The Vikings' practice Tuesday was short on safeties, but the backup guys were stepping up to make plays with their newfound opportunities. Plus, get dozens of notes from the morning session.
If there is safety in numbers, then the Vikings' defensive backfield isn't the safest place to be.
In the course of one week, the team lost starting safety Madieu Williams
to a neck injury and rookie Tyrell Johnson
continued to be sidelined during practices as well. Vikings coach Brad Childress wouldn't rule out the possibility of Johnson playing in Saturday's game at Baltimore, saying "guys do a lot of things in a few days," but while Childress wouldn't give a timeline on Williams' return, it didn't sound like the veteran would be a possibility for playing Saturday.
"You just don't know. I don't know. I'm not clairvoyant," Childress said when asked how long Williams would be out, and it wasn't clear exactly when Williams got injured, but he didn't play in Friday night's game because of the injury.
Johnson played about 50 snaps on defense and special teams, Childress said.
"There was no downside to him playing as much as he had," Childress said. "He had about 50 snaps the other night both on defense and special teams, so it was just good to see him out there with the lights on. He had a couple tackles in the back end."
Johnson said after the game that he wasn't nervous, just excited, to be in his first NFL action.
"I think we handled the checks pretty good, lined up pretty good and tried to play the scheme of things," he said. "But we lost and didn't do a good enough job getting lined up and communicating, and they played a little more physical than we did."
If Johnson and Williams can't go, second-year safety Eric Frampton
and free-agent signee Michael Boulware
split time with the first-team defense next to Darren Sharper
during Tuesday's morning session.
Childress and Frampton acknowledged that the second-year safety is getting more comfortable in the defense and it shows in his communication.
"He's as vocal a guy as we have back there," Childress said. "When you go through the calls and adjustments, those guys have to communicate in the back end based on where the tight end is, strength, motion. He's a guy that sings it out."
Boulware ended practice with an interception of a Gus Frerotte
pass intended for Aundrae Allison
, and Childress said Boulware is starting to play faster in this defense.
The progress of Boulware and Frampton could be a reason that Childress isn't anticipating any free-agent moves to bring in a safety.
"I think we're OK. We look at the waiver wire every night and look at players of interest and grade them and talk about them a little bit and then we look at the street guys as well. But I'm OK with where we're at," Childress said.
TUESDAY MORNING NOTES
Tuesday morning's practice started with overcast skies following a morning rain. The temperature at the start of practice was a very pleasant 62 degrees with 94 percent humidity. The low temp, at least, was probably a welcome sign for players in the last week of camp. About 15 minutes after practice, it started to rain, making it another case of good timing for the practice schedule this training camp.
DT Kenderick Allen and DE Brian Robison were also watching practice, as was OL Marcus Johnson, who was running on the side.
OL Drew Radovich still had his arm in a sling and remained sidelined.
One of the more humorous moments of camp occurred during individual drills, when WR Bernard Berrian took off his scout-team mesh cap and pulled it down over his face while covering WR Daniel Davis. Berrian stayed right with Davis despite the visual impediment and had a good laugh about it.
Davis rebounded a short time later when he was knocked off balance by CB Marcus Walker, recovered and caught a deep pass from John David Booty in one-on-one drills.
Allison had a 45-yard reception from Brooks Bollinger with Benny Sapp in coverage.
Safety Darren Sharper ended one-on-one work with an interception on a Bollinger pass to Sidney Rice. Sharper gave the crowd a good laugh with his Sharper Shake on the way over to another practice field. He just missed an interception from Jackson that was intended for Robert Ferguson later on during full-team work.
Rice had a 40-yard reception early in full-team work down the right sideline on a pass from Tarvaris Jackson. Antoine Winfield was right there in coverage.
Frerotte just missed getting a big-strike pass to Robert Ferguson when the quarterback had to let go of the ball early while under pressure. The pass was right on target, but Ferguson didn't look back on time to track it.
DL Leger Douzable had a touch sack of Frerotte.
LB J. Leman sniffed out a screen pass from Frerotte to RB Albert Young and stopped the play before it gained any yardage.
WR Martin Nance had a nice grab down the right sideline. He and CB Charles Gordon got tangled up and Gordon fell to the ground. Nance kept his balance and made the catch right over Gordon.
CB Cedric Griffin made a nice interception by dragging his toes along the sideline before going out of bounds. That Jackson pass was intended for Nance.
Frerotte had a sidearm bullet that he got right on the numbers to WR Nate Jones. Frerotte was under pressure from DE Otis Grigsby, which may have been the reason for the sidearm.
DE Jared Allen had a touch sack of Jackson.
RB Chester Taylor took a handoff up the middle and cut back to his left for gain of about 40 yards before safety Dee McCann caught him from behind.