SETTING THE SCENE: After Saturday night’s practice under the lights, coach Mike Zimmer didn’t feel a full morning walkthrough was necessary. So the Vikings crammed it all in during the afternoon, practicing in helmets and shoulder pads from 2 to 5 p.m. It was a sunny but breezy day here.
HEINICKE GETS A CHANCE: The coaches gave quarterback Shaun Hill a break today, and it was rookie Taylor Heinicke who got a look with the second-stringers. He has been streaky in camp so far, but he fared OK today. He threaded a touchdown pass to rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt and hit receiver Cordarrelle Patterson a couple of times on the sidelines. It looks like Heinicke has the leg up on Mike Kafka to be the No. 3 QB.
MR. RED ZONE: Charles Johnson could end up being quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s go-to guy near the end zone. Johnson picked up where he left off Saturday night, consistently creating separation in red-zone drills today. That’s not easy to do in such close quarters. Johnson has clearly improved his route running, and the 6-foot-2 wideout showed off his ball skills and body control when he caught a back-shoulder fade against Xavier Rhodes.
FROM NORTH OF THE BORDER: Brian Peters, who joined the Vikings after a stint in the Canadian Football League, is currently running ahead of recent draft picks such as Brandon Watts and Michael Mauti. He has often been with the second-team defense and seems to have some mobility. It’s still early, but Peters looks like a legitimate candidate to make this team.
LEGEND IN THE HOUSE: Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle Alan Page was here to watch practice and do a shoot for NFL Films. After the practice, both players and coaches surrounded Page on the field as he dispensed wisdom.
CAMP CHATTER: “I think we ran out of oil in the training room.” — Zimmer explaining why Hill, his 35-year-old backup QB, was rested.
INJURY REPORT: Offensive tackle Carter Bykowski (thigh bruise), wide receiver Gavin Lutman (hamstring) and running back DuJuan Harris (shoulder) sat out practice for a second straight day. Meanwhile, Zimmer said that cornerback Josh Robinson (pectoral) is not close to a return.
Through the first week of training camp, Adrian Peterson has looked like, well, Adrian Peterson.
He looks lean, quick, fast and, well, you know the drill.
As for that Peterson power, it’s safe to assume that it’s still there even though we don’t have much to go on watching practices that come with orders from above not to hit No. 28.
Yes, there are five preseason games to evaluate. But the plan apparently doesn’t include putting a certain 30-year-old running back in harm’s way for games that don’t matter, despite what the face value on the ticket stub says.
Peterson hasn’t carried the ball in the preseason since 2011. He hasn’t played in the preseason since a three-down series against San Francisco in the third preseason game in 2013. Those three downs included no contact for Peterson.
Peterson used to lobby for preseason carries. But he’s older now. Seemingly wiser, too.
“I’ve been doing it for a long time now,” Peterson said Saturday. “So I really grew out of trying to play in the preseason. It really doesn’t matter. You might as well throw out all your marbles when it really counts.”
Asked if he was itching for contact, Peterson sounded like a man who was far from needing to scratch anything.
“I am., but also with that being said, I’m being patient as well,” he said. “I think I can wait until the first [regular season] game against the Niners” on Sept. 14.
Peterson does sound happy that his life in the national spotlight has returned to the field after a year in which he missed 15 games because of the ugly fallout from child abuse charges.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “It’s relaxing. It’s a different mindset going into it. The best thing has just been being around the fellas.”
Next weekend, the Vikings will tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. They’ll play the Steelers in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday night and also support former Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff, a member of the Hall’s Class of 2015.
Asked about Tingelhoff’s selection, Peterson said, “It’s a great accomplishment for guys like me and Chad Greenway [to witness]. Those are the guys who aspire to be the best and to one day be in the Hall of Fame as well. So job well done.”