Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zimmer not concerned about new rules

There will be a new rules informational meetings for the Vikings beat writers today, but coach Mike Zimmer offered a preview of what's to come.

He said that illegal contact and holding in the defensive backfield will be a points of emphasis this season. He added that there will be some technique work that the defense can do to avoid penalties, and "we will play within the rules."

When asked about some under-the-radar guys who have had a good first week of training camp, Zimmer cited cornerback Jabari Price, the team's seventh-round draft choice, and receiver Rodney Smith, who was on the roster for a few games last season.

"(Price is) covering guys pretty good," Zimmer said. "He's tough. Sometimes, young guys come in a little tentative.

"The last three, four days, (Smith) has shown up a lot better. He's running better routes."

He also mentioned fullback Zach Line and tackle Antonio Richardson.

The linebackers continue to be a work in progress, though Zimmer said that veteran Chad Greenway will likely settle in at weakside, his natural position. He had been playing some in the middle as the team tries to find its best combination, and he will likely be in the middle in nickel packages.

Zimmer said that rookie Anthony Barr has looked good at outside linebacker, as well as being used at defensive end in some pass-rushing situations.

"We're just trying to get the best 11 players on the field," Zimmer said.

He added that while receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn are both working their way toward full participation at practice, they will continue to take things slowly

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Same job, different offense

With a new head coach and new coordinators in charge, nearly every Vikings player is learning a new scheme this preseason.

Fullback Jerome Felton said Turner's offense is complex with “a lot of motions and shifts; that's different than in the past.” However, he said that doesn't mean his job changes a whole lot.

“(Turner) wants to run the football. He wants to power run the football,” Felton said after Wednesday morning's special teams walk-thru. “That's what I do. The basics of what I don won't change.”

For Felton, the best part of camp came on Sunday when players put the pads on for the first time.

“As a fullback, when you don't have the pads on, you can't show what you're about. I think it's been important the last two days to come out here in pads to show what I can do.”

Turner said some, but not all, positions need that look during camp.

“Tight ends, linebackers, offensive linemen, the full backs – seeing those guys in full pads helps you evaluate.”

Off day? Not for us!

Photo by John Cross
The Vikings return to the practice field today (Wednesday), following their first day off from training camp. The team has changed its schedule a bit, with this morning's walk-thru being a short, special teams-only practice from 11:20 to 11:35 a.m. The post-practice autograph session is on as scheduled.

Meantime, here are links to The Free Press coverage in today's paper (no off day for us, or the AP):

* Second-year punter Jeff Locke (pictured) ended up having a good rookie season but was inconsistent early in the year. Chad Courrier writes that he is working to make sure he doesn't have another slow start.

* One of the newcomers to this year's team is corner back Captain Munnerlyn, who was a free-agent signee from Carolina. The Associated Press writes that he's expecting to be a leader with the Vikings' young secondary and not just because of his name.

* The AP reports that, off the field, the Vikings have hired a pair of lawyers to assist in the Chris Kluwe settlement talks. One had experience investigating the Miami Dolphins bullying situation last year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

First break for Vikings

Photo by John Cross
The Vikings have the day off and training camp is closed today (Tuesday). On Monday night, the team held its first of three scheduled night practices. Following is The Free Press' coverage of Monday at MSU:

* Coach Mike Zimmer wants to have a more physical team than past Vikings teams, and the road to that started on Monday night, especially during goal-line situation work. That and more in our Training Camp Notebook.

* Safety Jamarca Sanford is in a battle to retain what's been his starting job, but the Vikings' new defense may be an even better fit for him.

* The Associated Press writes about tight end Kyle Rudolph, who understands that a big raise comes with big expectations.

* Free Press photographer John Cross has more pix on his training camp photo gallery.

The team returns to practice on Wednesday with a morning walk-thru and a full-pad practice in the afternoon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Rudolph praises Vikings for faith in him

Minnesota Vikings' tight end Kyle Rudolph received a five-year, $36 million contract extension late Sunday, and Monday, he talked about how happy he was that he'll spend the next six seasons with the team.

"It's a dream come true," Rudolph said. "I couldn't thank everyone enough."

Rudolph is about to start his fourth season in the NFL, and his accomplishments have been modest, with 109 receptions for 1,055 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons as he battled some injuries.

But he's expected to play a larger role in offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense so Rudolph could have waited and possible benefited from another productive season.

"This is the organization that took a chance on me in the draft," he said. "Giving me this extension shows the faith they have in me."

Rudolph said that he wouldn't buy a new house and he would drive the same truck, but he did promise his high-school strength coach that he would redo the weight room at his alma mater in Cincinnati.

"He's a good guy," coach Mike Zimmer said. "And I like when good guys get rewarded."

Running back Adrian Peterson was another happy player Monday. When asked about his role in Turner's offense, which looks like it will expand with more pass-catching opportunities, he said this system is more suited to the team's talent.

"I might not be Michael Irvin or Jerry Rice, but I've been playing this game since I was 7," Peterson said. "I can catch the football."

Zimmer said that receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has been out with an injured foot, will participate in Monday's night practice, but only in individual drills. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who is on the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury, could return soon, perhaps Wednesday, Zimmer said.

Monday's night practice will include a live goal-line period, as well as red zone practice. Zimmer said he likes to change the schedule a little just to see if players can adjust, and he feels like the intensity increases when you have more fans at the stadium, under the lights.

Meet Anthony Barr

Photo by John Cross
Here are links to Vikings training camp stories you'll find in Monday morning's edition of The Free Press:

* While quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (pictured) is getting a lot of attention in the early going, don't forget about linebacker Anthony Barr, the Vikings' first pick in this year's draft.

* The Freep's training camp notebook kicks off with an update on wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, who has yet to practice due to a foot injury. Coach Mike Zimmer was hopeful that Patterson could go at tonight's (Monday's) practice. (And, oh yeah, there is an Adam Thielen note in that link.)

* The Vikings on Sunday night announced that tight end Kyle Rudolph has been given a five-year contract extension. The Associated Press has the report.

* Don't forget that today's (Monday's) practice will be the first night practice of training camp, with the Vikings going 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Patterson getting closer to return

Second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was on the practice field for Sunday's morning walk-through and said later that he wasn't sure if he would take part in the full practice Sunday afternoon, the first with full pads.

He said he hurt his foot "over-training" a couple days before training camp, and it's getting better, allowing him to do some jogging. He had the obligatory "can't wait to get out there" comment.

"I'm getting a little better," he said. "Lot of treatment."

Coach Mike Zimmer said he hopes that Patterson get back on the practice field by Monday's night practice. The players have Tuesday off.

Zimmer said that during the off day, he will meet with coaches and try to focus in on which players need more work and which might get fewer reps.

"We'll start honing in because we have a game in 12 days," Zimmer said.

The players seemed excited about putting on the pads and having live contact at the afternoon practice. Coaches have been saying that the first couple of days of camp were nice, but more would be learned when there is live blocking and tackling.

"There's always a little more excitement for the first practice with pads," linebacker Cad Greenway said.

"This is the last day you'll feel healthy," defensive end Brian Robison said.