The Vikings reported no personal connections to the tragedy surrounding Minneapolis' collapsed bridge, and continued to prepare their team in Mankato. See what the coordinators had to say about their progress, the upcoming scrimmage and get plenty of morning practice notes.
Several Vikings officials said Thursday morning that they knew of no player or staff member who suffered personal tragedy with the Interstate-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi River.
Players were just starting to attend Wednesday evening meetings when they got the news of the bridge collapse from head coach Brad Childress.
"Coach came in and explained what happened and allowed the players to step out and make phone calls to their families and make sure everyone was OK," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "Fortunately, as far as I know, all the players came back with no one involved. A tragic, tragic situation."
Most of the players and staff live close to Winter Park in Eden Prairie, about 15 miles southwest of the bridge collapse, but equipment manager Dennis Ryan lives in St. Paul and was said to be concerned about his family before finding out everything was fine with his loved ones.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with those people and the ones that met tragedy and also the workers that are trying to help out," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "Our team was shocked by it and they were scared and nervous about their family members, as probably everyone else was. It puts everything into perspective with the world and the problems they have and us playing football."
But football practices did continue for the Vikings in Mankato Thursday morning as they prepared to face the Kansas City Chiefs
with consecutive scrimmages on Friday and Saturday evenings.
"I think it's just exciting for our guys to hit another jersey, a different color. Also to line up against different defensive backs, different defensive linemen to go up on the second level, just to different players," Bevell said.
However, the Vikings aren't spending time preparing for the Chiefs. Instead, they continue to concentrate on installing their offense, defense and special teams strategies for the season. In fact, Frazier said it's more important to get a good look at the younger players in action than to see the starters playing against the Chiefs.
"We're going to play our starters for a period of time. The big thing is we want to get a look at our young guys," he said. "That's probably more important to us right now at this stage of training camp than seeing Pat Williams or Kevin (Williams) or Antoine (Winfield) going against the Chiefs receivers, backs and offensive line. We really need to identify the quality guys that are going to make our football team and make us a better football team as our backups."
They also don't want to give up any information to an opponent that they will be facing in Week 3 of the regular season.
"We'll be as vanilla as vanilla can be, I promise you that," Frazier said. "It's a scrimmage – that's all it is. When we play them in Week 3, nobody is going to remember that we scrimmaged Kansas City on (Aug. 3)."
First-round draft pick Adrian Peterson walked off the field with a slight limp and was assisted to the trainer's trailer. He emerged a few minutes later without any visible braces or taping and Bevell termed the injury as a hip pointer.
"It's just a day-to-day thing," Bevell said, adding later that running back "is a tough position to play. Every time you're in there, you are getting hit carrying the ball or with pass protection. You definitely need depth."
Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker also was injured during 7-on-7 drills and laid on the field for about a minute with Childress and the training staff over him. He left the field with assistance, but Frazier said it was just an ankle sprain.
"They're going to take an MRI. It sounds like it's an ankle sprain. It doesn't sound like it's very serious at all, so I don't think he'll miss very much time. We're fortunate that it's not anything serious," Frazier said.
LB Ben Leber, WR Aundrae Allison, RB Chester Taylor, WR Billy McMullen and DE Erasmus James were also held out of practices. McMullen and James are on the physically unable to perform and non-football injury lists, respectively.
Kenechi Udeze and Ray Edwards were the ends working with the first-team defense.
Tarvaris Jackson was working with the first-team offense after he and Bollinger split time on Wednesday.
The team had referees on hand to help get the players used to playing without penalties.
During 11-on-11 work, conducted in full pads:
WR Jason Carter had a nice leaping catch down the right sideline, but he missed a similar throw during individual drills. He later made an impressive adjustment in the air to a pass thrown behind him … and then dropped the next pass that was thrown right to him.
LB Chad Greenway knifed through the offensive line and got to RB Mewelde Moore before he could turn the corner on one play.
Bollinger and Cortez Hankton hooked up on a well-executed rollout by the QB.
With Peterson and Taylor out, Moore took the majority of snaps as the first-team running back.
Both Bollinger and Jackson had some sizeable gains when they pulled the ball down and scrambled for positive yardage on a number of occasions.
Bollinger and WR Sidney Rice hooked up on two passes in succession. On the first one, Bollinger hit Rice in stride in the middle of the field for a good gain. On the second one, Rice made a nice adjustment to a pass that was thrown behind him.
On one occasion, after Peterson's injury, Moore and Ciatrick Fason were in the same backfield with the first-team offense, but it appears that Artose Pinner is ahead of Fason on the depth chart. Pinner needed three carries during a goal-line drill from 3 yards out, but he eventually got the first-team offense in the end zone.
During those same goal-line drills, Jackson hit TE Jim Kleinsasser for another touchdown and Tyler Thigpen connected with TE Stephen Spach for another with the second-team offense.
In general, the offense seems to be looking sharper as camp progresses. The defense was dominating the offense early in camp, earning an extended curfew on Saturday night, but the offense seems to be drawing closer as the first week of practices comes to a close.
During 7-on-7 work:
Bollinger had several receivers – including Richard Owens, Chandler Williams and Cortez Hankton – make catches in tight cover, while diving or slipping, respectively.
CB Mike Hawkins let a potential interception go through his hands after he jumped a stop route on running back Wendell Mathis and was in great position to make the pick.
During other drills:
Before being injured, Peterson was receiving a heavy workload during 9-on-7 drills when the offense was working their inside running game.
During individual drills:
WR Chandler Williams had several nice catches throughout practice, some diving, some leaping and others extending over a cornerback in coverage.
Before being injured, Whitaker deflected a pass from Brooks Bollinger that was intended for Williams.
On special teams, punter Chris Kluwe got in several impressive and fairly consistent kicks. He began with a couple of 50-yarders with decent trajectory with the aid of a slight breeze, and he extended those to 60-yarders for the next two punts.
Once again, Williams, Bobby Wade and Carter were the primary punt returners. Williams did drop one punt while fielding it, as he did Wednesday.
Ryan Longwell was good on eight field goal attempts ranging from 27 to 40 yards. Two of the kicks hit the hydraulic lift where the Vikings film their practices and two of them hit the porta-potty behind the field goal posts.