Wednesday was a good day of work for the Vikings as they continued their series of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on the outdoor practice fields at Winter Park. The team worked in ideal conditions for a second consecutive day, and this time the approximately 90-minute practice was conducted in front of a full contingent of media.
Following practice, several Vikings players and Head Coach Leslie Frazier took part in a Special Olympics Minnesota Punt, Pass & Kick clinic.
“We tried to put our guys through the paces today and hit a few different situations,” Frazier said. “It’s so good to be able to come out here and practice and you plan things, and now you get to see it (the plan) come to fruition. It’s good for our football team, the attitude has been great and when you have guys on our team working as hard as they’re working, and then to take time out and go and do what they did after practice to help other people, it just shows you the type of integrity and character you try to develop on a team.”
There were a lot of good things happening on the field both offensively and defensively on Wednesday, but there’s no doubt that QB Christian Ponder and WR Jerome Simpson stole the show about half-way through practice during a team offense vs. team defense period. Ponder dropped back and launched a pass deep down the right sideline, and Simpson used his speed to track the ball and make an acrobatic leaping catch over a defender before falling to the ground and securing the ball for a completion.
“That’s what he’s been doing for five practices,” Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph said after Wednesday’s workout.
Said Frazier: “Whoa, what a catch. We’ll be looking forward to seeing that on Sundays! I mean, all of his teammates were going, ‘Wow, now I understand why he’s here.’ So that was impressive.”
The connection with Simpson was Ponder’s best completion of the day, but he also made impressive throws to WRs Stephen Burton and Jarius Wright. The completion to Wright came on a deep out route along the right sideline, and the completion to Burton came on a slant pattern across the middle of the field with Ponder placing the football where only Burton had a chance to catch it, and Burton fully extending to dive and make the catch.
The Vikings concluded practice with a competitive period in which the team worked in a backed up situation (offense on their own 2-yardline) and in the no-huddle.
“So far, we’re making some progress, but we still have a long ways to go to come together as a team,” Frazier said. “That’s why we have these OTAs and that’s why we’ll have minicamp and the preseason as well. We’re making progress, but we definitely have a ways to go.”
Tags: Christian Ponder, Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson, Leslie Frazier, OTAs, Stephen Burton
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The Minnesota Twins and Target Field in conjunction with Minnesota’s other professional sports teams will host a fundraising event to benefit ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students) on Wednesday, and Vikings GM Rick Spielman will be on-hand to represent the Vikings.
The event will bring together top executives from each of Minnesota’s “Big Four” professional sports organizations, as they join in a roundtable discussion about the status of professional sports in the Twin Cities. They will also discuss the important roles professional sports franchises play within the community. Questions for the roundtable will come from the assembled audience, led by WCCO TV’s Mark Rosen.
Joining Spielman at the roundtable will be Twins President David St. Peter, Wild COO Matt Majka and Wolves President Chris Wright.
The Vikings have had a relationship with and have supported ACES for 15 years. For the past three seasons, ACES students have led the Vikings out on the field as part of the NFL’s salute to Play60, which encourages youngsters to be active at least 60 minutes per day. When meeting ACES students, Vikings players are always impressed with the creativity, politeness and determination displayed, all qualities promoted by ACES programs.
Vikings VP of Public Affairs Lester Bagley serves on the ACES Board of Directors.
The mission of ACES is to close the academic achievement gap of at-risk urban students in grades four through eight. ACES is an 18-years-strong after-school tutor/mentor program that helps urban fourth- through eighth-grade students in both Minneapolis Public Schools and St. Paul Public Schools overcome the academic achievement and opportunity gaps. Students who consistently attend ACES show academic growth, improved behavior and school attendance, and increased identity with their community.
Tags: Lester Bagley, Rick Spielman
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The outdoor practice fields at Winter Park will get quite the workout on Wednesday, as 50 Special Olympics Minnesota (SOM) athletes from across the state will join Vikings players for a fun Punt, Pass and Kick Clinic following Organized Team Activity #5.
The athletes will enjoy watching the team practice and then following practice they will take the field and participate in various punt, pass and kick stations. Following the clinic, players and coaches will stick around to sign autographs and appear in photos with the athletes and their families. Players scheduled to put on the clinic include: Christian Ballard, Chris Cook, Fred Evans, Everson Griffen, Christian Ponder, Cullen Loeffler, Matt Kalil, D’Aundre Reed, Jerome Simpson, Blair Walsh and Joe Webb.
The Punt, Pass and Kick Clinic is part of Special Olympics Minnesota’s ongoing relationship with the Vikings, providing new and meaningful opportunities for Special Olympics Minnesota athletes. Since 1973, SOM has been enhancing the human potential and quality of life for children and adults with intellectual disabilities by offering year-round sports training and competition. By sharing their joy and courage, SOM athletes inspire the human spirit in all of us.
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