EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- I did my best to keep an eye on your preferred targets during the Minnesota Vikings' opening practice of mandatory minicamp. I'll get to as many topics as I have information on, but naturally we'll start with coach Brad Childress' surprising rebuke of All-Pro tailback Adrian Peterson:
I fully expected Childress to downplay Peterson's absence and was prepared to call his presumed hypocrisy. (Like most coaches, Childress has always stressed the importance of offseason attendance.) So I was surprised when Childress mocked the significance of Adrian Peterson Day in Palestine, Texas. In addition, Childress refused to rule out discipline and made clear he wasn't happy with Peterson's decision. Childress occasionally criticizes players in a public forum, but I can't recall him targeting one nearly as prominent as Peterson. If I had to guess, I would think Childress is sensitive to any perception that the exceptions he has made for quarterback Brett Favre are available to any other player. I'll explore this topic deeper next week.
The Vikings could fine Peterson nearly $10,000 for missing minicamp, according to the collective bargaining agreement. It's the team's option. That type of discipline, while justified and certainly not unprecedented, would take this issue to another level. Do the Vikings really want to brawl with one of their best players?
As expected, defensive end Ray Edwards did not attend. Edwards is a restricted free agent who hasn't signed his tender, meaning he can't be fined for missing camp. Childress did not appear concerned about Edwards' absence. "It's just the nature of the business," Childress said. Brian Robison worked with the first team in Edwards' absence.
I was stunned to see middle linebacker E.J. Henderson participating in individual drills less than seven months after fracturing his left femur. Henderson ran at slow speeds and moved deliberately, but it was still a far cry from his complete immobility of a few months ago. "I wish I could tell you that it surprised me," Childress said. "But the way he has attacked this thing is amazing." It's still hard to imagine Henderson being ready to play when the season begins in September, but his progress to this point is far beyond schedule.
Receiver Percy Harvin has spent the offseason working out on his own in Gainesville, Fla. He returned to the Twin Cities this week weighing, he said, 205 pounds. He was 188 pounds last year at this time. The extra weight was well-proportioned -- "I don't think it's big and fat," Childress said -- but Harvin said he plans to report to training camp at 200 pounds. Harvin admitted he has continued to suffer from migraine-like headaches during the offseason but said it was "nothing that stopped me from having a workout or anything."
The weight didn't appear to have taken any of Harvin's speed. He got behind the defense on a seam pattern during team drills, but quarterback Tarvaris Jackson's throw was too short. It hit linebacker Ben Leber in the chest as he turned to look for the ball while trailing the play.
Receiver Sidney Rice, another player who has been working out on his own this year, said he has put on seven or eight pounds of upper-body muscle since the end of the season.
With Peterson absent, Albert Young and rookie Toby Gerhart split repetitions with the first team. Many of you asked about Gerhart. It's hard to draw any conclusions from a non-contact practice, but I can tell you he was pretty morose afterward while discussing a fumble during team drills. "It was going well and then I put the ball on the ground," Gerhart said. "Got to get used to holding on to it." Gerhart will participate in both practices Saturday and then walk in his graduation ceremony at Stanford on Sunday. He'll return to the Twin Cities on a red-eye flight Sunday night to spend several more days with the rest of the Vikings' rookie class.
Rookie cornerback Chris Cook, the Vikings' first pick of the 2010 draft, didn't participate and instead watched from the sideline. I'm assuming he suffered some kind of injury but Childress wouldn't reveal any information. Childress also said he didn't know why linebacker Chad Greenway left the field after the early portion of practice. Erin Henderson took his place with the first team.