SETTING THE SCENE: Another sunny day with low humidity, 14 mph winds and players who are eager to start hitting some enemy players come Sunday in Canton, Ohio. This was the eighth day of practice and yet the team still hasn’t had a starter miss a practice because of injury. Yeah, feel free to knock on wood.
ZIMMER TO MISS PRACTICE: Coach Mike Zimmer typically meets with beat writers after practice on select days. Today, he came over and said he had to leave camp because his father is in poor health. He also said he won’t be at camp on Tuesday and that offensive coordinator Norv Turner will run the team in his absence. Turner, the long-time former NFL head coach, ran practice last year when Zimmer was out with kidney stones.
SULLIVAN MISSES PRACTICE: Center John Sullivan wasn’t at practice today. His wife is close to having the couple’s first child. Sullivan did participate in the morning walkthrough. He has been on alert to leave practice when he gets the word. He left practice early Saturday night when it looked like she might deliver.
EASY, GERALD, EASY: Other than a few goal-line snaps, it’s rare to see a linebacker and running back go to the ground in today’s NFL training camps. But we saw that today when Gerald Hodges, who is getting a look at middle linebacker, burst through the line, knocked over running back Jerick McKinnon and then sort of crawled over the top of him. Zimmer stepped in and told Hodges to tone down his actions after the tackle. “He said, ‘Just calm down. Just make your play and go back to the huddle,’” Hodges said. “You don’t want to get anybody rowdied up. I was kind of letting him know that me and Jerick have a great relationship. But you still have to make your plays and get back to the huddle.”
DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB, TEDDY: The Vikings worked on quick kicks today with the quarterbacks and kicker Blair Walsh. Teddy Bridgewater had one decent punt and three not-so-decent punts, including a shank that reminded everybody that he won’t be taking Jeff Locke’s job anytime soon. Walsh also shanked one and then hit a nice spiral near the goal line.
RHODES KEEPS PLAYING BIG: Xavier Rhodes almost seems to get bigger each day. Maybe it’s his growing confidence, the quiet swagger or who knows. But he often appears to tower over receiving targets. On one particular play, he had receiver Mike Wallace locked down on a sideline out route. Bridgewater tried to fit the ball in, but Wallace had no chance as Rhodes swatted it away.
EXUM, SENDEJO COMBINE ON INT: The starting strong safety job hasn’t been handed to Robert Blanton, although he certainly appears to be the front-runner based on practice snaps. But one play between the second units stood out today. Shaun Hill threw a ball over the middle that safety Antone Exum deflected and fellow safety Andrew Sendejo plucked out of the air with one hand for the interception.
THIELEN AT IT AGAIN: “Mr. Mankato” is starting to flash again. Receiver Adam Thielen, the former undrafted rookie long-shot from Minnesota State, made a diving catch of a pass thrown by Hill deep and over the middle. It was the kind of play and ensuing cheer from the crowd that forced the Vikings to put him on the practice squad in 2013 and the 53-man roster last year.
CAMP CHATTER: “What are we doing over here? Are we having a team meeting or are we good?” — Zimmer, who paused long enough from watching his defensive ends working hard to address his defensive tackles, who were milling about and working not so hard.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive end Scott Crichton was the most notable player not to practice. The team didn’t disclose the nature of the injury. Defensive coordinator George Edwards said it was a “nagging injury,” indicating it’s not serious. Other players who didn’t participate today because of injuries were DuJuan Harris, Gavin Lutman, B.J. Dubose and Josh Robinson, who remains on the physically unable to perform list.
VIKINGS SCHEDULE: Tuesday, the Vikings have a morning walkthrough from 10:30-11:30 and a night practice from 7:15-9:15. The players are off on Wednesday.