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Updated: June 19th, 2012 5:43pm
Notebook: Jasper Brinkley's hip still hurts; Adrian Peterson 'on pace'

Notebook: Jasper Brinkley's hip still hurts; Adrian Peterson 'on pace'

by Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Apparently, there are still some issues with Jasper Brinkley's surgically repaired hip.

Brinkley, who is expected to replace E.J. Henderson as the Minnesota Vikings' starting middle linebacker this season, did not take part in the opening day of the team's three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

Afterward, he said the hip he had repaired in August -- not the groin he tweaked during an organized team activity practice earlier this month -- was the reason he was held out.

"(It's) just a process with the hip," said Brinkley, a fifth-round draft choice in 2009 who played in all 32 games (four starts) in his first two seasons before missing last season.

"Hopefully, I'll be able to practice one day before the mandatory minicamp is over. ... I'm not concerned at all."

Brinkley did work on the side as his teammates practiced. He said his absence was "definitely" precautionary and suggested he could practice before the week is over.

"I put all my confidence in (athletic trainer) Eric Sugarman and he's led me down the right road and he's going to continue to do that," Brinkley said.

Tyrone McKenzie, who spent last season on the Vikings' practice squad, worked in Brinkley's place with the starting defense. But Brinkley didn't seem concerned about not being able to show the coaching staff what he could do on Tuesday.

"Actually, the first couple of OTAs I was able to do a little bit, so I was able to show what I could do," he said. "I'm pretty sure if the coaches weren't satisfied, they'd probably bring somebody else here. It's still a work in progress."

Peterson progressing

Halfback Adrian Peterson, who is recovering from knee reconstruction surgery, was running and doing other work under the watchful eye of Sugarman for a portion of the practice.

Peterson retreated to the locker room before his teammates finished up and didn't speak with reporters.

Frazier indicated the team will take all the way up until training camp begins on July 27 to decide whether Peterson will be placed on the camp/physically unable to perform list.

"We've talked about some different scenarios and going through some what-ifs," Frazier said. "But so far, he's on pace with everything the doctors ask him to do. Just in talking with Eric Sugarman, even (Monday) in his examination, they were really pleased with some of the things they saw.

"So, we're optimistic that things are still on course for him to play in that home opener (on Sept. 9 against Jacksonville). What we do in training camp, we'll wait and see when we get to that point. But we have talked about different options."

Less Winfield?

It remains to be seen how much coaches will reduce cornerback Antoine Winfield's workload during the season, but they fully intend to limit his reps in training camp -- and that's fine by Winfield.

"Oh, I love it," Winfield said, laughing. "I couldn't ask for anything more. It comes with age.

"I'll be 35 Sunday. I expect it. This is my 14th season. I want to last 16 games. I want to last the whole season. I feel like, if I'm on the field, our defense plays a lot better. So, I want to be out there and help them."

Winfield played only 322 snaps (30.4%) last season because of a neck strain and a broken collarbone, triggering a clause in his contract that reduced his base salary this season from $7 million to $3 million.

He can earn back the difference through play-time incentives if he returns to a starting role. But the Vikings probably would prefer they find an alternative to start opposite Chris Cook, allowing them to preserve Winfield for the grind of a 16-game season.

"Before his injury, he was still playing at a high level a season ago," Frazier said. "We'll have to monitor some of the things he does in practice to help him, because of the length of time he's had in the league and how violently he plays. We'll see how it goes, but we're going to have to definitely help him when it comes to training camp."

Asked if he'd prefer to play only in the nickel defense, Winfield said, "We'll see. I'm sure I'll play a lot more inside this season. But we're still going to come up with a plan where I'm out there on the field."

Mixing it up

Coaches substituted defensive backs like receivers during team drills, trying a variety of combinations throughout the course of team (11-on-11) drills.

Mistral Raymond, Jamarca Sanford, first-round draft pick Harrison Smith and even Andrew Sendejo got time behind the starting front seven at safety. One drill began with Chris Carr and rookie Josh Robinson at cornerback instead of Winfield and Cook.

"That'll be a part of this minicamp, but it's also been a part of the OTAs," Frazier said, "just trying to see guys in different positions, put them in some stressful situations and see how they respond.

"Until we get the pads on in Mankato, you have to be careful about passing judgment. But we're trying to do some things to get a feel for where they are mentally and how they work, and that helps us as we prepare for Mankato."

Into the fire

Jared Allen's arrival at minicamp meant a new challenge for top draft pick Matt Kalil, who drew a jeer or two from teammates after the veteran end beat him around the corner in a team drill.

"It's a good thing I'm going against the best d-end in the league," Kalil said. "Games will be a lot easier."

Kalil admitted he was "a little gassed out there" on a day temperatures reached 90 degrees with high humidity.

Players aren't in pads for minicamp and no "live" contact allowed, meaning Kalil's focus is on the scheme and his technique.

"I don't think it's so much play-wise," Kalil said. "I think I have that down pretty much. Now, since I have that down, it's about focusing on my fundamentals, my technique. It makes me become a lot better player."

Health watch

The only absent player on the 90-man roster was backup safety Eric Frampton, who was ill and could return on Wednesday.

Receivers Percy Harvin (shoulder) and Kerry Taylor (finger) didn't participate in any team drills.

Harvin, who revealed on Tuesday morning he's unhappy with the team because of undisclosed issues, did participate in individual drills.

"Working through the kinks each week and to get stronger and stronger before our game where we take contact," Harvin said. "Pretty comfortable doing weights. Still have to get things like the bench and stuff back, but for the most part, it's just going to be a grind."

Highlight reel

The highlight of practice was quarterback Christian Ponder's bullet pass to tight end John Carlson between two linebackers, capping 10-play, 65-yard in the 2-minute drill.

Carlson got off the ground and spiked the ball over the crossbar as Ponder joined him to celebrate.

Later, in a 7-on-7 drill, Ponder short-armed a pass over the middle for Jerome Simpson and Winfield intercepted it. Backup quarterback Joe Webb also threw an interception on a wobbly throw for Devin Aromashodu that Sendejo snared.

Quick hits

• PK Blair Walsh made 7 of 8 field-goal attempts from between 28 and 42 yards early in practice, missing wide left from 40 yards. Later, he ran onto the field for a "last-second" situation and missed wide left from 35 yards into a stiff wind.

Marcus Sherels, Bryan Walters and rookies Jarius Wright and Josh Robinson got work as punt returners.

• OL Geoff Schwartz, who missed last season in Carolina following hip surgery, got his first work in team drills. Brandon Fusco continued to play right guard with the first unit.

• DE D'Aundre Reed, a seventh-round pick in 2011 who never suited up last season, had two touch-sacks in team drills.

• Several members of the University of Minnesota football staff attended practice.

• Winfield attended part of OTAs but estimated he knows only 25 players on the 90-man roster. "I think it's good, considering we were 3-13 last season," he said. "We can't do much worse. Young guys brings energy. It's a lot of competition. Guys are going to fight for positions."

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
Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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