Ray Edwards missed his fifth straight practice Sunday, but is hopeful he can return soon. See what he had to say, as well as how the other 79 Vikings spent their Sunday afternoon.
It wasn't the way Ray Edwards
envisioned the start of the 2008 season going when he and his defensive line teammates were greeted with thunderous applause at the Vikings draft party in April.
His plan was to dispel the notion that he would be the weakest link on a defensive line that had three Pro Bowl selections last year. Instead, as practice began for the other 79 Vikings players Sunday afternoon, Edwards headed back inside at Minnesota State University to rehab his ailing back.
Edwards, who opened camp on the physically unable to perform list, missed his fifth practice Sunday, but said his back is getting better and that he expects to get clearance soon to resume practicing with the rest of his teammates.
"It's coming along great," Edwards said of his rehabilitation. "It's feeling better every day and I can't wait to get started."
Edwards was sidelined with the same back injury during minicamp. It has been a source of frustration for Edwards, who is looking forward to the attention his three linemates are going to draw from opposing offenses. He is likely going to draw single coverage on nearly every play. This is his golden opportunity and, even missing days at minicamp and the start of training camp are reasons to get a little antsy.
"We're looking forward to getting everyone working and all of us being on the field," Edwards said. "We haven't been able to get all four of us on the field yet, so I'm getting ready when finally I can get it going with all of us at 100 percent."
When asked when he thought he would back, Edwards was both optimistic and diplomatic, aware that he can tell the medical staff he's ready, but the final call doesn't belong to him.
"The sooner the better," Edwards said of his return, simultaneously pointing to trainer Eric Sugarman. "He's the man that will make that call. I'm just waiting to get the word from him."
SUNDAY CAMP NOTES
In place of Edwards, Jayme Mitchell took over his spot with Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and Jared Allen taking snaps with the first-unit defense.
There was some indecision about whether today's afternoon practice would be indoors or outdoors as rain swept through Mankato from about 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. While the rain was steady, it was never severe and, when it subsided, the decision was made at about 2:45 p.m. to return outside. The field was wet, so there weren't many sharp cuts being made, making for a pretty laid-back practice in shorts and no pads.
Due to the slick field conditions, practice started a few minutes late and shut down a half-hour early.
Apparently Robert Ferguson wasn't aware of the venue change. With his teammates on the field to start stretching, Ferguson came out about five minutes late for the start of practice.
The sun peeked out for the first time all day about 3:30 p.m. and, in the two instances in which the sun wasn't obscured by clouds, the temperatures went up quickly and, with a considerable amount of moisture hanging in the air, conditions went from fine to uncomfortable in a matter of just a couple of minutes.
It was good for the fans in attendance that the practice was moved outside. According to an employee at the fieldhouse on the Minnesota State University campus who keeps gawkers and lookie-loos at bay, Brad Childress isn't thrilled about practices inside because of the confined spaces and reaction from fans. In recent indoor practices, fans have cheered plays like they're at the Metrodome and, with the amplification of sound in the fieldhouse, it isn't conducive to good practicing conditions.
When the starting D-line left the field, the reps being taken by the second defensive line unit included Brian Robison, Ellis Wyms, Kenderick Allen and Otis Grigsby.
The team worked on red zone drills on offense with Bernard Berrian making a particularly impressive fingertip catch while stutter-stepping his feet in the end zone on a Gus Frerotte pass.
John David Booty didn't have as good a QB/receiver moment. On a red zone drill with him at QB, Booty had a route where Ferguson and TE Jeff Dugan ran a crossing pattern. Booty threw a tight spiral – that went in between Ferguson and Dugan. They both looked at each other and Booty threw both of them an incredulous look.
On a play that was whistled dead, Tarvaris Jackson threw the pass anyway – a pass intended for Berrian. But Jared Allen had dropped back in coverage and made a nice two-handed pick of the ball – no small feat because the pass had a little bit of zip on it, was over his head and required a jumping catch.
Chase Johnson continues to be taking snaps at left tackle with the second-team offensive line, despite assertions that, if Bryant McKinnie is suspended, Artis Hicks would take over at OLT.
Bobby Wade was playing the role of part-time cheerleader at practice. During a red zone drill from the 15-yard line, Jackson dropped a perfect fade pass to Berrian at the corner of the end zone, earning praise and enthusiastic high-fives to both from Wade.