With Matt Birk ill, rookie John Sullivan was back to getting work as the first-team center. See what Sullivan and offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell had to say about the situation, along with amusing comments from DT Pat Williams on Sullivan. Plus get dozens of highlights from the morning practice session.
Center John Sullivan
was going back to his spring practice days on Wednesday with starter Matt Birk
missing practice because of a stomach virus.
"He was dry-heaving, not the wet heaves that would probably be better for him," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said of Birk. "He had a stomach virus. He'll be back."
Birk's absence put Sullivan, a fifth-round draft pick in April, back with the first-team offense on a regular basis for the first time since organized team activities this spring, when Birk elected to skip those voluntary practices to spend more time with his growing family.
"I think John's doing a great job. He had the benefit of all the work he got in the OTAs and minicamp (that) really helped him out," Bevell said. "He's a smart kid, he's got great leverage; he's strong inside. He does a great job making the calls. He's coming in and worked well for us."
Defensive tackle Pat Williams
wasn't quite as gracious with his assessment of Sullivan, mainly because Williams has a hard time handing out compliments to rookies.
"I think he'll be good for us. He's so-so. He's still coming along. He ain't there yet," Williams said. "I ain't giving a rookie no props. I don't care what kind of a rookie it is."
Nevertheless, Sullivan said he is learning the speed of the game from going against defensive linemen like Pat and Kevin Williams
. And the rookie didn't have a problem complimenting the veterans.
"Both of those guys are Pro Bowlers and they are some of the best defensive linemen in the league. They're big, they're strong and they're fast. You can't really waste any time thinking about those guys, you've just got to play your best and react and try to get your job done," Sullivan said.
"When you're a professional football player, you can't be in awe of anyone out on the field. It doesn't matter who you are playing against or who is next to you. I'm out there as an equal, even though I have less experience, and I have to go out there and take care of my business."
Sullivan has also gotten some work at guard, but that is mainly to prepare him as a versatile offensive lineman if he is to be active on game days, when the Vikings have to de-active eight players for each regular-season game.
"Those guys have to be swing guys," Bevell said. "If he's going to be a center, those guys usually have to be guards (as well). You kind of have to teach him that out of necessity and he's picked it up really well."
WEDNESDAY MORNING NOTES
Safety Tyrell Johnson returned to practice after suffering an abdominal strain.
In addition to Birk, also missing or being held out of practice were S Madieu Williams (neck), OL Drew Radovich (shoulder), DT Kenderick Allen (wrist) and DE Brian Robison (leg). Radovich, however, had shed his sling.
The team practiced in shoulder pads and helmets once again. They return for a one-hour special teams practice starting at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
WR Robert Ferguson started leaving practice before the final play and made his way to the locker room with an apparent injury.
During some of the full-team work, Darren Sharper got a break and various backup safeties were rotating in with the first-team defense.
During one-on-one drills, the quarterbacks were wearing the Nike sunglasses that that had blinking lights to simulate the distractions they encounter during games. However, they each lifted the glasses above their eyes when they got the play call from an assistant coach.
The highlights of the individual session: John David Booty connecting with WR Martin Nance on a pass that was just high enough to stay out of the reach of leaping CB Cedric Griffin, and CB Marcus Walker stretching to knock a Tarvaris Jackson pass away from WR Robert Ferguson.
QB Gus Frerotte looked like the more accurate passer during one-on-one work, hitting WR Daniel Davis deep down the right sideline over S Tyrell Johnson and then WR Darius Reynaud down the opposite sideline over S Eric Frampton on consecutive plays. A few plays later, Frerotte connected with Nance down the right sideline after he beat S Michael Boulware.
CB Marcus McCauley deflected a Jackson pass away from WR Jaymar Johnson.
During full-team work, Jackson connected with TE Braden Jones for a pass down the middle seam with Boulware in coverage.
DE Ray Edwards had one of the highlights of the defense during the full-team session. He stripped RB Chester Taylor of the ball, but G Steve Hutchinson recovered. Toward the end of practice, Edwards also got a touch sack of Jackson.
Jackson had a few nice plays in full-team work, with a completion to WR Sidney Rice on a rollout that was placed just over CB Charles Gordon. Later, he rolled out to his right, pump-faked to RB Adrian Peterson in the flat to draw CB Antoine Winfield up and then threw it to Rice for an 18-yard completion deeper downfield.
Boulware had one nice play near the goal line, when he knocked away a pass from Jackson that was intended for Shiancoe in traffic during a last-minute drill. One play later, on the final play of the timed session, Griffin knocked away a Hail Mary pass to WRs Bobby Wade and Robert Ferguson.
Frerotte looked sharp in his last-minute series, hitting WR Aundrae Allison, Nance and Jaymar Johnson.
In a return to full-team work, Adrian Peterson found one opening around the left side and turned it into an explosive play.
Jackson just missed on a bomb intended for Ferguson. With Griffin and Boulware in coverage, the pass went off the fingertips of Ferguson about 50 yards down the field. A few plays later, Jackson rolled to his right to buy time and threw across his body to the middle of the field for a 23-yard completion to Jaymar Johnson.
Ferguson had a nice sliding catch on a pass from Jackson.
Bollinger hooked up with Allison for a 29-yard pass with CB Brandon Sumrall in coverage.
LB Rufus Alexander sniffed out of a screen pass to Maurice Hicks and stopped it before it gained any yardage, similar to what LB J. Leman did in Tuesday morning's practice.
Griffin had one of the defensive highlights on an interception of Jackson. Griffin read the play and made a break on a ball intended for Ferguson, but the cornerback slipped and couldn't immediately regain his footing. He continued to track the ball while he was on the ground and still came up with the interception.
Kicker Ryan Longwell was 6-for-6 on his field goal work.