Mike Zimmer has a hard time believing two years passed between the Metrodome being torn down before his debut season as Vikings head coach and this morning’s first practice at new U.S. Bank Stadium.
“These last two years have gone quick,” Zimmer said after the Vikings went through a light workout that lasted about 90 minutes. “Everything has been a whirlwind. But they’ve done an unbelievable job getting this place ready. It’s a great stadium. Great atmosphere. Lot of purple. It’s good.”
The real test will come at noon Sunday when the Vikings play the Chargers in the third preseason game.
Here are some of Zimmer’s other thoughts on the new venue:
–On the sight lines: “The ceiling being able for the sun [to shine through], when we first got here, the sun was kind of poking down there at that end. I’ve got a sun study on my desk, so there’s a lot of things [to consider]. But as far as the on the field and when you’re practice and things like that, this one video board on [the north] side is pretty big, so [the players] are going to have to get used to that a little bit.
–On how close the fans are to the field: “It looks like it’s nice and close. This side over here is too close with those people behind me.” (P.S. He was joking).
–On how bright it is: “It’s really bright in here. And I don’t think today’s a really bright day in here. With the doors open, you can actually feel the wind a little bit down here.”
–On whether the doors being open will have an impact on the game: “It wasn’t an impact at all today, but it wasn’t real windy outside. We’ll have to check to see the noise factor, keeping them open or closed.”
–On the possibility of distracting shadows: “I don’t think it will be too bad. There will be some shadows during the day games, the late-afternoon games.”
–On how most artificial surfaces are pretty much the same in today’s NFL: “Yeah, they’re pretty close. Some are a bit more spongy. Usually it depends on how new it is. This one was fine today. I don’t think we had very many slips.”
–On whether a new stadium can be distracting in a league filled with creatures of habit: “It definitely can if you’re not focused. Football teams, at least my teams and me, I like to get in a routine and stick to it. Then the next thing you know it’s a Monday night. And then you got a short week. And then you got a Saturday game. And then it’s a Thursday, and then you got to play another Thursday. The routine changes a little bit. Those things can become difficult unless you got guys who are focused on the jobs they need to do.”
–More on the giant video board and whether it will distract the players: “I think it’s great for the fans. But it’s kind of the same thing. Distractions are what you let them be. … That’s why I had the offense go this way today, because the screen is bigger. Just to get their input on things.”
In other news …
–Left tackle Matt Kalil (leg) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hamstring) sat out practice again and won’t play. T.J. Clemmings will start at left tackle and Trae Waynes will start at right corner.
–Defensive end Everson Griffen was held out of practice to rest an undisclosed injury. Zimmer didn’t address Griffen’s status for the game.
–Tight end Brian Leonhardt wasn’t at practice. Zimmer didn’t give a reason.
–Defensive tackle Scott Crichton also sat out another practice because of injury.