A daily dispatch from Eagan
A crowd watches the full squad
Setting the scene
After canceling Friday’s practice so they could attend Tony Sparano’s funeral as a team, the Vikings held their first full-team practice at their new facility. Reserved seats along the sideline were mostly full early in practice, though there was room for fans to spread out in the general admission seats behind the two fields the Vikings used. Owner Zygi Wilf took in practice from behind the north end zone.
The Vikings embraced their secluded atmosphere during their time in Mankato, but now that they’re in Eagan, coach Mike Zimmer said they can still do much of the community-building they did at Minnesota State. “Mankato was great, they were outstanding hosts,” he said. “But you go down there 2½ weeks. Back in the days that you went down there for five or six weeks, it was probably a bit different. As far as creating a team atmosphere, we get that pretty much here in this locker room. These guys have been around each other a long time now.”
New rules in play
After the NFL changed its rules to prohibit players from lowering their helmets to make tackles, Zimmer said he found himself this offseason revisiting the Vikings’ game film and taking a close look at hits that might now be flagged. “We will communicate it on tape — ‘Hey, look here, this is what happened if you are tackling more with your chest; keep your head up.’ Things like that,” Zimmer said.
Skill players excel
Running back Dalvin Cook had an impressive day on Saturday, making a couple of sharp cuts during team drills on a left knee that underwent surgery less than 10 months ago. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs went up for a contested catch over Trae Waynes in individual drills, and Adam Thielen made a leaping grab late in practice over rookie Holton Hill.
“I didn’t tell them that they had to go or anything like that. It was all up to them, but I appreciate their loyalty to Tony and to the Sparano family.” — Zimmer, after most Vikings players attended offensive line coach Tony Sparano’s funeral Friday.
Wide receiver Stacy Coley sat out with a groin injury after missing much of the offseason with a right heel injury. Right tackle Rashod Hill left practice early, with second-round pick Brian O’Neill taking his spot with the first-team offense. Center Pat Elflein continued to rehab ankle and shoulder injuries while remaining on the physically-unable-to-perform list.