The Vikings' passing offense wasn't clicking to start Saturday morning's two-hour session, but eventually the receivers starting making plays, including a few long ones that drew cheers from the crowd.
The saying within NFL circles is that it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
That adage is supposed to apply to games and the regular season, not training camp practices, but the Vikings' offensive players were probably feeling that way for Saturday morning's practice. Bernard Berrian
started the full-team drills by dropping the first pass from Tarvaris Jackson
, and a number of other receivers followed suit in the early going.
Quarterback John David Booty
said the early installation of third-down-and-short and third-down-and-intermediate passing plays may have taken its toll early in practice.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of the drills in chronological order:
Immediately following Berrian's drop, safety Darren Sharper nearly intercepted a sideline pass. That was followed by a pass behind Jim Kleinsasser that the tight end got his hands on but deflected to safety Madieu Williams, who had some open field in front of him after the interception.
Backup Gus Frerotte's first session in full-team work didn't go much better. He had to scramble up the middle on his first play as the defense had good coverage, and he overthrew WR Martin Nance on the second play. The offense had to rehuddle because of a mistake on the third play before linebacker Vinny Ciurciu came around the end for a touch sack.
After the third-team offense didn't have much success either, the drills moved from full-team work to 7-on-7 drills. LB Greenway nearly interception Jackson on his first throw in that setting, but the offense eventually got a rhythm, kick-started by a 15-yard completion to Berrian. Visanthe Shiancoe highlighted Frerotte's three-play series with a stretching reception in traffic.
The remaining seven-on-seven work was a mix of missed opportunities (Berrian bobbled another pass) and capitalizing on fortuitous happenings (like safety Eric Frampton slipping on a Jaymar Johnson reception to give the receiver a clear path to the end zone).
After going back to full-team work, Berrian and Jackson broke through for the highlight play of the morning. Under heavy pressure in the face of a blitz, Jackson lofted a long pass down the right sideline and threaded the coverage between CB Antoine Winfield and Madieu Williams. The result was a 50-yard touchdown that brought the crowd of an estimated 1,500 to cheers.
On his next series of full-team work, Jackson put together a string of completions – a 15-yard bullet to Shiancoe, a 35-yarder to Sidney Rice and 10-yarders to Adrian Peterson and Nate Jones, who had made a diving catch.
In other observations Saturday morning:
Marcus Johnson is working as the second-team right tackle on offense.
On defense, with Ray Edwards still limited to working out on the sidelines, Jayme Mitchell continued to man the starting left end position with Otis Grigsby getting most of the second-team work.
Quarterbacks Brooks Bollinger and Booty rotated in and out with the third-team offense for limited repetitions.