Defense doing it at Vikings camp

The defense is living up to its hype so far at Vikings training camp. With a star-studded cast on the defensive line, that side of the ball is clearly ahead of the offense almost one week into camp. Plus, we bring you notes and quotes from Percy Harvin and Wednesday afternoon practice notes.

Wednesday's state court ruling that stayed the four-game suspensions of Pro Bowl defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams appeared to give the Vikings defense a boost. The federal court will begin hearing arguments on its portion of the case on Aug. 18, but some are speculating that the Williams Wall will be able stand tall for the remainder of the 2009 season.

That's good news for a defense that has been playing stingily for the past six days of training camp practices. On Monday, the defense dominated the red zone work with goal-line stops.

On Wednesday, it was the pass rush that stood out.

In a four-play sequence, Ray Edwards had a touch sack on Sage Rosenfels, Jared Allen bull-rushed Bryant McKinnie to put pressure on Rosenfels, the offense was given a fresh set of downs when head coach Brad Childress called defensive holding following an incompletion, and Edwards ended the drive when he stripped Rosenfels of the ball coming off the edge.

"We're looking real good right now. We're going to watch the tape and see where we made the mistakes. If we did, then correct them," said Edwards.

Last year, Edwards had big predictions about what he could in this defense with the addition of Allen on the other side of the defensive line, claiming he might get to Michael Strahan's NFL sack record. This year, when asked about his goals, he just says, "Stay tuned. You'll see a lot."

The point is, the Vikings have three Pro Bowl players on the defensive line, E.J. Henderson returning to the middle linebacker spot after dislocated toes ended his bid for his first Pro Bowl season, and Antoine Winfield coming off of his initial Pro Bowl season.

"We've got a pretty good group of guys, so it's good to be under the same coordinator for the last couple of years," Kevin Williams said.

Several defenders have proclaimed their goal to make the 2009 defense the top-ranked unit in the league. Last year, they ranked sixth overall and first against the run.

For now, the defense is coming together nicely.

"Absolutely. We're just trying to get our timing right and just trying to get everything together and work together as a team," Edwards said.

Through six days and 11 practices, the defense is still ahead of the offense, but that's not a surprise to Childress.

"If you look at the volume they're installing and the volume we're installing, I don't want to say that there's more mental stuff on offense, but it keeps changing, changing, changing, changing. It just seems like the way it is," he said.


Wide receiver Percy Harvin is still getting used to the many different ways he'll be used in the Vikings offense, but he's certainly excited about the potential.

"We've got so many weapons, you kind of want to see what the team is going to do. They don't got enough defenders to match up with what we've got. As long as we keep repping it and perfecting it, we should be fine," he said.

Harvin said he loves the idea of being in the same backfield with Adrian Peterson and dreamed of that when he thought the Vikings might select him before the NFL draft in April.

However, it's clear there is still a learning curve for Harvin, who missed the first two days (four practices) of training camp while details of his contract were being worked out. On one play Wednesday morning, Harvin and Peterson were both lined up in the backfield and ran into each other after the ball was snapped.

"When I mess up, I'm going to be going full speed, so some of the time that's probably what you see," Harvin said.

Harvin has also been getting used to being a return man. He practiced returning kicks and punts in college, but was never used for that role in a game.

"Sometimes it's not what you want to do, it's what the team needs you to do," he said.

During Harvin's interview after practice, Peterson injected himself into the press conference and asked Harvin who was faster – the 2007 first-round pick or the 2009 first-round pick?

"I would have to go with myself. He's got a lot of power, but I've probably got speed," Harvin said.


  • As of Wednesday afternoon, WR Jaymar Johnson's wife, Kassy, hadn't given birth to their first child. Johnson was excused from camp on Wednesday. "I looked at a text in between (practices) and he said, ‘This is taking forever,'" Childress said.

  • QB Tarvaris Jackson didn't appear to be limited much in the shorter afternoon practice. Childress said Jackson was moving around "pretty good," but he expected the quarterback to have some residual soreness on Thursday.

  • Childress on seeing former Vikings DE Kenechi Udeze at Wednesday's morning practice: "It was great to see him. He looks like a million bucks. Got a chance to see a smile on his face. It seems like he's feeling pretty good."

  • DT Tremaine Johnson switched numbers from 67 to 95, Udeze's old number.

  • The Vikings worked on their two-minute offense on Wednesday. Childress referenced the two games from the 2008 season when that really came into play, a loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the second game of the season and a win against the New York Giants in the season finale. Both games were quarterbacked by Jackson.

  • Safety Tyrell Johnson had an interception in the afternoon practice when a John David Booty pass intended for WR Nick Moore was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

  • LB E.J. Henderson made what would have been a touchdown-resulting interception on a Sage Rosenfels pass intended for Visanthe Shiancoe.

  • A short while later, CB Marcus McCauley dropped a would-be interception on a pass from Rosenfels intended for WR Sidney Rice.

  • McCauley was getting first-team work in the nickel defense.

  • CBs Karl Paymah, Asher Allen and McCauley rotated among the cornerbacks in the second-team defense.

  • Rosenfels got the majority of the first-team reps at quarterback in the afternoon session.

  • Pat Williams was asked if he's gone out on Jared Allen's boat yet. "No, we already had that boat accident (the so-called Love Boat incident), so I ain't going on no more boats," he joked. "The boat is out of the question."

  • WR Aundrae Allison, who was waived by the Vikings on Tuesday, was claimed off waivers by the New York Jets. Allison's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted both transactions.

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