EAGAN, Minn. — The countdown is on, as the Vikings are a little more than 48 hours away from Friday's preseason opener against New Orleans.
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who has had his players' interests in mind with practices and scheduling so far in training camp, said the team will go through the next two days as if preparing for a regular-season game.
Zimmer said Wednesday morning that the Vikings will ditch full pads and practice in shells and shorts in the afternoon, which is along the lines of a regular-season Friday practice before a Sunday game.
"A little lighter practice today, a walk-through tomorrow and then we'll head to New Orleans for the game," Zimmer said. "It should be a good contest for us. They're a very good football team, excellent on defense.
"Obviously, we know some of the guys on their offense, so that it will be fun to play them," Zimmer added. "It should be a fun atmosphere."
As Zimmer alluded to, there will be plenty of familiar faces on the opposing sideline as the Saints have five former Vikings on their roster who played for Zimmer: Teddy Bridgewater, Nick Easton, Zach Line, Latavius Murray and Marcus Sherels. Saints linebacker Darnell Sankey spent part of the 2017 preseason with Minnesota, too.
Zimmer revealed that he recently chatted with Saints Head Coach Sean Payton about the crossover between the teams, which also gave him a chance to catch up his with old coaching colleague.
Zimmer and Payton worked together in Dallas from 2003-05 under Bill Parcells when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and Payton called offensive plays as the assistant head coach/quarterbacks and assistant head coach/passing game coordinator.
"Sean and I worked together. My kids babysat his kids," Zimmer said as he reminisced. "We actually talked a lot about our kids and families.
"And I asked him about Latavius and Teddy and Nick Easton, Marcus … we talk different things," Zimmer added. "Sean likes to talk anyway, so we talked about what they've been doing in training camp and what I've been doing in training camp."
Friday's contest will be the first preseason game for both teams, who have become quite familiar with one another in recent years.
The pair opened the 2017 season on ESPN's Monday Night Football as Minnesota came away with a 29-24 win.
That set the stage for the "Minneapolis Miracle" in January of 2018, which came in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
New Orleans then got the best of the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 8 of the 2018 season in a 30-20 Vikings loss.
Zimmer said he has a plan for his starting offense and defense, but noted he will likely hold "one or two" veteran guys out against the Saints.
"We've kind of set the playing time. It won't be a whole lot, but what I want them to do is be efficient," Zimmer said. "Just go out there, do the things that we've been doing and practicing.
"[The offense will] get some different looks defensively, and that's just how it goes," Zimmer added. "It's all about executing the techniques that we've been working on and then being able to adjust over the course of the game because that's what regular-season games are."
View photos of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Vikings Ring of Honor member, Alan Page, who celebrates his birthday on August 7.
Quote of the Day
"We've been hitting each other for a long time now. It's nice to go against an opponent and show that all of this work is paying off."
— Vikings rookie tight end Irv Smith, Jr., on the preseason opener in New Orleans.
Sibling rivalries are alive and well.
Vikings wide receiver Brandon Zylstra got to hang out with his younger brother, Shane, after practice earlier this week.
Shane Zylstra, a wide receiver for Minnesota State University, Mankato, had 66 catches for 1,261 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2018.
Naturally, the older brother took to social media to for some playful banter.