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Day 1 injuries to Patterson, Peterson don't worry Vikings coach Zimmer

The Vikings could not get through the first day of training camp unscathed.

Running back Adrian Peterson missed a portion of today’s first camp practice as he nurses an offseason injury. Cordarrelle Patterson, meanwhile, left practice with what appeared to be a shoulder or collarbone injury.

Patterson suffered the injury at the tail end of a spectacular catch over cornerback Jabari Price. After running down the left sideline, the fourth-year receiver caught a deep ball from second-string quarterback Shaun Hill. But his left shoulder slammed into the ground as he completed the catch.

Patterson groaned loudly and stayed down on the turf until head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman took him inside for examination. Patterson tucked his left arm up against his torso as he slowly left the practice field.

Coach Mike Zimmer did not talk to reporters this afternoon, but he downplayed Patterson’s injury during a radio appearance.

“He made a great catch and it wasn’t his left hand or wrist, I can tell you that,” Zimmer told KFAN-100.3 immediately after practice. “I don’t think it’s anything concerning, but they’re taking a look at it.”

As for Peterson, the veteran running back was spotted during early individual drills running light sprints from sideline to sideline on a vacant practice field with Sugarman. Peterson eventually grabbed his helmet and rejoined his fellow running backs. He even made a cameo in team drills near the end of practice and got carries, a sign that his injury was not serious.

Zimmer’s comments to KFAN on Peterson backed up that notion.

“He tweaked himself a little bit in the offseason. He’s going to be fine,” he said. “He did the conditioning test today. We’re just being careful with him.”

Zimmer wants to pick offensive line starters 'as soon as possible'

Once Vikings players finally don pads on Sunday, the clock starts ticking down from six weeks until the season opener in Tennessee.

Only then, following two days in helmets and shorts, will the competition begin in earnest. And there may not be a more intriguing race this summer than the one set to spark on the offensive line.

Five starters — Matt Kalil, Alex Boone, John Sullivan, Brandon Fusco and Andre Smith — took their posts during the first walk-through on Friday. Less than two hours into training camp, Zimmer was asked if that’s the starting lineup.

“Five guys we had will probably change, number one,” Zimmer said. “And number two, I’ve talked to you about having competition this whole time and I’m not going to give you five guys after a walk-through. We still have a lot of time to figure it out. And until we get into pads, I’m not going to make any decisions on anything.”

The preseason balancing act of deciding a starting five pits internal competition against seeking a set group to establish continuity. Snaps are up for grabs especially at right  guard and right tackle, though the competition has been thinned early.

Phil Loadholt’s retirement this week widened the lane at right tackle for Andre Smith, who signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract in free agency. T.J. Clemmings worked as the second-team right tackle on Friday.

Last year’s starting right guard, Mike Harris, began camp on the non-football illness list with what he described as a head ailment. Harris figured to be Brandon Fusco’s top competition at right guard.

Questions linger around center John Sullivan’s health as he’ll suit up this weekend for the first time since last August. Sullivan, 30, underwent two back surgeries last year to repair a herniated disc. He’s currently backed up by 34-year-old Joe Berger, who started every game for Sullivan last season and played well.

Now establishing a starting five will be one of the coaching staff’s most critical decisions this preseason.

“As soon as possible,” Zimmer said. “It may be this week, it may be next week. I don’t know. It’s really about when we’ve made the decision that this is how we want it to go. We still have some combinations we want to look at. That is not the set lineup by any chance or stretch of the imagination. But yes, to answer your question, as soon as possible.”

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