Position Battles Attraction of Camp
Chris Kluwe
Chris Kluwe

Posted Aug 7, 2006


The Vikings came to training camp with a number of starting spots up for grabs. One week into full-squad practices, we take a look at some of the battles going on this week.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Chris Kluwe vs. John Torp for the punting job. Both Kluwe and Torp say they are comfortable with the directional style the Vikings will use this season under new special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro.

Kluwe certainly looked like he was having no problems in a practice against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday, sending six consecutive punts at least 45 yards. Last season, Kluwe finished with a 44.1-yard gross average (second in the NFC and sixth in the NFL) by booming the ball.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Napoleon Harris opened training camp working with the first team as the middle linebacker; Dontarrious Thomas, expected to compete for the job, was with the second team.

  • The kick-return job could be wide open. Mewelde Moore, Troy Williamson, Kevin Kasper and Koren Robinson all have been used in practice. Robinson was a Pro Bowl return man last season, but now that he’s the No. 1 receiver it’s unlikely the Vikings want to risk having him as a regular on special teams.

  • Marcus Johnson is working with the first team at right tackle but veteran Mike Rosenthal is trying to win back the job.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Troy Williamson — The second-year player appears much more comfortable this time around. Williamson is running much more precise routes and seems to be picking up the rhythm of the West Coast offense. He made a catch during seven-on-seven drills in practice and then held onto the ball despite taking a big hit from safety Will Hunter. Williamson also wasn’t afraid to go into traffic during a practice against the Chiefs.

    ROOKIE REPORT: First-round linebacker Chad Greenway has been with the second team as the weak-side linebacker. The coaching staff is impressed by his work ethic and study habits.

  • Second-round cornerback Cedric Griffin is competing for a role in the nickel package and showed why the Vikings liked him as soon as players put on pads. Griffin isn’t afraid to give, or receive, a big hit.

  • Second-round offensive lineman Ryan Cook is an obvious project and is seeing most of his time at center. He also is getting some reps at tackle. Cook spends most of his time with the third team.

  • Second-round quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has a strong arm, but he still has a ways to go in learning the West Coast offense. That’s to be expected. Right now, Jackson should be feeling no pressure.

  • Fourth-round defensive end Ray Edwards has skills but defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin obviously is waiting to pass judgment. “He’s an interesting guy,” Tomlin said. “It’s still very early. We’re waiting to see how the mental grind of training camp and this process wears on him. But right now he’s pretty impressive.”

  • Fifth-round safety Greg Blue has thrown some big hits working mostly with the third team in practice.

    INJURY REPORT: CB Charles Gordon suffered damaged cartilage in his left knee during practice last Thursday and will have surgery Monday. Gordon will be out at least for the entire preseason.

  • RB Chester Taylor missed practice time after straining his left thigh last Friday.

  • LB Chad Greenway suffered a concussion during practice last Saturday. He sat out the first practice Sunday but was scheduled to return for a special teams workout in the afternoon.

  • DT Kevin Williams was held out last Sunday because of swelling in his right knee. Coach Brad Childress said Williams would be day-to-day.

    NOTES

  • P Chris Kluwe is working as the holder for new kicker Ryan Longwell. QB Brad Johnson, who held that job last season, will be used in emergencies.

  • NT Ross Kolodziej worked with the first team in the early portion of training camp after Pat Williams was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list.

  • LB Chad Greenway was one of four linebackers with the first team in goal-line drills.

  • S Dwight Smith will take over for Tank Williams as the starter opposite Darren Sharper. Williams injured his left knee in practice last Saturday.

  • Safety Darren Sharper sleeps in a portable hyperbaric chamber in his training camp dorm room at Minnesota State, Mankato. Mark Ellis, a former Vikings assistant strength and conditioning coach, suggested Sharper start sleeping in the chamber after the safety sprained his knee last September against Cincinnati. Sharper was able to return after missing two games and was sold on the healing powers of the chamber. “There’s no doubt in my mind it helped me get back quicker from my knee injury,” he said.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: “A lot of teams come to camp and they don’t probably hit until a scrimmage or whatever. I think by us hitting now we’re going to be a very physical team.” — CB Fred Smoot on the hitting that took place in the opening days of training camp.



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