EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have their first preseason game Friday night, but Vikings coaches will have their eyes less on the Saints and more on their own players.
Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski spoke to media members Tuesday and said that this week isn't about game-planning for New Orleans.
"We are very much in training camp mode still, and we're really looking forward to another great day of work versus our defense," Stefanski said.
The Vikings have been getting ample practice time over the past two weeks at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, but a preseason game offers an entirely different stage and opportunity for evaluation.
While the final score may not count, performances very much do.
"They're out here on the practice field, and there's coaches behind them, helping them get lined up, so we're looking forward to being in a game setting where they get to go out and play," Stefanski explained. "And we're really looking for their technique to stay true to what we've been coaching them.
"Sometimes when you get out in a game setting, whether it's under the lights [at night practice] or down in New Orleans, guys will tend to go off the reservation, so to speak," he continued. "So we're just looking for those guys to play with the technique that they've been coached."
Stefanski pointed out that he and the other Vikings coaches have already been preparing for that scenario by spending less time in the players' ears during team drills.
He said the goal is always to simulate as close to a game environment as possible before the real thing.
"It's like anything else – you try, and then you get into a game and it's under the lights, and it's a different feel. I think the guys are looking forward to that part of it," Stefanski said. "I think we as a staff are looking forward to evaluating the guys under those circumstances and those conditions, and we'll see Friday night."
For the team's 23 rookies, Thursday-into-Friday will mark their first NFL road trip.
Not only will the travel experience provide guys with another chance to jell as a team, but Stefanski will also get a trial run at the coaches' side of the schedule.
"For us as a new offensive staff, we get to talk about how we want to structure meetings on the road, how we want to structure pregame warmups, those types of things," Stefanski said. "It's a dress rehearsal in that regard, and I think we're getting closer to putting our best foot forward.
Quote of the Day
"At the end of the day, we're all going to get better. You can't keep everybody, but it's going to set everyone up for success down the road, whether it's here or somewhere else."
– Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe on young receivers in training camp
Vikings fan Chase Guercio took to Twitter Tuesday morning and posted a photo from the day before, when receiver Stefon Diggs stopped by following practice for a selfie.
The Vikings hosted a group from Ventures Travel after Tuesday morning's walk-through, and several players stopped by to sign autographs and speak with fans.
Based in Plymouth, Ventures Travel has specialized in supervised travel and vacations for people with disabilities for more than 25 years.