Vikings confident season holds promise
By Dave Campbell
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With a new offense to learn and a new quarterback to run it, the Minnesota Vikings need all the time they can find this month to be ready for the regular season.
After finishing the out-of-town portion of training camp, the Vikings emerged with a palpable satisfaction about their progress, even if they're still a team with more questions than answers at several positions.
The defense is almost always ahead of the offense at this stage of the preseason, and that was apparent during full-team drills in practice at Minnesota State University in Mankato.
Quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn't able to take part in practice with his new team until the new collective bargaining agreement was finalized four days into camp. New left tackle Charlie Johnson had trouble blocking Jared Allen and the other defensive ends who lined up across from him. Wide receiver Michael Jenkins worked with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave in Atlanta, but he's another new player who must mesh in a new environment.
Everyone from Percy Harvin to Adrian Peterson remains in learning mode with Musgrave's system.
"I don't think it will take long at all," McNabb said, adding: "Hopefully by the third preseason game we will have things clicking. We will start moving the ball down the field methodically and putting the ball in the end zone."
Sounds easy enough, but is that a reality?
"Patience. You have your highs and your lows. At this point, we just need to work on consistency and gelling together," McNabb said.
Said Peterson: "Anytime you're dealing with different schemes it's going to be difficult when you're coming from a system you've been in for four years. ... I feel pretty good and pretty comfortable."
The Vikings left their dorm rooms Friday for their trip to Tennessee to take on the Titans on Saturday in their first exhibition game. There's little buzz about this team nationally, now that Brett Favre is retired and the luster of the NFC runner-up finish two years ago dissipated during the disastrous 2010 season. Fans weren't turned off by the lockout, though. According to the Vikings, more than 45,000 people attended the open-to-the-public practices in Mankato over 10 days.
"You couldn't ask for a better situation if you're a player than what we have right here from a weather standpoint and the support that we've gotten from our fans," head coach Leslie Frazier said.
Frazier took over on an interim basis when Brad Childress was fired last November, but this was his first training camp in charge. He said he was impressed by the resiliency and the attitude the players have shown.
"They were able to adapt early on and not have any complaints or worrying or moaning about this and that. They jumped in with both feet, and they have been enthusiastic from day one," Frazier said.
Clearly, the tension of last year has subsided, without the drama surrounding the status of Favre and Childress, without the pressure and expectation to contend for a Super Bowl. These Vikings have started the season with essentially a blank slate.
"We have all the tools, all the pieces. It's going to be all about jelling and going through this preseason each week, making sure we take a step forward in all phases," Peterson said, adding: "So I'm excited just to get this ball rolling."