By CHIP SCOGGINS, Star Tribune
Last update: August 2, 2008 - 10:14 PM
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MANKATO - It hasn't exactly been a day at the beach, but Brad Childress' third training camp as Vikings head coach has been remarkably tame compared to his first two.
The Vikings practiced in full pads for only the second time in 14 practices Saturday night. Compare that to Childress' first season -- 2006 -- when he scheduled full-pad practices on 12 consecutive days.
"It's a beautiful thing," said 10-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, smiling. "Probably the easiest camp that I've been through."
Winfield had a different opinion of the 2006 camp, which was one of the most physically demanding in recent Vikings history. Practices included a lot of live hitting and ended with plenty of sore bodies.
"This is the most physical camp I've ever been associated with," Winfield said at the time. "I've never been associated with tackling people to the ground in camp. It's a long season. You have four preseason games and 16 regular-season games. We're definitely going to get enough hitting."
Childress has dramatically altered his approach with this team. Rather than overwork his players with day after day of hitting, Childress has allowed his team to practice in shorts and shoulder pads early in camp when installation is the primary focus.
"If you practice hard, you'll get your conditioning," Childress said. "When you practice hard and give great tempo and try and simulate game speed, you win all the way around."
His players aren't complaining.
"It's a little more big-man friendly," left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. "I'm not going to complain. We're still getting our work in. We're practicing at a high tempo."
That's the key point. Players say they appreciate that Childress trusts them to get their work in without having to practice in full pads every day.
"Coach is comfortable with us," Winfield said. "He trusts us to go out here and do the right thing."
That comfort level perhaps comes from experience. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh is hearing that he's pushing his team too hard in his first camp.
That hasn't been an issue with the Vikings through nine days of camp.
"We've been in full pads less but I think we get a lot of work done," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "We haven't lost a lot of players to injury. We have a long ways to go until that opening weekend. I don't know if it's the right way or wrong way to do it, but I do know we feel pretty good."
Use that body
Tight end Jim Kleinsasser was a busy man during red-zone drills Saturday morning. He caught two touchdown passes by anchoring his 272-pound body at the goal line.
"He's able to bang around in there," Childress said. "He's sure-handed. He's a big body. You typically have people collapsing on you in the end zone. He knows how to hold people off."
Due to high autograph demands for Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson, the Vikings are implementing a ticket system for the defensive line (Aug. 5) and running backs (Aug. 11) sessions.
The first 2,000 fans through the gates on those dates will receive a scratch-off ticket, and 150 of those tickets will be marked with Allen's or Peterson's name. Only those fans with one of the 150 tickets will be allowed to enter the line for that player. All other fans can still go through the line of the other players in those two positions.
• Wide receiver Sidney Rice has a virus and did not attend the night practice. Childress said Rice is having a hard time keeping food down.