Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Zimmer eyes Vikings' first preseason game

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: July 31, 2014 - 2:17 PM

The days are blending in for Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer eight days into training camp, and he still has another eight days until the team trots into TCF Bank Stadium for its first preseason game against the Raiders next Friday.

Zimmer said the team will begin to prepare for the Raiders on Tuesday and Wednesday but mainly plan to continue installing schemes on offense, defense and special teams.

“We’re trying to continue to get better and really not too worried about the Raiders,” Zimmer said.

The plan is to continue installing different packages until about two weeks before the season opener against the Rams. Zimmer said he wants to players to play fast for that game and not think too much.

It’s all part of a balancing act Zimmer is learning as the head coach to make sure the players understand the new installs with good retention.

“The more you put in, the more it runs together sometimes,” Zimmer said. “We’ll start backing it down, and they’ll start to get a little more fine tuning from there.”

Zimmer also said he’s not sure when safety Robert Blanton will return. He’s used Harrison Smith at both safety positions as a result of the injury, while Mistral Raymond has received first team reps.

The players will also meet with NFL officials this evening to discuss the rule changes this year and points of emphasis with illegal contact, clipping and offensive pass interference.

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