Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings arrived in the United Kingdom Thursday morning and by afternoon (London time) were on the football field, albeit a smaller one.
The team took an improvised, 50-yard gridiron at Syon Park, located in Brenford, just over 10 miles away from London. Zimmer said the shorter playing surface was sufficient for Minnesota's walk-through and that the facilities "are fantastic."
"We're excited to get here in London, get around the fans that we have," Zimmer said.
As the Vikings prepare to face a winless Browns squad Sunday, he said the team understands the importance of not letting a foot off the gas.
"We've prepared really hard over the past 14 weeks to be in the position that we've been in," Zimmer said. "Like I've told the players, this game is the most important game that we've played in a long time.
"We have the bye coming up after this, and we understand after last year that we need to continue to play good, because nothing's guaranteed," Zimmer continued, "and we need to win as many games as we can."
Here are three other topics Zimmer discussed from across the pond:
1. The absence of Joe Thomas
Cleveland on Sunday will be without their starting left tackle, Joe Thomas, for the first time in more than a decade. Thomas suffered a season-ending triceps injury in Week 7, halting his streak of consecutive snaps at 10,363.
The Vikings instead are likely to face Spencer Drango, a second-year lineman out of Baylor, on whom they have very little film.
"He's a physical guy. He tries to use his body on you," Zimmer said. "He was in there last week after Joe Thomas got hurt, so I'm sure that he's been studying up on Everson [Griffen] and Danielle [Hunter]. Hopefully we can do a good job with that."
2. Prepping for the Browns defense
The Browns may not yet have a win, but their defense is nothing to scoff at.
Cleveland's defense currently ranks No. 1 in the NFL in average rush yards allowed per attempt (2.96) through seven weeks. Minnesota comes in at No. 3 with 3.23 yards allowed per run play.
Zimmer said it's a strong unit on all three levels.
"They're very stout up front," Zimmer said. "They've got two first-round defensive ends, their linebackers are very active, their corners play some soft Cover 2 at times, where their eyes are all on the quarterback."
Zimmer added: "I see that they're a very physical bunch, that they're hard to run the football against, and they've got a good blitz package."
*3. 'It's what you do on Sunday' *
Just over a year ago, the Vikings sat at 5-0 heading into the bye week and then experienced a slide before ultimately finishing the season 8-8.
Zimmer believes that the 2017 team understands how quickly things can change in the NFL and understand the significance of each and every game.
"The one thing we have with this football team is that we have a lot of smart guys. A lot of guys that care, that practice hard, they do things the right way," Zimmer said. "Most of this football team [was] in this situation a year ago, and they understand that nothing is guaranteed, and it doesn't matter if people are saying how great you are or how bad you are – it's what you do on Sunday. Fortunately we've been able to overcome things so far this year, and I'm looking forward to playing on Sunday."
The Vikings held a walk-thru practice at the team hotel on Thursday, shortly after arriving in London.