MANKATO — The first couple of days of Minnesota Vikings training camp have not exactly been a raucous time.
In fact, there appeared to be more rowdiness by faithful fans at the State Capitol during the final hours of stadium debate last spring than there’s been in the stands outside Blakeslee Stadium this week.
One reason might be the practice schedule. The morning “walk-thru” sessions have been about as exciting as advertised, while the first couple of afternoon sessions didn’t do much more to strike up the overheated crowds.
Monday afternoon was the first full-pad practice of camp, but even that didn’t spark a wave in the stands, just the occasional “ooh” and “aah” and a polite golf clap when Christian Ponder hit tight end Kyle Rudolph over the middle for a would-be touchdown during one full-team session.
This is still a team coming off a 3-13 season and one that seems destined to finish fourth in the NFC North again, even if there is improvement.
So it wouldn’t be shocking if even the hard-core fans adopt a wait-and-see attitude in this first week of camp before putting on the pom-poms.
Then again, maybe the silence is a result of study. A person could make some money selling black-market programs on the street so fans could figure out just who these guys in purple and white are this summer.
The Vikings have only a couple of superstar players, defensive end Jared Allen and running back Adrian Peterson, and the latter currently is on the physically-unable-to-perform list, working out on his own to make sure that injured knee is 100 percent healthy.
Wide receiver Percy Harvin is on the cusp of being a star, and defensive tackle Kevin Williams is in the mix, along with the popular linebacker Chad Greenway, who went to his first Pro Bowl last January. Antoine Winfield is a respected veteran and a real pro, but he’s also 35 years old and coming off injury.
Chris Kluwe is a true character and a must-follow on Twitter, but he’s also just a punter.
The jury’s still out on Christian Ponder, the second-year quarterback who will run the offense from Day 1. This year’s first-round draft pick, Matt Kalil, was the absolute right choice for that spot, but with him being an unsexy left tackle, you probably won’t see many No. 75 jerseys being purchased at the Vikings Village shop behind the fields.
After that, well, there are lots of question marks and a very anonymous group of players sleeping in Gage Center each night.
Including Ponder and Kalil, 53 of the 87 players on the initial training camp roster are first- or second-year players, enough to fill a regular-season squad.
“I’m not in this to rebuild,” Allen said after the first practice of camp on Friday morning. “I’m in this thing every year to win a championship, and I know they are, too.”
Who are “they?”
Even Allen might need a program to be sure.
Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com, and follow him on Twitter @puckato.