Not sure if you guys knew this or not, but the Vikings opened training camp on Friday in Mankato. After a couple of days and four practices (one Friday, two Saturday, and one Sunday), there are a few ... five actually ... story lines that have developed, and how these stories unfold could have a profound impact on the Minnesota Vikings and their 2010 campaign.
The Quarterback Situation: Look, I was in favor of Favre signing with the Vikings as much as four years ago, and quite frankly, I don't care if he shows up 20 minutes before the first game and decides to play. But a logical conclusion would be that his indecision has to be affecting the remaining quarterbacks on the roster, and that might make the coaches' choice on who the odd man out is relatively easy. So far, Sage Rosenfels seems to be the guy most affected by it. Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN out of Minneapolis explains:
Childress pointed to the tempo of younger players for a sloppy offensive performance in the night session, but veteran Sage Rosenfels struggled as much as anyone.
Primarily running the No. 2 offense, Rosenfels threw four interceptions -- one in 7-on-7 passing drills and three in 11-on-11 -- during the competitive periods of practice.
The Rehab of E.J. Henderson: This is quickly becoming the story of training camp. We all remember how gruesome the injury to E.J. Henderson was last season in Arizona; it was arguably the low point of the season. Until, well, you know, the NFC Championship game and all. The seriousness of the injury had a lot of folks wondering whether Henderson could even play football again. Well, quit wondering. He's been limited to one practice a day, but he's been an inspiration to his teammates, and his return will be a huge boost ot an already potent Vikings defense:
Less than eight months later, Henderson is back on the field and his stunning recovery is having an equally strong effect on the team in the first few days of training camp.
"I know it was a bad injury and I know some of those injuries can be career-ending," defensive end Jared Allen said. "So to see him back running, to see him back with a helmet in his hand, to me is awesome. It's inspiring."
The quiet Henderson is not a Ray Lewis, fire-and-brimstone type of leader. He smolders in the huddle, quietly and calmly making the calls with a style that is perfect for this veteran unit. There is no more respected player in the locker room than the middle linebacker, who is battling back from his second serious injury in the past two years.
My August prediction (get it -- August as in prescient, and August as in the month): Henderson wins the Comeback Player of the Year.
Percy Harvin's Fragility: Percy Harvin is a one -of-a-kind player, and everyone, both fans and opponents, knows that. They also know that Harvin is fragile, to a certain extent, and that showed itself on Friday, when Harvin tweaked an ankle. He suffered through migraine headaches in 2009, and it looks like something that will be with him for his entire career, and his life. All told, I think most Vikings fans would rather have Harvin for 13 games than for none ... like Bears and Packers fans, heh heh. Oh, and Lions fans, too. I keep forgetting about them.
How are the Rookies Doing?: Apparently, veterans like Pat Williams don't like the fact that rookies like Toby Gerhart make a lot of money, because he wasn't impressed with Gerhart's reputation:
Veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams offered no apologies after delivering the biggest hit of the Vikings' first padded practice on Saturday morning -- laying out Gerhart at the whistle during a team (11-on-11) drill.
"I don't care who it is, man," Williams said. "This ain't college no more. They're grown mans out there. (Expletive.) Paying these college boys like they already played before, so (expletive), we just show 'em. This is a different breed out there. This is grown men. It ain't boys no more. But they pay 'em like they done played in the NFL now."
Asked whether he said anything to Gerhart on the ground, Williams said, "(Expletive). I don't apologize to nobody. (Expletive), get your ass up. Let's go. Point blank. That's how I roll. I've been playing for like 14 years. I don't complain about nothing. I don't whine about nothing. I'm just coming to camp to have fun. Same old, same old every year."
Pat Williams in one bad Mother (Expletive). And Dez Bryant better be glad Phat Pat ain't on his (expletive) team.
The Vikings' other second round draft pick, Chris Cook, is making quite a name for himself as well, but in another way:
The Minnesota Vikings' top draft pick on Sunday had three interceptions in competitive drills and could have had a fourth if the sun weren't in his eyes on a hot afternoon.
The Brett Favre Arrival Prediction Lottery: Look, we all know that Favre is coming back. I mean, if he doesn't, it's close to apocalyptic, so of course, he's coming back. I mean, even Zygi Wilf thinks he's coming back:
"Right now, he's the starting quarterback of our team," Wilf said Friday as he watched the Vikings go through their first practice of training camp. "So we're in a good position."
This could go down in the pantheon of mis-speaking, like Nixon's "I am not a Crook," or the infamous Chicago Tribune headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman," or the Jerry Angelo, "I Am Happy to Introduce Jay Cutler" comment.
My prediction? Favre shows up Aug 24th, the day after the day after the Vikings second pre-season game. I mean, we don't want to make it THAT obvious, do we?