MANKATO, Minn. — Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings finished their final practice of the 51st training camp at Minnesota State University, Mankato on Tuesday morning just before the heavens opened for a rain storm.
Zimmer thanked the campus for being "really gracious" with the facilities and said "the fields have been in fantastic shape. We've been able to get a lot of things accomplished in a short time. We wish we could be down here a little bit longer, but I think it's been good."
The head coach and his team will be traveling to Cincinnati today, where they will have a full pads practice with the Bengals Wednesday, a session in shoulder pads Thursday and open the preseason slate Friday.
Here's a quick recap of highlights from his final camp session with the media:
Zimmer seems to constantly have a list of things for his players to improve, but he said he felt like the team accomplished quite a bit.
"There's always a lot more things you want to do, but I think we hit all of the situations that we need to hit," Zimmer said. "It's nice to have a veteran team, even though we're still young, it's nice to have a veteran team that can kind of have some recall as we go forward."
Knowing the foes
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and Defensive Coordinator George Edwards spoke of **potential benefits*** *that will come from the joint practices on Monday. Zimmer is looking forward to a significant amount of first-team vs. first-team reps in the practice sessions that will likely outnumber snaps for most starters in the game. He knows the level of talent that the Bengals have, and he wants to see the Vikings excel against the Bengals best.
"I know who their really good players are. When we're competing against those really good players, I'd like to make sure we're just as effective as against them," Zimmer said. "A.J. Green is a terrific receiver. They've got (Andy) Dalton, who does a heck of a job of getting the ball in the right place. Jeremy Hill is a good running back. Giovani Bernard is quick and fast out of the backfield and a good runner. Defensively, I pretty much know all those guys."
Competition up front too
Zimmer and Vikings coaches are still evaluating the competition between John Sullivan and Joe Berger for the starting center position. He said he's looking for "the consistency of movement and power" from Sullivan, who missed all of 2015. Practices against Cincinnati's stout interior line should help.
"Some days he's good, and some days he needs to do better, just like everybody. Everybody has good days and bad days. That's why it'll be a good test when we go to Cincinnati. We get to see him against (Domata) Peko. He's a good player, a good nose tackle. We get to see (Joe) Berger against those guys. It'll be a good test. Geno Atkins, he's down there over the guards, so that'll be good for (Brandon) Fusco, it'll be good for (Alex) Boone. He's one of the top 3-techniques in the league."
Asked if he expects the Bengals defense to be similar to what Zimmer has implemented in Minnesota after six seasons (2008-13) in Cincinnati, Zimmer said it could be "about the same" as what Teddy Bridgewater and the offense have been working against.
"It'll be really similar, I would assume," Zimmer said. "I don't know. I haven't watched them a lot this year for sure, but I know that a lot of the principles are very much the same."