Brinkley targeted for the middle?

Jasper Brinkley (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

With E.J. Henderson not ready to participate fully in practices, Jasper Brinkley will be back in the middle of the first-team defense. Teammates and coaches have been complimentary of his abilities so far.

After suffering a gruesome leg injury last December at Arizona, E.J. Henderson recently said his goal is to be ready to take part in training camp and be on the field for the regular-season opener Sept. 9 in New Orleans.

You have to admire the Vikings middle linebacker for having such a lofty goal coming off a terrible injury. But the reality is that Henderson will have to show patience as he tries to come back from a broken femur in his left leg.

That means there is a good possibility that second-year linebacker Jasper Brinkley will start the season in the middle, and Brinkley will start that process again at minicamp this weekend.

Brinkley, a fifth-round pick by the Vikings in 2009, stepped in as a rookie after Henderson was injured. It was clear the hard-hitting Brinkley was comfortable against the run but had plenty to learn about playing against the pass.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier seems pleased with Brinkley's progress this offseason.

"Jasper has really improved," Frazier said. "We have no qualms with Jasper being our starting linebacker if that's the case. He's really improved and the more snaps he gets the better he's going to get. He's been everything we've hoped for knowing the possibility that E.J. could be injured. That's why (Brinkley) was drafted and he's been great."

Henderson also has been impressed by Brinkley and has tried to tutor the young linebacker during meetings that have been part of Organized Team Activities this offseason.

"When I see some of his tape from last year I always give him my thoughts," Henderson said. "Jasper is a second-year player now but his mindset is way older than that so I don't think we have to worry too much about him being prepared or him ready to play if knock on wood something happens where I can't play. I don't think we have to worry about him."

'All Day' absent all weekend?

The Vikings will hold their mandatory minicamp this weekend at Winter Park, but there is a good chance that Adrian Peterson won't be present.

The Pro Bowl running back is scheduled to be honored Saturday during the fourth annual Adrian Peterson Day in his hometown of Palestine, Texas and thus will miss the double session scheduled for that day.

The Vikings minicamp opens on Friday and concludes on Sunday with single practices and it would not be surprising if Peterson did not attend either of those.

Peterson has been working out in Houston during the Vikings' Organized Team Activities and hasn't been part of the team's offseason program. He did arrive at Winter Park last Monday to do some of the classroom work he would have been required to fulfill during the minicamp.

Peterson's absence will create an open door for second-round pick Toby Gerhart to get some work. That won't be a bad thing.

The runner-up for the Heisman Trophy last year at Stanford, Gerhart could not take in the Vikings' OTAs because he was still in school. Gerhart will graduate this weekend but is scheduled to take part in Friday and Saturday's practices before returning to Stanford for his graduation ceremony on Sunday.

Albert Young, Darius Reynaud, Ian Johnson and James Johnson will get plenty of work when Gerhart and Peterson are absent.

The reality is that Peterson hasn't done much on-the-field work in recent minicamps and thus the Vikings probably aren't overly concerned about his absence.

The only real worry for the Vikings will be whether Peterson has gotten his fumbling issues under control and that won't become clear until players are allowed to start having contact later this summer.

Peterson has 16 fumbles, including 10 lost, in the past two regular seasons. He also had two fumbles (none lost) in the NFC title game at New Orleans and could have been charged with a third that did result in a turnover.

Peterson, of course, won't be the only veteran member of the Vikings offense who will be absent. The team does not announce such things but it's a foregone conclusion that quarterback Brett Favre won't be in Minnesota after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his ankle last month.

Favre still hasn't told the Vikings whether he will play in 2010 but at this point everyone expects him to return some time during training camp.

NOTES

  • DE Ray Edwards won't attend mandatory minicamp this weekend but does plan to sign the one-year, $2.521 million tender off he received from the team by next Tuesday. That date is key because if the restricted free agent does not sign by then the Vikings could drop the tender to 110 percent of Edwards' 2009 base salary. That would mean he would make $1.1 million in 2010. Edwards can't be fined for missing the camp because he technically isn't under contract.

  • The Vikings will follow their minicamp this weekend with some activity for rookies next week and then will have a break before training camp opens. Camp likely will open in late July, although dates have yet to be announced.

  • Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on how the team's young cornerbacks have done during Organized Team Activities: "Asher Allen has really stepped up and had a great set of OTAs. Now, you've got to get to pads, but he's done well. (Second-round pick) Chris Cook has done a good job for us, Benny Sapp has done a good job. All those corners have really come along. Lito Sheppard is still learning the system because there are a few tweaks on what he remembers from Philadelphia but still there is some carry over from him. But he's been at the OTAs, he's helped us a lot. I think we're going to be all right at corner."

    Starting corners Antoine Winfield (foot) and Cedric Griffin (ACL) are coming off injuries.

  • The Vikings have yet to decide how they will utilize the NFL's RedZone channel in the Metrodome next season as a means to show highlights and ongoing action from around the league.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can run. I can run high speed, full speed. Like I said it's just a matter of getting everything back into muscle memory shape. Where I don't have to think about taking off, I don't have to think about sprinting. I think in the next two months I'll be able to accomplish that." — Linebacker E.J. Henderson on how he's doing in his recovery from a broken femur.

    MEDICAL WATCH: Cornerback Cedric Griffin, who tore his left ACL in the NFC title game, and linebacker E.J. Henderson, who broke his leg in December, continue to rehab their injuries in hopes of returning at some point in 2010. Guard Steve Hutchinson (shoulder) and nose tackle Pat Williams (elbow) are coming off offseason surgeries and are believed to have made progress. Antoine Winfield also continues to recover from the broken right foot he suffered last October.

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