EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It was no surprise when Alex Boone agreed to be mic'd up for the Vikings first organized team activity (OTA) practice of the offseason on Tuesday morning.
Boone, one of the most vocal and colorful characters on the team, didn't disappoint. He brought energy and passion to the approximately 90-minute session and even started practice by giving a quick hug to new offensive line coach Tony Sparano.
Boone, who signed as a free agent from San Francisco in March, has been the first-team left guard in each of Minnesota's three OTA practices.
"It's always good to be back out here with football," Boone said. "I'm having fun with the guys.
"It's about working on technique trying to get better," he added. "We're using the OTAs to our advantage."
When Boone was wired for sound, he spent a portion of practice helping rookie guard Willie Beavers, a fourth-round pick out of Western Michigan.
Boone instructed Beavers of where to put his hands during blocking techniques and encouraged him to be more explosive at the point of attack.
"Of course, especially with a young guy like Willie," Boone said. "He's coming from college and things are different with new experiences.
"Anything I can do to help him," he added. "Him getting better is better for the team."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked about how Boone has looked so far when he appeared on ESPN's NFL Live on Thursday afternoon.
"Part of the reason we brought him in is because of the mentality that he has," Zimmer said. "The physical nature, he's got great size and great length.
"We're hoping he can shore up some of the middle of the offensive line," he added. "In general, that will help with our running game with Adrian (Peterson) and with our protection in the passing game."
Zimmer likes Vikings work ethic
Zimmer was asked about a variety of topics when he went on ESPN, one of which was how his team will respond following a season in which the Vikings captured the NFC North title.
The third-year head coach said his players haven't rested on their laurels and are grinding away each day to make this season even better than 2015.
"We realized we had a pretty good team and were able to win the division and make the playoffs and all of that stuff, but there's still a lot more for us out there," Zimmer said. "I think they believe in the things we're doing here as an organization, they believe in the locker room.
"I remind them that good is the enemy of great," he added. "We have to continue to push in order for us to be great. And I think this team wants to be great."
Peterson "looks quicker"
Zimmer also chatted about Peterson, who recently said he can see himself playing until he's 40 years old.
The 31-year-old running back led the NFL in rushing last season with 1,485 yards, but Zimmer said he showed up to offseason workouts in tip-top shape.
"I don't know about 40, but he looks quicker to me right now," Zimmer said. "I think he's leaned up a little bit so far this offseason … he's been explosive in and out of his cuts.
"I know he's excited about the season and the changes we've made on the offensive line," he added.
Thursday's top plays
Perhaps the most exciting portion of Thursday's OTA practice was when the offense was thrown into a hurry-up situation.
Both the first-team and second-team offenses had 45 seconds and one timeout to drive roughly 30 yards, but it was the Vikings defense which succeeded.
Minnesota's first unit forced the offense to stall before the second-team defense ended the drive when cornerback Trae Waynes recorded a diving interception off quarterback Shaun Hill.
Here are some other highlights from Thursday's practice:
— Rookie wide receiver Moritz Böhringer had a solid catch in traffic early on in team drills.
— Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected with wide receiver Charles Johnson for a 35-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Bridgewater had a nice touch on the ball and put it only where Johnson could snag it.
— Bridgewater later lofted a perfect pass down the middle to wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a big gain.
— Cornerback Marcus Sherels flew in to swat away a pass up the seam for Böhringer in full team drills.
— Defensive tackle Toby Johnson knocked down a Shaun Hill pass at the line of scrimmage.
— Cornerback Xavier Rhodes and linebacker Chad Greenway each picked off Bridgewater during red zone drills near the end zone.