MANKATO, Minn. — Tonight will be the first time under the lights for the 2016 Vikings, a team that currently has four prime-time games on its regular-season schedule.
It's an annual tradition at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer expects "a pretty crisp practice."
"I think the players get a little bit excited getting underneath the lights," Zimmer said during his session with the media on Saturday. "It's different, you get a routine out here being here at 2:45. Now they get a little time to rest up this afternoon, and we should have a large crowd out there; and they have the day off tomorrow. I anticipate it'll be a pretty crisp practice."
Zimmer said the structure of the practice, which is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m., will be similar to previous years.
"We have 'move the ball,' we have a goal-line session," Zimmer said. "We've got a couple two-point plays. We've got a team period. I think we have a red zone 7-on-7. Off the top of my head, we've got about 20 of those things I'm trying to remember."
Here are three other topics Zimmer covered:
Expected amount of contact next week
The first rule of Vikings padded practices is don't hit the quarterbacks. It is accompanied by an unwritten rule regarding the amount of permissible contact doled Adrian Peterson's direction. There have been a couple of pad pops between the three-time NFL rushing champ and defenders, but both parties have pulled up from what they'd dole out in a game.
With the Vikings set to have a full-pads practice against the Bengals next Wednesday and another session in shoulder pads on Thursday, Zimmer was asked about trying to manage the amount of contact Peterson receivers.
"We're thudding him pretty good right now. I think it'll be the same way," Zimmer said. [Bengals Head Coach] Marvin (Lewis) and I talked a little bit last night about some of those things and making sure we're all on the same page when we go do stuff. I know all those guys."
The more you can do
Zimmer was asked several questions about the **status** of Brandon Fusco, as well as Nick Easton's ability to play all three positions on the interior line. The coach said Berger's versatility is highly valuable on game days when teams are limited to dressing 46 players (they often go with five starters on the offensive line, an interior swing player and a swing tackle).
Berger spent time with three different teams in his first five seasons, but has found a home in Minnesota since 2011.
"A lot of times, guys bounce around from team to team and end up getting in the right system, and it works out that way. He's definitely one of those guys," Zimmer said. "You get to dress 46 guys on game day, but that's one of the lines I use all the time: 'The more you can do.' "
Progress report on rookies
First-round pick Laquon Treadwell and second-round pick Mackensie Alexander have been in on the action a considerable amount, mostly during second-team reps. Zimmer provided thoughts on the progress of the receiver and cornerback.
"I think [Treadwell has come] to camp in much better shape. He's an extremely hard worker. He continues to get better, and he wants to be really good. Good so far."
Zimmer enjoys working with young defensive backs. It's how he started his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1994. He's spent time peering at Alexander during camp and working on "everything, really."
"Sometimes he doesn't line up in the right place, sometimes it's reminding him specific technique on that play; it's really everything," Zimmer said. "With all the young guys, it's pretty much the same."