanti Webb, who serves as one of Winfield's agent. "Antoine is a quiet and reserved guy, and Brad was in his first year as coach last season. They both just needed to know how to communicate with each other. The main thing is they were able to build up a relationship over a certain amount of time, which is needed in the player-coach relationship."

Said Childress: "(Antoine has) had some personal things he's dealt with, but we're happy that we're moving on here. He's a talented veteran who puts his money where his mouth is on the playing field. Over the years, he's been a good player and a good leader."

  • The Vikings signed sixth-round linebacker Rufus Alexander to a four-year contract. Alexander, who played college football at Oklahoma, is the third pick to sign with Minnesota. The Vikings also have agreed to terms with two seventh-round selections, quarterback Tyler Thigpen and wide receiver Chandler Williams.

  • The Vikings waived safety Jeremy Burnett, linebacker George Hall and receiver Paris Hamilton. Burnett and Hall were signed as rookie free agents. Hamilton had spent time with the Detroit Lions before signing this offseason with the Vikings.

  • On the second to last day of OTAs, Vikings coach Brad Childress took his players to play paintball as a team-bonding experience.

  • The Vikings were among the NFL teams that attended Nebraska offensive lineman Chris Patrick's campus workout this week. Patrick, 6-4 and 300 pounds, has made himself available for the July 12 supplemental draft.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a good player. We know that. Is he going to be good right now as a starting NFL quarterback? We all want that. ... What we do know with Tarvaris — when he plays — is that you will see a much different player than in two games at the end of last season." — Vikings coach Brad Childress talking about second-year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in an interview in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.



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