Notebook: Jerome Simpson continues to make a positive impression
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It was no surprise who got the biggest cheer from teammates at the Minnesota Vikings' second open organized team activity practice on Wednesday.
Players on both sides of the ball exploded as receiver Jerome Simpson rose over cornerback Chris Cook's back to haul in a "go" ball from Christian Ponder during an 11-on-11 drill, holding on with one hand as he flopped to the ground.
"Christian just threw a great ball," Simpson said. "I just did what I was supposed to do: catch it."
Simpson's fellow receivers mobbed him as he jogged back to the sideline. Ponder came over to hug him a few minutes later.
It was just a single play in a non-padded practice. But Simpson has generated buzz within Winter Park almost from the day he signed a one-year deal in April, putting his athleticism on display each time he takes the field.
"Anybody that witnessed that play (Wednesday), you're going to get jacked up," coach Leslie Frazier said. "That was an incredible play and one of the reasons we get excited about him. We're hoping to see that on Sunday afternoons, plays like that. That will really help our team, help our quarterback's confidence, and we need that."
The Vikings project Simpson as their starting split end. But he will miss the season's first three games while serving a suspension for his guilty plea to a felony drug charge, which also yielded a 15-day jail term he already has served.
Though Simpson is eligible to practice and play with the team through the preseason finale, the Vikings will have to figure out how to ration reps smartly in camp.
"We'll have to change a few things, because ... we're not going to have him early on," Frazier said. "So, we have to get someone else ready, taking those early reps, but yet bring him along where he's getting some reps, too, to make sure he's into it mentally. But we'll have to go through that and make sure we get those guys ready who are going to be playing in the games."
No Harvin, Greenway
One day after receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Chad Greenway made their OTA debuts, both players were absent again.
Frazier said the shoulder that required surgery to remove bone spurs on April 24 isn't believed to be an issue for Harvin, who had been attending all meetings during OTAs even before he was cleared to practice.
"Nothing that I'm aware of regarding his shoulder," Frazier said. "It's a voluntary camp, so hopefully, we'll have him back (Thursday)."
Greenway has been dealing with an undisclosed family matter. Frazier said he received a call at 6:30 a.m. saying the situation had taken a turn for the worse.
"He had to head where he had to go, so he's dealing with some major issues in his family," Frazier said. "Chad is a loyal guy. He wants to be here. But he's dealing with a serious matter."
Rookie receiver Greg Childs remains sidelined by the calf strain he suffered in rookie camp a month ago.
"He's missing some valuable time, but at the same time, that can happen as a wide receiver," Frazier said of Childs, the fourth-round pick from Arkansas.
"You could have some muscle pulls. He's experiencing that right now, and I know he's getting treatment and doing everything he can to get back on the field and begin to learn the offense not just from a mental standpoint, but the physical part of what we do. He's missing that. But he'll get caught up. He's a smart kid."
Frazier emphasized the injury is not related to the patella tendon issue that hobbled Childs over his final two college seasons.
"I don't know if he's that far behind," Frazier said. "Our doctors cleared him, said he's 100 percent and he's ready to go."
Receiver Kerry Taylor was a limited participant in practice because of an apparent finger injury.
Also absent were halfbacks Adrian Peterson (knee surgery) and Derrick Coleman (school conflict) and end Jared Allen, who never participates in OTAs.
• WR Jarius Wright took the lion's share of punt return reps and appeared to have some issue tracking the ball, dropping at least two. "It's not easy at all," Wright said. "You learn more and more as you go on. It's stuff that they're teaching me here that we didn't learn in college. So, it's just catching on and remembering. That's basically the hard part." DB Reggie Jones also got several opportunities and caught the ball well.