Just a few days ago, the only time Greg Camarillo figured to be spending in Minnesota was when his Miami Dolphins play there in September. Now he lives there. The Vikings acquired Camarillo in a trade for cornerback Benny Sapp, hoping the shifty slot receiver can help add depth to a group that is depleted with Sidney Rice's hip injury and Percy Harvin's migraine headaches.
"It's hard," Camarillo said after a practice at the Metrodome. "It's incredibly difficult because south Florida was home. I've moved. I've left that behind. I'm just excited to be out here playing football." Camarillo was little-known coming out of Stanford in 2006. He spent one season with San Diego before going to the Dolphins. Despite suffering a knee-ligament tear in 2008, Camarillo has rebounded to catch 105 passes for 1,165 yards and two touchdowns in the past two seasons.
He was targeted 73 times last season and did not drop a pass, an impressive level of consistency that made him attractive to the Vikings. "I've said it about a thousand times, a receiver by definition should receive," said Brad Childress, the Vikings coach. "He's got A-plus hands. If you put a ball around him, he's got great 'pluck' characteristics." The Vikings need all the pluck they can get. Rice, who led the team in receiving and earned a Pro Bowl berth last season, will probably miss the first half of the season after having hip surgery on Monday.
Harvin, the 2009 offensive Rookie of the Year, has participated in only six practices this pre-season while struggling with migraines. He missed practice again on Thursday while having more tests. Childress said Harvin will not play until doctors have cleared him. The Vikings signed free agent Javon Walker on Tuesday, hoping the veteran can regain the form that made him a feared deep threat in his early days with Green Bay and Denver. Then they added Camarillo on Wednesday as insurance in case Harvin continues to miss time.
Camarillo goes from catching passes from the youngster Chad Henne to being on the receiving end of throws from the veteran Brett Favre in Minnesota. "Been a fan of his since I was a little kid," said Camarillo, who was nine years old when Favre was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. "One of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. What more as a receiver could you ask for than to come play with that type of quarterback?"
The Vikings have two more pre-season games before opening the season on September 9 in New Orleans. That does not leave much time for Camarillo to learn a new offence and a new quarterback. So he doesn't expect to see much of the Twin Cities during the next month or so. His head will be buried in a playbook cramming like he did for final exams at Stanford. "It's going to take a while to figure that out, to see exactly where I fit in," he said.
* Associated Press