The Vikings worked on their Wildcat plays on Thursday morning as much as they have all training camp. Not surprisingly, it was a heavy morning of work for first-round draft pick Percy Harvin
"We're just seeing exactly who we are, what we are and just trying to fine tune different things that we don't have the opportunity to do during the season. He's shown a good football aptitude with the different things we're doing with him," Childress said of Harvin. "Is it mistake-free? No, it's not mistake-free, but he's only been here two or three days. It's just a matter of not making the same mistake again. He's not the lone ranger on that one."
Harvin didn't get to training camp until Sunday and missed four practices between Friday and Saturday because he wasn't signed. But with all the Vikings are asking him to do, he hasn't appeared to miss too much.
Harvin he loves the idea of being in the same backfield with 2007 first-round draft pick Adrian Peterson
and dreamed of that when he thought the Vikings might select him. The combination of those two in the same backfield is the key to the Vikings' potential success with the Wildcat, according to linebacker Chad Greenway
"Our Wildcat is sort of a special one, so I think it's good for us (defenders) to get to see that," Greenway said. "Obviously (Peterson is) the No. 1 rushing running back in the league, he proved that last year. And you bring in a guy like Percy who has proven he can handle the ball in those kinds of situations – they are both extremely, extremely explosive."
Linebacker Ben Leber
said Harvin's multi-dimensional abilities on offense make the Wildcat an intriguing option for the Vikings this year, whereas they didn't use it last year.
"It's tough because now you've got to account for everybody and normally you don't have to account for the quarterback being that threat, so when you get a guy like Percy and Chester (Taylor) and some of the guys that we can put back there, it makes it really, really tough, but we have the personnel to do it," Leber said. "More and more teams around the league are drafting and picking up guys for those reasons, (guys) who can play those athlete positions to get guys out of position."
Whether the true quarterback in the game at the time is Tarvaris Jackson
or Sage Rosenfels
, that player is split out wide. On Thursday morning, it nearly created an issue for Jackson, who is coming back from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
"It's fun for me. I get a chance to bang a little bit. I actually got shook by Benny Sapp
today trying to block him. I was basically just trying to stay out of his way. I didn't want to bump knees or anything, but he made me look bad. I told him if I was 100 percent I would have pancaked him," Jackson joked.
The drafting of Harvin was one of the keys for the Vikings to start implementing the Wildcat. Without the ability to have success running it, why implement it, Childress explained.
"Just because that's become en vogue, if you can't hurt people with it, i.e. the Dolphins did a little bit. They ran it against the Ravens and it didn't have much merit to it. If you can't hurt people and make them make mistakes in terms of getting out of gaps or covering it right or covering the decoys – it's not like you can't not cover the quarterback out there – you'd be caught with your pants down," Childress said. "You've got to hurt people. You can't line up in it just to say you're lining up in it. It's a matter of being productive when you line up in it, whether it's run or pass."
Greenway said the Vikings defense has its own adjustments to make against the Wildcat and has been successful doing that. Even so, Leber didn't believe the spread of the Wildcat would cause a major adjustment to the personnel on defense.
"I don't think it's going to be the hallmark of one offense. They're not going to just rely on the Wildcat. It's going to be one of those (things that) three or four downs a game you're going to have to prepare for. I don't think anything is going to change as far as the personnel that people are bringing in as defenders," he said. "You just have to make sure that you watch extra film and make sure you understand how they can hurt you."
THURSDAY AFTERNOON PRACTICE NOTES
The Vikings practiced for only one hour on Thursday afternoon and worked strictly on special teams in shorts and jerseys.
Safety Husain Abdullah returned to practice after suffering cramps in the morning session.
Harvin, Jaymar Johnson and Darius Reynaud were the main players returning kicks; Harvin, Johnson and Nick Moore were returning punts.
Chris Kluwe spent the majority of his afternoon session working on directional punting.
It's not just Percy Harvin who could make the Vikings' version of the Wildcat special, according to Chad Greenway. Greenway, Ben Leber, Brad Childress and Tarvaris Jackson all talked about the formation that got some work on Thursday.
Greenway, Leber, Childress and Jackson all talked about the Wildcat that got some work on Thursday.