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Updated: August 2nd, 2010 12:57pm
Notebook: 5th-round pick Chris DeGeare making strong impression

Notebook: 5th-round pick Chris DeGeare making strong impression

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Top draft pick Chris Cook is rising fast, but fifth-rounder Chris DeGeare has made as strong an impression as any rookie in Minnesota Vikings training camp.

With veteran Steve Hutchinson getting some extra rest on Monday, DeGeare got extended action with the starting offensive line in team drills and won a pair of reps against All-Pro Kevin Williams in one-on-ones.

"It's surreal," DeGeare said of going against Williams, the five-time All-Pro. "But then again, I'm just kind of focusing on doing my job and make sure I have my playbook down and communicating along with the o-line. So, it's an honor going against them, but I've just got to focus on myself."

Thickly built at 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds, DeGeare has loads of potential but fell to the draft's final day for several reasons, including inconsistency. He impressed during offseason practices, though, and has jumped out on coaches' tape through the first few days of camp.

DeGeare has worked exclusively at left guard through offseason practices, but he could figure as a multi-position backup for a team that lost Artis Hicks in the offseason.

"Right now, we're just trying to get the plays down, get the calls down," DeGeare said. "Everybody's getting winded out here, and when you get winded, the first thing to go is your technique. So, I'm sure as soon as we get our conditioning up under us we'll start working on technique."

Coach Brad Childress said DeGeare will see some work at right guard eventually but there are no immediate plans to work the rookie at tackle, where he played some at Wake Forest.

DeGeare wasn't the only rookie getting extended action with the starters on Monday morning.

Cook took a number of reps in place of Antoine Winfield at left cornerback, and fellow second-round pick Toby Gerhart saw increased action at halfback as Adrian Peterson continues to fight through what Childress has called "tightness."

Sticking with Tyrell

Strong safety Tyrell Johnson was back with the starting defense on Monday morning, continuing his practice-by-practice rotation with Jamarca Sanford.

Asked whether the position is wide open, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said, "No, T.J. is still our starter. But we wanted competition at the position, and all our guys know that -- there's always competition at every position.

"In order for Jamarca to have a chance to unseat him, he needs to work sometimes with the ones. And no slight against T.J., but just trying to make sure that we've got some competitiveness at the safety position."

Sanford is the clear-cut No. 3 safety ahead of Husain Abdullah. However, Sanford's work with the starters exclusively has come at Johnson's expense in camp, and he was back at strong safety with the No. 1 defense in Monday's afternoon session.

"If something were to happen to either one of those guys, he's our third safety, and he's got to be ready to play either position," Frazier said. "So, that's part of it as well. But also, if he performs at a high level during training camp and we deem it necessary for him to be in the starting lineup, this is a chance for us to see if he can handle it or not."

Rice progressing; Harvin leaves

Receiver Sidney Rice (hip) said he's progressing in his rehabilitation but still has pain when he makes certain movements.

"Not so much straight-ahead running," he said, "but my job and the position I'm at, you've got to break down, make certain cuts. So, I just want to be cautious for now and get back to a hundred percent."

All indications are the Vikings will remain without their top two receivers for some time, too, since Percy Harvin is expected to leave the team to tend to a death in his family.

Harvin hasn't practiced since Saturday, when he tweaked an ankle in the morning session but returned to practice in the evening.

Childress spoke with Harvin late Sunday night and texted with him on Monday but was unsure of a timetable for Harvin's return.

Health watch

Center John Sullivan sat out again because of the right calf injury he sustained on Saturday night, but Childress said he expects the starting center to be back in action on Tuesday morning.

Cornerback Benny Sapp, who has been limited since cramping up on Saturday morning, watched part of practice but didn't participate.

Tight end Mickey Shuler is battling a hamstring tweak and has been running on the side for portions of practice.

Quick hits

• The interceptions that have marked two straight practices finally abated on Monday morning, but the offensive work remained rather sloppy. In team (11-on-11) drills, Tarvaris Jackson was 5-for-10 passing, fumbled and took a sack; Sage Rosenfels was 7-for-9 while working in some with the starters during team; and rookie Joe Webb was 2-for-5.

• Rosenfels easily was the strongest quarterback in the afternoon practice, going 5-for-5 in team drills. Jackson endured a rocky special-category period, misfiring on his final three passes and taking another sack, to finish 4-for-8. Webb was 2-for-5 and also threw an interception to rookie LB Nate Triplett, who jumped in front of TE Jimmy Kleinsasser during 7-on-7.

• PK Ryan Longwell was 5-for-6 in a series of field goals between 25 and 45 yards in the morning session. His miss was wide right from 50.

• Frazier wasn't exactly buying Pat Williams' claim he lost 18 pounds to report to camp at 324. "Well, if he says so," Frazier said with a laugh. "Pat -- he's a unique dude. He can play a little bit above whatever his playing weight is and still be effective. His attitude and his demeanor has a lot to do with his success. Eighteen pounds lighter? Uh, maybe. I don't know."

• Tuesday's morning session is slated to be the first in full pads with live tackling, and Childress ended Monday's afternoon practice nearly a half-hour early in expectation of a physical session. The emphasis will be on short-yardage and goal-line. There also will be some move-the-ball drills, in which the offense puts together a drive rather than running isolated plays in set downs and distance.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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