Postcard from camp: Vikings
In the familiar setting of Mankato, Minn., where the Vikings have trained every summer for 46 years now. It was a somber beginning to camp at Mankato on Monday, because it happened to be the 10th anniversary of that tragic day here when Vikings Pro Bowl offensive tackle Korey Stringer fell victim to complications from heat stroke. Stringer's death was remembered by Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier, who gathered his team at midfield for a moment of silence just before the workout began, and the club also painted his No. 77 prominently on its main practice field. Only one Viking, tight end Jim Kleinsasser, remains from that 2001 team Stringer was on.
"I'm just thankful that it was (dealt with), and thankful that it didn't get to an ugly situation,'' said McNabb, making it clear he didn't relish the idea of a second training camp with Washington. "It's good to get a breath of fresh air and get away from that mess. And that's exactly what it was, it was a mess. But I've put that behind me.''
McNabb said he doesn't anticipate a tough transition to Musgrave's offense, because there are similarities in both scheme and terminology with the offense he ran in Philadelphia for 11 years. We'll see about that, but he seems unconcerned. "I can get back to just playing football again and the way I was taught,'' McNabb said.
The Vikings probably used the non-football injury designation because McKinnie's lack of conditioning transpired during the lockout, and that should allow Minnesota to hold back some of his roster and workout bonuses, as well as a portion of his $4.9 million salary if need be. If he's not activated from the NFI list before the team's Sept. 11 opener, he couldn't return until the team's seventh game of the regular season.
Having lost receiver Sidney Rice to Seattle in free agency, the Vikings need Berrian to rebound from a desultory 2010 season, in which he caught just 28 passes for 252 yards, with zero touchdowns. Frazier said he's confident Berrian and McNabb will click, but that certainly wasn't the case with Berrian and the Vikings' last veteran quarterback. It was thought that Brett Favre didn't like throwing the ball to Berrian and didn't trust him in key situations, and the hope is that no Favre means the return of the old Berrian.
With McNabb in house, who knows how long it'll take for the Vikings to fully launch their Christian Ponder era, but the rookie quarterback from Florida State has made a favorable early impression on almost everyone around here. He certainly looks, acts and sounds like a franchise quarterback, and Frazier told me he believes having those traits is an important component of the leadership half of the job. Now if the kid can play, the Vikings will really have something special on their hands. It's too early to know that at the NFL level, but people who have watched him in Minnesota so far say Ponder "gets it,'' and will do the work necessary to give himself the best possible chance to succeed.
The Vikings appear headed for another 6-10 finish this season, which probably puts them in the cellar of the NFC North unless Chicago collapses. We should know plenty about the Vikings after a tough four-game midseason stretch that includes a Week 6 Sunday night game at Chicago, a home date against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers in Week 7, a trip to Carolina in Week 8, and a Monday night rematch in Green Bay in Week 10.