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Updated: July 31st, 2010 12:56pm
Notebook: Pat Williams delivers hit, words to put Toby Gerhart in his place

Notebook: Pat Williams delivers hit, words to put Toby Gerhart in his place

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Toby Gerhart was the last draft pick to sign with the Minnesota Vikings, reporting a day late after signing a four-year contract.

It's safe to say his teammates noticed.

Veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams offered no apologies after delivering the biggest hit of the Vikings' first padded practice on Saturday morning -- laying out Gerhart at the whistle during a team (11-on-11) drill.

"I don't care who it is, man," Williams said. "This ain't college no more. They're grown mans out there. (Expletive.) Paying these college boys like they already played before, so (expletive), we just show 'em. This is a different breed out there. This is grown men. It ain't boys no more. But they pay 'em like they done played in the NFL now."

Minutes later, linebacker Jasper Brinkley knocked down Gerhart again as the rookie running back tried to catch a short pass. But it was Williams' hit that left the biggest impression with players in shoulder pads and shorts on a hot morning at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Gerhart was running right on a draw play, and Williams -- a 14th-year veteran who has 14 years and about 100 pounds on the rookie -- came from the side to deck him and draw a collective "ooh" from a standing-room only crowd.

Asked whether he said anything to Gerhart on the ground, Williams said, "(Expletive). I don't apologize to nobody. (Expletive), get your ass up. Let's go. Point blank. That's how I roll. I've been playing for like 14 years. I don't complain about nothing. I don't whine about nothing. I'm just coming to camp to have fun. Same old, same old every year."

Though Williams' hit plainly caught him off guard, Gerhart said he wasn't surprised people were gunning for him.

"It's expected," he said. "Younger guy out here and it's the first day with some pads on. People are flying around, and I got hit twice. It's good. It's good to be playing football again."

A second-round draft pick projected to be Adrian Peterson's top backup, Gerhart has been working mostly with the second string and developed something of a reputation early on for not playing through the whistle.

Williams' hit, it seems, might have been a rather pointed wake-up call.

"I didn't know we were hitting that hard yet, but they might have been trying to welcome him a little bit," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "But he's doing a good job. He's working. Obviously, it's the first time getting the pads on and getting behind the pads, getting behind the offensive line, seeing how fast things move. So, it'll take a minute, but he'll be all right."

Griffin: No more timetables

Griffin still is only about six months removed from knee-reconstruction surgery, but he already seems antsy to get back on the field.

Frustrated by being placed on the PUP, the fifth-year cornerback says he's done predicting when he'll return to practice.

"I wanted to participate in training camp, and I wasn't able to," said Griffin, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the NFC championship game Jan. 24. "So, my timetable -- I'm not giving no more. Whenever I'm ready, I'm going to go out there."

Griffin strongly indicated he isn't physically restricted -- "Whatever you seen the DBs do today, that's what I did," he said -- but the team understandably is proceeding with caution. Six months is considered the bare minimum for recovery; many teams restrict players for eight to nine months.

Lito Sheppard and Asher Allen have been splitting time at right cornerback in Griffin's absence, and Sheppard remains the favorite to start the season opener Sept. 9 at New Orleans.

No changes

Darrell Bevell said he isn't installing the offense any differently with Tarvaris Jackson running the starters than he would if Brett Favre were in Mankato.

"We're doing it just like this is our team," Bevell said. "We're not installing any different than we would if he was here or if he's not here.

"We have an offense to put in. We're trying to work that offense, make sure that all the guys at other positions know it -- including the backup at every position, the quarterbacks that are in there, in the starting rotation at this point -- and that's all that we can go on."

Quick hits

• Williams, who turns 38 in October, said he isn't thinking about getting a contract extension, even though his current deal expires after the season. "I ain't worried about it," he said. "That's my last thought on my mind. I'm just trying to make it through this year. That's my last thought on my mind, playing after this year. That's my last thought. I'm just enjoying the guys."

• Special-teams coordinator Brian Murphy indicated there's a wide-open competition for punt-return duties, with Percy Harvin, Darius Reynaud, Asher Allen, Jaymar Johnson and several others all getting work in the first two days of camp. "We had a host of guys," Murphy said, "so now we are going to sort our way through them during the course of the preseason." Harvin is expected to be the primary kick returner, although several other players -- including undrafted rookies Ray Small and Marcus Sherels -- are getting work.

• S Jamarca Sanford continued to split time with incumbent starter Tyrell Johnson with the starting defense.

• During a ones-vs.-twos special-category period, S Husain Abdullah intercepted Jackson, who appeared to stumble on a sprint-out pass and made a bad decision trying to force the ball to TE Visanthe Shiancoe at the sideline. Final passing statistics in all team drills: Jackson 6-for-11, one INT; Sage Rosenfels 4-for-5; Joe Webb 1-for-1.

• OLB Chad Greenway intercepted a bad Webb pass for TE Jeff Dugan during a 5-on-5 passing drill.

• PK Ryan Longwell was 5-for-7 in a "live" field-goal period. He made his first five attempts from 25 to 45 yards, then missed wide right from 50 yards and hit the crossbar from 53.

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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