SETTING THE SCENE: A cloudless sky with temperatures in the low 80s and only 39 percent humidity made this the best weather day of camp. The team returned to the practice field after a day off per CBA rules. The team looked fairly crisp and energetic, but some of the communication is still rusty, which is kind of why they do this.
ALL-DAY INCLUDES BLOCKING, TOO?!: Adrian Peterson would never admit it, but if there’s any weakness in his game, it’s pass protection. Could it be that after nearly an entire year on the sideline Peterson has improved his pass protection skills and want-to? Well, in the first linebacker-running back pass protection drills of camp, AP stoned big linebacker Anthony Barr and quick linebacker Gerald Hodges.
McKINNON SHAKY IN PASS PROTECTION: Meanwhile, second-year running back Jerick McKinnon continues to show that pass protection is an issue for him. He’s small, but he’s also deceptively strong, so he should be able to do it once he gets more experience with it. “He had some good ones [in the pass protection drill] and he got beat a couple times. That’s typical,” said coach Mike Zimmer. During individual passing drills, McKinnon went with the receivers today.
KENDRICKS GAINING GROUND IN NICKEL?: Watching the first-team nickel defense today, it’s clear the team is excited about the possibility of using speedy rookie second-round draft pick Eric Kendricks at middle linebacker in the nickel. He played there consistently with the first nickel today, while Audie Cole stayed No. 1 in the base. Zimmer also gave Antone Exum a few snaps with the first team at strong safety and rookie first-round draft pick Trae Waynes a couple of reps outside in the nickel as Terence Newman, not Captain Munnerlyn, played in the slot.
HUNTER SETS UP INSIDE MOVE?: It was only two snaps, so don’t go nuts and say the sky is falling on Matt Kalil. But the left tackle had an interesting two-snap series during one-on-one drills that looked similar to last season. Rookie Danielle Hunter rushed wide on Kalil, who pushed him farther outside. On the next snap, Hunter beat Kalil cleanly to the inside. Hunter is showing signs of why Zimmer said he’s not as raw as the team once thought.
PASS OF CAMP: Granted, Teddy Bridgewater knows he’s not going to get hit by the pass rush. But he still made the best pass of camp so far. Facing an all-out blitz with linebackers shooting through both A gaps and safety Harrison Smith charging off the blind side, Bridgewater stepped through the traffic and fired a hard spiral that Charles Johnson snared with Waynes in tight coverage.
KEEP AN EYE ON DIGGS: One of the better catches of the day was made by rookie Stefon Diggs. If they haven’t already, people need to start looking for No. 14. He could be a playmaker. He made an outstanding catch while colliding with cornerback Marcus Sherels. Both fell to the ground, but Diggs held on.
CAMP CHATTER:“I had to talk to him a few times about things I didn’t like.” — Zimmer, who continues to answer questions about the number of conversations he’s had to have with Exum to finally convince the youngster it was time to stop acting like an immature youngster.
SCHEDULE: Saturday, the players have a morning walkthrough from 10:30-11:30 and then a night practice in pads at Blakeslee Stadium (7:15-9:15). Sunday, the Vikings practice once from 2-5 p.m. Monday, it’s back to the morning walkthrough from 10:30-11:30 and practice from 2:45-5.