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Updated: May 13th, 2010 5:37pm
Rule bars Toby Gerhart from participating with Vikings during OTAs

Rule bars Toby Gerhart from participating with Vikings during OTAs

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Vikings will open organized team activity practices next week without one of their core rookies.

A team spokesman on Thursday confirmed running back Toby Gerhart will not be eligible to participate in OTAs because of the NCAA/NFL rule barring players from participating while their schools remain in session.

The Vikings made a bold move up to select Gerhart in the second round (No. 51 overall) last month out of Stanford, which is on a "quarters" academic calendar and doesn't complete finals until June 9.

Besides one three-day rookie minicamp, the rule states "no other off-campus minicamps, practices, or meetings for rookie players are permitted until May 16 or until after the final day of examinations for the player during his spring semester or equivalent, whichever is later."

So, Gerhart will be eligible to rejoin the Vikings in time for the team's mandatory minicamp June 11 to 13. However, Gerhart also is scheduled to graduate on June 13; a source indicated Gerhart is exploring ways to participate in most of the camp before returning to California.

None of the Vikings' other seven draft picks should be impacted by the rule.

For Gerhart, the lost time probably will prove insignificant in the long run. His roster spot and role as Adrian Peterson's backup seem safe regardless of his absence, and as one NFL personnel director pointed out last week, a few weeks of no-contact practices in shorts wouldn't accentuate the big back's strengths anyway.

"He's a physical, pounding runner that, if you go out and you watch them at practice right now at OTAs and minicamps, he's probably not going to excite anybody," the personnel director said. "It's not like when Adrian Peterson comes on the scene -- he looks great in pads, he looks great in shorts, he's just big and can run and all that.

"This guy (Gerhart), where you're going to see him is once you put the pads on and you start seeing the guy run downhill and break tackles, and he's got really good balance. He's fast enough. Obviously, he's very, very smart."

And those smarts shouldn't hurt Gerhart as he plays catch-up either.

The voluntary OTAs begin on Tuesday, with the first practice partly open to the media on Wednesday. All sessions are closed to the public.

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
In this story: Toby Gerhart, Adrian Peterson
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