MANKATO, Minn. — Rashod Hill has been with the Vikings less than nine months, but he's been thrust into a prominent role early in training camp.
The left tackle has filled in for Riley Reiff for most of the first two days of full team practice, a far cry from being on Jacksonville's practice squad for most of last season.
"Coach always tells you to be ready and that you never know when you're time will come," Hill said. "I got in there and just tried to do what I can do and help the team.
"I had a few mistakes the first day, so I'm trying to go out and correct what they told me I need to do," Hill added. "I'm going in and watching film and trying to get better."
Hill might have one of the toughest jobs on the practice field. The 25-year-old is going up against defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter.
That duo combined for 20.5 sacks in 2016.
"It's a lot faster than being with the 2s. You have to be just like that," Hill said while snapping his fingers. "Whenever I see them, I get locked in because I know you can't take off a play with them because they'll embarrass you.
"Those guys are the best in the league. They're strong, fast and smart," Hill added. "When I see them, I try to get my hands on them because I've got long arms. I try to get my hands on them before they make a move."
Hill arrived in Minnesota in mid-November from Jacksonville, and was eventually elevated to the active roster due to a rash of injuries.
The former Southern Mississippi lineman more than held his own in his first NFL action against Chicago in the season finale. Hill's play and subsequent improvement drew praise from Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman earlier this week.
"It was really important, and I thank the coaches for trusting me," Hill said. "T.J. (Clemmings) went down and I went in … they told me I was going to get some reps anyway but unfortunately [the injury] happened. It was good that I could see I could play."
Hill said he's ready to fill whatever role is needed even when Reiff returns. He knows being back with the first-team offense is only a snap away.
"You can't make too many mistakes or they could get somebody else," Hill said. "I'm trying to do everything I possibly could not to mess up, but at the same time I'm trying to get better. Nobody is perfect, but I'm trying to get better every play."
Zimmer on implementing game scenarios
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer spoke during the offseason about putting his team in live game scenarios in practice, something he did during the spring.
Zimmer has continued to test his players during training camp, as the Vikings went through a last-minute, late-game situation at the end of Friday's practice.
"(I want to) just put them in all kinds of situations," Zimmer said. "Like, today there was one – it was third down, and they asked me what I wanted to do, and I told them.
"So just get them in those situations. If it happens in a game, then we've already been through it. All kinds of different scenarios," Zimmer added.
Zimmer noted the scenarios also keep his coaches on edge, as they have to be able to think on the fly as well.
"You could choreograph it out, and then you know the result," Zimmer said. "But they don't get a first down, they do get a first down; they don't use a timeout, they do use a timeout. Do you clock the ball? You just play it out and see how it goes.
"Then everybody has to think on the run," Zimmer added. "I just let it play out. I've got a big list of things that I did all throughout the summer of situations that I took off of game tapes from all over the league. I just pick one out a day and play it. We just play the game."
Morgan ready for physicality of pads
Count David Morgan in as a guy who's looking forward to the Vikings first full-padded practice.
Minnesota has practiced in helmets and shorts in the spring and so far in camp, but that will change Saturday when they done full gear.
Morgan, in his second year out of the University of Texas San Antonio, is ready for the physicality.
"Oh yeah," Morgan said with a smile. "It's the first day of pads and everyone is excited. It's going to be a good day to get out there and go knock some people around."
A Crane sighting
The tallest player in the Vikings secondary has a new nickname.
"[Andrew] Sendejo and Harry (Harrison Smith), they came up with calling me the Crane," said safety Jayron Kearse, who is 6-foot-4.
Kearse is in his second season out of Clemson and made one start for Minnesota in 2016.* *