Yikes. That was one awful practice.
With his top two quarterbacks not throwing for the second day in a row, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had seen enough sloppiness when he mercifully ended Sunday’s practice 40 minutes early and moved the players’ off day up a day to Monday. The final, showstopping blooper was a shotgun snap that sailed over the head of new fourth-string quarterback Brad Sorensen in an 11-on-11 red-zone drill. Zimmer quickly huddled the players for a few moments and sent them on their way.
“I’m not going to say he was mad,” receiver Jarius Wright said. “But I’m not going to say he was happy either. He basically just told us we have to come back and be better.”
And, unfortunately, the Vikings can’t even say nobody got hurt because Matt Kalil, their starting left tackle, did get hurt. He left the field early because of an apparent leg injury, walked to the locker room, didn’t return and was replaced by T.J. Clemmings, who is competing for the starting right tackle job and the backup swing tackle position.
Zimmer didn’t speak to the media, per his Sunday schedule. He will speak to reporters again on Wednesday and will field more questions about the health, or lack thereof, of his top two quarterbacks and now his left tackle. On Saturday, Zimmer wouldn’t confirm an ESPN report that starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a sore shoulder. When asked about backup QB Shaun Hill on Saturday, Zimmer said he gave him a “vet’s day” off.
Sunday’s practice started with Bridgewater and Hill in pads again. But neither threw a pass and only Bridgewater ran the offense when it worked on running plays.
That left undrafted rookie Joel Stave throwing the majority of the team’s passes for the second day in a row. Sorensen, who was signed on Saturday, threw some passes, but obviously doesn’t know the offense yet. At one point, Stave appeared to roll an ankle and looked as if he, too, might have to sit out before staying in.
Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty against a pretty good defense. Several incompletions added to a terribly flat practice by NFL standards.
Asked if practice felt as flat as it looked, Wright said: “I can say it wasn’t one of our best days. We have to come out and be better. If we want to be where we want to be at the end of the year, we have to be better each and every day.”
Four sit, Boone returns
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes missed another practice because of the hamstring injury suffered in Thursday’s preseason game at Seattle. Also missing practice because of undisclosed injuries were safety Anthony Harris, defensive end Scott Crichton and running back Matt Asiata.
Meanwhile, left guard Alex Boone returned to practice after missing Saturday’s practice for personal reasons.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who returned to pads on Saturday, participated in team drills for the first time since being sidelined by a knee injury before the first preseason game.
Call to Clemmings
The starting right tackle job isn’t the only one Clemmings is fighting for this summer. In fact, the second-year pro probably is in a bigger battle with Jeremiah Sirles for the backup swing tackle job.
Offensive line coach Tony Sparano said Saturday that he’s looking at both players as the key backup to both starting tackles. So if Clemmings doesn’t start ahead of Andre Smith on the right side, he’s going to have to be comfortable playing the unfamiliar left tackle spot in a pinch.
Sort of like Sunday when Kalil hobbled off and didn’t return. Clemmings stepped in against right defensive end Everson Griffen, who has had the best camp of anyone on the roster.
Sirles had been working as the backup left tackle while Clemmings worked on the right side. But Sparano said he needed to switch that because Clemmings barely had played the left side in his life before this summer.
“I played [left tackle] once in the Senior Bowl,” Clemmings said. “That’s the last time I played left tackle.”
He said he’s comfortable on the left side, but admitted: “There’s a little more speed, I would say, on the left side. You have Everson Griffen over there giving me a great look every time.”