CINCINNATI – With injured veteran Terence Newman left behind in the Twin Cities this week, the door opened for fellow cornerback Trae Waynes to leap Newman on the depth chart. But Waynes was unable to stay on the practice field long enough Wednesday afternoon to pounce on the opportunity.
About a half-hour into a hot and humid joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals, the first of two on the outdoor fields adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium this week, Waynes headed to the sideline as he struggled with the heat.
He crouched on the sideline for a while. The team’s athletic training staff did not clear him to return, and the 2015 first-round pick eventually made his way inside.
With Waynes temporarily out of the mix, too, Jabari Price was the third cornerback in the nickel defense, specifically lining up at left cornerback, Newman’s spot.
Price, a 2014 seventh-round pick who is on the roster bubble, felt he held his own.
“I think I did fairly well,” Price said. “It’s no different than what we’ve been going through in training camp. So I was definitely prepared thanks to this coaching staff, and I’m just trying to seize every opportunity that I get.”
The expectation is that Waynes will be hydrated and ready to go Thursday morning for the final joint practice with the Bengals, and that he will be able to play in Friday night’s preseason opener inside Paul Brown Stadium.
Among the missing
The Vikings appear to have touched down in the Cincinnati area on Tuesday evening without 10 of the 86 players on their active roster.
In addition to Newman, the absentee list for Wednesday’s workouts included receiver Jarius Wright; cornerbacks Melvin White and Marcus Sherels; running back Jhurell Pressley; linebackers Eric Kendricks, Edmond Robinson and Brandon Watts, and defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd and Scott Crichton.
The team would not say whether any of those players made the trip to Cincinnati.
Zimmer did say two players are dealing with family emergencies and “probably” will join the team in Cincinnati. One of the emergencies was the hospitalization of Sherels’ brother, Mike Sherels, who is a linebackers coach for the Gophers.
Among the no-shows, Wright, Newman, Kendricks, Robinson, Watts, Floyd and Crichton are known to be dealing with injuries. None of them suited up for the team’s final training camp practice in Mankato on Tuesday.
“Basically, I just didn’t want to bring them,” Zimmer said. “If they’re hurt, they can’t do anything. So they’ll get better treatment up there.”
The Vikings and Bengals got through Wednesday afternoon’s joint practice without any fisticuffs. The closest thing to an altercation came when wide receiver Adam Thielen had his helmet ripped off by Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and confronted Jones. But cooler heads, figuratively speaking, prevailed.
“I think it helps having a coach [in Zimmer] who previously coached these guys and they kind of understand where he’s coming from. And obviously he knows where [Bengals coach Marvin] Lewis is coming from,” outside linebacker Anthony Barr said. “We respect these guys and they’re obviously a playoff team and it was great to get a chance to compete against them.”
• Tight end Rhett Ellison made the trip even though he remains on the PUP list while completing his recovery from offseason knee surgery. Zimmer said he believes Ellison getting “field work” with the training staff here would be more beneficial than doing it at Winter Park.
• Zimmer invited the Bengals coaches to join the Vikings staff for dinner at his Kentucky home on Thursday night.
• The two teams are scheduled to practice Thursday from 9:50-10:50 a.m. CT.