There's no crying in football, but there might be some begging after a series of hot practices that closed out the Vikings' 2010 training camp.
A camp that opened two weeks ago with good conditions turned sweltering in the closing days, with heat indexes forecast in the triple digit during at least two of the practices in the final week.
A few players had to leave and get fluids, including quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the final full-team practice Thursday, and one (Benny Sapp) ended up in the hospital and out of football commission for a few days.
But it was the amount of hitting that caused defensive end Jared Allen to slip in a couple of comments during an interview this week.
"Right now, personally I think I'm ready to go. Camp every year is the same. We've been hitting quite a bit this camp, which is a little different," Allen said.
However, Allen wasn't with the Vikings during Brad Childress' first year as head coach, when players were hitting more and overall it appeared to be a more grueling camp.
"I still have the taste in my mouth of what Coach Childress' first training camp was like," linebacker Ben Leber said. "That still haunts me. So this pales in comparison to what that was like."
The good news for players is that the two-a-days and dorm life of Mankato are ending. The Vikings have only a walk-through practice tomorrow that is closed to the public before heading to St. Louis for the preseason opener. After that, they return to their own beds and the more familiar practice routines at the Winter Park complex in Eden Prairie.
"(I'm) ready to go back," Allen said. "At this stage right now, everybody is pretty much in shape. If you're not in shape, you've got a problem. Your fundamentals, that's just basically what you do. Daily work on our fundamentals and keep those sharp. Now we'll get into breaking down tape and preparing for certain opponents and go about our business."
Allen said one of his top goals is to get through training camp healthy. After a series of injuries before and at the start of camp, the Vikings were getting closer to full strength in the final day of practices in Mankato.
While Brett Favre never did report to training camp and Percy Harvin missed all but two practices because of an ankle injury, the death of his grandmother and migraine headaches, several of the players who were injured during camp were back by the end of it Thursday.
Cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (hip) opened camp on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and remained on it as the team was packing up to leave Mankato. The injuries don't worry Antoine Winfield, who missed six games last year with a fractured foot.
"No it doesn't, as long as the guys come in 100 percent healthy. I know how they work," Winfield said.
The injury news wasn't all bad. Winfield proclaimed himself 100 percent healthy from the start of camp after getting a few months to rest his foot following the 2009 season, and linebacker E.J. Henderson was a surprise when he practiced right when camp opened. Henderson suffered a gruesome fractured femur in December and had a titanium rod permanently inserted in his leg.
"He flies around. He's got a lot of energy. He makes a lot of plays and he's progressively getting better each year," Allen said of Henderson. "Our whole linebacking corps makes it easy for us to play up front. We have the ability to take some chances knowing that they'll cover us up."
Henderson was among the Vikings putting big hits on the offensive players during camp. During a session earlier this week, he popped Adrian Peterson hard and stopped the star running back from reaching a first down. Thursday's session was just a culmination of two weeks of the camp grind.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
A hard-hitting camp?
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