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3 Observations: Rhodes, DBs Shine in Final Mankato Practice

Posted Aug 8, 2017

MANKATO, Minn. — That’s a wrap on Vikings training camp in Mankato.

The Vikings held their 11th and final full-team session Tuesday on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, practicing in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts for roughly two hours.

The Vikings will travel to Buffalo on Wednesday, and play their first preseason game of 2017 at New Era Field at 6 p.m. (CT) Thursday.

Here are three observations from Tuesday’s practice:

1. Rhodes snags a pick

The Vikings were back in a late-game situation Monday, something they’ve done often in Mankato. 

But Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes squashed any hopes of a comeback as he picked off quarterback Sam Bradford on the first play of the series. Bradford tried to loft a pass down the left sideline to wide receiver Adam Thielen, but Rhodes was there for the interception.

The play highlighted a strong day for the Vikings defensive backs.

Cornerback Trae Waynes had a nice breakup of a pass intended for wide receiver Stacey Coley, while cornerback Tre Roberson also fared well in practice. 

Cornerback Terrell Sinkfield, who was at Vikings camp as a wide receiver this time last year, also showcased his progression. He stripped the ball from wide receiver Cayleb Jones in a team drill and later broke up a pass intended for Coley.

2. Getting game ready

The Vikings first-team offense and defense are likely tired of each other, as they’ve gone head-to-head for the past two weeks.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer switched things up a bit Tuesday as it felt more like an in-season practice. Bradford and the first-team offense went against the second-team defense for most of practice, while the first-team defense practiced against the offensive backups.

These types of practices will become more common as the Vikings work through the preseason with an eye on the regular season.

3. The end of an era

There was a poignant moment at the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice, as the fans saluted the Vikings with a standing ovation. 

Tuesday marked the final practice after 52 years of training camps in Mankato. The Vikings are scheduled to move camp to their new practice facility in Eagan next summer.

Fans filled the stands on the final day, even for the morning walk-through, wanting one final look at the Vikings in Mankato.

“We’ll miss the fans,” Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. “Seeing the fans out here every day, they’ve always been very gracious to us.”

Zimmer expressed his gratitude for the hospitality that he’s received in four seasons as head coach.

“This place, Mankato, and Minnesota State, have been phenomenal the four years I have been here,” Zimmer said. “I know it’s been 52 years. I am not quite that old, but it’s been a great place. The facilities are fantastic, the fans have been amazing, and I think our players really appreciate, really all of the aspects of it.”