A couple of months ago, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was a nervous man. But, with Cedric Griffin and E.J. Henderson on or ahead of schedule in their rehab and all signs pointing to Pat and Kevin Williams being available for 2010, things are looking up for the Vikings defense.
Among the more welcome sights at Thursday's OTA practice was the return of Pat Williams
and Kevin Williams
to the Vikings practice field. While neither hung around long after the practice began, having them back a week after a judge ruled that they won't be suspended with the appellate process stemming from the StarCaps case working its way through the court system was something the players and coaches were more than just a little bit happy to see.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that the rehabilitation of Cedric Griffin
and E.J. Henderson
is encouraging, but having their two big men in the middle was critical if the Vikings are to look to three-peat as division champions in 2010.
"It's a major relief," Frazier said. "You don't want to go into any football season without those two guys. One is for sure a future Hall of Famer and the other is a potential Hall of Famer. We've got some good players in backup roles, but they're not Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. It's a bit of a relief and hopefully things will work out that we will have them, There are still some things going on. It's not completely over, but it's looking pretty good."
Many of the starters were in attendance, but returned to the locker room after just a few minutes of stretching, including both of the Williamses, Steve Hutchinson, Bryant McKinnie, Henderson, Griffin, Phil Loadholt, Chad Greenway and John Sullivan.
The Vikings had just three quarterbacks during practice. Tarvaris Jackson was not in attendance.
Although he worked out only lightly, Griffin wasn't wearing any protection on his surgically-repaired knee at practice.
Among those missing from practice were Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Antoine Winfield.
Veteran TE Jim Kleinsasser spent most of Thursday's practice working out on his own on the side of the field.
Ryan Longwell was at the practice, but did no kicking. The usually media-available Longwell ran past reporters saying he had to catch a flight out of town immediately after the practice broke up.
Head coach Brad Childress spent most of the split portion of the practice overseeing the defense.
Most of the practice dealt with special teams work and defensive fumble recovery drills.
Letroy Guion left practice early, but didn't appear to be injured.