Vikings' Frazier happy with OTA participation

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Phase three of the Minnesota Vikings' offseason schedule began this week with Leslie Frazier playing the role of one very happy head coach.
"Because it's been outstanding to come to phase three of the offseason program with 99 percent of our players here participating," said Frazier, who's oversaw a seven-win improvement a year ago as the Vikings surprised the league by going 10-6 en route to the playoffs.
"There's a lot to be said for that. We're so appreciative because this is voluntary. And to have this type of participation really is amazing. In today's NFL, with so many restrictions when it comes to training, if you don't get this kind of participation in the offseason, it can hurt you. I think this gives us a very good chance, not only of being a playoff team next season but to have a chance to go even further."
The only player not at Winter Park for the start of OTAs is defensive end Jared Allen. He's in the final year of his contract, but he's not trying to send any message. He simply doesn't believe in OTAs, choosing to do all of his voluntary offseason training at home in Arizona. He'll be in town next month for the mandatory minicamp.
One player who is here is reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson, who last year came within eight yards of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record despite suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament the previous December. Peterson, who had hernia surgery earlier this offseason, is back to 100 percent and participated in Wednesday's non-padded workout.
Asked why he volunteered to show up, Peterson said, "Team chemistry. It's important to show these younger guys how we do it. Hopefully, they can pick up from it."
Frazier appreciates the help from the face of the franchise.
"He's the Most Valuable Player in our league," Frazier said. "And the fact that he's here really kind of helps the rest of our players understand the importance of this portion of the offseason."
Receiver Greg Jennings, the former Packer signed to fill the void created when the Vikings traded disgruntled receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, is here, but didn't practice Wednesday. He sprained an ankle on Tuesday, but is expected to be fine long before training camp begins.
Two players making significant position changes are testing out their new gigs this week. Former weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson moves to the middle, where he's the leading candidate to replace Jasper Brinkley, who left via free agency for Arizona. And former No. 2 quarterback Joe Webb, who lost his passing job when Matt Cassel was signed in free agency, moved to receiver.
Henderson, who too often found himself out of position at weak-side linebacker, is a risky proposition as a three-down middle linebacker. But he's the best option the team has right now considering it didn't draft a linebacker until the fourth round this year.
Asked if any of the options behind Henderson will get any time with the first unit, Frazier said, "Erin is our starting middle linebacker until one of those others shows they deserve a look."
The Vikings now have nine linebackers on the roster after signing former Titan and Texan Stanford Keglar on Wednesday. Keglar, who has been out of the NFL since 2010, played three games with the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives a year ago. He's an outside linebacker forced to wear No. 60 because of the overload of linebackers in town.
Webb, meanwhile, showed on Wednesday that his hands are good enough to play receiver. His size (6-4, 220) also makes him a big target. And, obviously, as a former quarterback, he knows the offense so well, he's helping other receivers get lined up correctly.
"The biggest thing with Joe is how quickly he grasps the route running as a receiver," Frazier said.
Webb, a quarterback at UAB, joined the Vikings as a receiver when they selected him in the sixth round in 2010. But then-coach Brad Childress quickly switched him back to quarterback, after taking one look at his strong arm in that year's rookie minicamp.
If the switch back to receiver is bothering Webb, he's doing a great job of hiding it. He's working hard and appears to be as upbeat as ever.
The fact Webb is doing all of that while participating in a voluntary May OTA is just another reason Frazier is one happy coach right now.

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