LONDON — The Vikings traded Winter Park for Syon Park on Thursday afternoon, as they held their first practice in London in preparation for Sunday's game against Cleveland.
The cows grazing nearby set a different scene than the practice fields in the Twin Cities.
So, too, did a majestic 16th-century castle that served as the backdrop as the Vikings held a walk-through on an improvised 50-yard field for approximately 90 minutes as a light mist fell from the sky.
Players marveled at the building as planes flew overheard during practice.
"I thought it was pretty cool," said Vikings running back Latavius Murray. "I practiced next to a farm back home in Syracuse [in high school], so I think it's pretty cool to see anytime you get different scenery. I'm sure some guys haven't seen it before.
"I'm sure not a lot of guys have seen this kind of architecture," Murray later added. "This is my second time being here in London, so I love it. It shows you a little bit of different culture."
The Vikings are staying on the Syon Park grounds and practiced on an open field next to the Syon House, which is more than 400 years old. Syon Park is known for hosting weddings and events. The grounds feature 40 acres of gardens.
Hello from London!#Vikings practiced today at this sweet castle that is hundreds of years old.
— Eric Smith (@EricLSmith) October 26, 2017
The Syon House is the home to Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland. The house has been in Percy's family for 400 years.
"I've never seen anything like that. I'm not going to lie," Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon said of the castle. "I've seen houses and townhouses and stuff like that so it's neat. It's different architecture, so I'm still getting used to it."
The Vikings hit the field about five hours after landing in London and are scheduled to have a more full-fledged practice Friday.
Players said they welcomed the chance to stretch their legs and move around while getting adjusted to the time change. London time is six hours ahead of Minneapolis.
"I got a lot of sleep, so it wasn't hard to adjust and get back out there," Murray said. "I was a little tired when I got off the plane, but I think we're doing a good job of everybody locking in and knowing what we're here for."
While the sights and sounds may have been different, players and coaches are focused on the task at hand.
The 5-2 Vikings sit at first place in the NFC North and are looking to get win No. 6 before their bye next weekend.
McKinnon said the Vikings sole focus is on the 0-7 Browns, who have lost four separate games by three points.
"The energy was good," McKinnon said. "Everybody was on the same page on the first day, coming off the plane. Everybody is happy to be out here and getting ready for the game."
Added Murray: "You can't overlook any team in the NFL, regardless of their record. We know we're going to get their best, just like we do with any team any other week, so just don't overlook them and play the way we know how to play."
The Vikings held a walk-thru practice at the team hotel on Thursday, shortly after arriving in London.