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Zimmer Rewards Vikings, Cancels Final Minicamp Practice

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — At first, some members of the Vikings thought Head Coach Mike Zimmer said, "Go practice."

Turns out he said, "No practice."

Zimmer canceled the Vikings third and final minicamp practice Thursday, rewarding his team for the months of hard work they've put into this point.

"They're dedicated to being a good football team and they didn't believe me at first," Zimmer said. "A bunch of them said, 'Did he say go practice or no practice?'

"So, they just sat up there for a little while. They weren't sure," he added. "They thought it was a joke or a trick, but I felt like I've seen what I needed to see."

While some players thought Zimmer was kidding, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he had an inkling practice was about to get scrapped once Zimmer started praising the team for their work ethic.

"I was ready to go out there and make some plays today," Munnerlyn said. "But at the same time, your body needs a little rest.

"We didn't know how to take it at first," he added. "We still stayed in the locker room and guys were looking at each other like, 'What are we going to do now?'"

The Vikings held 12 practices this offseason, 10 during the organized team activity (OTA) period and two this week during minicamp. 

Zimmer said he had seen more than enough positive practices to warrant a day off.

"This team works their rear ends off," Zimmer said. "They work real hard. They study. I like their attention to detail. 

"I like the way they go about their work and I felt like I've seen enough things that I need to see this time of the year," he added.

The Vikings now have five weeks off before starting training camp in Mankato on July 28.

Loud and clear

Although Zimmer opted to give the players Wednesday off, he still had a message for them for their time away from Winter Park.

"This time of year I expect them to be smart," Zimmer said. "You know a lot of bad things happen off the field this time of the year and to be smart.

"I don't want to get any phone calls about anything," he added. "We have a chance to be a good football team if we continue to work."

Zimmer said each player met with their position coaches and some players met directly with him to lay out a training program during the five weeks before camp.

Defensive end Everson Griffen said he planned on taking three or four days off before getting back to work.

"The best thing we can do is get our bodies in tip top shape and our minds in tip top shape and be ready to grind (at training camp)," Griffen said. "The harder you grind now, the more rewards you're going to get at the end." 

Griffen later expanded on his expectations for the 2016 season.

"Our mission is to do something that's never been done around here before and that's win a championship," he said.

Griffen's thoughts were then echoed by Munnerlyn, who said he also plans on putting in extra work before training camp.

"Stay in shape and get ready for the season," Munnerlyn said. "I've got to stay on my game and be prepared to come back and win the Super Bowl."

Summer bragging rights

One of the most anticipated moments of each practice is the rock-paper-scissors showdown between quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

The two usually play right before team drills begin, with both the winner and loser having an animated reaction.

The stakes were never higher than Thursday, when the duo squared off in a best-of-three clash in the Vikings locker room.

Both players were pumped up by fellow teammates, but it was Bridgewater who had the upper hand, winning the first two encounters to take the showdown.

Bridgewater grabbed an early lead with rock over scissors, causing the quarterback to shout out, "That's one!"

The two then drew even with scissors, rock and scissors before Bridgewater claimed the title (and summer bragging rights) by winning with rock over scissors again.

Bridgewater claimed, "It's over!" before breaking into a celebratory dance.

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