Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Training Camp Report

I went to the Vikes training camp this morning and came away with a few quality observations and a few opinions that seem completely valid considering I’ve watched a whole 2 hours of practice. Here’s what I got:

Tavaris Jackson is getting the majority of reps with the first team offense, but Brooks Bollinger is getting a lot more snaps then I thought he would be. Upon closer review of T-Jack, he’s incredibly quick/shifty and has an absolute cannon for an arm (it’s even more impressive in person). That said, he looks extremely uncomfortable in the pocket and seems to get “happy feet” quite often. This is causing him to throw off of his back foot a lot and thus making his passes either short of or behind his receivers. When he does step up in the pocket, his throws are sharp and on the money. The problem is that this does not happen very often. Bollinger, on the other hand, seems very poised in the pocket and a lot less choppy with his feet and delivery. Despite that seemingly high level of comfort, he either doesn’t see the play developing fast enough or is afraid to push the ball down the field. This is resulting in him checking down a lot. I would say that Brooks gives the team the best chance to win right away, but since we’re in a major rebuilding year (with little to no expectations) Jackson will likely be lined up behind center for week 1. Oh, and in case you care, Tyler Thigpen will easily beat out Drew Henson for the third quarterback spot. He actually looks really solid at times, whereas Henson seems like he should be looking for a third baseman’s job instead of a quarterback job.

Running Backs:
AP was not in pads today, which was quite disappointing because I really wanted to see him in person. Chester Taylor probably caught the most balls out of any player on the field today. Everyone has been talking about him getting phased out by Peterson at some point this season, but I just don’t see that happening. He’s running a ton of swing, wheel, and screen routes and I really think the team will use both a lot for the whole year.

Wide Receivers:
As of right now, Bobby Wade and Troy Williamson are starting at wide out (they’re also the two deep men on kickoff returns). Wade is easily the fastest player on the team. He’s another guy who’s very impressive to watch in person, but his hands don’t seem to be very good. Speaking of which, Troy looked very good today. He caught everything thrown his way (including a spectacular 40+ yard sideline catch from Jackson) and seemed to be getting some good separation from the defense. Second round pick Sidney Rice hardly saw any time with the first team offense and it would appear that he’s no higher than fourth on the depth chart right now. The other impressive wide receivers were Jason Carter (some really nice moves, though he is tiny) and my sleeper pick to make an impact, Chandler Williams (ran great routes, saw a lot of balls come his way, and made some very good catches).

The defense looked awesome today, completely warranting the hype that we’ve been giving them so far this summer. The linebackers, especially EJ Henderson, were everywhere making plays and our defensive backs were simply dominating. The most impressive guys were definitely fourth round pick Marcus McCauley (who’s now starting at the nickel spot) and Cedric Griffin (completely locked up anyone who came near him). They look like they could be extremely tough this year.

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