The Vikings have reported to Mankato for training camp. One of the last ones to pull into campus was running back Adrian Peterson. But he’s here.
Just a few months ago, it seemed uncertain whether Peterson would be joining his teammates in Mankato. But Peterson said that throughout his offseason saga with the Vikings, he still knew there was a good chance he would be back here at Sears Hall, checking into a dorm with everyone else.
“I had visions of definitely being back here,” Peterson said. “I feel like things worked out in this situation, so I’m just happy that I’m here and happy to be a part of the Minnesota Vikings organization and to get back to our goal, and that’s bringing a championship to Minnesota.”
When Peterson parked his car and crossed the street to the dorm, the dozens of fans on hand burst into chants of “AP! AP! AP!” Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who was just wrapping up his podium session, heard the cheers and joined in, pumping his fist into the air as he did it.
“It felt good,” Peterson said. “It’s a good feeling, just to know the support that I’ve been receiving through the entire process. It was a good feeling.”
Peterson said it also felt good to get a new contract a few days ago. He figured his agent, Ben Dogra, and the team would be able to get something done before training camp. Now he has the security he was looking for.
“I feel like both parties are pleased. I’m excited we were able to get things done and it just shows the support that these guys have been showing me, that they believe in me and I believe in them, as well,” he said. “I’m looking forward this season, kicking things off and getting things back on track.”
Captain Munnerlyn hasn’t practiced since the first week of the Vikings’ spring workouts. But his injured foot felt good enough today for him to hop on a bicycle and take a spin around the Minnesota State Mankato campus.
The veteran cornerback thinks he will also be ready to practice with his teammates tomorrow for the first day of training camp or soon thereafter.
“Better be,” he said. “I’ve been out eight weeks, so I should be ready to roll.”
Munnerlyn is one of several Vikings players who are coming off injuries. Also sidelined or limited during the spring were defensive end Brian Robison, outside linebacker Anthony Barr and right tackle Phil Loadholt.
Coach Mike Zimmer spoke with reporters around noon, before physicals were conducted, so he wasn’t sure who would start camp on the physically unable to perform list. But he did say that Robison was expected to be good to go for the start of camp tomorrow after straining his pectoral this spring.
Barr, meanwhile, said he is close to 100 percent recovered from an offseason knee injury — not the same one he injured late in his rookie season — and that while he might “start slow” in camp, he expects to be out there.
“We talked. We had the discussion. I felt like [sitting out during the spring] was the necessary steps in order to be as healthy as possible coming into training camp,” Barr said. “I missed the time. Obviously, I would have liked to have been out there and get those reps, but I’m not too concerned.”
The Vikings must designate any PUP players before tomorrow’s practice. Cornerback Josh Robinson is expected to be on that list, but we’ll see.
Fans should enjoy one of the few changes to Vikings training camp in Year 2 under coach Mike Zimmer.
Meeting with the media not long ago, Zimmer said this year’s format in Mankato will be basically the same as last year, expect he plans more periods that include inside running plays.
That means more contact, more hooting and hollering back and forth between players, and some added excitement for the fans who will sit and bake in the late afternoon sun beginning Sunday.
“We’re going to do some more inside run deals that I think are important for us to continue to preach the toughness and mentality that I want for this football team,” Zimmer said.
And that does mean more contact, “just with the basic drill that we do,” Zimmer said.
But, no, that doesn’t mean the team will be putting a certain 30-year-old superstar running back in unnecessary danger of injury after about 11 months without contact.
“Yeah, we’re not tackling Adrian [Peterson],” Zimmer said with a laugh. “All the guys know that.”
Zimmer said Peterson will, however, “get a large majority of the reps.
“He’s like everybody else as far as that’s concerned,” Zimmer added. “He’s in great shape. Through OTAs and minicamp, he looked fantastic. He wants to get back, too. I’ll probably have to hold him back moreso than push him.”
In other news:
Zimmer said he expects defensive end Brian Robison to be ready for the start of practices on Sunday. Robison is coming off a pectoral muscle injury suffered earlier this offseason.
Zimmer said he won’t know if any players will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Physicals are later today.
Zimmer said cornerback Jabari Price’s recent NFL suspension won’t change how the team evaluates him in training camp and the preseason. Price is eligible to participate until the regular season starts. Said Zimmer: “We’re disappointed with what happened there. We’re trying to clean up all those kinds of things with the Vikings. We’re trying to make this a team that the fans respect, a team that our fans are proud of. Things like that happen are not good and extremely disappointing. But it won’t change that part [the evaluation] that much.”