EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The first day of organized team activity (OTA) practices is an exciting one for veterans and rookies alike.
But it also has special meaning for those entering their first season in Minnesota. Of the 90 players on the Vikings roster, 27 donned purple and white practice jerseys for their first time Tuesday.
A few of the newcomers said they were immediately welcomed during the offseason at Winter Park, a feeling that carried over into OTAs.
"It's a great locker room and great guys," said right tackle Andre Smith, who signed as a free agent from Cincinnati. "The leaders on this team are really good … there's a lot of camaraderie here, and for me to be a part of that has been a great transition.
"I came from a close room in Cincinnati and to come to a close locker room that close, if not closer, is great."
Cornerback Melvin White spent parts of his first three seasons of his career with Carolina before joining the Rams practice squad in September 2015. He signed with the Vikings as a free agent in January.
When White arrived at Winter Park five weeks ago for voluntary workouts, he said his new teammates' work ethic grabbed his attention.
"One thing I was impressed with is the way they work during the offseason," White said. "Don't get me wrong, every team is working in the NFL.
"But the mindset that they had from day one coming in for voluntary workouts … the intensity was at a high level."
Even the newest Viking fit right in, although he said it had more to do with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer than a new teammate.
"I really liked the way [Coach Zimmer] mentioned a blue-collar approach at the end of practice," said defensive tackle Travis Raciti, who signed with the Vikings on Monday. "I've always kind of seen myself as a blue-collar guy, so I kind of feel at home here."
Day One Splashes
Tuesday's session was the first of 10 OTA practices for the Vikings.
But the intensity was there from the get-go, even for a non-contact practice.
While both sides of the ball made their fair share of noticeable plays, here are a few highlights:
— Linebacker Audie Cole stuck with tight end David Morgan II in a one-on-one drill before stepping in front of a pass for an interception.
— Safety Harrison Smith would have recorded a sack on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with a blitz up the middle during a team drill.
— Wide receivers Jarius Wright and Cordarrelle Patterson each made tough snags while being covered closely by cornerback Trae Waynes.
— Safety Anthony Harris reached up to tip away a deep pass intended for wide receiver Isaac Fruechte along the sideline.
Andre Smith said he wasn't surprised by the amount of playmakers on the field.
"We put in the work in the weight room so of course everybody was ready to fly around and compete," he said.
View images from the first of ten OTA practices.