Bradford shows off his arm strength
The Vikings canceled their morning walk-through to start their final week of camp, as players returned from Sunday’s off-day. Their afternoon practice — their second-to-last in Mankato — showcased Sam Bradford’s arm strength, as the quarterback connected with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on several downfield shots. Coach Mike Zimmer has said the Vikings defense is ahead of the offense in camp, but as Zimmer said, the offense got the better of the defense Monday.
Under the microscope
The Vikings won’t have a full sense of how their running game has progressed until they get into game situations with live tackling, but Zimmer has spent plenty of time parsing the team’s practice tape for indicators that the league’s 32nd-ranked run game from a year ago has improved. “I’m looking if we’re getting on the right guys, and if we’re getting them moved,” he said. “And then if the back is making the right reads. We’ve got some good hardball runs in there and some wide runs. That helps. Today was a draw, screen, drop back and pass day, so all those things when we get going into the course of a ballgame will help.”
Backup QB in flux
Third-year quarterback Taylor Heinicke came into camp with the opportunity to push Case Keenum for the No. 2 job, but Heinicke’s struggles continued Monday. He ended practice by throwing an interception to linebacker Edmond Robinson, who had dropped into coverage underneath the receiver Heinicke was trying to find.
Talent show memories
Though the days of rookie hazing are effectively over, the Vikings still have one good-natured initiation ritual: their annual rookie talent show. On Monday, safety Harrison Smith recalled his performance from his rookie year in 2012. “I sang ‘Ignition (Remix)’ by R. Kelly – an acoustic version,” Smith said. “I actually played guitar with it. That was back when I played a little more. I’m pretty bad, though.”
“I don’t know. You’re the coach.” — Mike Zimmer, to a reporter asking whether Latavius Murray and Riley Reiff would return from injuries in time to play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Bills.
The Vikings were again without wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and linebacker Kentrell Brothers, and also practiced without tight end Bucky Hodges on Monday. Defensive end Everson Griffen briefly left practices with two members of the team’s medical staff, but was back on the sideline for the rest of practice. “He got a little tweak,” Zimmer said. “He could have went back in. We held him out.”