The Vikings were busying preparing for Friday night's preseason opener by mixing and matching their personnel. See what offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had to say about that, and get notes from the morning session.
Wednesday morning was not the day to be trying to figure out the Vikings' depth chart, as the team spent a shortened practice mixing and matching personnel.
On offense, there were times that the first-team offensive line consisted of half of the regular starters and two or three second-team players, some of which are undrafted rookie free agents. The same was true with the receiving corps. At times it consisted of the regular starters of Troy Williamson
, Bobby Wade
and third receiver Sidney Rice
. Other times, it was a second-team group of receivers working with the first-team offensive line.
It was all part of the preparation for the team's first preseason game Friday evening against the St. Louis Rams
"In the first preseason game, you usually play the ones whatever we decide – a quarter, a series, however we end up deciding it. But those twos and threes are the ones who get the bulk of the game, so you need to make sure that they are as prepared as they can to be able to handle the situation and that they'll be able to perform well and we can assess their talent and let their talent shine I guess," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
The personnel mixing continued on the defensive side of the ball as well. Second-team linemen were sometimes used with the rest of the first-team defense, but most obvious was the second-team safeties playing with the first-team defense while starters Dwight Smith
and Darren Sharper
were on the sideline.
In some cases, formerly injured players were returning to the practice field. Wide receiver Aundrae Allison
returned to practice and running back Adrian Peterson
was also back practicing after resuming his work on Tuesday following a hip flexor that sidelined him on Monday.
Unlike yesterday afternoon, when the practice went about 45 minutes long, Wednesday morning's practice ended about 45 minutes early.
"I think we have had a long training camp. We have been going a lot of double days and just an opportunity to get some of the older guys their feet back under them so that they can perform well the first time that they go out," Bevell said.
Cornerback Marcus McCauley and DE Darrion Scott were among the players held out of the morning practice. Joining them were previously injured players, including CB Ronyell Whitaker, RB Wendell Mathis, LB John Kerr, and DE Khreem Smith. DE Erasmus James continues to work out on a side field rehabilitating his knee.
QB Tarvaris Jackson overthrew WR Troy Williamson early in an 11-on-11 drill when Williamson had a step on safety Mike Doss. Overthrowing the long pass has been a regular occurrence at training camp, one that head coach Brad Childress acknowledged.
Tank Williams ran a perfectly timed blitz and garnered a touch sack of QB Brooks Bollinger.
During 7-on-7 drills, RB Adrian Peterson and Ciatrick Fason each dropped passes.
CB Jerron Wishom tipped a pass from Bollinger, but WR Billy McMullen made the play of the morning practice when he plucked the ball in mid-air and made the reception anyway. Wishom deflected another pass later in practice as well.
Doss intercepted a Jackson pass that was intended for Peterson.
The Vikings worked the two-minute drill again in the morning after spending extensive time on it Tuesday afternoon. Like the rest of their practice, they continued to mix personnel.
One of the better plays during the two-minute drill was a Bollinger pass to Fason at the goal line that traveled 35 yards. But it was left tackle Chase Johnson that allowed the play to happen when he threw a crushing last-second block on DE Brian Robison, who was about ready to get to a touch sack of Bollinger.
The team worked QB Tyler Thigpen extensively during the two-minute drill, figuring he will be the one in Friday night's game at the end when they could use it.
During the special teams portion of practice, punter Alex Reyes looked pretty good punting the ball inside the 10-yard line from between 36 to 45 yards out. He brought one down at the 9 and another at the 5-yard line, but the highlight was two that were downed at the 1-yard line. On the first one, Charles Gordon caught up to the ball on one bounce and, before his momentum carried him into the end zone, flipped it back to Dovonte Edwards at the 1-yard line. The second one hit at about the 2-yard line and went sideways before dying at the 1.
"I think for the most part he had a good day," special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro said of Reyes. "The wind was kind of blowing across for him, which is good work. That certainly is an important part of the game."
WR Jason Carter fielded the punts.
Police cars and an ambulance were at the Vikings' Gage Hall dormitory before and during the morning practice. It was later learned that one of the team's security guards, Frank Foster, had died, presumably in his sleep. He was 66.