It's official: 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp is underway. Head Coach Mike Zimmer conducted his first training camp practice with the Vikings, and everything seemed to go off without a hitch. The team had nearly ideal weather conditions – moderate temperatures for this time of year, nearly full cloud cover, and only a slight breeze.
View images from practice No. 1 of 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp which took place on Friday, July 25.
The Vikings worked for roughly two hours on the beautifully maintained outdoor practice fields on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. As Zimmer mentioned in his press conference on Friday morning following the walk-through, the first few practices of training camp will be more like Organized Team Activities than actual training camp practices, but it was still a great beginning to camp for the Purple.
Here are a few highlights from Practice No. 1…
First team offense handles blitz period wellThe coaching staff wasted no time getting after it on the field, holding a blitz period on the first day of practice. The quarterback is off limits, the team isn't in full pads and there are contact restrictions, so it's not exactly a fair and thorough evaluation, but coaches can still glean quite a bit from their players in terms of how well they understand assignments and learn from mistakes.
The offense was solid in this period, with Matt Cassel completing four of his five passes versus the blitz and with all four of them good for would-be 1st downs. In fairness, the fourth completion may have been precluded by a sack given the reaction of the defensive coaches, but Cassel did get the throw off and it was caught by Jarius Wright for a 1st down.
The defense bounced back a bit when the second teams squared off. Defensive end Justin Trattou batted a pass down and rookie cornerback Jabari Price also had a pass breakup (PBU).
Executing situational footballEarly in practice, Zimmer set the stage for a situational football period in which the offense was faced with a 4th-and-1 situation while in field goal range and trailing by three. The first teams had three snaps versus each other, with Cassel using a hard count to try and draw the defense offsides. The defense didn't budge, then Cassel fumbled a snap on a quarterback keeper on the second snap, and the third snap was also a keeper but netted a 1st down. The second team, with Teddy Bridgewater under center, also used a hard count unsuccessfully on the first snap and then executed a keeper on the second snap for a 1st down.
The punt return rotationThis is not breaking news and it should be taken with a grain of salt because it's only the first practice, but the punt return rotation for Practice No. 1 included Kain Coulter, Eric Lora, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, Adam Thielen and Jarius Wright.
Thielen makes catch of the dayIt's almost like clockwork – Adam Thielen makes some kind of "wow" catch every practice. He did so once again on Friday, even eliciting praise from some of his defensive teammates. The play came in one of the final periods of practice and the pass came from Bridgewater. Thielen dove and was completely outstretched when he made the catch, and in going to the ground he was not touched by a defender. He regained his feet and finished the play by sprinting down the middle of the field while the crowd cheered him on.
Linebacker Chad Greenway, who was not on the field for the play, yelled "No one's surprised!" while on one knee on the sideline.
Be our guestSeveral special guests were on-hand to take in the first practice of camp, including FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, former Vikings long snapper Mike Morris and Brandon Fusco's parents. Tomorrow is Fusco's 26th birthday.