EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. –The Vikings are flying out later in the day than they typically would for an away contest, but Head Coach Mike Zimmer has a strategy.
After all, it's not just any road game.
The team held a morning practice on Wednesday and will spend the day at Winter Park before heading to the airport for an overnight flight to London.
Zimmer has never been to London but made sure to do his homework.
"We're going to try something a little bit different than most of the other teams, and I'll either look smart or I'll look dumb," Zimmer told media members after Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Players were at the practice facility Monday before their typical day off Tuesday.
"[And] and then morning practice on Wednesday, and then we'll leave that night and then get there Thursday and have a Thursday practice when we get [to London]," Zimmer explained. "We've had sleep people come talk to us; you know, we're getting the whole gamut. I was looking into all the scientific things for this."
Zimmer added during his podium session on Monday, however:
"I looked at who won, who lost, the different things. [But you] go over there, and whoever plays best usually wins."
The team is trying to treat the overseas matchup against Cleveland like any normal game. A number of players emphasized that the four-day stay across the pond won't be about sightseeing.
Adam Thielen was part of Minnesota's practice squad when the team last traveled to London in 2013. That time around, the Vikings were considered the "home" team against the Steelers and arrived in the city nearly an entire week before game day.
The schedule this time around allows for less off-field activity.
"I'm just worried about the football game, honestly," Thielen said. "The last time we went over there we were able to explore and do things like that. This time, we'll probably just focus on football. We're not over there for very long, but I'm excited for the atmosphere. I'm excited to bring it to a different country and hopefully keep expanding this game."
Jarius Wright, who had one catch for six yards at Wembley Stadium four years ago, said it's important to maintain at least a similar routine to a typical work week.
"We'll still get our practices in, so it's all about working it like a regular schedule," Wright said. "Basically, it's about getting our sleeping plans down with the time difference over there."
Coaches, players and staff members have received specific instructions and tips from Sleep Number to combat jet lag that can set in when crossing six different time zones. Advice includes avoiding caffeine during the flight, wearing blue-blocker glasses for screen viewing prior to sleep and keeping consistent bed and meal times.
"I think sleep schedule, making sure you're getting good sleep and doing the things that the trainers are helping us with, as far as getting on the right schedule [is important]," Thielen said. "Any time you travel, [even] to Chicago, even though it's a short trip, you still feel the effects of traveling on a plane. When it's a longer flight, you're still going to have to recover fast from it and do the things you need to do."
While Wright and Thielen are making return trips to London, right tackle Mike Remmers has never been to the historical city.
He's looking forward to the experience but also is focused on preparing well beforehand and keeping his eyes on the game. Kickoff Sunday is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. London time which, due to daylight savings time ending in England, converts to 8:30 a.m. (CT).
"They told us what it's going to be like. It's an early game," Remmers said. "[Last] Sunday I was eating breakfast at 8:30 in the morning, but [this] week we're going to be kicking off at that time. It's different, but I think we've got a good plan to sleep as much as we can, especially on the flight out there.
"I'm trying not to worry about it too much and just concentrate on the Browns," Remmers added.