MANKATO, Minn. – The Minnesota Vikings held their final public practice on another hot, humid morning Thursday, giving the fans some free entertainment in the form of a high-intensity workout with a brief scuffle.
Of course, the shoving and shouting between running back Toby Gerhart and defensive end Ray Edwards, followed by a spirited knock-it-off confrontation of Edwards by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, didn't answer any of the big questions marks surrounding the defending NFC North champions.
Brett Farve is still not here. Wide receiver Sidney Rice and cornerback Cedric Griffin are still injured.
The Vikings, though, did not anticipate the absence of wide receiver Percy Harvin for all but the first two days of camp because of his grandmother's death and then a recurrence of migraine headaches. The first team offense also operated for several days, and hundreds of drills and plays, without running back Adrian Peterson, center John Sullivan, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and right guard Anthony Herrera at various points.
"All in all, it's been a good camp," coach Brad Childress said. "We've gotten the young guys a lot of turns. That's the upside of having some guys miss some reps."
Time will tell if the lack of continuity in training camp hurts the team's performance in the regular season, but this veteran group with essentially the entire starting lineup still in place from last year consistently downplayed the significance of the absences.
"Favre coming in, just like he did last year, he's going to flow right through," Peterson said, voicing the widespread assumption that Favre will soon commit to a second season in Minnesota and join his teammates later this month.
Speaking about Favre and Harvin, Peterson added: "We know that even that they're not here they're doing things that will help them eventually to help them prepare once they get back. We have trust in one another that they'll be prepared, so that's what it is."
Favre's agent, Bus Cook, said last week that Favre would visit Dr. James Andrews this week about his surgically repaired left ankle. Cook has not returned multiple messages and Childress said Thursday he had no update. Favre's close friend, kicker Ryan Longwell, said he communicated with Favre on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon but shed no light on the subject.
"Still on the same track, trying to get healthy," Longwell said.
The Vikings had a special teams walkthrough Thursday afternoon and a few more activities slated for the evening before Friday's scheduled departure from Minnesota State University campus in Mankato and trip to St. Louis for the preseason game against the Rams. The two-a-days are done.
"It was a little testy out there today. As I told the guys, I'd expect it to be," Childress said.
The scuffle between Gerhart and Edwards was the talk of the day around the practice fields. The rookie from Stanford gave Edwards a chip block before he released into his pass pattern, prompting a mouthful from the fiery Edwards and a few shoves between the two.
"He didn't like that chip, I guess," said Gerhart, who has taken his share of hard hits from the rugged defensive line.
Edwards laughed it off later, but for a few seconds he found himself face-to-face with an angry Frazier who was trying to restrain him from charging Gerhart. Defensive end Jared Allen had to pull Frazier apart from Edwards.
"It's hot out here," Edwards said. "Some guys do things you shouldn't do in practice against other players. It happens, but sometimes you have to let those guys know."
Frazier comes across as one of the mildest-mannered men on the field, but Edwards and Allen have felt his wrath.
"Oh, yeah, he gets mad at me and Jared a lot," Edwards said, "so that's not the first time I've seen him that mad."
The Vikings were impressed by Gerhart's spunk, too.
"He's a tough running back. I give him all the credit for that," Edwards said. "He definitely runs the ball hard and definitely does his job well."
As for who was in the wrong?
"I think it's what makes these guys good. You've got to have a little edge to you. You've got to have a little stink about you," Childress said. "Toby's choking it back a little. He understands the rookie role and all that stuff. You're only going to take it for so long. It's the old Popeye deal: 'That's all I can stands. I can't stands no more.' I don't know how it happened. The great thing is the eye in the sky don't lie. We got it all on video tape."