Keep an eye on: Braden Jones
There’s a couple of ways to look at the performance of rookie free agent tight end Braden Jones’ performance on the training camp practice field this Wednesday.
At a casual glance one would notice that late in the afternoon practice he dropped a pair of catchable passes and it wasn’t one of his better days. However, when the coaches review the tapes of the entire day’s workouts I’m not so sure he hurt himself.
What we saw was a busier-than-normal day for a rookie free agent tight end. Visanthe Shiancoe was nursing a tweaked ankle that he had re-taped at one point during practice, forcing him to miss some time. It also appeared that the coaches were trying to rest some of their veterans, like Jim Kleinsasser, a bit.
As a result, Jones got a lot of reps in practice on Wednesday. In fact, the two balls he dropped were more the result of fatigue than inconsistent hands. This kid had been run ragged and nobody’s jersey was more drenched at the end of the day than his.
In individual drills he looks very fluid catching the ball. When the team moved to 7-on-7 drills, he continued to show soft hands and very much had the look of an effective pass-catching tight end.
He made at least two nice catches down the seam for what would have been beyond Jermaine Wiggins-range completions and showed some footspeed after the catch, as well.
Jones is also a smart young man. While he’s still just a rookie and makes some mental errors at times, he appears to be very coachable in watching his interaction with tight ends coach Jimmie Johnson.
The other thing that truly stands out about Jones is his soft hands. Despite his limited experience as a tight end, having played linebacker earlier in his college career, he is a natural catching the ball. He extends his hands nicely and shows a lot more maneuverability and athleticism at the position than the Vikings have had in recent years.
As long as Jones continues to work hard and maintains at least a comfortable level of consistency, the Vikings will have a very difficult time not keeping him on their opening-day 53-man roster.
Greenway quietly demonstrates Midwestern values
A Vikings player has been caught in the act once again. But this time it won’t make the police blotter or the ProFootballTalk.com turd watch.
Just a subtle observation from Wednesday’s morning practice: Second-year linebacker Chad Greenway is among the last of the players to return to the locker room. There were an unusual amount of “guests” attending the practice and he stayed late to sign autographs and pose for pictures with all who requested.
Then, as he’s walking up through between the practice field on his way into the locker room, there’s an empty pop can laying on the ground. Greenway, a well-paid first-round draft pick a year ago, takes a few steps out of his way to bend over and pick it up and dispose of it in a nearby trash can.
No big deal. But how many professional athletes do you think would have done it? We think not many.
Greenway looks like a stud on the field in training camp so far, and we couldn’t help but notice his raised-on-a-farm-in-South Dakota attitude, work ethic and values off the field.
Peterson caddies for Taylor…for now
It’s a longstanding rookie tradition that the younger guys assume a subservient role to the veterans. But it sets the right tone to see the team’s $40 million rookie do it for such a classy professional as Taylor. Peterson, like many of the other young guys, seems to submit to the role happily.
It should be noted that Peterson is not the only rookie with such an honor. Several others can be routinely observed trying to carry multiple sets of helmets and shoulder pads.
Allison back in action
Rookie wide receiver Aundrae Allison is back on the practice field after missing some time with a tender hamstring earlier this week.
Allison had been as consistent catching the ball as anyone in training camp before he pulled up lame and had earned the notice of the coaching staff.
“Aundrae Allison was having a good camp,” head coach Brad Childress said. “I would tell you that he flashed as much as anybody in that first week of a rookie that had playmaking ability, speed and quickness. We kind of strapped him mentally. He looked like he was taking the information even though there were volumes of it. I saw him make numbers of nice catches, so [we’re glad] to get him back out here as soon as we can.”
Glenn out again with knee injury?
Vikings linebacker Jason Glenn was on crutches following the team’s practice on Wednesday and appeared to have suffered a serious left knee injury. If so, he could miss the entire season once again. Glenn isn’t a key player in the team’s base defense, but he was on track to make the team as a backup and is also a player who is strong on special teams. He’s also a good locker room guy and a positive influence on the younger players.
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