EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings lauded the participation or at least appearance of several of the team’s veteran stars at the opening of voluntary organized team activities two weeks ago.
Since then, several players — including Jared Allen, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, Chad Greenway and Antoine Winfield — have been notably missing from the workouts.
Harvin’s absence, in particular, is curious. He missed the first week of OTAs because he was still rehabbing following shoulder surgery in late April. However, he returned to practice on June 5 but has missed practice since. Coach Leslie Frazier continued to say Tuesday that Harvin’s decision not to be with the team was part of the voluntary workouts and he expects Minnesota’s leading receiver to be back next week for the mandatory three-day minicamp.
“His shoulder, from everything I know from our trainer Eric Sugarman, his shoulder is doing well,” Frazier said. “He’s still on course to be back when we get back to mandatory minicamp and participate. That’s what we’re hoping.”
Last week Frazier also mentioned the OTAs were voluntary when noting Harvin’s absence, but a day later Harvin tweeted, “There’s no such thing as minor surgery trust me…. From (practice) hope I didn’t (overdo) it”
Harvin later tweeted: “No worries I’m good just steady grind”
Greenway is still tending to a family matter in South Dakota. Allen hasn’t participated in any of the voluntary workouts, instead choosing to train in Arizona as he has done in the past. Peterson is still rehabbing from knee surgery.
Frazier said he is expecting most players, including Harvin, to return to Winter Park next week for the mandatory minicamp.
“Yeah, we expect full participation from everybody,” Frazier said. “The only question mark would be Chad.”
Frazier said he understands Greenway’s need to be at home and that the linebacker would be excused from the minicamp, if needed.
Others on the mend: Linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Solomon Elimimian and receivers Kerry Taylor and A.J. Love were not at Tuesday’s OTAs, which were open to the media.
Brinkley, who is returning from hip surgery last year, is dealing with a groin injury, and Frazier said the team is taking precautions with Brinkley so he can be ready for next week’s minicamp. Elimimian is nursing a hamstring injury.
Taylor has had a heavily bandaged hand and finger the past two weeks. Meanwhile, receiver Greg Childs, a fourth-round pick, has returned to practice in a limited capacity after straining his calf at the team’s rookie minicamp at the start of May.
Quantifying progress: Frazier said the team is tracking very specific areas to see how much improvement is being accomplished during the OTAs.
Frazier said the offensive focus has been on improving on first and second downs, while also throwing more on those downs. Plus, the offense is also being charted to track ball security. Defensively, the coaches are really looking at the effort of the players, improving in pass-defense and coming up with turnovers. On special teams, the goals are to eliminate certain penalties that plagued the team last year. Minnesota has brought in officials to watch practices and call penalties on infractions.
“We’ve got some ways to quantify from a numbers standpoint, but we’re also doing some things and just seeing how the guys are engaged and what we’re doing in the meetings,” Frazier said. “We didn’t have this a year ago — to watch them run around, to sit down and talk with them, to give them feedback as coaches. We know we’ll be an improved team based on that. Although there’s a lot more to be done before we play that first game against Jacksonville. But it just seems like we’re making those improvements that we need to see.”