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Notebook: Vikings Shed Pads, Push Run Game

MANKATO, Minn. —The Vikings did quite a bit of work on the run game during Friday's practice, and Jerick McKinnon was back in the mix for a second straight day.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer opted to forgo full pads on Friday after two consecutive days of full pads and six in a seven-day span. Zimmer told beat writers he thought players had "been hitting pretty good" but were "dragging a little bit."

Players didn't appear to be timid even when the Vikings focused on running the football on early downs.

McKinnon was glad to rejoin the likes of Dalvin Cook, Bishop Sankey, Terrell Newby and follow lead blocks by C.J. Ham, a running back who spent most of last year on the practice squad and is taking more reps at fullback this season.* *

"It's just all about getting healthy," McKinnon said after Friday's walk-through practice. "I got through practice yesterday, so that was real good. From there, it's just about the reps. That's what it's going to be about – the reps and competing. So I'm happy that I got through yesterday, and it's another day to get better today."

McKinnon said Vikings players have noticed news from across the NFL regarding the first wave of camp injuries, including some that have claimed players' seasons.

"Actually, I don't know if it was yesterday or the day before, but we went into the cafeteria, and there's already guys [on other teams] out for the season," McKinnon said. "It's a crucial time to take care of your body and make sure you have it going into the season.

"Obviously in the preseason you want those reps, those looks … before you get to the first game," McKinnon said. "But like coaches said, number one is availability. If you're not available, there's nothing you can do to help the team. So that's what it's all about – making sure you're healthy and that everything's good to go before Week 1."

The Vikings are scheduled to open their preseason slate against the Bills in Buffalo at 6 p.m. (CT) next Thursday.

Minnesota's first taste of under-the-lights action in 2017 will be Saturday night's practice at Blakeslee Stadium. Team intros and fireworks will follow.

Treadwell encouraged, enlightened

Laquon Treadwell remained sidelined on Friday, working his way back from an undisclosed injury. While he wants to be out on the field, Treadwell has drawn on a strong start to his second training camp and lessons from teammates, including veteran Adam Thielen.

"No, there's no reason to be frustrated," Treadwell said. "I see the production, I see the growth in my game, and the knowledge of the game, so I really don't have any stresses right now," Treadwell said. "I'm just ready to play, and I'm enjoying it all right now."

Asked about what he's learned from Floyd, Treadwell said, "I've picked the brain, watched the film. I mean, I think we're all learning something from him.

"He's a wise vet, and he was over there [in Arizona] with Larry Fitz' (Fitzgerald), and from what he's showing us from practice and what he does different from any other receiver on the team, you can tell he's been around some other great receivers," Treadwell said. "He just plays the game different. He sets up his route differently, and we're all learning from each other."

Throw every flag

Zimmer is a firm believer in practices that are overseen by officials. He wants every rep to be called like it is likely to be in games so that defenders understand how calls like pass interference and illegal contact will be called.

Zimmer told beat writers that he encourages officials to not be shy about throwing flags, even if players sometimes chirp in protest.

"Oh, yeah. I tell them to throw the flag and call everything they way they would in a game," Zimmer said. "It's great for us to have these guys here. I can see a penalty or something and talk to them, but it's not the same thing as having a yellow flag on them."

View images from the Verizon Vikings Training Camp practice on Friday, August 4.

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