Matt Kalil | Credit: KFAN
The Minnesota Vikings are currently in the middle of having their three day rookie mini camp at Winter Park. There are 71 players in attendance: 10 draft picks, 15 undrafted free-agent signees, seven players signed before the draft, and 39 tryout players. The Vikings even had some veterans on the sidelines looking at their new teammates.
Below are some nuggets of information people in attendance have noted.
Matt Kalil is awesome and makes Christian Ponder smile:
The rookie receiving the most attention at camp is the fourth overall pick, Matt Kalil.
“Really impressed with how he moves,” said right tackle Phil Loadholt.
“He’s a big man,” said Frazier of Kalil, who stands 6 feet 7 and 310 pounds. ”You can see why we have high hopes for him. He was excellent for us today. His ability to pick up information is encouraging as well.”
Christian Ponder was even in attendance to look at his future left tackle and blind-side protector for years to come. During open workouts on Wednesday, Ponder admitted he was happy with the Vikings selection of Kalil.
“[Me and Adrian Peterson] cracked a pretty big smile,” Ponder said.
Kalil….is expected to start immediately at left tackle. That’ll move Charlie Johnson to left guard, upgrading the protection unit if everything goes to plan.
And no one would benefit more from that than Ponder, whose struggles as a rookie were magnified by an increasing tendency to stare down the rush, rather than keeping his eyes down field.
“It is huge,” Ponder said. “A lot of time last year, it didn’t necessarily have to do with the protection. A lot of time I wasn’t comfortable getting to my third, fourth reads, checking the ball down. Instead of just checking it down when a guy is wide open, I’d just run.
“That’s something I have to get away from. It’s easy to break the habit. It’s just going to make it so much better having full confidence in the protection. Offensive line is looking good. They got stacked up pretty quickly and they’ve got a lot of depth now. I’m excited about that as a quarterback.”
With the addition of Kalil to the offensive line, I will look for Ponder to make a huge step forward this upcoming season.
Greg Childs and Jarius Wright are a package deal, so it seems:
Childs and Wright played high school football together. Then they both went to Arkansas. Then they were both drafted in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings. Oh, and they both play wide receiver, but excel at different aspects.
“We always do things together. This just makes us get even closer,” Childs said Friday as they both began their NFL careers at Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp.
They grew up together and became two of the four players from Warren High School to sign with the University of Arkansas in 2008. The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Childs blossomed first, leading the Razorbacks in nearly every receiving category as a sophomore in 2009, including 48 catches for 894 yards and seven touchdowns.
He was on track for an even bigger junior year with 46 catches for 659 yards when he tore the patella tendon in his right knee in the eight game against Vanderbilt. His senior year was rough after, he later acknowledged, he returned too soon. The Vikings watched him fall down the draft board, anticipating his bounce-back season will be this one.
“If that’s the case, we’ll be the beneficiaries and he could be the steal of the draft,” Frazier said.
Childs said he has a “very big chip” on his shoulder.
“Before I got hurt I was considered one of the top receivers. Since I got hurt I might not have gone in the round I wanted to go in, but I’m going to come out here and give it my all,” he said.
Wright is only 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, but he has exceptional speed and the ability to return punts and kickoffs as well. His breakout came last season, including a 13-catch, 281-yard game against Texas A&M for a season total of 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns. He spoke eagerly about joining and learning from Percy Harvin, one of his inspirations
Childs is considered an outside threat, while Wright is one in the inside game. Wright will likely back-up his inspiration in Percy Harvin.
Veterans look-on | Credit: Aj Mansour of KFAN
Day 1 nuggets (only day open to media):
- WR Jarius Wright sat out Friday’s second practice after hitting his head in the morning practice
“I’m doing good,” Wright said after the conclusion of the first day of practices. ”No real problems with the head. I was feeling a little sick earlier so for precautionary reasons they didn’t want me coming back out here and getting sick again .”
- Marks Lesie Frazier’s first “official” off-season with his players. Last year, the Vikings were burned due to the lockout and never had proper a off-season.
“The coaches and I have talked about that repeatedly,” Frazier said. ”We were in meetings yesterday just going through some of the final touches for this camp that we’re having and we just looked at one another, to be able to have this discussion and know it’s going to happen, it’s a big deal for us to be able to come on the field with so many players that we think are going to be able to help us and to spend time with them.”
- Veterans in attendance, included QB Christian Ponder and Joe Webb, TEs John Carlson and Kyle Rudolph, OL Brandon Fusco, Charlie Johnson, Phil Loadholt, DeMarcus Love and John Sullivan, DL Everson Griffen, WR Manny Arceneaux and RB Jordan Todman
“Some of (the veterans) asked me about it,” Frazier said. ”They wanted to be able to come out and watch and we said, ‘Come out and look. Just make sure you don’t jump in a drill or pick up a dummy or anything like that.’ It’s good that they want to come out and watch. They’re hungry to get out there as well.
“The participation we’ve had in the offseason program has been superb. The fact they want to come out here when they could leave and do other things on a Friday, that’s a good sign.”
- CB Josh Robinson is F-A-S-T!!!
“I was watching the guys return punts this morning,” Frazier said, “and we still have those cheat sheets with the guys numbers (on them). Josh caught a punt and he took off like a guy shot out of a rocket. I thought, ‘Man, that guy has a nice little burst, let me see who that is.’
“It was Josh Robinson and I said, ‘That’s a good sign.” That burst, it sticks out. You can see why he ran a 4.2, 4.3 40(-yard dash) at the combine. He can get from A to B pretty quickly. So that’s encouraging.”
- Kickers Galore! Vikings picked Georgia kicker Blair Walsh in the sixth round, when they signed Ryan Longwell to a four-year,$12 million deal last season
Frazier said he does not know if the Vikings will keep two kickers — the possibility would be to start off Walsh as a kickoff specialist — and added that’s “not in the game plan right now.”
Asked about evaluating Walsh, Frazier said: “We are obviously going to take a close look at him. Obviously, when you draft a kicker you are drafting for a reason.”
- Minicamp invitees on a tryout basis include LB coach Mike Singletary’s son Matt Signletary and Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald’s brother, Marcus Fitzgerald.
The Vikings had two more practices today and one final practice on Sunday.