MANKATO, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings veterans are officially checked into the dorms.
Defensive end Everson Griffen, tight end Kyle Rudolph, safety Harrison Smith, wide receiver Adam Thielen, quarterback Sam Bradford and general manager Rick Spielman all took to the podium to discuss a variety of topics at the onset of the final Verizon Vikings Training Camp in Mankato.
Here are the best quotes from each of the podium sessions on Wednesday morning:
The Vikings front office finalized the contract extension of Griffen on Wednesday.
While Griffen still had two years remaining on his contract, Spielman explained the decision to lock in the seven-year pro who was drafted and developed by Minnesota's staff.
"It's always been our philosophy for our young guys. We've been pretty aggressive trying to get those guys locked in. A lot of it is hand-and-hand on being able to draft players that come in, but also the coaching staff that we have and how they develop (our players). Personally you don't want to spend all the time and energy trying to draft the right guys and then have your coaches develop them, and then four years later, you lose them. Our philosophy has always been to try and draft well and keep those guys together. If you can keep that nucleus together, it gives you an opportunity to compete and win every year."
Griffen made national headlines by signing the contract extension to remain with the Vikings for the foreseeable future.
Griffen spoke about the confidence that the Vikings coaches and the front office have in him.
"I think I was fortunate to sit behind Jared (Allen) for four years so I don't have all the wear and tear on my body like people that get thrown under the fire from the beginning," Griffen said. "It shows that they have extreme confidence in me and that they believe in my abilities to go help this team win a championship because that's our goal every year."
Smith is entering his sixth season in the NFL and has earned more and more confidence from his head coach Mike Zimmer as the "quarterback" of the defense.
Reflecting back on 2016, Smith spoke about how his experiences have taught him not to take opportunities for granted.
"After a few years in the league, you understand how few of opportunities you get," Smith said. "My rookie year, we went to the playoffs. That's how I thought it was every year. That's how we want it to be every year here, but there's a lot of ups and downs and things that don't always bounce your way and you have to overcome them, so that's something as you get a few years under your belt, you understand when you have opportunities, you have to make the most of them.
"It doesn't necessarily gnaw at me in a negative way," Smith added. "I think it's more, going forward, how can we turn that thing into a positive and not let things pass us by, take advantage of them now. It's not 'tomorrow.' It's not, 'We're good this year, next season we will be OK. That will be our shot.' No, it's 'right now.' It's 'today.' That's the only way to approach it."
Thielen has been reporting to Mankato for training camp for a decade combined as a Minnesota State Maverick and a Minnesota Viking.
"Mr. Mankato" spoke about how he plans to approach his last camp in his college town.* *"This will be my 10th camp here including college, so it's going to kind of be crazy not coming here," Thielen said. "I'm going to enjoy this last one. I love seeing the people that watched me throughout college and now the NFL. It's fun to see all of those people come out and say 'Hey, I watched you in college (here)'. I'm going to take advantage of it."
When Bradford was traded to the Vikings from the Eagles a few days before the 2016 season, he was tasked with learned Norv Turner's offensive scheme.
Turner left the Vikings in the middle of last season, and Bradford was tasked with receiving play calls from a familiar face in Pat Shurmur.
Bradford spoke about the differences in Turner and Shurmur's offenses and what he expects going forward.
"Just the way it's called and the verbage in the huddle, the way plays were named or the number with Norv's (offense)," Bradford said. "I think you saw last year as the season went on we got away from some of the seven-step drop stuff from under center and went to more of a quick game.
"Pat, he's obviously based in a West Coast (offense) and obviously some influence of what we did (together) in Philadelphia," Bradford added "I think it's kind of his own offense. I think this year we can be a little more balanced with the quick game and some of the deeper shots down the field."
This year marks Rudolph's seventh time reporting to Mankato for training camp.
The oldest member of the tight end room said he could remeber a time when he was the youngest.
"I remenber sitting in the back our meeting room when the rookies came into OTAs. When I got in this league I was in the front of that room and behind me heckling me and throwing stuff at me was Jim Kleinsasser, Visanthe Shaincoe and Mickey Shuler. Now I'm sitting in the back of the room and I look in front of me and I am five years older than the next closest guy. It's exciting though. I have come to terms with being the oldest guy in that room and being the leader."
View images of the second-wave of players that reported to training camp on Wednesday morning.