The Vikings are employing a new tool in their training camp arsenal, prototype pairs of goggles that try to simulate the distractions that players face when being moved, defended and having hands up in their face. See what the players had to say about them, along with plenty of morning practice notes.
Vikings head coach Brad Childress has always been a proponent of trying to maintain a competitive advantage. In a league that is based on parity, any small advantage can prove valuable on game days.
One such approach is being used at Vikings training camp, as the team is experimenting with "Strobe Specs" – a prototype device devised by Nike to simulate the kind of vision problems a player might face, whether it be a quarterback, a wide receiver or a defensive back. The Vikings have been dealing with the Nike Institute ever since Childress arrived, most notably the work the company did in attempting to correct Troy Williamson
's hand-eye coordination issues.
The goggles were unveiled Sunday at practice and several players took turns using them Monday during practice drills. Childress believes the goggles can be a valuable learning tool, especially for young QBs Tarvaris Jackson
and John David Booty
"Quarterbacks are continually getting hands across their faces with people waving things, (bumping them) and moving around," Childress said. "So it's really more of a distraction that you have to focus through. I think we're some of the first people to have those. We have 10 pairs of them."
Jackson gave them a brief try and, as the name implies, it was like throwing passes with a strobe light effect going on. The goggles will temporarily take away the wearer's sight and almost immediately restore it, giving the player the effect of a strobe that blinks on and off in quick intervals.
"It was really different," Jackson said. "It makes you focus more on what you're doing because you're not used to seeing things like that when you're playing. That's the object of it, so I can see how they can be helpful."
Not everyone was as impressed. Wide receiver Bobby Wade
is a veteran who tried the goggles during a couple of passing drills and came away with respect for the technology, but not a love for the product.
"Those things are crazy," Wade said with a laugh. "I figured I'd let the younger guys try them. I think if I wore them too much, I'd end up taking a pass to the face. Tarvaris throws a pretty strong ball, so I don't need the distractions. Let the rookies work them out."
The Vikings intend to use the glasses during practice sessions and allow defensive players to get their turn with them as well.
MONDAY A.M. NOTES
The Vikings practiced in full pads for just the fifth time during training camp Monday morning.
The team couldn't have asked for better weather for the morning practice, nor could the fans, who again came lout in droves – filling both bleachers and lining the sidelines three and four people deep.
Offensive lineman Drew Radovich didn't take part in practice. He had his left arm in a sling after suffering a shoulder injury in the Seahawks game Friday.
Dee McCann got more work at safety because both Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson were sidelined for the morning practice.
Safety Michael Boulware returned to practice after being sidelined with a mild concussion.
In punting drills in the early part of practice, Jaymar Johnson and Daniel Davis were fielding punts, but Johnson muffed two kicks right in front of Childress, which didn't earn him any brownie points.
Childress spent several minutes in the early part of practice talking to former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders, who was a guest of the team and allowed to watch practice from the sidelines in between the practice fields.
During screen pass drills, the team had quarterback Brooks Bollinger working with the running backs, while the other three QBs did individual drills. The belief is that Bollinger is going to be the odd-man out in the quarterback derby.
The defensive linemen spent much of the early practice working on fumble drills.
The three new Vikings signed as injury replacements were all assigned numbers. OT Sean Dumford was given No. 61, DE Chris Norwell is wearing No. 66 and Brock Pasteur is wearing No. 73.
While it might change before Saturday, two Vikings are currently assigned No. 73 – Pasteur on offense and DE Otis Grigsby on defense.
There was very little information available about the extent of the injury to guard Mike Jones, who was placed on injured reserve before the start of practice Monday.
From the "I told you to go before we left home" department comes this: E.J. Henderson tried in vain twice to use the portable bathroom at the end of the practice field. The first time, it was occupied by Letroy Guion. After going back to the practice field, as Guion trotted back to the field, Henderson tried for a second time – only to have the bathroom occupied by a young fan. The third time proved the charm for E.J.
Jackson was very erratic in one-on-one drills between the wide receivers and the cornerbacks, having a lot of difficulty completing deep passes. He was also nearly picked off by CB Marcus Walker, who jumped a route run by Davis and nearly took one the other way for six points.
The same wasn't as true for Gus Frerotte, who delivered a perfect 40-yard strike to Martin Nance, who had burned Darren Sharper deep.
Robert Ferguson got a nice hand from the crowd as he battled a deep pass away from Charles Gordon during the one-on-one drills.
Aundrae Allison has been catching nearly everything in sight during camp and put a double-move on Benny Sapp and connected with Bollinger for a long gain.
Kicker Steven Hauschka missed two of six field goals during full-team field goal practice – with both misses coming on his three attempts from the right hashmark.
In 11-on-11 drills, when the defense went to three cornerbacks, Antoine Winfield spent much of his time over the slot receiver, with Cedric Griffin and Gordon playing on the outside.
Ferguson continues to get a lot of work on special teams – perhaps a sign that he will have to show ability there to assure a roster spot.
Gordon saw time working with both the first- and second-team defense.
Wade had a couple of uncharacteristic drops back-to-back during 11-on-11 drills.
The rookie mistake of the day came in 7-on-7 drills, as rookie WR Darius Reynaud lined up on the wrong side of the formation and, as Frerotte tried to get him to move from the right side of the formation to the left, Childress angrily yelled for a timeout.
TE Garrett Mills, who has missed most of training camp with an ankle injury, returned to practice Sunday, but was again limited in practice Monday morning, sitting out most of the position drills.
Adrian Peterson got his typical loud ovation from the crowd as he took a sweep to the left sideline and raced 80 yards. The collective groan of the morning session came a minute later as Maurice Hicks dropped a short dump-off pass over the middle.
After practice, Ferguson interviewed Erin Henderson for a segment on the "Vikings Weekly" cable-TV program on FSN North. Ferguson was impressive as both cameraman and interviewer – he may have a future in front of the camera after his playing days are over.
The Vikings will return to the practice field from 2:45-3:45 p.m. this afternoon for a special teams practice.
After today, the Vikings have just six practices over three days before camp breaks Friday.