MANKATO – For the first time since joining the Vikings, nose tackle Linval Joseph practiced without restrictions as the team opened training camp Friday at Minnesota State University.
Joseph had surgery on his right shoulder after his 2013 season with the Giants and was able to participate only on a limited basis during spring workouts. Joseph admitted it was frustrating standing off to the side while watching his new teammates practice. Now he is ready to do whatever the coaching staff wants him to do.
“I feel good coming in,” said Joseph, who signed as a free agent in March. “I battled back from my injury, and I’m just ready to go and help this team win games and take us to the promised land.”
The nose tackle position is a critical one in new coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. Joseph will be asked to take on double-teams to allow linebackers to roam free and make tackles.
The players aren’t in pads yet, but Zimmer gushed about the shape the big man showed up in.
“He weighed 317, benches 500 pounds,” Zimmer said after the walk-through and before the afternoon practice. “He looked like how a nose tackle is supposed to look. … I have high, high expectations of him.”
Munnerlyn on PUP list
The Vikings placed three players on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list to start training camp: cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (strained hamstring), safety Andrew Sendejo (lower back and ankle) and tight end Chase Ford (stress fracture in left foot).
While Zimmer indicated that Munnerlyn’s injury is not serious — “I doubt it will be very long,” he said — hamstring injuries can be tricky for cornerbacks, so the Vikings are holding him out as a precaution.
“Hopefully with a couple days of rest, I can get it back right and be back on the field,” Munnerlyn said.
Players on the PUP list cannot practice until first cleared by doctors and removed from the list.
Cassel has a lot to ‘earn’ at QB position
On Thursday, Zimmer told reporters that veteran Matt Cassel would enter training camp as the first quarterback on the depth chart, though he cautioned again Friday that it doesn’t mean Cassel will be the starter when the regular season opens Sept. 7 in St. Louis.
Cassel, meanwhile, downplayed Zimmer’s announcement and echoed a similar sentiment.
“I worked hard this offseason. I think I made a lot of progress. I think we made a lot of progress collectively as a group,” Cassel said Friday. “So going into camp, it’s my job to continue to compete and work every day. Again, I still have to earn this thing. There’s no easy road about it. You’ve got to go out there and perform and show these guys that you know how to run the offense.”
Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was held out of practice for precautionary reasons and has been listed by the team as day to day because of a foot injury. A source called it a “minor” issue.
Because of the injury, Patterson, who scored nine total touchdowns during his rookie season, didn’t take his conditioning test after players reported to camp Thursday.