Quarterback Gus Frerotte returned to action Tuesday morning and joined a good practice for the quarterbacks and receivers, who connected on numerous deep plays. Get more news, notes and quotes from the players and coaches inside, including Frerotte's reaction to the Brett Favre situation.
Quarterback Gus Frerotte
returned to the practice field Tuesday morning after a day off on Monday with a sore back. All the players were given Sunday off, which meant Frerotte had two days to rest his back.
"It was just tight yesterday and I took a day off. It actually really helped me to take a day off and let it rest," said Frerotte, who added that he has never really had any back issues before.
The back didn't seem to affect Frerotte's ability to get the ball deep on Tuesday morning. Toward the end of full-team work, he shuffled to the right to buy time in the pocket and launched a ball deep down the middle of the field for wide receiver Aundrae Allison
. Allison had a step on cornerback Benny Sapp
and caught the ball in stride for about a 70-yard touchdown, the longest play of the day.
"You always want to try to hit the long ball," Frerotte said. "Of course, we're always going to try to run the ball, but when teams come up and they've got eight or nine guys in the box, that's your opportunity, but on the same hand we're not going to try to force that."
Frerotte was intercepted a few plays earlier by linebacker Heath Farwell
on a shorter pass, but the Vikings' quarterbacks and wide receivers hit on a number of long passes throughout practice.
"We were a very explosive team (in 2007). I always say this: There is always an opportunity to take the deep ball built in," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "If we get the matchups we're looking for – which last year we got those matchups but then the guys outside have to win the matchup – there is more than one thing involved there. So the quarterback is taking a look at those shots he has. If he feels he's got it, then he's got to take it and then he's also got to hit it. It think you're starting to see that out here in training camp. We're starting to hit a lot more of those and we're starting to take a lot more of those."
On Tuesday, the quarterbacks and receivers hit on a number of nice pass plays (see below).
TUESDAY MORNING NOTES
Rumor out of Green Bay is that Brett Favre will not be practicing this afternoon and has not even been given a playbook. Frerotte said he isn't concerning himself with the Favre situation, despite the fact that it likely would affect Frerotte's standing on the depth chart, if not his future with the team altogether.
"I really don't worry about it. By this time I've seen pretty much anything that happen in the league," he said. "If something happens in that sense, then you worry about it then. … It keeps dragging on and it's country-wide. Hopefully it will be over soon."
Bevell said the team has the entire base offense installed, allowing the players to concentrate on refining it before Friday's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
Bevell will spend most of the preseason on the sidelines calling plays, which will allow him more interaction with the players. The team will decide if that's the way they want to continue into the regular season.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier admitted that the depth at defensive end is a concern with Ray Edwards recently returning from a back injury and Brian Robison possibly missing a few weeks if he has surgery to repair a varicose vein in his leg. Frazier said they would like to get Edwards some reps in Friday's game.
Frazier said CB Marcus McCauley (knee) is close to returning to practice and might even play on Friday.
The morning session didn't start impressively for the quarterbacks and wide receivers, who were going against defensive backs to start. Cornerback Charles Gordon dropped a potential interception on a pass from Tarvaris Jackson to Bobby Wade, and Martin Nance followed by dropping the next pass. But from there, the offense starting clicking.
Darius Reynaud had a good practice, jumping high over the middle on a crossing route to haul in a pass from John David Booty. Booty and Reynaud were also a successful tandem a few plays later when the quarterback lofted the ball in between defenders Madieu Williams and Brandon Sumrall for a perfectly placed 25-yard completion. Reynaud was also the intended target of a Frerotte pass that cornerback Antoine Winfield nearly intercepted.
Allison started a nice workout with a long reception down the middle of the field from Jackson.
Jackson connected with Wade for a 40-yarder down the right sideline.
During one-on-one work, Brooks Bollinger connected with Wade on a 45-yard strike down the left sideline with Sumrall in coverage.
Booty was successful on an early pass in that session, hitting rookie Jaymar Johnson with a 35-yard pass down the middle.
CB Charles Gordon had great coverage on a pass intended for Nate Jones.
Kicker Steven Hauschka had one of his field goal attempts tipped at the line of scrimmage and another made it through on a low-liner.
During a portion of practice concentrating on the one-minute drill, Frerotte hit Braden Jones and the field goal unit rushed out for a Hauschka conversion. On the next series, defensive tackle Fred Evans ended the offense's hopes with a touch sack of Frerotte.
Booty drove his offensive unit into scoring position during his one-minute drill, but with 6 seconds left, he threw an ill-advised pass to Nate Jones and Sapp intercepted it in the end zone.
Likewise, Jackson's attempt at the one-minute drill ended when Wade tipped a pass that safety Madieu Williams intercepted.
During full-team work, Ray Edwards got a touch sack on Frerotte.
Two comical moments occurred during practice. On the first one, Jackson fired a sideline bullet for WR Daniel Davis, who missed the pass. The ball continued on its course until it hit unsuspecting CB Marcus Walker in the helmet. Walker was just strolling down the sidelines between fields and not paying attention to the action when it happened. The second light moment came on a Hauschka field goal. The ball sailed through the uprights and, just as WR Martin Nance was leaving the mini-biff, the ball hit the door of the biff as Nance exited. A fraction of a second later and the ball would have either hit Nance or sailed right into the biff.
The team practices for an hour this afternoon, starting at 2:45 p.m.