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Vikings try to fix Rhodes' penalty problems with boxing gloves

The Vikings coaching staff asked cornerback Xavier Rhodes to wear a different type of glove — boxing gloves — in the team’s first workout after the bye week on Monday.

Captain Munnerlyn took the gloves out of a box and strapped them onto Rhodes while the defensive backs ran through warmup drills. “Now you can’t grab,” DBs coach Jerry Gray said.

Rhodes is the NFL’s co-leader for the most penalties, seven, and picked up three in the Week 4 loss, 23-20, against Denver. He was penalized twice for pass interference and his horse-collar penalty against Emmanuel Sander earned Rhodes a $17,363 fine for illegal use of hands.

“With boxing gloves you can’t grab anyone, so that’s going to help tremendously,” Rhodes said. “You don’t box in football, so it’s pretty different [wearing them]. … At the end of the day, you’re just going to see if it’s going to help.”

Rhodes has heard of this training method used around the NFL, but had never done anything like it. He was unsure how long he’d have to wear the boxing gloves and understands the message the coaching staff is relaying – the penalties need to stop.

“I don’t know what the issue is,” he said. “I’ve been called for holding every game so far.”

Rhodes tried to have a little fun with the gloves by jabbing at his teammates while doing his best impression of a boxer.

“We know he’s a very physical guy. It shows,” Munnerlyn said before pausing for a quick laugh, “with seven penalties on the year. So we’re just trying to get [the penalties] down … And just trying to be [good] teammates, laughing, joking with him, letting him know it’s not a thing that coach wants to insult you on. … We’re just trying to get you better.

“Just cover with his feet and cover with his eyes.”

Terence Newman is the only other defensive back with a penalty (one) this season. Defensive end Everson Griffin shares the NFL lead in penalties with Rhodes.

Zimmer in no mood to elaborate on Hodges trade, Kendricks promotion

Coach Mike Zimmer strolled up onto the podium this afternoon for the first time in a week and greeted the group of reporters with a smile.

“I know y’all missed me. Alright, I missed you, too,” he said. “It’s a lovefest.”

The lovefest, as Zimmer put it, ended soon thereafter.

If Zimmer returned from the bye week refreshed and in good spirits, he certainly didn’t let it show during his weekly Monday press conference.

A few questions about Gerald Hodges, who has been traded to the 49ers since the last time Zimmer talked, appeared to irritate the coach.

“I didn’t get this many questions when my father died about a guy,” he said after three previous questions about Hodges and his replacement, rookie Eric Kendricks, yielded terse answers and awkward silence.

Such as: What about Kendricks prompted you to make him a starter?

“I think Eric’s done a good job and basically he has been a starter.”

How did Kendricks, a second-round pick, earn your trust so quickly?

“He’s a good player. I don’t know what else you want me to say.”

How do you replace Hodges, who played all three linebacker spots?

“Well, all our linebackers have versatility. They can all play all those spots.”

The lovefest did not start back up when the subject switched to rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who played well in the pre-bye loss to the Broncos. Did anything about his performance surprise Zimmer?

“That he put the ball on the ground twice. Other than that, no.”

While his demeanor didn’t show it, Zimmer said he was mostly pleased with what he saw from his players in today’s practice. He said they got off to a little bit of a slow start, “but we picked it up pretty good, I thought.” Last year, his young team sometimes sleepwalked the day after longer layoffs.

Zimmer said the Vikings mostly made minor adjustments during the bye week after starting 2-2. He did not feel like going into any specifics.

The Vikings host the Chiefs on Sunday. Despite the Chiefs falling to 1-4 and losing star running back Jamaal Charles for the season yesterday, Zimmer said the Vikings will not be overlooking their weekend visitors.

“We’re not good enough. We’ve only won two games so no, not at all,” he said. “Our focus is on us and what we do and how we need to win and how we need to play and how we need to get better.”

Final, 10/4 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 2-2 0 10 0 10 20
Denver 4-0 3 10 7 3 23

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