EAGAN, Minn. — A familiar yet special sound permeated the practice fields Wednesday afternoon at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
The SKOL Chant is back thanks to enthusiastic and energetic Vikings fans who made their return to U.S. Bank Vikings Training Camp for the first time since 2019.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins said before Wednesday's full-team practice that he was "thrilled" to see fans and is looking forward to the juice they bring.
"It adds to the energy of practice, having fans here," Cousins said. "We just broke our quarterback meeting and we talked about how people are giving up vacation time to come watch us practice.
"That sums it up right there," Cousins said. "Honestly, it makes coming out to practice on a 95-degree day feel like a privilege when you realize that's what fans are doing."
View photos of Vikings players from 2021 U.S. Bank Vikings Training Camp practice at the TCO Performance Center.
Fans were not permitted to attend training camp practices or home games at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But they arrived early Wednesday, with some settling into their seats more than an hour before practice began.
And there was a noticeable and happy cheer when offensive players lined up near the Purple bleachers for stretches as practice began.
"I'm excited about the fans coming out here, finally, to see us in training camp here at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center," Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said Tuesday. "Our fans haven't seen our players in more than a year. This gives them an opportunity … to come in … see our star players, to see all the new faces that we have on this roster.
"It's going to be a very competitive roster – to see that competition going day-in and day-out and to re-engage with our fans and our players [is great]," Spielman added.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook said: "They're anxious to watch some football in-person. It's been a year off, and last year was a roller-coaster year, so to have them back and for them to be back, I know it's going to be fun for them."
Tickets for various practices at U.S. Bank Vikings Training Camp can be found here, including for joint practices on Aug. 11 and 12 with the Broncos.
Fans can also get inside U.S. Bank Stadium for the first-ever team scrimmage at the venue on Aug. 7. And while that atmosphere won't mimic a full game day, players and coaches can't wait for the stadium to be packed for Week 3 against Seattle.
"We're going to make it as exciting as we can and try to win as many football games as we can and have [U.S. Bank Stadium] as loud as we can have it," Cook said. "All the fans, let's go."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer added: "It'll be great to get them back, get them back in U.S. Bank Stadium where we have a distinct advantage with our crowd and our fans."
Wednesday's practice ended with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith, Jr., and Ihmir Smith-Marsette throwing autographed mini footballs to fans in the stands.
Fans yelled and cheered in excitement, which is only a preview of things to come.
"Man, I think the fans will be super loud this year," Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "Like, obnoxiously loud and help the defense, especially.
"Last year, we were missing that link for sure, and I'm excited to bring that aspect back to the game," Kendricks added.