Senior Bowl: Opening-day flavor

The first day of practice got underway at the Senior Bowl on Monday. Here are some of the observations, some with a Vikings slant, from a Senior Bowl rookie.

The cattle call begins.

Monday was the opening day of practice in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl. While the NFL Scouting Combine workouts are generally closed to the media, the Senior Bowl practices are open and accommodating.

The day starts with the morning weigh-in, where players in boxer briefs are paraded down the aisle of a ballroom lined with more than 500 NFL team personnel and media. The players are weighed and measured on stage in front of the room with the numbers announced to the crowd.

Monday is also the only day that both the North and South teams practice simultaneously in the afternoon at different stadiums. Here are some observations from the North team practice, coached by the Cincinnati Bengals staff, on a quickly cooling afternoon at Ladd Peebles Stadium:

  • Oregon safety Patrick Chung struggled at times early in the North individual drills, dropping a couple of passes thrown his way. He said he wanted be out there hitting more on the first day, but the coaches instructed the players to avoid tackling to the ground on the opening day of practice. The Vikings could be looking at a safety in the middle rounds if they don't re-sign Darren Sharper or find a veteran replacement in free agency.

  • Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Sam Houston State's Rhett Bomar both showed NFL ability, but Bomar actually looked like the best of the three quarterbacks on the North team at Monday's practice.

  • Oklahoma wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias received praise from the Bengals coaching staff on several occasions for his blocking technique on a drill in which the receivers matched up against cornerbacks while a running backs had to read whether to break inside or outside on the block.

  • Ohio State's Brian Robiskie may be one of the most polished receivers in the Senior Bowl this year. He showed good route-running skills and solid blocking.

  • Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler showed good instincts during one-on-one drills when he read the eyes of Bomar and broke hard on a route to knock away the ball.

  • Washington State wide receiver Brandon Gibson extended nicely for a deep reception from Central Arkansas quarterback Nathan Brown.

  • Former Vikings cornerback Antonio Banks (1998-2000) was at the Senior Bowl networking in search of a job. Banks has been trying to find some security in coaching and has been paying his dues at the lower levels, from Division II in college to upstart professional leagues.

  • The day ended with media night at the USS Alabama (battleship) Park. Players enjoyed a seafood meal, took turns in an aircraft simulator and were open to media interviews.

  • Overheard quote of the day (in the restroom at Ladd Peebles Stadium): "I administered the Wonderlic at a church one time."

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