Shorts, oohs, aahs
The Vikings had a full — but lighter — day of practice as players shed the padded pants for shorts and shoulder pads. Two packed sections of bleachers oohed and aahed at deep passes during one-on-one drills with receivers and cornerbacks. Players and fans called out to a couple of recognizable guests, including Sen. Al Franken and Obadiah Gamble, the young St. Paul kid who has befriended quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
NFL officials set tone
The yellow flags carried an extra bite Friday as NFL officials watched over practice. A crew is in Mankato this week to discuss rule changes and emphases for the upcoming season with coaches, players and reporters. Offensive holding and defensive pass interference calls were more prevalent. So were the appeals by accused players. “I tell them throw the flags and call everything the way they would in the game,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “It’s great for us to have these guys here. Because I can see it, a penalty or something, and talk to them, but it’s not the same.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr quickly spun past running back Jerick McKinnon, just before linebacker Eric Kendricks sneaked by running back Dalvin Cook. The defense appeared to have an upper hand for much of the opening pass protection drills. Defensive tackles successfully ran stunts. The O-linemen had their moments, such as an impressive stalemate by rookie center Pat Elflein against Linval Joseph’s initial rip move.
Exum going old school
Eighty-nine Vikings torsos are covered up almost daily, except for safety Antone Exum Jr., who remains the only player to sport the crop top jersey throughout the offseason. He says it’s to carry on the legacy of former Vikings linebacker Gerald Hodges, who often rolled up his jersey during his 2½ seasons in Minnesota.
“They think it’s different, but it’s really not.” — Mike Zimmer on letting players wear shorts and shoulder pads instead of full pads.
Left tackle Riley Reiff missed his seventh consecutive practice with a back injury. Cornerback Jabari Price (undisclosed), receiver Laquon Treadwell (calf) and linebacker Kentrell Brothers (hamstring) also sat out. Treadwell has been out for three practices in a row. Cornerback Tre Roberson returned after sitting out a couple of practices (undisclosed).