Ray Edwards spent the offseason not practicing with the team to show his discontent with the labor situation that made him a restricted free agent. With a one-year contract, he's aiming for a big season. Plus, get more than a dozen notes from Sunday's practice.
is hoping to shed the image of being the "other guy" on the Vikings defensive line. When you play next to Jared Allen
, Pat Williams
and Kevin Williams
, it's hard to distinguish yourself.
While that could be frustrating to some, Edwards' frustration has been compounded by the lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement, which turned Edwards from a potential unrestricted free agent to a restricted free agent who wasn't allowed to fully test the free-agent waters.
His disgruntlement was evident, as he skipped the offseason minicamps and workout program, not signing his tendered offer until after the team's final minicamp. However, his focus is on the here and now in Mankato, not what might have been.
"That's in the past," Edwards said. "I'm looking forward to this season and getting back together with my guys and playing some good football."
Head coach Brad Childress was asked about Edwards' frame of mind as camp began and he said that Edwards isn't hanging his head. He's being a professional and, given how the D-line operates, having a long face wouldn't be tolerated.
"He's in a good place. Great thing about that is you've still got to play and he'll play at a high level. That's a tough crowd, that defensive line crowd. They don't let him mope."
Childress said Edwards is a player on the rise who has seen his play improve in the biggest games – notably against Green Bay and in the playoffs. His challenge now is to continue building on what he started last year.
"At a position where typically you're gauged by sacks, he had a very nice playoffs. (It) will just be a matter of getting that body of work going into next year."
If he does, he will no longer be viewed as the "other guy" on the defensive line. His goal is to keep up his end of the bargain and, if he does, the big contract he was denied earlier this year will be waiting for him.
"I'm just out there to prove that I'm as good as the other three guys in this line," Edwards said, referring to multiple-time Pro Bowlers Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. "We're still looking to get better. We led the league in sacks last year and we're looking to keep getting better and do that again. Our goals are all based on making the team better and achieving our ultimate goal. Our line is looking to do our part to make that happen."
SUNDAY PRACTICE NOTES
Several Vikings were sidelined Sunday. Those who didn't practice included Percy Harvin (death in the family), Benny Sapp, Sidney Rice, Cedric Griffin and John Sullivan.
Both stands were filled to capacity when practice started, but thinned out as most of practice was conducted on the middle of the three practice fields and the spectators had a long distance view in 90 degree heat.
The Vikings have a new drill for running backs to work on this year. Players pair off and took turns running with the ball attached to a leash. Every five yards, the front runner would bend down to touch the ground and the trailing runner would pull on the leash in an attempt to get the ball out his hands.
There was a collective holding of breath midway through practice when E.J. Henderson and safety Terrell Skinner collided at high speed covering a pass. Both players popped back to their feet.
Chris Cook was the star of the defense Sunday, intercepting three passes and making it virtually impossible to complete passes to his side.
Ray Edwards went down late in practice, but it wasn't serious and he returned to drills after about 10 minutes on the sideline.
Whether coincidence or the lack of having top receivers like Rice and Harvin available to him, Sage Rosenfels continued his struggles. He had a tough outing Saturday night with four interceptions and continue to misfire Sunday. Childress said after practice that the QBs are instructed to deliver passes into tight windows, but a couple of Rosenfels' interceptions were simply misfires.
Jaymar Johnson, Greg Lewis and Marcus Sherels all got work in kick-return practice, while wide receivers Ray Small and Taye Biddle worked on punt returns.
Return man/running back Darius Reynaud was limited in practice and appeared to be limping and favoring his left leg.
Jim Kleinsasser spent much of the practice observing. Although not obviously injured, he took part in about half of the offensive drills.
Ian Johnson struggled twice in the foot agility drills, getting his feet caught in the ropes and drawing the ire of position coach Eric Bienemy. He didn't help matters by dropping a catchable ball deep down the field in RB receiving drills.
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell spent most of the first hour of practice overseeing the running back drills.
Visanthe Shiancoe made several difficult catches and stood out in a receiver-depleted corps.
Logan Payne had an up-and-down day, dropping and easy touchdown in 7-on-7 drills, but following that up later with a diving catch in the back of the end zone during 11-on-11 red zone drills.
Greg Lewis got popped pretty hard by Madieu Williams and Lito Sheppard over the middle, drawing a "Hey! Hey! Hey!" out of Childress.