Vikings Training Camp Goals
Vikings training camp goals
1. Make sure Tarvaris Jackson is ready.
Despite claims that Brooks Bollinger will compete with Tarvaris Jackson for the starting quarterback position, all indications are that this is Jackson's job to lose.
Jackson has spent much of his offseason at the Vikings' training facility in Eden Prairie, Minn., preparing himself for this opportunity and fine-tuning his knowledge of how to run the complex West Coast offense.
Now he must prove that he's made significant strides since he lost both his starts in the final two games of the 2006 season. Entering his second season, Jackson also must show the veterans he is ready to take over as one of the leaders of this team.
It's a lot to ask for a guy who spent the majority of last season watching veteran Brad Johnson handle the snaps from center. Coach Brad Childress is confident Jackson has what it takes; he's going to find out in the coming weeks whether he was right.
2. Figure out the situation at receiver.
The Vikings made a big-time play to sign free agent Kevin Curtis last March. It didn't work. Curtis elected to go to Philadelphia and the Vikings were left to consider their other options. The Vikings ended up signing Bobby Wade (Tennessee) to a five-year, $15 million contract.
Wade will become the Vikings' primary slot receiver. And that's about the only certainty the team has at this position entering camp. Not surprisingly, the Vikings remain optimistic.
Troy Williamson, the seventh-overall selection in the 2005 draft who is coming off a miserable season filled with dropped passes, spent time working with members from Nike's vision department this offseason and the feeling is Williamson will benefit from this work.
Training camp practices, complete with contact, should help to determine if this makes a difference.
If that doesn't happen, the Vikings could be in big trouble. The team did use three draft picks on receivers and second-round selection Sidney Rice appears in line to get a long look.
One of the keys here is that the Vikings don't only need to be more athletic at receiver, they also need to see that guys have learned to run the precise routes the West Coast system requires.
3. Get Erasmus James healthy.
The Vikings' pass rush was among the worst in the NFL last season in part because right end Erasmus James suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee in only the second game.
The Vikings have been extremely careful in bringing James along - James underwent some follow-up work on the knee in February - and it's likely he won't be full go when camp opens.
Barring a setback, though, James figures to see increased action as training camp progresses and the hope is that he will be at 100 percent for the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 against Atlanta.
CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 25. Practice begins July 27. Camp breaks Aug. 19.
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