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What you might have missed at training camp on Monday, Aug. 3

SETTING THE SCENE: Another sunny day with low humidity, 14 mph winds and players who are eager to start hitting some enemy players come Sunday in Canton, Ohio. This was the eighth day of practice and yet the team still hasn’t had a starter miss a practice because of injury. Yeah, feel free to knock on wood.

ZIMMER TO MISS PRACTICE: Coach Mike Zimmer typically meets with beat writers after practice on select days. Today, he came over and said he had to leave camp because his father is in poor health. He also said he won’t be at camp on Tuesday and that offensive coordinator Norv Turner will run the team in his absence. Turner, the long-time former NFL head coach, ran practice last year when Zimmer was out with kidney stones.

SULLIVAN MISSES PRACTICE: Center John Sullivan wasn’t at practice today. His wife is close to having the couple’s first child. Sullivan did participate in the morning walkthrough. He has been on alert to leave practice when he gets the word. He left practice early Saturday night when it looked like she might deliver.

EASY, GERALD, EASY: Other than a few goal-line snaps, it’s rare to see a linebacker and running back go to the ground in today’s NFL training camps. But we saw that today when Gerald Hodges, who is getting a look at middle linebacker, burst through the line, knocked over running back Jerick McKinnon and then sort of crawled over the top of him. Zimmer stepped in and told Hodges to tone down his actions after the tackle. “He said, ‘Just calm down. Just make your play and go back to the huddle,’” Hodges said. “You don’t want to get anybody rowdied up. I was kind of letting him know that me and Jerick have a great relationship. But you still have to make your plays and get back to the huddle.”

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB, TEDDY: The Vikings worked on quick kicks today with the quarterbacks and kicker Blair Walsh. Teddy Bridgewater had one decent punt and three not-so-decent punts, including a shank that reminded everybody that he won’t be taking Jeff Locke’s job anytime soon. Walsh also shanked one and then hit a nice spiral near the goal line.

RHODES KEEPS PLAYING BIG: Xavier Rhodes almost seems to get bigger each day. Maybe it’s his growing confidence, the quiet swagger or who knows. But he often appears to tower over receiving targets. On one particular play, he had receiver Mike Wallace locked down on a sideline out route. Bridgewater tried to fit the ball in, but Wallace had no chance as Rhodes swatted it away.

EXUM, SENDEJO COMBINE ON INT: The starting strong safety job hasn’t been handed to Robert Blanton, although he certainly appears to be the front-runner based on practice snaps. But one play between the second units stood out today. Shaun Hill threw a ball over the middle that safety Antone Exum deflected and fellow safety Andrew Sendejo plucked out of the air with one hand for the interception.

THIELEN AT IT AGAIN: “Mr. Mankato” is starting to flash again. Receiver Adam Thielen, the former undrafted rookie long-shot from Minnesota State, made a diving catch of a pass thrown by Hill deep and over the middle. It was the kind of play and ensuing cheer from the crowd that forced the Vikings to put him on the practice squad in 2013 and the 53-man roster last year.

CAMP CHATTER: “What are we doing over here? Are we having a team meeting or are we good?” — Zimmer, who paused long enough from watching his defensive ends working hard to address his defensive tackles, who were milling about and working not so hard.

INJURY REPORT: Defensive end Scott Crichton was the most notable player not to practice. The team didn’t disclose the nature of the injury. Defensive coordinator George Edwards said it was a “nagging injury,” indicating it’s not serious. Other players who didn’t participate today because of injuries were DuJuan Harris, Gavin Lutman, B.J. Dubose and Josh Robinson, who remains on the physically unable to perform list.

VIKINGS SCHEDULE: Tuesday, the Vikings have a morning walkthrough from 10:30-11:30 and a night practice from 7:15-9:15. The players are off on Wednesday.

Rookie Shepherd 'a guy that kind of knows how to play'

We have spilled digital ink on rookie linemen T.J. Clemmings and Tyrus Thompson, who at different points in the spring lined up with the first-team offense. We have not written much about fellow rookie Austin Shepherd beyond this story on the great things he is trying to do away from football.

So who exactly is Shepherd and where does he fit into the mix?

Shepherd, a seventh-round pick, started 27 games at right tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide, helped open lanes for backs such as Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon and was part of a pair of national championship teams.

“He’s a guy that kind of knows how to play,” coach Mike Zimmer said, and he meant that in a positive kind of way. “So I think he’s got a chance. I just don’t know where it’s going to end up being. We’ve got him playing tackle now, but he may end up moving in to guard.”

Shepherd laughed when asked why he thinks he is a polished prospect.

“Coach [Nick] Saban. Pretty much Coach Saban and all his coaches,” he said. “He pretty much runs [Alabama] like an NFL program, everything from structure to discipline and anything you can think of. He’s just that kind of guy. Everything that he’s taught me has gotten me to this point.”

So far in training camp, Shepherd has been getting reps with both the second-stringers and the third-team offense as the Vikings try to figure out where he and also Clemmings and Thompson best fit along the line. For now, Shepherd is not in the mix at the open competition at right guard.

It has been a while since he regularly played guard. He practiced there a little bit at Alabama, but his only extensive experience was during two years in high school. That being said, he’s game for playing guard if asked.

“I’m honestly willing to play anything to make the team,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd appears to be on the bubble now and can play his way onto the team with a solid preseason. If not, he could be a practice squad candidate.

“I feel everything has been going good,” Shepherd, a 23-year-old Alabama native, said. “Just keep getting acclimated and learning the offense like I have been and everything will work out.”

Today's Scoreboard

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  • Minnesota

    Toronto

     

    - F

    1

    5

  • Chicago Cubs

    Pittsburgh

     

    - Delayed

    0

    0

  • Arizona

    Washington

     

    - Bot 8th

    5

    0

  • San Francisco

    Atlanta

     

    - Top 8th

    6

    5

  • NY Mets

    Miami

     

    - Top 7th

    10

    0

  • Houston

    Texas

     

    - Bot 3rd

    3

    6

  • Tampa Bay

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - Bot 4th

    1

    0

  • San Diego

    Milwaukee

     

    - Bot 3rd

    5

    2

  • Seattle

    Colorado

     

    - Top 2nd

    5

    1

  • Cleveland

    LA Angels

    9:05 PM

  • Baltimore

    Oakland

    9:05 PM

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