During the Brett Favre fiasco, it seemed a given that quarterback John David Booty would be the fall guy if the Vikings signed the "other No. 4." Instead, Booty has been pushed into taking more snaps than any other QB during training camp.
For a guy who was automatically assumed to be the odd-man-out if the Vikings signed Brett Favre
, backup QB John David Booty
has been seeing plenty of action during training camp.
For most of the past week, the Vikings have been running practices with just Booty and Sage Rosenfels
. At Saturday's afternoon practice, it was only two QBs again – Booty and Tarvaris Jackson
. Rosenfels was one of a handful of veterans given the day off before the official team off-day Sunday. Once again, it was a chance for Booty to get a lot of work in – much more than anyone anticipated when training camp started just eight days ago.
Despite the much-increased workload, Booty says he feels strong and ready to go.
"The arm feels good," Booty said. "Since (Jackson) has come back my reps have gone back down a little bit. Getting a little rest tomorrow will be good, but I feel great and feel healthy."
Booty said when the team returns to the field Monday, there will be a different focus, as the starters and reserves will be working more as individual groups than sharing reps as the Vikings prepare for the preseason opener Thursday night against the Colts.
"The focus now is working with the guys that you're going to be on the field with in Indianapolis (Thursday)," Booty said. "We're going to put a game plan together and the (first-team players) will work as a unit, as well as the (second- and third-stringers)."
The players once again were not in pads Saturday, essentially eliminating any intentional contact. Some teams believe in a lot of training camp hitting, while others don't. In his first year as head coach, Childress' first visit to Mankato was more boot camp than training camp. He's dialed it back considerably over the last two years, but Booty said he's found a good mix to get the work in and not beat up teammates.
"I think we've done a good job," Booty said. "There hasn't been a lot of practices with pads on, but we've had a lot of high-energy reps and the tempo has been really strong. With a team with this many veteran players, you don't have to beat them up with hitting in practice like you might with a younger, less experienced team."
As the Vikings get their first full day off, you would think a young quarterback would be looking at hitting the town or doing something entertaining. Not Booty. His Sunday plans are pretty simple and to the point.
"Rest," Booty said.
For a guy who wasn't sure he would even be on the roster two weeks ago, he deserves a little R & R.
SATURDAY PRACTICE NOTES
With very muggy practice conditions, the practice was moved from 2:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. It was scheduled to go until 5 p.m., but Brad Childress pulled the plug at 3:30 p.m. The players were in pads and shorts, so there was very little contact.
Childress gave several veterans the day off, including Sage Rosenfels, Ryan Longwell, Chester Taylor, Artis Hicks, Steve Hutchinson, Jim Kleinsasser and Pat Williams.
Several other veterans, including Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Ben Leber and Antoine Winfield were done early.
After some concern about the severity of the pop in his knee that Jackson felt during the team's scrimmage Friday night at Blakeslee Stadium, he returned to practice Saturday and showed little in the way of obvious pain or a limp from the tweak he felt last night.
Asher Allen suffered what appeared to be dislocated finger on his left hand during practice. Allen was in coverage with Bernard Berrian on a pass by Jackson thrown behind Berrian. Both players fought for the ball as it arrived and Asher immediately went down in pain. He waved over medical personnel right away and was taken off the field.
The Vikings practiced kickoff returns during practice, with Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice splitting the returns. The two employ very different styles in returning kicks. Harvin does the prototype catching the ball against his body with his arms crooked. Rice, on the other hand, plucks the ball over his head like he's catching a pass. While effective early, Rice misjudged one kick and had it bounce off his hands into the end zone. The final two returns he made, he protected the ball against his body.
Although he looked a bit tentative and stutter-stepped while waiting for kickoffs to come down, there is no questioning Harvin's burst once he has the ball in his hands.
Brian Robison returned to the practice field for the first time since injuring his hamstring Monday.
Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff made all five of his field goal attempts during special teams practice.
Jackson had an extremely rough day, which could explain his refusal to talk to the media afterward. During 7-on-7 drills, he threw a pass behind TE Garrett Mills that should have been intercepted by Madieu Williams. On the next pass, Asher Allen suffered his finger injury on a poorly thrown pass. On the next play, he overthrew Harvin on a deep ball in which he was open.
Things didn't get much better for Jackson in 11-on-11 drills. With the starter-depleted defense on orders to blitz, Jackson struggled mightily. On the first pass play, Benny Sapp and Tyrell Johnson came on a blitz and forced Jackson out of the pocket to throw away the ball. On the second play, Jackson intentionally grounded the ball. On the third play, he avoided the blitz and had Sidney Rice open, but threw the ball five yards out of bounds.
Sapp had his struggles as well. On the final play of 7-on-7 drills, he dropped a sure interception and was so upset and threw off his gloves. In 11-on-11 drills with Booty at quarterback, Sapp dropped another potential interception and stared at his hands in disbelief. Whether a loss of focus or not, on the next play wide receiver Bobby Williams blew past Sapp and Booty hit him in stride for a long touchdown.
Bobby Wade and Bernard Berrian gave some good-natured ribbing to one of the NFL officials on hand for practice. Both claimed the ref missed a holding call on one of the linebackers from the previous play, where both were on the sidelines. Wade said the emphasis on holding penalties this year had to go both ways, getting a smile from the linesman.
On one of his final passes of the day, Jackson had a pass tipped at the line and intercepted by Jimmy Kennedy. Despite the whistle blowing, he maintained the defensive tradition of taking an interception all the way to the end zone, which was 65 yards away, but gave the fans something to cheer about.
Because of the change in starting time, the stands filled in later than normal, but by the time 3 p.m. rolled around, both of the bleachers were filled to capacity, an estimated 2,300 fans.