Vikings hope to be able to make up for last year's lost lockout time with longer training camp

  • Article by: DAVE CAMPBELL , Associated Press
  • Updated: May 23, 2012 - 7:42 AM

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings suffered from the limited preseason practice time during last year's work stoppage as much as any other NFL team.

No such excuses will exist this season, and head coach Leslie Frazier is trying to take advantage of every opportunity to better develop this young, largely rebuilt roster.

Hello, Mankato.

After breaking training camp before their first exhibition game each of the previous three years, the Vikings will prepare for the 2012 season at Minnesota State University for three weeks this summer. They'll report on July 26 and depart on Aug. 16.

"Last season was obviously difficult to plan because of the lockout. There was so much uncertainty," Frazier said. "I would always like to take our team away for at least three weeks for the team building aspect that I think comes along with being at training camp, but because of the Minnesota State school calendar this is not always possible."

This year, it is.

The Vikings can stay longer on campus, because the residence hall they've usually stayed in is slated for eventual demolition. No new students will be moving into the Gage towers this fall. So that gives the players more time to live that dorm-room, cafeteria-dining, playbook-studying life.

"As a player, it stinks. We all know training camp is a long, grueling process. It's not fun, but it's part of the job," defensive end Brian Robison said, lamenting the time he'll have to spend away from his wife and infant daughter.

Spoken like a six-year veteran.

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, however, had his rookie season preparation altered by the labor dispute that didn't produce a new collective bargaining agreement until late July last year.

"This year will kind of be like getting back to normal," Rudolph said, adding: "Last year, it didn't even feel like we were down there."

Year-round strength and conditioning programs, whether on their own or at team facilities, have all but taken the get-in-shape aspect out of training camp. But there's still enough bonding potential at these out-of-town sites that a dozen or so NFL teams including the Vikings continue to make the trek to quieter, smaller cities so focusing on football is easier.

"Especially because we have such a young team of guys, to be able to take advantage of the extra week to get to know each other and be away from Eden Prairie and any distractions we may have up here is great," Rudolph said. "The only think you have to worry about down in Mankato is football. You're down there long enough to clear your head."

With a new offense and a new quarterback to break in and plenty of other newbies to accommodate, the Vikings finished with a 3-13 record, matching the franchise's all-time worst. They still would've struggled last season even if they had six months to get ready, but this year will be different, no matter the end result.

Even the been-there-done-that veterans such as Robison can appreciate the benefit of offseason time together. That has already started with weightlifting and running this spring, followed next week by a series of organized practices through the mandatory minicamp from June 21-23.

Robison, in fact, had spoken with Frazier about just that on Tuesday before taking part in a brief phone interview about this back-to-basics offseason the Vikings are enjoying.

"You don't think it's that big of a deal until you don't have an offseason program," Robison said. "Being able to be with the guys right now is going to help us tremendously."

There were 12 teams that still held training camp away from team headquarters last season. One of them, the Cincinnati Bengals, has decided to move camp to the year-round facility. Two others that used to train away from home base, the New York Giants and New York Jets, are going back to their summer sites after staying local during the lockout. Many of these teams continue to stay three weeks or even a little longer at their camps. So despite the league-wide trend away from the old-fashioned two-a-day model, the Vikings are not alone.

They've been annually renewing their arrangement with the university in recent years, but with their new stadium almost secured they'll soon start discussing a longer-term deal. Assuming the Minneapolis City Council signs off on the local funding for the stadium on Friday, chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix said, the team will work toward a multi-year contract with MSU.

"The whole campus community is very pleased," university media relations director Dan Benson said. "It's just going to be a great thing for Mankato."

Not so great for the players stuck in those twin beds for several nights. But they realize that's only temporary, a small sacrifice in comfort for paid entertainers who see thousands of purple-clad fans each summer cheering them on through mundane workouts and swarming them for autographs afterward.

"It's great for the fans," Robison said. "A lot of people who can't afford to the go to the games have a lot of fun coming out and getting an up-close and personal look at practice."

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Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore 0 Top 2nd Inning
NY Yankees 0
Kansas City 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Cleveland 0
Seattle 1 Bottom 1st Inning
Toronto 0
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Detroit 0
Pittsburgh 0 Bottom 1st Inning
Atlanta 0
Houston - N. Tropeano 7:05 PM
Texas - D. Holland
St. Louis - A. Wainwright 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Arizona - J. Collmenter 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
LA Angels - C. Wilson 9:05 PM
Oakland - J. Samardzija
San Francisco - J. Peavy 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - D. Haren
Colorado - T. Matzek 9:10 PM
San Diego - E. Stults
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 2 1st Prd 14:49
NY Rangers 1
Detroit 0 1st Prd 14:44
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Washington 0 1st Prd 14:25
Philadelphia 0
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
St. Louis 7:30 PM
Dallas
Anaheim 8:00 PM
Colorado
Colorado 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Arizona
Arizona 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
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(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
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(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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