McCauley Passes Test Against the Best

CB Marcus McCauley faced up against Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce a number of times Friday night, and he passed the test – which was another step in a promising young career. See what McCauley had to say about the experience, and get notes from the afternoon practice and a conversation with head coach Brad Childress.

Marcus McCauley had nerves going into his first professional game, even if it was preseason action. But McCauley's play was anything but hesitant.

"I was nervous in the locker room, but it was so hot in the Metrodome that I wasn't really nervous when the game started," McCauley said. "It was so hyped up and I had a lot of things going on in my head."

Going against an offense that not so long ago was known as the "Greatest Show on Turf" will do that to a rookie cornerback, a position where it is hard to hide coverage mistakes. Making it even more nerve-wracking was one assignment that McCauley had – covering Rams star receiver Torry Holt.

"I was on him on (a) third-down stop, but he's definitely crafty," McCauley said. "You can definitely see why he's a Pro Bowler. I was lined up on him and Isaac Bruce. You can definitely see why they've been in the league a long time.

"Everything they do looks the same. Those guys, it's kind of hard to pick up on any kind of keys before the play because everything they do looks the same. Half the time you think they're going to do something, it's the exact opposite."

The third-round pick has been right more often than not in training camp as he continued a series of solid practices Tuesday morning.

During individual drills, McCauley wasn't fooled by a stop-and-go move that WR Jason Carter tried, and the cornerback was right there to knock away a deep pass – one that he nearly intercepted. Later, during full-team drills, starter Tarvaris Jackson unloaded a pass intended for rookie receiver Sidney Rice in the corner of the end zone. Instead of a touchdown reception for the second-round draft choice, it turned into a tipped pass for the third-round cornerback that resulted in an interception for safety Patrick Body.

But the competition was much stiffer against St. Louis Friday night and McCauley held up well under the lights of an NFL game. A penalty kept him and his teammates from getting off the field on the Rams' initial first down of the game on an incomplete pass to Holt, but McCauley held WR Drew Bennett to a 4-yard gain on third-and-5 on St. Louis' next set of downs.

Yet McCauley seems to take the good and the bad without making too much of either.

"First of all, it was fun. It seemed like every play it slowed down for me. At first I got in here thinking that I had to do everything perfect. When you really think about it, it doesn't have to be like that – just be where you're supposed to be. The biggest thing I got from it was just to run full speed when you're running into plays," he said. "Myself personally, I don't think mistakes are OK, but I don't put all that pressure on myself to be perfect. I guess they thought I played alright. (The coaches) didn't get on me too bad."

Not likely to happen the way McCauley has been practicing. It seems like he's gotten at least a hand on a pass in every practice and had a number of interceptions early in camp.

"He's going to be a player. You could see that during minicamp," fellow cornerback Antoine Winfield said on the first day of training camp. "He has great hands, great technique, a lot of confidence. But the thing is for a young corner, once you get beat how you react. I'm looking to see how he does when that happens."

So far, McCauley hasn't had a lot of opportunities to show how he handles getting beat, but he acknowledges that things are much different in games than they are in practices.

"Everybody can play when there is no contact – everybody is good. When it's time to man up and hit somebody, that's when you really see … I thought I showed up pretty well in the game. This is a preseason game – what do I know? It's all based on what our coaches think," he said.

Judging from his quick takeover of playing cornerback in the nickel defense, it would appear that the coaches are impressed with McCauley's quick transition from Fresno State to the NFL, but he isn't about to extrapolate his success on the practice field and wonder what it will mean in terms of future playing time. He's already shying away from questions inquiring about how long it might be before he starts pushing for a starting job.

"I don't think you can go out there with that on your mind," he said. "If you go out there with that, that's the quickest way for it not to happen. You have to just play and not worry about what comes after that. You just take it play by play because that's just added pressure. I just want to help the team and not necessarily be the starter or anything like that."

NOTES

  • Similar to Monday, the Vikings ran about a one-hour special teams practice in the afternoon. They worked on several aspects of the punting and kicking game.

  • Alex Reyes worked on kicking off and appeared to get some of his kicks higher than he did in Friday night's game, but he is still pretty inconsistent in that aspect.

  • The Vikings also worked on punting while backed up against their goal line.

  • Brad Childress on LB Jason Glenn's retirement: "He's a salt-of-the-earth kid, a consummate professional."

    It was obvious Childress had a lot of respect for Glenn's performance on the football field and life. The coach even talked about possibly bringing Glenn back in a non-playing role sometime down the line, and he didn't close the door on Glenn returning to the team at a later point if his knee would allow.

  • Childress said he hasn't completely ruled out the possibility of keeping only two quarterbacks, but it seemed like an outside possibility. The Vikings do have some depth on the roster at certain positions, like running back and defensive back, and that could enter into the equation when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 players.

    "If you've got good players, you want to keep good players – even if you are top-heavy at some positions," Childress said.

  • Childress said WRs Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison and Chandler Williams have been spending extra time with position coach George Stewart while trying to catch up after injuries earlier in camp.

  • Judging from Childress's reaction to a question about Erasmus James playing Friday against the New York Jets, it's unlikely the defensive end will play. Childress said he is inclined to wait another week before getting James into game action, but he hasn't completely ruled out the possibility of him playing in New York. He said it would be James' decision if he wants to wear a brace that he occasionally has worn this week as he returned to practice.

  • The NFL is pushing to have teams select permanent captains for the season instead of rotating different players as captains throughout the season. The captains would then have a patch or other designation that would allow them to talk to officials about certain decisions. It wasn't clear if the NFL planned on enforcing its suggestion of season-long captains for each game, and there was no set number of captains suggested in a memo Childress received from the league.


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