An overflow crowd packed Blakeslee Stadium on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato to watch the Vikings conduct a spirited 2.5-hour practice on Saturday night. The unofficial estimate is that Saturday night’s crowd was the largest-ever for a Vikings Saturday night training camp practice.
Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier addressed the crowd immediately after the practice and thanked the fans for their support. Frazier also met with the media after practice and reiterated how much he values the tremendous fan support the Vikings receive in Mankato.
Frazier also said he was pleased with the tempo of practice and is encouraged by the fact that the team is getting a little bit better each day. As is typically the case this early in training camp, the defense is ahead of the offense, which is something Frazier probably enjoys a little because he was this team’s defensive coordinator. But Frazier also knows that the offense will catch up eventually, especially after they install more of their playbook.
“You almost expect that early in camp,” Frazier said. “As our offense puts more things in, they’ll catch up in that regard. In most cases, that’s the way it is. Early in camp the defense is usually a little bit ahead.”
A few mini-scrums broke out in practice, which is probably to be expected after nearly a full week of practicing against the same guys day-in and day-out. Frazier said he doesn’t mind a small breakout here and there, as long as it ends quickly and players aren’t doing things that would result in a personal foul in a game.
“I think it was good tonight,” Frazier said of the physicality. “We still have some other things we want to get done. There’s a fine line between being real physical in practice and taking people to the ground, but yet getting them to be ready to tackle in games because you don’t want injuries. But I think we’re doing the right things and we’re being smart about what we’re doing.”
A few notes from practice…
– The defense is ahead of the offense, but I can’t say enough about how well the Vikings first-team front seven is playing. LBs Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson are playing particularly well. I’m anxious to see how DT Remi Ayodele continues to fit in as well. He’s looked better each practice and could be a force for the Vikings in the run game.
– On the offensive side, WR Michael Jenkins and TE Kyle Rudolph continue to stand out among the pass-catchers and they were particularly good on Saturday night. Jenkins is sure-handed and strong and will be a factor for the Vikings in the passing game this year. He’s versatile because he can stretch the field on the outside and he’s as good or better at catching intermediate passes in the middle of the field. Rudolph seems to have a knack for wiggling open down the seam and he, too, can make catches in traffic with defenders draped all over him.
– Primary returners tonight included Stephen Burton, Jaymar Johnson and Cord Parks on punts and Lorenzo Booker and Percy Harvin with kickoffs.
– Passing the eye test tonight were: DEs Jared Allen and Everson Griffen, WR Michael Jenkins and TE Kyle Rudolph. I already explained how well Jenkins and Rudolph are playing, but Allen and Griffen are a big part of why the Vikings front seven is playing so well right now. Both guys were constantly in the backfield being disruptive.
Tags: Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, Kyle Rudolph, Leslie Frazier, Michael Jenkins
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