Vikings get testy before first test

The Vikings ended training camp with a practice that had players chippy and coaches chirping. It left some players ailing and other ready to finally see a different jersey on Friday night. See who paid the price, what the players and coaches had to say, and get more than a dozen notes from the final practice session in Mankato.

Vikings coach Brad Childress called off the team's final practice in Mankato, which was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. That may have been a good thing for the overall health of his team after a scrappy practice during the morning session.

Players were in helmets and shoulder pads, but there were several incidents during the nearly two-hour practice that had coaches frustrated and players leaving the field to have injuries evaluated.

Early in the practice, starting center John Sullivan left the field limping and went to the medical tent. He later returned with his right ankle taped and resumed practice.

A short time later, Jasper Brinkley plowed into running back Kahlil Bell and knocked him to the grass in a practice setting where tackling to the ground wasn't supposed to happen. Bell got up and started jogging back to the offensive side of the ball, but running backs coach Eric Bieniemy didn't want his offensive players to end up cowering to big hits, screaming that his players are "nobody's punching bag."

Brinkley, a rookie middle linebacker, is quickly gaining a reputation for being a big hitter, but he's getting used to having to hold back during practices with teammates.

"I just think defensively you're used to laying your pads on people. When it's time to take it off a little bit, you don't want to do it mentally, but it's something that you've got to do. You've got to respect each other," he said.

"It comes with an adjustment to the league. We're professionals out there and just trying to take care of each other."

Later in practice came a play that gave many in the jam-packed stands a scare. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson connected with first-round draft pick Percy Harvin on a deep pass, but Harvin had to jump up to make the reception. He got contact from safety Husain Abdullah and went to the ground before getting up holding his right arm.

That sent receivers coach George Stewart on the offensive after the defensive players. "Stay off him," Stewart hollered repeatedly with more colorful language mixed in.

Harvin left the field for the medical tent and eventually returned to the sidelines – but not to practice action – a while later.

Two plays later, an offensive player ran into a defender and someone on the defensive side of the ball yelled back, "So that's OK, huh?"

No doubt, the final practice of training camp was a feisty one.

"That's because it was a little hot today or something. That heat was getting to people and they were getting a little frustrated. I guess everybody was waiting until the last day like it's the last day of school to get their little frustration out," offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said.

"We pretty much try to protect our players when they're not in full pads, so I think that was the main concern today. Somebody had got hurt the other day, so we don't want nobody to get hurt."

That was Childress' concern when he barked at the defense and gave them an earful about going low on offensive players or tackling them to the ground.

"I understand where Coach is coming from. You don't want anybody to get pushed, have somebody get a hamstring or something," defensive end Jared Allen said. "But it's part of our nature, too. We've got shoulder pads on. We're out there hitting. You've got guys out there fighting as a team. That's all it is, aggressive guys. At the end of the day you watch the tape and they'll be more aggressive. I'd rather have someone tell me to slow down than to speed up. So it is what it is; as long as everybody gets out of it OK. That's football.

"I think we had like one little scuffle today. That was it. You haven't seen any voices raised during training camp, which is rare. Usually there's punches flying, helmets flying. You usually got one cool story. We don't have anything."

That changed on Wednesday.

"Camp has definitely got to everybody," said tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. "I guess we're sick and tired of seeing each other all day, every day. We were a little feisty today and yesterday. If we were practicing tomorrow it would probably be a little bit worse. Our testosterone level is off the chains. That's good for the fans I guess because you guys get to see some good stuff."


  • WR Bernard Berrian didn't practice on Wednesday and Childress would only say that he was in the dorm. Berrian left practice for a while on Tuesday but later returned.

  • TE Garrett Mills, injured in Tuesday's practice when he dove for a reception, also didn't practice and left the locker room on Wednesday with his left arm in a sling.

  • TE Visanthe Shiancoe indicated that Harvin's injury might not be serious. "We were just hoping that he's all right. I don't know exactly what happened to him, but they say it's not serious. We have to practice better. We have to take care of each other a little better on the field. Our defense is kind of feisty. Testosterone level is up and temperaments are up. We're out here banging each other. We need to save that for the next team."

  • Childress said he has not decided on a starting quarterback for Friday's game. He also said he is considering holding out some of his starters.

  • The Vikings had their best day of attendance for a morning session with an estimated crowd in excess of 4,000 fans that packed the normal bleachers, filled the new bleachers in the south end zones and had people lined up several deep along the fences. It was Fan Appreciation Day and the full team signed autographs after practice.

  • Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller attended Wednesday's practice, as did former running back Chuck Foreman. They also signed autographs during practice.

  • Jared Allen on preseason games: "It's like going to prom with your sister."

  • Safety Madieu Williams started an off day for the quarterbacks by intercepting Tarvaris Jackson during early full-team work. Not long before that, CB Antoine Winfield nearly intercepted Jackson.

  • Sage Rosenfels also threw an interception when one of his passes bounced off the helmet of a lineman and LB Erin Henderson reacted quickly to pick the ball.

  • The offensive line wasn't without its problems, as a couple of players had false starts, including rookie right tackle Phil Loadholt.

  • Rosenfels just missed connecting with WR Glenn Holt in the end zone during a two-minute drill. The pass was just out of Holt's reach, but three plays later Rosenfels zipped a pass at the goal line for TE Jeff Dugan, who made a good catch just before getting contact with from a defender.

  • Rookie safety Colt Anderson got a touch sack on John David Booty.

  • DE Brian Robison had a sack of Rosenfels.

  • Jaymar Johnson, Harvin, Sidney Rice and Darius Reynaud all spent time returning kickoffs.

  • Taylor Mehlhaff was good on each of his handful of field goal attempts.

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