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Updated: July 30th, 2012 6:45pm
Notebook: Jared Allen gets after Matt Kalil, who mostly holds up well

Notebook: Jared Allen gets after Matt Kalil, who mostly holds up well

by Tom Pelissero
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MANKATO, Minn. -- The first time they met, the rookie left tackle stood up the veteran pass rusher.

The second time, Jared Allen got the edge on Matt Kalil and made sure everyone knew it, yanking off his helmet and holding it aloft as he grinned and circled through the line of Minnesota Vikings teammates waiting for their turns in the one-on-one pass rush drill.

Would Kalil really expect anything else?

"Oh no, he's a great guy," Kalil said, flashing a smile of his own after the first padded practice of training camp on Monday afternoon.

"We've got along really well in this camp, and I'm just glad he's on the same team as me."

Kalil didn't seem fazed by a perennial Pro Bowl pick having a little fun at his expense.

In fact, he held up fairly well overall in his first padded practice as a professional, save for that turn in one-on-ones and one snap during team (11-on-11) drills in which Allen beat him for a touch-sack.

"It's a good matchup," coach Leslie Frazier said. "Looking forward to continuing to watch that over time. It looked like Matt held his own for the most part. There were a couple times Jared got around him, but that's to be expected."

Kalil got extra turns with the second and third units on Monday, because backup tackle DeMarcus Love was sitting out with a shoulder injury.

Asked to grade his performance, Kalil said, "Well, it's the first day. There's always something I can improve on. I'm rusty on some things. You only get better on those things by practicing in pads, so I'm looking forward to improving every day."

Going live

The Vikings were "live" on the lines for the first time, but they weren't tackling to the ground -- something that will happen later in camp, Frazier said.

That didn't stop a couple of players from laying big hits, particularly on the running backs.

Linebacker Everson Griffen decked Ryan D'Imperio after a catch underneath. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley knocked down Lex Hilliard as teammates howled. And cornerback Reggie Jones popped Matt Asiata, who had just put a nice move on safety Robert Blanton.

"There are going to be some periods as we move through training camp that we will take guys to the ground," Frazier said.

"You just have to find that balance between giving them what they are going to see in the game and trying to prepare them for games, but yet not losing guys in practice. It's a fine line and everybody is going to do it a little bit different, but you are trying to find that balance."

A scare for Harvin

For the second straight day, one of the Vikings' top receivers provided a scare.

This time, it was Percy Harvin, who left the field on a cart after suffering an apparent right hand injury that turned out to be just a jammed finger.

Harvin returned to drills after about 20 minutes with the finger taped and saw limited action the rest of the way.

"We think he'll be fine," Frazier said.

Health watch

Love was a surprise scratch for Monday's practice and is expected to miss some more time because of the shoulder.

"It's going to take about another week or two before we get him back onto the field," Frazier said.

Blanton left practice after tweaking a hamstring, Frazier said.

Cornerback Josh Robinson remains day-to-day with his hamstring injury.

Receiver Stephen Burton (toe) was activated from the active/non-football injury list but can't participate in pads for a couple more days because of the rules of the collective-bargaining agreement signed last summer.

Tight end Mickey Shuler (heel), who was activated from the NFI list on Saturday, is eligible to practice in full on Tuesday.

Ponder's progress

After throwing just three incompletions in team drills over the first two days of camp, quarterback Christian Ponder uncorked a couple of wild throws on Monday and finished 7-of-12. He also threw a rare interception in the offense-friendly 7-on-7 passing drill.

"It was obviously a lot of mistakes that we can fix and a lot of growing to do, but I thought it was a great starting point," Ponder said. "First time we put on pads since Jan. 1, so I think that's huge. I think we have to get used to having the shoulder pads on, and to you as a quarterback, it's different throwing with shoulder pads on. I've got to get used to that."

Joe Webb had his best day, completing 7 of 9 in team drills. Sage Rosenfels was 7-of-8 and McLeod Bethel-Thompson 5-of-7.

Practice ended with a brief first-and-goal period, capped by a successful Rosenfels fade pass to rookie receiver Jarius Wright against Corey Gatewood in the back left corner of the end zone.

Keep cool

With pads on for the first time, the Vikings also began their annual process of measuring players' temperatures using an ingestible thermistor -- a pill that can be monitored by mobile device.

Robby Sikka, a physician from the University of Minnesota and Tria Orthopaedic Center, was on hand to monitor the results.

The Vikings are in their eighth year of the program. The Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and numerous college programs use the same system.

Schwartz's chance

Geoff Schwartz got more first-team reps at right guard on Monday as the team continues to evaluate a competition with Brandon Fusco that may not be decided by both players getting a preseason start.

"It depends on how it plays out in practice," Frazier said. "If someone is really showing in practice, they should be the number one. He'll be the starter in that game, unless they're pretty close in practice -- that's probably the only way you want to rotate them in that fashion."

Fusco continued to get the first turn with the starters.

Simpson confident

If receiver Jerome Simpson is having any second thoughts about the Vikings' chances for improving the NFL's 18th-ranked offense, he certainly isn't showing it.

"Yeah, it's going to definitely change, trust me," said Simpson, who caught four of Ponder's seven completions in team drills on Monday.

"This is definitely going to change this year, especially with our passing game. We're going to have (Adrian Peterson). We've got Toby (Gerhart) back there. Man, we've got so many pieces here, it's going to be unbelievable. We're going to turn a lot of heads this year."

Simpson will miss the first three games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. However, he can practice and play throughout the preseason and has taken most of the No. 1 reps at split end throughout the offseason.

"It's going to be really tough," Simpson said of the suspension, "but as my coach in college (at Coastal Carolina), coach David Bennett says, always find a positive about things, and I'll be fresh coming in, and I'll be able to watch the preseason games and see what I have to work on.

"So, I just have to find a positive like Coach says and move on. Come back Week
4, Detroit Lions. I've got it marked down."

Quick hits

• PK Blair Walsh was solid in his first "live" action of camp, making at least 7 of 8 field-goal attempts. The other kick hooked and may have been wide left, but it was difficult to tell because the drill was held on the far side of the middle practice field, away from reporters.

• CB Chris Stroud, who was signed on Monday, won't be eligible to participate in pads until midweek because of CBA rules.

Dean Berhow-Goll contributed.

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