Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was coy when asked how much his starters will play in Sunday’s preseason opener at the Hall of Fame Game, saying it will be dictated by his mood.
There are some things Zimmer will be looking for Sunday, however.
“We want to be crisp, we want to look sharp and I want to see the things we’ve been practicing being taken to the game field,” Zimmer said. “Whether it’s techniques or alignments, certain things against people you really haven’t prepared for. And, how they react to certain things they’re not prepared for. And, obviously, evaluation of a lot of different players.”
The Vikings held a relatively short (1 1/2 hours) and relatively early (starting at 9 a.m.) practice today. The team will have a one-hour walkthrough this afternoon and then head back to the Twin Cities.
ON THE SIDELINES
Linebacker Anthony Barr, who is battling inflammation in his surgically repaired left knee, missed practice for a third straight day. And while Zimmer wouldn’t say Barr was ruled out of playing Sunday, it appears very unlikely that will happen. That would mean Gerald Hodges, who has been taking snaps in Barr’s absence, would get the start. Zimmer said Hodges, a hard-hitter who has been working on his consistency and on-field communication, has been getting better.
“He does have a better understanding,” Zimmer said of Hodges. “He’s been doing things much better this year. We just have to keep him going on the same track.”
Zimmer said he’s been to the Hall of Fame twice. And, this weekend, he’s going to make sure that his players see it, too. So he has arranged for the entire team to take a tour.
And, maybe, learn something.
“We’re going to go to the Hall of Fame and see it,” he said. “I just thought, with the team that we have and the youth that we have, I thought it was important that they see some of the things that gave them the opportunity to do the things that they’re doing now. Making money, the prestige.”
Zimmer wants his players to appreciate the contributions of past players. To that end, Zimmer showed the team a short video of former Vikings great, center Mick Tingelhoff, who will be inducted into the Hall this weekend.
“It was the 1960s when he was playing,” Zimmer said. “Those things are important to me. That we all understand that we’re privileged to do this. Especially the guys that were playing and making $5,000 a year and stuff like that. Getting summer jobs. It is really a testament to how the league has grown.”
One thing Zimmer made sure to point out to his players? Tingelhoff’s impressive 240-game starting streak.
“That’s pretty good,” Zimmer said, smiling. “I made sure we had that part in there.”
In addition to Barr, the following players missed practice Friday: wide receiver Gavin Lutman, fullback Zach Line, center Joe Berger, guard David Yankey and defensive ends B.J. Dubose and Scott Crichton.