MANKATO – Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said just about what you’d expect an NFL coach to say heading into his team’s first preseason game.
He wants crisp execution, evidence the players are learning what the coaches have thrown at them since camp began. And he wants his players to learn a history lesson.
History? The Vikings and Pittsburgh play in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday in Canton, Ohio. But before that, Zimmer — who has been through the Hall twice — has arranged for his team to get a tour.
“With the team that we have and the youth that we have, I thought it was important they see some of the things that gave them the opportunity to do the things they’re doing now,” he said. “Making money, the prestige.”
Zimmer wants his team to appreciate what past players did to grow the game. To that end, Zimmer showed the team a film of former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend.
“It was the 1960s when he was playing,” Zimmer said. “Those things are important to me, that we all understand we’re privileged to do this. Especially the guys that were playing and making $5,000 a year and stuff like that. Getting summer jobs. It is really a testament to how the league has grown.”
Linebacker Anthony Barr missed a third day of practice because of inflammation in his surgically repaired left knee. And while Zimmer wouldn’t rule Barr out of Sunday’s game, it’s likely Gerald Hodges — who has been taking snaps in Barr’s place — will get the start.
A converted safety, Hodges is a hard hitter and a good tackler who has the speed to drop into coverage. But the Vikings want him to become a more consistent player and a better on-field communicator. It appears he will have the opportunity to prove he has done both while working with the first team.
“You never want anything like that to happen to another player,” he said of Barr. “But [it is] definitely an opportunity to get a little more reps, learn the system a little more.”
Hodges said a second year in the same system has given him a better feel for the defense, allowing his talents to come through. Zimmer agreed.
“He does have a better understanding,” Zimmer said. “He’s been doing things much better this year.”
Removing the rust
It has been a long time since Adrian Peterson played in a game, a stretch that figures to continue through the preseason. This week Peterson admitted to a little rust.
“There have been times when I’ve [touched the ball] and been like, ‘Uh,’ ” he said. “I wasn’t fast enough. I wasn’t patient enough. But that’s why we come out here and do what we do. Overall, I’ve felt like I’ve been pretty good.”
• Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater missed the afternoon walkthrough to attend to a family issue, the team said. He will join the team in Ohio.
• In addition to Barr, the following players missed practice Friday because of injury: wide receiver Gavin Lutman, fullback Zach Line, center Joe Berger, guard David Yankey, and defensive ends B.J. Dubose and Scott Crichton.