The Vikings opened a three-day mandatory minicamp Tuesday, a bow on the offseason before a five-week break prior to training camp.
Below are some observations from the practice open to reporters:
Quarterback Sam Bradford was not limited as he jumped back into the mix and led the starting offense. Bradford was limited last week with what head coach Mike Zimmer described as “muscle tightness.” The quarterback, an avid golfer, also did not compete in the Vikings charity golf tournament last week. The small time away didn’t hurt as Bradford returned and continued his deep connection with receiver Stefon Diggs, who made a leaping grab down the seam ahead of Xavier Rhodes near the end of one 11-on-11 session. Bradford and Diggs have fared well in four practices open to reporters this spring, when pads and bump-and-run coverage are still not allowed.
Rookie Rodney Adams has been getting the lion’s share of reps returning punts as the Vikings continue grooming the fifth-round pick as a returner. Adams, who corralled a one-handed grab on a swing pass Tuesday, has a chance to replace All-Pro returner Cordarrelle Patterson on kickoffs. The Vikings also had Jerick McKinnon and Marcus Sherels fielding kickoff returns along with Adams, who’s expected to bring speed.
Weak-side linebacker has two faces rotating through now as Emmanuel Lamur took part in team drills for the first time in front of reporters. Lamur has been dealing with an undisclosed injury and will compete with Edmond Robinson, who intercepted a Taylor Heinicke pass Tuesday, for Chad Greenway’s vacated role.
Datone Jones’ spot is firmly at defensive tackle, where he spent all of his time Tuesday. The Vikings’ main pass-rush line continues to include, from left to right, Danielle Hunter, Brian Robison, Tom Johnson and Everson Griffen. Jones, the ex-Packers outside linebacker, has been tasked with adding weight in his move inside and the Vikings don’t want to put too much on his plate by moving him around at this point. Jones is competing with rookie Jaleel Johnson and Shamar Stephn for playing time.
Shamar Stephen was at Winter Park, but he did not practice for the Vikings on Tuesday. The Vikings had all hands on deck at the start of minicamp, the first offseason practices that are mandatory, with Stephen joining injured Vikings in Latavius Murray (ankle), Sharrif Floyd (knee), Shaan Washington (ankle/foot), Antone Exum (knee), Stacy Coley (undisclosed) and R.J. Shelton (undisclosed) on the sideline. The Vikings had nearly perfect attendance during the last three weeks of (voluntary) OTAs, save for Xavier Rhodes taking a day to attend the kindergarten graduation of his son, Justin.
Lightning struck a field goal net post at Winter Park during Sunday’s thunderstorm, shattering part of the concrete foundation while frying the sprinkler wiring in the area. So the Vikings will look to replace both during the team’s last year in Eden Prairie. The Vikings purchased nearly 200 acres in Eagan and plan to have the new training facilities ready by next spring.