MANKATO -- Tonight would be a good night for Vikings fans to head for Mankato.
A, The sun will be going down, which is a good thing. And B, the team will be doing some situational drills that will help provide some insight into this new offense and whether it will be able to score in the red zone.
Coach Leslie Frazier said after this morning's walkthrough that the three situational areas the team will focus on are:
1, Red zone offense and defense. Last year's red-zone offense struggled, ranking 27th in the league. It was in the red zone 46 times and scored just 20 touchdowns for a 43.5 success rate.
2, Being backed up to the goal line. The offense will work on pushing the ball out from its own 3-yard line, while the defense will work on keeping the offense pinned down and forcing a punt from the end zone.
3, Four-minute drill. The offense will work on keeping possession of the ball with a lead, while the defense will work on ways to stop the offense and get the ball back.
Practice will be from 7-9:30 p.m. tonight at Blakeslee Stadium.
Other highlights from Frazier this morning:
- As Week 1 of camp comes to a close, Frazier said he's most excited about the team's enthusiasm and attitude. He's most concerned about two potential starters -- RG Anthony Herrera and CB Cedric Griffin -- coming off ACL injuries. He said Griffin is definitely a starter and that Herrera will be given a chance to start. The team is dedicated to an open competition at right guard.
- Frazier talked about Ryan Longwell and how re-signing him became a "no-brainer" once the NFL moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line.
- Frazier said the team will keep five receivers. That's not a surprise. Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins and Bernard Berrian would be the locks at this point. Frazier said "we'll probably have to release a good wide receiver" because of the numbers.
- Frazier said Harvin has taken on a leadership role with the team. It's the first year he's seen Harvin act like a leader on the team. "This is what you want from star players," Frazier said.
- Frazier said team athletic trainer Eric Sugarman did some research to find out if any other player has ever come back from two ACL surgeries and performed at a high level -- as Griffin appears set to attempt. According to Sugarman, only one player has, and that player wasn't a defensive back. Frazier doesn't remember the player who did it, but it might have been Frank Gore.
- CB Marcell Gipson will miss his second day of practice to take care of a family emergency. Frazier said Gipson should return tomorrow, the players' day off.
- Kenny Onatolu, who's still in a walking boot because of a stress fracture in his left foot, won't return until some time next week, at the earliest. Frazier said that although Onatolu's injury is typically a "10-day injury."