Notebook: Vikings champions of drama camp

The Vikings dealt with numerous distractions all last year, but this may have been a record-setting week for drama at Winter Park, from Brett Favre's arrival to shots at Brad Childress to Percy Harvin's collapse. Players and coaches acknowledged the temptations, but remain focused. Plus, updates on Erin Henderson and John Sullivan.

For much of the summer, the only thing hanging over the Vikings was Brett Favre's indecision on whether or not he would return for a 20th NFL season.

But there is rarely a dull moment, or at least week, that goes by at Winter Park without some controversy. It keeps the team in the headlines and the players guessing. This week might have been the pinnacle for Team Distraction.

It started Monday when the organization decided to send three players – Ryan Longwell, Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen – to Mississippi to fish the Favre fugitive off his farm and put him back purple. Tuesday that scheme became public knowledge when the players weren't at practice, and a few hours later the helicopters were hovering over Winter Park as Longwell's SUV quickly pulled into the Vikings' practice facility carrying Favre.

Bring on Wednesday, when Favre went through his first practice of the preseason with the Vikings. Players shook their heads in wonderment as the media contingent increased from about 10 to closer to 100.

Despite the unique nature of Favre's arrival, once he was in uniform it was similar to his first days with the Vikings last year.

"It's the same thing as last year. I don't see why it would be any more distractions than it was last year," receiver Bernard Berrian said Friday.

But the plotlines continued throughout the week. On Tuesday, Vikings coach Brad Childress put two of his coordinators in a bad spot when he had them lie about the whereabouts of Longwell, Hutchinson and Allen. Childress apologized for that move the next day.

On Thursday a story on Yahoo! cited an anonymous source saying that Favre doesn't respect Childress' offensive knowledge. Another distraction.

"We've got great guys with great resolve," Childress said. "They can stay focused. They're good guys."

Not long afterwards, the team had another and much more serious distraction when Percy Harvin collapsed on the practice field. An ambulance was called and players gathered nearby for a team prayer as Harvin was being tended to in the ambulance. Shortly afterwards, the rest of practice was cancelled. Less than 24 hours later, Harvin was on the sidelines watching practice after an overnight stay in the hospital, but it capped one of the wildest weeks in team history.

"I think we're the best conditioned team on distractions, besides Cincinnati," Berrian said. "… It's just how well you handle it, and I think we showed we can handle it all well last year. So as long as we continue to do the things we're doing this year we'll be able to handle it as well."

Never a dull moment. Never.

BACK TO THE OUTSIDE

With E.J. Henderson scheduled to get his first action of the season Sunday night in San Francisco, his brother Erin will likely move back to outside linebacker. Erin had been receiving some work at middle linebacker behind Jasper Brinkley when E.J. was being held out on his way back from a fractured femur.

E.J. said he had been giving Erin advice on a few plays, but his younger brother was doing better the more reps he received.

"I think he did a good job. He doesn't have a problem with being a vocal guy," the much quieter E.J. said. "That part comes easy for him, so I think he did a good job taking control out there."

SULLIVAN BACK SOON

Center John Sullivan, who has missed much of the preseason and training camp with a lingering calf injury, is expected back at practice on Tuesday, according to Childress.

"I want to get 100 percent healthy, and then whenever that time comes, get back out there and start practicing," Sullivan said. "I'm definitely getting better, getting closer to getting out there."

Sullivan declined to reveal the exact nature of the injury, saying he was experiencing soreness and pain, but Childress classified it as a calf strain. The back of Sullivan's calf sprouted some bright red dots, but that apparently wasn't the real issue, despite how bad that looked.

"I told him if he lived in Hawaii, he'd probably have to go to Molokai as a leper and live with Father Damien, or back in the day he'd have to see the Chief Priest and be sure that he was cleansed," Childress said. "It was ugly."

Sullivan was held out of practice again on Friday, but he was jogging and working on his run- and pass-blocking techniques, so he is making progress.

In the mean time, he is helping second-year center Jon Cooper, who has been starting in Sullivan's place in the first two preseason games.

"I'm trying to help him out with whatever I can," Sullivan said. "He's doing a great job, and he's making all the right calls out there."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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