Zimmer's first 'productive' Vikings' camp in Mankato comes to a close

  • Article by: MATT VENSEL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2014 - 7:16 AM

The Vikings coach liked his team’s focus in Mankato.

– As the Vikings trickled off the practice field at Minnesota State Mankato and biked back to Sears Hall one final time to pack up their things and head back up Hwy. 169 to the Twin Cities, there didn’t seem to be much sadness about coach Mike Zimmer’s first training camp coming to a close.

That’s not to say the players didn’t appreciate the hospitality, the catered meals in the dorms and the sunburned, autograph-seeking fans (they did).

Or that Zimmer overworked them (he didn’t).

It’s just that the conclusion of camp puts them one step closer to the regular season and a new chapter of Vikings football.

And, well, it allows them to sleep in their plush, king-size beds again.

Zimmer described his first training camp as an NFL head coach as “productive,” and he accomplished many of the things on his checklist, answered a number of pressing questions and climbed into his truck knowing that his team departed Mankato relatively healthy.

“Hopefully I learned something every day about this team, but they haven’t disappointed me. They have been very willing to do whatever,” Zimmer said. “I like this team; they are good guys and they work real hard. As long as we play together as a team, we play real hard, we do the things that we are trying to coach them to do, then we have a chance to be a good football team.”

No, Zimmer’s first camp wasn’t anything out of Van Brocklin’s playbook or a Hollywood script. There were no grueling two-a-days. No devastating collisions. No practicing until players puked. Sure, the collective bargaining agreement played a major role in that. But as it turns out, the gruff guy we thought we saw on “Hard Knocks” a few years back is much more compassionate — and much savvier — than given credit for.

“We’re starting to get an identity,” safety Harrison Smith said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. But as far as kind of getting our mind-set and knowing what Coach wants from us, we’ve made a lot of progress.”

Zimmer wants his players to be fast and physical. But above all else, he wants them to be smart, which is why so much of this camp was spent teaching technique and drilling them on situational football so that nothing will surprise them.

That this was indeed a training camp and not a boot camp surely contributed to the Vikings suffering no major injuries during training camp. And outside of a rash of tweaked hamstrings that ravaged Zimmer’s unsettled group of defensive backs, the team remains healthy and fresh.

“So far, it seems like he has done a great job of managing us,” Smith said. “That’s not to say making it easy. Just making it productive. It seems like he has a good hold on that.”

As for a few key spots on his team, Zimmer is still grasping for answers as Week 1 nears.

The second starting safety spot is even more muddied than it was when the team arrived in Mankato. Because of injuries, Zimmer hasn’t been able to evaluate anyone next to Smith for an extended period of time. And Zimmer bringing in his old buddy Chris Crocker suggests he wasn’t pleased with what he was seeing from the guys who were healthy enough to be out there.

Beyond that, one would assume that Zimmer still is trying to figure out whether to start Jasper Brinkley or Audie Cole at middle linebacker, who will be his third cornerback and which bubble boys pack enough punch on special teams to warrant a roster spot.

The oh-so critical quarterback situation appears to have played itself out naturally, though.

Rookie Teddy Bridgewater has experienced growing pains over the past week, leading to questions about his confidence level. Meanwhile, Matt Cassel has hardly wavered and with another sharp performance against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night can lock down the starting job — if he hasn’t already.

Sure, these grueling — but not too grueling — days in the Mankato sun are done, but there is a lot of hard work left for Zimmer and the Vikings to do in the next three weeks before boarding a plane to St. Louis for the season opener.

  • VIKINGS VS. ARIZONA (EXHIBition)

    7:30 p.m. Saturday • TCF Bank Stadium • TV: Ch. 11 (100.3-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie 2
New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Milwaukee 106 FINAL
Charlotte 108
Philadelphia 91 FINAL
Indiana 103
Atlanta 102 FINAL
Toronto 109
Brooklyn 105 FINAL
Boston 121
Washington 95 FINAL
Miami 107
Chicago 104 FINAL
New York 80
Minnesota 101 FINAL
Memphis 105
Detroit 79 FINAL
Denver 89
Houston 104 FINAL
Utah 93
Golden State 95 FINAL
Sacramento 77
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Phoenix 119
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Portland 106
Detroit 4 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 4 FINAL
Edmonton 1
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
Vancouver FC 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close