On Tuesday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer joked that his players know when "Daddy's mad." Thursday, Daddy was bursting with pride.
Months of hard work earned the players an easy day. Zimmer rewarded them by canceling the final practice of the team's three-day minicamp.
"This team works their rear ends off," Zimmer said. "They work real hard. I like their attention to detail. I like the way they go about their work. And I felt like I've seen enough that I need to see this time of the year."
Zimmer wasn't ready to declare the offseason a complete success. He said the team had too many penalties, particularly pre-snap penalties, during their OTAs and the first two days of minicamp. But, overall, he was happy enough to let go of an entire practice in a league that has limited practice opportunities.
"If they had been crummy, I wouldn't have canceled it," Zimmer said. "They're dedicated to being a good football team and so I just felt like they needed [to take the day off]. They didn't believe me at first. A bunch of them said, 'Did he say, 'Go practice,' or, 'No practice'? They sat up there for a little while. They thought it was a joke or a trick."
Zimmer said he wouldn't be surprised if some of his players were disappointed.
"I was actually looking forward to going out there and making some plays," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said before adding with a smile, "But I won't lie. This body needs the rest."
No phone calls, please
Next up for the Vikings is training camp reporting day on July 28 in Mankato. Zimmer said he sent the players on their way with a word of caution: Don't make his phone ring.
"This time of year, I expect them to be smart," Zimmer said. "You know a lot of bad things happen off the field this time of the year and to be smart. I don't want to get any phone calls about anything."
Zimmer said he will try to get in some rest and relaxation before training camp.
"My family and I are going on a little trip," he said. "I'll be spending some time at the ranch [in Kentucky]. I'm going to Dallas to see my other daughter. Stuff like that. I'll be working. Watching the iPad, a little red wine once in a while."
Back to Cincinnati
The Vikings announced two joint practices with Zimmer's old team, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Aug. 10-11 in Cincinnati.
After wrapping up training camp in Mankato on Aug. 9, the Vikings will fly to Cincinnati. The first day of practice will be in pads; the second day won't. A day after that, the teams will meet in their preseason opener.
Zimmer, who was Cincinnati's defensive coordinator from 2008 until taking the Vikings job in 2014, said joint practices will be "great for our young team."
"One really good thing is that we're similar, so it's not like you have to prepare that much, especially defensively," Zimmer said. "The one good thing about me is I know their players pretty well and so when our guys are going against their players I think I'll be able to have a good evaluation."
AP in the preseason?
With a new-look offensive line and some schematic tweaks offensively, Zimmer said he hasn't ruled out giving Adrian Peterson his first preseason carries since 2011.
"I haven't really thought about that yet," Zimmer said. "I don't know that there's a need. Some of the different runs that we're running, maybe it might be good to get him a couple of reps. But that's probably the good thing about practicing against Cincinnati. I don't have to see him in live things, but I can see him in other situations. But I don't know. I'll have to think about that one."
• The Vikings have two open roster spots after releasing defensive tackle Bruce Gaston and linebacker Travis Lewis on Thursday. Gaston signed in May after playing for the Packers and Bears last season; Lewis spent the past four seasons with the Lions.
• Zimmer said T.J. Clemmings' move from right to left tackle might be only temporary. Zimmer also said it's doubtful the team will experiment with Clemmings at guard, as it did last summer.