The Vikings are in the final stretch of this year’s training camp. They held Practice No. 13 on Monday night at Blakeslee Stadium, working out for approximately two hours in moderate temperatures and under the lights. There were several competitive team periods, which kept those in attendance entertained, and which also saw both the defense and offense experience a share of success.
Here are some of the highlights…
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer setup a team period that had the offense beginning a drive near its own 30 needing a field goal with 1:40 on the clock and no timeouts. Matt Cassel went three of five for 31 yards, hitting Cordarrelle Patterson all three times and ultimately landing on the defense’s 41 with a 4th and 2. On the 4th-down play, Adrian Peterson and Jerome Simpson crossed up their routes and Cassel threw incomplete, marking a win for the defense.
Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Ponder led the second and third teams, respectively, down the field and into field goal range. Bridgewater was five of eight for 38 yards, with a pair of completions to both Matt Asiata and Jarius Wright. A key moment of the drive came when Bridgewater used a hard count to cause the defense to tip its hand on a blitz, allowing Bridgewater throw hot to Wright for a gain of four yards that brought the offense from the 38 to the 34 (into field goal range).
Ponder was four of six for 50 yards in his rep, finding Kamar Jorden on the first play for 14 yards to help set the tone. An eight-yard completion four plays later to receiver Donte Foster put the offense in field goal range.
The blitz period is tricky to analyze because so often the defense gets close to home on a blitz or pressure, but the quarterback is off limits so sometimes a play that would’ve ended in a sack is allowed to continue, which yields skewed results. With that qualification, Cassel was three of five in his rep and Bridgewater was four of five while running with the second team. Highlights included a crossing route by Greg Jennings that produced a big gain (Captain Munnerlyn in coverage) and Bridgewater stepping up into a clean pocket on his fourth snap and throwing a laser to Adam Thielen in the middle of the field.
There were 12 red zone snaps and the top highlight was on the third rep for the second team defense, when Audie Cole dropped into coverage, reached the goal line, and left his feet to grab a Bridgewater pass from the air. Mike Higgins was open in the back of the end zone, but Cole’s impressive vertical leap and catch produced an interception.
The first team offense scored its touchdown with an Asiata plunge from the 2 and the second team offense registered its touchdown when Bridgewater found Jerick McKinnon to his right, and after making the catch McKinnon extended his arm toward the goal line and crossed the plane for the score.
Move the Ball
In the “move the ball” team period, defensive ends Brian Robison and Corey Wootton were standouts. Both provided pressure multiple times, and on the first team’s second snap Robison actually would’ve had a sack. Kyle Rudolph made a pair of catches in the period and Cassel nearly hooked up with Jennings on a deep play-action pass in the end zone, but the ball fell to the ground for the incompletion.
Bridgewater hit Thielen on a deep crossing pattern on the second team’s first snap, but Wootton caused havoc on many of the other snaps. McKinnon bobbled one of Bridgewater’s passes, allowing cornerback Shaun Prater to close quickly and grab an interception, which he returned to the end zone. Wright made a nice catch on an intermediate crossing pattern despite great coverage, utilizing his quickness at the last moment to create enough separation for the completion.
4th and 5
Zimmer gave one play to the first team and one play to the second team in a 4th and 5 situation. The offensive line created a perfect pocket for Cassel in their rep, allowing the veteran passer to buy time by stepping up and to his right. The extra time was useful because it allowed Rudolph to run open and square himself to Cassel, leading to a completion and a 1st down.
The second team defense won on their rep, with defensive end Justin Trattou getting home in time to sack Bridgewater. The play continued (quarterbacks are off limits), and Bridgewater’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by rookie defensive end Scott Crichton.
7-on-7 Red Zone
The 7-on-7 period typically favors the offense because there is no pass rush. But the highlight play was an interception by Munnerlyn on a pass from Bridgewater to Jennings. Bridgewater, who was running with the first team in this period, completed his next four passes.
Cassel, running with the second team in this period, was three of five in the drill and had a pass broken up by Prater.