Long TDs, Secondary Newcomer Highlight OTA #1

Posted May 28, 2013

Click here to view photos from OTA No. 1 >>

Rain showers that pestered Minnesota for much of Memorial Day weekend persisted on Tuesday morning in Eden Prairie, forcing the Vikings to move Organized Team Activity #1 indoors. But the soggy conditions outside didn’t prevent the Vikings from a crisp start to this year’s OTAs.

As is typical for Leslie Frazier-led Vikings teams, the attendance rate is high (so far) at OTAs, and that will only assist the team as it prepares for the 2013 season. Before we get to a few highlights from OTA #1, here’s a quick refresher of what is and is not permitted on the field during OTAs:

Permitted: Helmets, team offense vs. team defense, kicking team vs. returning team
Not Permitted: Live contact, individual offense vs. defense

Here are a few highlights from OTA #1…

Long touchdowns
Starting QB Christian Ponder and backup Matt Cassel both had the hot hand on Tuesday, as they both looked sharp in the short and intermediate passing game and also both connected several times on deep passes that would’ve resulted in TDs.

After peppering the defense with crisp, timely throws toward the sidelines to out-cutting receivers during the early portions of practice, Ponder found a sprinting Jerome Simpson down the middle of the field and put enough air under the throw to get the pass over the pursuing safety and into the hands of the speedy receiver.

Cassel connected with an outstretched LaMark Brown deep down the right sideline during team offense vs. team defense work on a pass with a ton of loft under it. Cassel also connected with 2nd-year WR Jarius Wright on a pass down the left seam during 7-on-7 drills – a pitch and catch that was nearly identical to the 65-yard reception Wright caught from Ponder against Green Bay in Week 17.

Nice-looking newcomer
The passing offense didn’t steal the show entirely. The Vikings pass defense collected its victories, too, and it was one of the secondary’s newcomers who collected more than anyone else. Tuesday was a great day for CB Jacob Lacey, a fellow we introduced you to late last week and a player who may be one to watch this spring and ultimately this summer when the Vikings head to Mankato for training camp.

Lacey broke up a pair of passes in impressive fashion during practice. The first was a pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson heading to WR Erik Highsmith and the second was more impressive and came just moments later on a sideline pass from James Vandenberg to Rodney Smith – Lacey registered the PBU after making a diving attempt at the ball.

Spring back in his step
We mentioned Jerome Simpson a few paragraphs before this, but it’s worth noting that the 6-year veteran has the spring back in his step after an injury sapped some of it during his first year with the team. Simpson put that spring on display when he ran underneath a high and deep pass from Ponder, catching up to a pass that seemed destined to fall incomplete as an overthrow. Credit to Ponder for judging Simpson’s speed accurately and credit to Simpson for executing the play’s design and getting behind the defense on the play.

With the addition of free agent Greg Jennings and 1st-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson, the return of Simpson to the WR corps could be a sneaky-good move by the Vikings.