Yawwwwwwwwwnnnnnn . . .
OTA Notebook: June 7th
Last Update: 6/7/2007 2:32:51 PM
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It wasn't what you'd call a banner day for Vikings receiver Todd Lowber. Dropped passes and technique issues cast a negative glow on an otherwise sunny June day, but you'll forgive the former track star and basketball player if he simply shrugs it off and moves forward.
In fact moving forward seems to be what Lowber does best, and ask any of the Vikings defensive backs and they'll tell you he does it faster than just about anyone.
Despite his tremendous athleticism, the 6-foot-3 Lowber knows he has a long way to go in order to realize his dream of becoming an NFL receiver and that days like today are going to happen.
"It's important for me to not get down on myself because I'll get myself in a slump and I don't want to do that," explains Lowber. "Obviously you want to do well every time, but sometimes it's not possible."
Lowber has been the topic of much discussion since signing with the Vikings. Everything from his rumored 4.1 second forty-yard dash time to his crazy vertical leap has had fans clamoring for a look at the 25-year-old who has never played a down of organized football before this year.
But all the forty times and vertical leaps don't make quality football players, so for Lowber it's about making the extra effort to catch up to his teammates. Usually the first guy out on the field in the morning, Lowber's work ethic is evident each and every day.
"Initially when I come out here it's to get my body warmed up. If you take care of your body it'll take care of you," says Lowber. "Usually I just work on my release and coming out of my breaks, because that's the biggest adjustment for me.
"Coming from basketball you just move and keep moving, but this is such a precise game and you need to have your timing just right. So that's what I try to do when I come out early."
Because of Lowber's inexperience one might think he's a bit of an outsider when it comes to his teammates who have generally spent most of their lives playing football. Lowber however says that's just not the case.
"I never feel like that, we're all professionals," says Lowber. "Some guys are Pro Bowlers, some guys are role players, but we're all professionals and we understand that. I worked hard to get here and I feel like I belong here."
From the outside looking in you might also get the feeling that Lowber is just another athlete trying to make it as a football player, but instead of leaning on pure talent and ability, Lowber takes a much more cerebral approach to learning the game.
"It's just the nuances of the game. Knowing why, why things work the way they do and the scheme of things," explains Lowber. "I have to get a better understanding of the game. You can cover things up with ability, but just learning the game and knowing why if you make that move you'll be open, or why if you make that move you're not going to be open. All the little things."
The man charged with teaching Lowber the little things is new wide receivers coach George Stewart, and on this day his role is as much about reassuring his inexperienced receiver as it is about teaching him.
In fact it was the presence of Stewart that played a large part in Lowber's decision to sign with the Vikings after working out for several other teams.
"The biggest thing he's taught me is to have a short memory. This game is rough and it's a business also so you have to have a short memory," says Lowber. "I'm going to have peaks and valleys, good days and bad days.
"It's not going to be an excuse that I've never played the game, I would never do that. He's been a father figure, you know I never had a father, so most of the coaches I've had I kind of look at that way and try to take something from them other than just the game. Without him I don't think I'd be here."
Just being here is something Lowber never takes for granted as he learns and develops each day and it's refreshing to hear a professional athlete who truly appreciates the opportunity to do something he loves.
"Appreciate it? This is probably the best job in the world," says Lowber. "I'm using my ability to do something I love to do. I get down on myself and get mad when I mess up, but I can't dwell on that. Like today, I'm always going to be the hardest on myself, but I'm trying to make a professional football team and there's no excuses."
-Today's workout consisted of rookies and selected veterans only, much like the initial rookie mini-camp. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell who addressed the media afterward said it was simply to give the guys a rest and that the plan is for everyone to be back out tomorrow.
-The players who were in attendance were put through the paces in goal line situations and the results were mixed. Early in full team work the offense was able to find the end zone, but the defense picked it up and held their own late.
-Windy conditions showed just how much stronger Tarvaris Jackson's arm is compared to the other QB's on the roster. Several times he was able to push the ball 40-50 yards down the field with ease.
-Rookie linebacker Rufus Alexander had a nice day, showing off his coverage skills as well as his ability to diagnose plays on the fly. If he makes the team he'll contribute mostly on special teams, but it's not hard to envision him being a pretty decent NFL linebacker.
-When asked about the group of receivers, Bevell told reporters he was "cautiously excited" about the group. Todd Lowber's struggles notwithstanding, the group had a pretty good day as rookie Sidney Rice and 2nd-year player Jason Carter looked sharp throughout.
Not much else going on today with so many players not working out, but check back tomorrow for the final OTA notebook.