MANKATO, Minn. — Fans have enjoyed the sights of Verizon Vikings Training Camp this week, but today the sounds could command more attention.
The team is scheduled to hold its first fully padded practice of 2017 from 2:45 to 5:10 p.m.
Pads popping will resound through the air, signifying that the return of football season is another step closer.
Players at multiple position groups will be able to escalate their levels of physicality. Forces will collide on the line of scrimmage, running backs will be challenged with picking up blitzing linebackers, and cornerbacks will be able to execute bump-and-run coverages against receivers.
"That's what we've been waiting for," said defensive end Danielle Hunter, who said the most fun part about pads going on is, "Just going out there and knocking people around."
Hunter has had a strong camp so far, showing quick bursts at the line of scrimmage for would-be sacks before pulling up and avoiding contact with quarterback Sam Bradford.
The third-year pro who recorded a team-best 12.5 sacks last season said the intensity will ramp up on the first rep.
"You've just got to bring it from the get-go," Hunter said. "That's all football is. It's a high-performance sport, so you've just got to bring it every play."
Right tackle Mike Remmers, who was signed this offseason after spending the past three seasons with the Panthers, has worked against Hunter the past couple of days and throughout the offseason program. Remmers knows the challenge ahead.
"He's a really good defensive end, so I'm having a lot of fun with it," Remmers said. "It's definitely going to make me a better player, going up against him every day.
"He's got a little bit of everything, and he's really good at them all," Remmers added. "You've got to be ready for whatever he brings."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Remmers is "very diligent in his preparation, gives you a lot of different looks and different changeups in the passing game."
Zimmer is looking forward to having padded practices as another assessment tool, even though the biggest difference is with offensive and defensive linemen.
"The DBs, it is pretty much the same thing," Zimmer said. "When guys are pushing against you a little bit more physically, I think that's the biggest thing. You can evaluate those guys a lot more. The other thing is, some guys don't run as fast when they're in pads versus when they're in shorts, too. Some guys run just as well, and so it's all of those kinds of things."
Although pads are sure to pop, Zimmer said he doesn't plan to have the Vikings do much tackling during camp. Instead, he wants to see multiple defenders getting to the football.
"We're not going to do a whole bunch of it, we'll get plenty of it in the preseason games," Zimmer said. "It's about being in the right position mostly and really the second part of it is, on defense, if you got guys running to the ball, the second guy will usually get there. That's been a big emphasis for us."