Gerhart's role still in the making

The Vikings traded up to draft RB Toby Gerhart, but it remains to be seen exactly how they will use him. He isn't the prototypical "third-down back," but he did show good hands in workouts the Vikings brass attended.

Having failed in their pursuit to sign free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the Vikings turned to the draft to find the probable backup to Adrian Peterson.

Stanford's Toby Gerhart, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last season, was taken with a second-round pick after the Vikings made a deal with Houston to move up. The deal cost Minnesota its third-round selection but team executives felt the investment was well worth it.

Gerhart has the size (6 feet, 231 pounds) to move to fullback in the NFL, but vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and coach Brad Childress both said the rookie will remain at running back.

The Vikings had been looking to add a No. 2 back since Chester Taylor signed a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears in March. Childress has voiced his faith in Albert Young, and Darius Reynaud was moved from wide receiver to running back, but it was clear the Vikings felt an upgrade at the position remained a priority.

Gerhart is coming off an outstanding season in which he rushed for a nation-best 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Gerhart did not have big receiving numbers at Stanford, but Spielman said he possesses excellent hands and simply wasn't used that much to catch passes.

That could change in Minnesota, depending on what his role ends up being. Taylor was one of the NFL's most-reliable third-down backs but that doesn't mean that will be Gerhart's role.

Peterson's pass catching skills have improved and the coaching staff said he has made strides as a blocker. If the latter is true, Peterson certainly could see the field more on third down.

Still, the Pro Bowl back needs some breaks so Gerhart figures to get the reps when Peterson needs a breather.

NOTES

  • The Vikings continue to await word from quarterback Brett Favre about whether he will return for the 2010 season. Coach Brad Childress has made it clear throughout the process that he won't push Favre for a decision and he has remained true to that.

  • Childress made it clear he expects his team to remain very competitive in 2010 after making it to the NFC title game this past season. "We lost a Chester Taylor, an Artis Hicks," he said. "Obviously those are our two losses. Time will tell whether these (new) guys will adequately step up and take care of that. But really we're going to be a good football team. Now you get to see kind of the molding it together and see how this thing goes. That whole thing is a process. You can't recapture that. You'd love to be able to recapture that dynamic. And that's the same every year. Whether it's with the Saints or us or whoever played in the National Football League last year."

  • The Vikings held a three-day rookie camp from Friday through Sunday at Winter Park. Among the players they invited for a tryout was Jacksonville (Ala.) State quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who has big-time talent but was kicked off the LSU team by Les Miles in 2008 after having legal and disciplinary problems.

  • The Vikings will hold their mandatory minicamp from June 11-13. Their OTAs will be held May 18-21; May 24-27; June 1-4; and June 7-8.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm a very physical player, and I'm a playmaker. I feel like I have great ball skills. I'm just a ball player. I feel like I can bring more defense to the team. I can play special teams or anywhere on the field." — Cornerback Chris Cook, who was taken by the Vikings with their first pick. The selection came in the second round of the draft.

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