The Vikings broke training camp Wednesday and perhaps the best news to come out of it was that one of the team's biggest concerns coming into camp turned out not to be a factor. Not who will be the quarterback or who will be catching the passes? Those questions, while not fully answered, will be decided in time. The biggest concern in the weeks leading up to training camp were the field conditions at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Minnesota State pledged almost $300,000 to field upgrades and the Vikings kicked in another $100,000 to make the fields better. A month before training camp, Vikings coaches and team officials were concerned about the condition of the practice fields, which had several seams and the potential for injury. The team brought in field guru George Toma to re-sod the fields and, as practice came to a close, there was nothing but praise for how the fields held up despite a couple of bouts of heavy rain and the constant wear of tear of cleats on the field over the three-week training camp period.
Head coach Brad Childress made a point to thank the Minnesota State-Mankato personnel for another enjoyable camp and said he looks forward to their return to Mankato next season.
* In an ironic twist, it was one year ago today that Koren Robinson was arrested on DWI charges after leading police on a high-speed chase that resulted in his arrest on Aug. 16, 2006. On Wednesday's final day of camp, the Minnesota State Highway Patrol used the crowd at Minnesota State to promote and educate about its Safe and Sober Program, which saturates particular stretches of highway on weekends through Labor Day to increase law enforcement. In a strange twist to their promotion, the Safe and Sober campaign is going to include voice-activated urinals with bull's eyes and a recorded voice reminding bar patrons that if they drink and drive they will get caught. The person who came up with that idea should either be applauded or committed. We haven't figured out which one yet.
* Brad Childress estimated that 50,000 fans attended practice sessions for the Vikings over their three weeks of training camp, showing that there is still a lot of passion among the fans for the Vikings, despite being playoff non-factors the last two seasons. He added that players have signed an estimated 15,000 autographs in the fan tent over the three weeks of camp.
* Weather forced the Vikings inside for the final morning practice, which was noted as Fan Appreciation Day. Following the practice, all Vikings players stayed around for an extra half hour to sign autographs for fans packed into Myers Fieldhouse.
* Childress said Wednesday that winning preseason games shouldn't come at the risk of players. "We always go in with the goal of trying to win the games that we play. However, we're not about to take the first (team players) and stick with them in the fourth quarter to win the game. That's not our philosophy," he said.
* The expected QB rotation for Friday's game will have Tarvaris Jackson starting and playing through the first quarter, with Brooks Bollinger, Drew Henson and Tyler Thigpen expected to each get one quarter of action, respectively. Following the preseason opener vs. the Rams, Childress had suggested that Bollinger might get the start against his former team, but in the end decided that T-Jack needs as much work with the first-team O-line as he can get.
* The Vikings broke camp no closer to answering the question of who stays or who goes at the safety position. It would seem that Darren Sharper is a lock and it will be hard not to keep Dwight Smith. That leaves two spots open for Mike Doss, who has a major "in" with defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier from their time together with the Colts, Tank Williams, who was hand-picked by Childress to be a starting safety last year before a broken kneecap in a fluke training camp accident that lost him for the season, and second-year safety Greg Blue. While Blue would appear to be the player that could be expendable, considering the ages of the other safeties, his youth and size might serve him well in the minds of the decision-makers with the Vikings.
* It's looking less and less likely that Erasmus James will see any playing time in Friday's game. He came off the PUP list Monday, but likely isn't in game condition to play. Childress said Wednesday that with just four days of preparation and the typical muscle soreness that comes from the first week of full practice, it "wouldn't be fair" to James to push him into the lineup. Frazier continues to maintain that if he's 100 percent, he'll get his starting job back. But that will have to wait, giving Ray Edwards another chance to try to seize the starting job away from him and rookie Brian Robison more opportunities to impress the coaching staff in game situations.
* One has to wonder about the life expectancy of tight end Stephen Spach with the Vikings. Why? He's wearing No. 84 and, to date, nobody has worn that number in the regular season since Randy Moss left. There's nothing saying that the Vikings won't give the number to someone else, but, with the seasons Moss had with the Vikings, it wouldn't be surprising if the team retires the number as a way of saying thanks to a player who may already have the pure numbers for Hall of Fame induction. For the record, Billy McMullen wore the number in the preseason last year, but switched to No. 12 in the regular season.
* At 10:30 this morning, new Vikings mascot Viktor, who rapelled from the ceiling of the Metrodome at the preseason opener, will donate 20 bicycles used by the Vikings during training camp to the North Community YMCA. The bikes will be used as part of the NCY's triathalon training program.
Vikes Break Camp
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