The Vikings on Wednesday arrived in Mankato for check-in day at 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. Check-in day at training camp marks the beginning of a new season and is defined by anticipation. But before the Vikings took a big step toward 2014, several members of the team addressed a situation that unfolded over the offseason.
Vikings GM Rick Spielman, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer spoke with media members from the podium just outside of the team's dorm on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, addressing the three-game suspension the team imposed on Mike Priefer stemming from an investigative report that was released earlier in July.
1500espn.com's Andrew Krammer writes that the rhetoric from those who addressed the issue on Thursday had "a focus on retribution and moving on." Krammer also quoted Spielman as he detailed the suspension.
"That suspension will start Monday before the St. Louis game and will end Monday after the New Orleans game," Krammer quotes Spielman as saying. "He will be asked to take sensitivity training classes. We will set up an outside firm for that sensitivity training. This firm does nothing but sensitivity training. Once that is complete, our ownership will review everything and then determine whether that three-game suspension will come down to a two-game suspension."
At the end of the day, the Vikings stand ready to learn and improve from the situation and also ready to support Priefer going forward.
"Honestly, I want to stand behind him because I know what is inside of him," Zimmer said. "I know what's in his heart. And he made a mistake, and if anyone here hasn't made a mistake, I want you to raise your hand, because I know I've made plenty. And I think this guy is a very high-character, quality person that I want to stand behind."
The Vikings enter 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp set to hold an open competition for the starting quarterback job. Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder started to bulk of the Vikings game in 2013 and they both return for this year's camp, but they are joined by first-round rookie Teddy Bridgewater, as well, and that sets the stage for a competition that will be interesting to watch over the next several weeks. Fans are certainly anxious to see who wins this battle and winds up starting Week 1 in St. Louis. But fans aren't the only ones anxious to see the resolution. The Star Tribune's Mark Craig wrote on Thursday that one of the team's best players, Adrian Peterson, seems anxious to see the team choose a starter.
"I feel like it's going to be very important for us," Peterson said. "I feel like we have three good quarterbacks right now. Basing everything off OTAs and the minicamps, of course Matt Cassel is our guy, with Christian Ponder and Bridgewater right there. I have confidence in our organization from the top to the bottom, the head coach."
The Wilf's admiration for Bill Parcells is no secret and neither is Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer's relationship with the Hall of Fame coach. The Star Tribune's Sid Hartman featured Zimmer and Parcells relationship recently in his well-known column.
Hartman details how Parcells recently reached out to Zimmer to give him a few pointers as he enters his first training camp as a head coach. The two coached together in Dallas and have had a close bond ever since.
"I learned a lot about football from him, a lot about life," Zimmer said. "He really taught me a lot of things about being a head coach. Every day [in Dallas] he would walk into my office and say, 'Write this down. When you're a head coach remember this.' I really respect him."
While Zimmer is set to embark down an unfamiliar path, he will lean on a pretty good mentor for advice, a mentor who has some hardware in the trophy case. Zimmer, whose coaching style has been compared to the Super Bowl-winning coach, is hoping to get a little more hardware as the lead dog.
With training camp right around the corner, most NFL coaches and players take upwards of a month of vacation to relax their bodies and minds. Coach Zimmer is no different.
St. Paul Pioneer Press report Brian Murphy profiles Zimmer's mindset while taking time off and enjoying family time and spending quiet time on his ranch in Kentucky. One thing, though, that never left his mind was football.
"For the last three weeks I was having a dream about football. Last couple of nights I haven't been able to sleep much," Zimmer said. "I'd get up in the middle of the night and, OK, this day we've got to make sure we're doing a little more tackling or we do a little bit of this. I'm into it pretty good right now."
It makes total sense for a first time head coach to be 100 percent locked in. One thing is for sure, It will be fun to watch Zimmer in his natural habitat on the practice fields at Minnesota State University the next three weeks.
Zimmer intimated on Thursday that more injury updates would be available on Friday, but the Star Tribune's Master Tesfatsion tried to get a jump on that topic.
"Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph and left tackle Matt Kalil weren't full participants over the past three months, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he expects both ready for the first practice on Friday pending a conditioning test on Thursday," Tesfatsion wrote.
Tesfatsion also noted that tight end Chase Ford disclosed he had a procedure done to fix a foot injury and may not be available for the start of training camp.
"It's a setback but everything happens for a reason," Ford said. "Just got to keep the faith and keep going strong. Ain't nothing you can do about it. What's the point of getting worked up about something that you can't control."
Again, the official injury update will likely be given by Zimmer at some point on Friday.
- The Minnesota Vikings set up a photo booth in the dorms to lighten the mood during check-in day.
- Brian Murphy takes a look at the Vikings second year playmaker and his entrance during the check-in day Julia Sears Residence Hall.
- The Vikings also had an unexpected wakeup call at 1:30 a.m. when the fire alarm went off at the dorms.