Vikings organized team activity practices are in the books for 2015, and the team will return to Winter Park next week for a three-day mandatory minicamp.
Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf welcomed participants to the tournament and then met with reporters, telling media he's "never been more optimistic since we've owned the team about our players, our head coach, our organization and the direction we're headed."
The Wilf family recently reached its 10-year anniversary of purchasing the Vikings, and Wilf said there are multiple positives, from the leadership he's seen from Head Coach Mike Zimmer, to the return of Adrian Peterson in 2015 and the development of Teddy Bridgewater, to the sprawling state-of-the-art stadium that is on schedule to open July 2016.
"(Adrian) has a great heart, has been great for the community and that's basically who he is," Wilf said. "When you know that's the character of that person, you believe in him and you move on. We know that his excitement and his heart will make this team better. You could see it by the way the other players respond to him. That's why it is very exciting, that and everything else going on with the team. We have tremendous optimism going into the future."
Wilf also was asked about the role of Zimmer's relationship with Peterson.
"I credit Mike as being a coach who's strong, who helps every player get better and everybody feel like they're a part of something special," Wilf said. "That's what's going to make him a great coach, his ability to teach players, to get into the program, to be better and to really have the enthusiasm as a team to go to the next level, which we're optimistic we're on."
Here are five other things we learned during OTAs 7-10:
Bridge to exceeding expectations
Wilf said Bridgewater "surpassed everything I expected" as a rookie when he set or tied 91 franchise records, including starts (12), wins (six), completion percentage (64.4) and passer rating (85.2).
"The way he carries on, the confidence, the leadership that he's showing, the pride in leadership, his ability on the field, his presence on the field, there's a lot for our fans to be excited about," Wilf said. "That, with the coach, with all the players are going to make a great season for many seasons ahead of great football for the Vikings. I think we're going to show it year after year."
A strong reason for that belief could be Bridgewater's demeanor and desire to exceed expectations. Zimmer let the team know he didn't think Bridgewater met expectations during Tuesday's outing, and the second-year pro came out the next day and drew praise. Bridgewater didn't blink at the adversity faced by the team in 2014. It's paramount for a quarterback to bounce back from a less-than-pristine performance because that position affects the entire offense.
Past met present
The Vikings brought in former Cowboys pass rusher Greg Ellis, who played with Zimmer as his defensive coordinator from 2000-06 in Dallas, to help refine some of the techniques of outside and interior rushers. Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson also coached Ellis in Dallas from 2000-02.
Ellis was reunited this week with former Cowboys teammate with Terence Newman, and the cornerback recalled how Ellis inspired him* *to line up in a three-point stance before blitzing Donovan McNabb. Ellis, who averaged 7.0 sacks a season during his 12-year career, said he saw considerable talent and potential on the Vikings defensive line. He worked after practices with Everson Griffen and Brian Robison and offered other tips.
Shariff Floyd said he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from Ellis and spent part of his week sharing tips* *rookie B.J. DuBose.
Kendricks continues to impress
Second-round pick Eric Kendricks had another impressive week. Kendricks followed a strong showing in a home run derby at Target Field Saturday by continuing to show athleticism and instincts on the gridiron. He nearly nabbed the interception of OTAs Thursday and talked about defending the pass.
Zimmer said Kendricks is "further ahead than most rookies."
"Eric's been doing a good job," Zimmer said. "He's obviously got a lot of athletic ability, he's studying real hard. I think has a chance to be a good player."
Short and long
We caught up with Xavier Rhodes this week to talk about the lightly hyped satisfaction that can come from forcing a QB to check down with a pass to the running back. He said those plays are an indicator that the defense is doing its job.
We also asked if it is tempting to jump routes as familiarity with the offense increases. The next day, rookie receiver Stefon Diggs capitalized on a matchup when a cornerback did jump the first move. The quick and fast Diggs executed a double move without a hiccup for a long touchdown against single coverage.
Top-notch golf attire
Children's related causes throughout the Upper Midwest are the real winners at the VFC golf tourney, but the pants donned by Jarius Wright made a strong push at the leaderboard.
In addition to the VCF tournament Wednesday, Chad Greenway hosted a tournament to benefit his Lead The Way Foundation, and John Sullivan continued his strong relationship with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital by hosting a golf tourney on Monday. Wright said he thought about wearing the pants he found on the internet during Greenway's tournament but opted to save them for Wednesday.