Despite all the speculation about Brett Favre and his potential availability down the line, Vikings…
Vikings Training Camp Goals
1. Gauge Tarvaris Jackson's progress.
The quarterback appeared to make real strides this offseason during practices held as part of Organized Team Activities and minicamp. But this will be the first real opportunity to see just how far Jackson has come as he enters his second season as a full-time starter in the NFL.
Jackson went 8-4 in 2007 but threw three more interceptions than touchdowns (12-9) and his 70.8 quarterback rating was 28th among 33 quarterbacks listed in the NFL statistics.
A second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Jackson spent much of his spring and summer at Winter Park working with the coaching staff in an attempt to develop his ability to execute the West Coast offense.
Among the key things to watch will be how Jackson handles pressure during blitz drills and also how he works with his receivers, including newcomer Bernard Berrian.
2. Get new players adjusted.
Minnesota spent big money in adding Berrian, fullback Thomas Tapeh, defensive end Jared Allen and safety Madieu Williams, among others.
Training camp will give these players an opportunity to get comfortable in the Vikings' system. This will be especially true for Berrian, who must continue to adjust to new verbiage and responsibilities in Minnesota's version of the West Coast offense. The acclimation should be easier for Tapeh, who played in a very similar scheme while with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Williams, meanwhile, will be in a defense that uses the Tampa-2 as its base.
Allen, who led the NFL with 15.5 sacks last season, probably will have the easiest transition considering his primary objective will continue to be making life as difficult as possible for opposing quarterbacks.
The Vikings also have brought in a handful of others players who won't be starters but could end up being relied upon during the season. One of those is veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte, who will be Jackson's backup.
Frerotte hasn't played in a West Coast system since spending time with Denver in 2000-2001. He looked comfortable running the offense in the spring camps, but things will be moving faster in a few weeks.
3. Get settled at left end.
The addition of Allen means that Ray Edwards will shift from right to left end. Edwards played the spot at Purdue and has expressed no reservations about moving, but expect at least a minor adjustment period.
That will be made greater by the fact Edwards missed the Vikings' three-day minicamp in June because of a lower-back injury. Coach Brad Childress recently said that Edwards is fine and will be ready to go for training camp.
Edwards, meanwhile, is confident he will have a big impact – especially with opposing teams focusing much of their attention on Allen and having to worry about Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams.
Edwards said this spring: "I definitely plan on going out here and breaking (Michael) Strahan's (single-season) record of 22.5 sacks this year."
Even if Edwards falls short of his goal – and it's very likely that will happen – he still could have a big impact on what should be a very good defensive line.
CAMP CALENDAR: The Vikings will report to Mankato, Minn., on July 23 and open practices on July 25. The Vikings will practice against the Kansas City Chiefs on July 31 in River Falls, Wis., and also hold night practices on July 26 and Aug. 2 in Mankato.
PICKS LEFT TO SIGN: The Vikings have yet to sign any of their five draft picks but it shouldn't be a problem for the team to reach deals.
The Vikings sent their first-round pick to Kansas City in the Jared Allen deal. Their top choice was safety Tyrell Johnson, who was taken in the second round.
The other choices are fifth-round quarterback John David Booty; fifth-round defensive tackle Letroy Guion; sixth-round center John Sullivan; and sixth-round wide receiver Jaymar Johnson.
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