Empty lockers, missing shower heads and no crowding the hot tubs. A new normal will greet Vikings players when they return to TCO Performance Center in Eagan this month for training camp.
Aside from NFL-mandated protocols, Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said the team took extra steps to rebuild the work spaces for every team employee.
Here are some of the Vikings’ adjustments:
• Couches and many stalls were removed from the locker room to adhere to 6 feet of social distancing. The Vikings’ spacious home for players will be limited to 42 lockers, down from the standard 94. Many players will have to set up in makeshift locker areas.
• To further encourage distance in the locker room, every other shower head has been removed from the bathroom.
• After having their temperature taken by a contactless tablet, players and staff will be issued tracking devices, “Apple watch”-like bracelets that will help with contact tracing.
• The Vikings’ 172-seat auditorium used for team meetings is limited to 42 open seats, spread 6 feet apart. A makeshift meeting area has been set up in the indoor fieldhouse, where offense or defense can meet. Team meetings will be done virtually.
• The weight room will be limited to 15- to -25-man sessions, with strength and conditioning coaches wearing masks while instructing. The training rooms will have tables spread apart and plexiglass installed.
• The hot and cold tubs will be limited to six people, with individual ice buckets available outdoors.
• The Vikings dropped cafeteria capacity to 40 people from 100, and will encourage players to order meals ahead of time for pickup. They will also ditch catered Friday lunches for players and staffers.
• On road trips, the NFL’s travel restrictions will prevent players from taking public or private transit; loading team buses over 50% capacity; leaving the hotel to eat; receiving visitors, or using shared facilities at the hotel.