EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) -Adrian Peterson and Tarvaris Jackson were excused from Wednesday's ``optional'' practice for personal reasons, giving the Minnesota Vikings a chance to take extended looks at newcomers Gus Frerotte and Maurice Hicks.
The Vikings signed Frerotte, who is entering his 15th season in the league, to provide a more experienced backup to Jackson at quarterback. He took most of the reps with the first team in Jackson's place Wednesday, and coach Brad Childress liked what he saw.
``He's everything I thought he'd be,'' Childress said. ``He's got a good presence about him, and the thing you always ask yourself is, 'Is the arm still alive?'
``And I see him snap off every throw he needs to make, so yeah, I don't have a question about that.''
Frerotte is in his second tour with the Vikings. He spent two seasons in Minnesota in 2003-04, getting two starts before following offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to Miami and then St. Louis.
So Frerotte has used his time to get to know a totally new roster - only nine players remain from his last season here - and a new playbook.
``I got a long way to go,'' Frerotte said. ``It's a whole different offense than I've been used to the last six years, so I just have to keep working at it, keep studying. Hopefully it all goes OK.''
There are also new owners and a new coach this time around, with Childress taking over for the 6-foot-7 Mike Tice in 2006.
``Coach isn't as tall as my last coach that was here,'' Frerotte quipped.
Hicks has also made a nice first impression after being signed from San Francisco to replace third running back Mewelde Moore and fill in on special teams. With Peterson out Wednesday and Chester Taylor not attending the voluntary sessions, Hicks got plenty of work.
``He's done an exceptional job, I think,'' Childress said. ``Not just the special teams, but he's been a beneficiary of a bunch of additional reps that maybe he wouldn't have normally seen until we got to training camp.
``I've seen a bright-eyed guy, and I don't see a lot of errors in terms of protection or carrying the football.''
Linebacker Ben Leber also was gone on Wednesday to be with his wife, who was expecting the couple's first child. Childress said he expected Jackson, Peterson and Taylor to return Thursday.

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