View Full Version : Vikings take a new direction

08-05-2006, 01:22 PM
Posted on Sat, Aug. 05, 2006

Vikings take a new direction

Brad Childress' approach to training camp includes more control, uniformity and a faster pace than Mike Tice's.

Pioneer Press

MANKATO, Minn. — Even after six days, Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser could see the difference.

Camp Childress is not Camp Tice.

"There's a little tighter grip," says Kleinsasser. "You got new blood, and they're more tight-fisted with what they're doing. There's not a lot of loose guys around here."

You probably won't see Brad Childress running sprints with his players, or fielding an onside kickoff and running toward an end zone, as Mike Tice did in training camps. You also won't see a tight end fielding punts (Jermaine Wiggins) or a quarterback lining up at cornerback (Daunte Culpepper).

"Guys aren't doing their own thing, going in a million different directions," linebacker Napoleon Harris said. "It's uniform. Everyone is going in one direction, behind one leader."

Added receiver Travis Taylor: "With a veteran team last year, Tice put a lot of faith in his veterans. This year, Childress is a first-year coach, so he's going to prove himself to everybody."

Tice oversaw the past four training camps at Minnesota State Mankato but was fired after the 2005 season. Childress has made changes aplenty since Vikings owner Zygi Wilf hired him in January. Besides the coaching staff turnover, only 47 of the 84 players on the roster wore a Vikings jersey before this season.

Childress set target weights for each player, and he put everyone through a conditioning test Monday morning, with no exceptions. Last year, Tice allowed veterans who participated in 80 percent of the offseason workouts to skip the conditioning test. Childress, despite having near-perfect attendance from his players, required everyone to run Monday.

Veteran defensive tackle Pat Williams, one of the Vikings' top players last season, weighed in about five pounds too heavy and did not meet Childress' conditioning standard. He was immediately placed on the physically unable to perform list, making him unable to practice with his teammates.

Taylor, who stays in shape playing basketball in the offseason, says he was required to lose about five pounds.

"I lost nine," Taylor said. "But it's a commitment he wants from everybody. He's big on being in shape and running all the time."

Childress provided the players a morsel of his training camp menu during the offseason, when the coach conducted practices at a frenetic pace. During training camp, it's more of the same.

Receiver Marcus Robinson said there were natural breaks in practices under Tice, between drills.

"The biggest thing with coach Childress is tempo throughout the whole practice," Robinson said. "Once one drill breaks, you're running to the next drill. With coach Childress, it's 'Go, go, go.' "

Added Kleinsasser, "Coach talks about, when the fourth quarter comes, we're going to be the team that wins."

The expectations of the two coaches are the same, according to guard Adam Goldberg. The approaches are not.

"There's a more organized, professional, detail-oriented atmosphere," Goldberg said of Camp Childress. "We stick to the script. If a period is scheduled to be 12 plays, it's 12 plays. Under the Tice regime, he'd see something he'd want to see, and he'd add it on to the end of a period. Here, it's, 'Hit it, let's get it on film and on to the next play.'

"Neither one is different or worse, just different coaching styles."

There also are several key changes off the field.

Take the team dormitory.

In past years, reporters and visitors were allowed to hang out there and even eat in the same dining hall as the players. But Childress has made the dormitory and dining hall off limits to anyone not employed by the club. Inside the players' rooms are new beds, and refrigerators stocked with sports drinks and water.

Childress also banned rookie hazing, something Tice considered a rite of passage. Last year, each rookie had his head shaven and was subject to singing his alma mater's fight song upon command. One rookie who clearly was perturbed by the hazing was Erasmus James, who was left with only patches of hair after veterans butchered him with clippers.

"That's the bad thing," Taylor said. "The older guys went through all that, and now we can't do it. But coach Childress hates it. I don't know what happened. He had a bad experience or what, but he doesn't like it at all."

Although curfew still is 11 p.m., Childress insists players be in their rooms at that time, while Tice just wanted his players in the dorm, off the Mankato streets.

Meetings tend to run a little shorter under Childress. But players do not expect Childress to give them a practice off to go bowling or swimming, and he is not likely to push back their curfew if meetings run long.

Quarterback Mike McMahon and guard Artis Hicks played under Childress and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid last season, and they say there are many similarities, with a few minor exceptions.

"There are more individual drills and inside running drills," Hicks says. "(Childress has) put his own wrinkles on camp. But there are a lot of similarities."

Adds McMahon, "I think we go at it a little more."

Still, linebacker E.J. Henderson says he enjoys all the new faces and adds there's a "new attitude" here.

"It's just a lot more fresh guys, excited about the new coaches and players, as opposed to a lot of guys who have been coming to Mankato for five or six years," Henderson says. "We have a lot of guys who are coming to Mankato for the first time."

Sean Jensen can be reached at sjensen@pioneerpress.com

Vikings take a new direction (http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/sports/football/nfl/minnesota_vikings/15203355.htm)

08-05-2006, 01:53 PM
Great article! Love seeing this stuff!

08-05-2006, 02:03 PM
This whole article is called " Discipline" that is something that Tice doesn't have, and Childress has plenty of.. Of course players are going to get into trouble when their HC is a troublemaker himself.. Tice didn't know how to control the players, and it showed..

Childress may have never been a HC before, but he came from a system and learned from one of the best today in Andy Reid.. I have plenty of confidence in him as our coach, and really believe that his style will pay off for the Vikings as a whole..

08-05-2006, 02:09 PM
Besides the coaching staff turnover, only 47 of the 84 players on the roster wore a Vikings jersey before this season.

I didn't realize there were 37 new players in camp this year. That's more than I would have thought.

Mr. Purple
08-05-2006, 02:16 PM
This is how I would run my team if I did.Thier is a reason behind it.So what us fans dont get 234324 autographs, this is a job for these guys.I like that he has everyone working on the same page for one goal.Tice was too buddy buddy.

Childress has me excited for years of excelence!