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What Cold? Vikings Brave Outdoor Practice to Prep for Lambeau Field


EAGAN, Minn. — It feels like football weather.

OK, well maybe it's a bit colder than that.

But icy temperatures across the Upper Midwest will make for a frigid Border Battle between the Vikings and Packers Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

The Vikings prepared for the elements by practicing outside Thursday, deviating from their usual sessions inside Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.

View photos of Vikings players from practice on Dec. 30 at the TCO Performance Center.

Patrick Peterson summed up the hour-long practice:

"Practice was cool. It was cold, but it was cool," the veteran captain said when describing the vibe to Twin Cities media members via videoconference.

Peterson grew up in Florida, played at LSU and spent the past 10 seasons with Arizona, so cold-weather games were few and far between. The same can be said for second-year wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who lived in Louisiana until being drafted out of LSU by the Vikings.

"The field was still frozen a little bit, but I mean, it's tough just being out there and being cold, having to bundle up a little bit," Jefferson said. "It's definitely tough, especially to me. I'm from Louisiana. We don't get that cold ever, so. It's tough, but you'll get used to it and you'll suck it up."

The main point of the outdoor session, said Vikings Co-Defensive Coordinator Adam Zimmer, was to get mentally and physically ready for Sunday night.

"We practiced outside today, and we can simulate the weather a little bit here because it's been so cold the past couple days," Zimmer said. "We just go out there and, really, it's to get their footing and how it feels with the grass.

"And we have the heated turf, so it's gonna be just like the grass at Lambeau, so now we know what type of shoes we'll wear, how to keep our shoes underneath our pads so we're not slipping and just get used to those types of things," Zimmer added.

A weather report taken during Thurday's session in Eagan said the temperature was 19 degrees with a wind chill of 9 degrees.

Ezra Cleveland was in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey, while Anthony Barr also went without sleeves.

"Yeah, I mean, it's not a tough-guy act, by any means," Barr said. "Just try to continue to prepare for Sunday. I don't typically wear sleeves, so just wanted to put myself in that situation. It was pretty cold out there today."

Depending on which weather report you look at, the frosty nature Sunday night will certainly be colder than what Vikings players and coaches experienced Thursday.

Bill Huber, who covers the Packers for Sports Illustrated, provided an update on the expected temperatures. Huber wrote:

According to Pete Petoniak of Green Bay television station WLUK, the temperature for the 7:20 p.m. kickoff will be about 7 with a wind chill around minus-10. It will only get colder as the night progresses. Luke Sampe of Green Bay TV station WFRV, on the other hand, said it would be about 15 at kickoff but with a north wind between 10 and 20 mph creating a wind chill of about minus-2. The track of an incoming low-pressure system will determine how low the mercury goes.

Sounds like the options for Sunday night are cold and/or colder.

Besides dealing with the mental aspect of the temperatures, the Vikings are also preparing on how to still be able to be sharp on the field, too.

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Klint Kubiak said he'd actually prefer cold weather than the gusty conditions the teams experienced a season ago at Lambeau Field.

"Rain and wind would be way worse. But with it just being cold out there, I think we should have everything available to us," Kubiak said. "But you always have to make adjustments. We're taking that into account into our game-planning right now."

Barr said he expects a heavy dose of the ground game from both teams. For him, that means being ready to stop Green Bay's two-headed attack of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

"Obviously, from my opinion, the run game becomes a little more important, so that'll be an emphasis, I'm sure," Barr said. "From both sides of the ball for us, continue to be good in that aspect. Obviously, when the do run the ball on running downs, try to limit their running backs. Both are really good players."

Even special teams will be affected, said Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Ryan Ficken, who noted that field goal distances, kickoffs and the return game will all be impacted.

"It definitely will affect it, and the situation depends on the wind, what kind of wind we're going to have, what the elements are supposed to be," Ficken said. "I know it's supposed to be somewhat calm on Sunday, but as we all know, that can always change.

"We'll be ready for every situation and circumstance for kickoffs, fielding punts, punting and field goals, so we've got to make sure we're ready for all of those situations and have covered all of those through the meetings and practice," Ficken added.

The Vikings have mostly avoided cold-weather games during recent trips to Lambeau Field. The coldest one since Head Coach Mike Zimmer's hire in 2014 occurred in 2017, a Minnesota shutout win where the temperature at kickoff was 10 degrees with a wind chill of 0.

"The good news is that I know how long I'll be out there Sunday, for sure," Peterson said. "I'll be out there approximately four-and-a-half hours. I won't be counting down those four-and-a-half hours, but I definitely won't mind to get into the locker room after the game."


And with the Vikings potentially facing a must-win scenario against the Packers, Minnesota knows it needs to be red-hot from the start … especially in ice-cold conditions.

"Just coming off last game, seeing what we went through the first quarter, we don't ever want to come out like that," Jefferson said. "Going against Green Bay, we have to come out and be on top.

"We can't come out and be lackadaisical, just not having energy or being off. So we know what's at stake," Jefferson added. "We know we need these next two games, and we got to come out with energy and got to come out with that fire. If not, it's going to be the same results as the other games before that we lost."