Mick Tingelhoff, the overlooked and undrafted center who went on to play 17 seasons without missing a game for the Vikings, has moved one step closer to reaching the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A five-time first-team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler from 1962 to 1978, Tingelhoff was chosen this afternoon as the Hall of Fame Senior Committee’s lone nominee for enshrinement vote by the full committee in 2015.
“It’s unbelievable,” Tingelhoff said by phone from South Dakota, where he’s vacationing with his family. “I’m honored. But I’ll be a lot happier if they put me in next Februrary.”
Although the Senior Committee carries tremendous weight, Tingelhoff still must receive at least 80 percent of the vote from the full board of selectors. They will meet and vote on the Saturday before Super Bowl 49 in February.
Vikings Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, a longtime roommate and friend of Tingelhoff’s, grabbed the phone from his secretary when told the news.
“It’s about [darn] time I got a call like this on Mick Tingelhoff,” he said. “He played 17 years. He came to us as an undrafted free agent from Nebraska. I remember his first day. I was going into my second year.
“He started out as a middle linebacker. We needed a center. He moved over there and became as great a center that’s ever played.”
Veteran linebacker Chad Greenway, who is dealing with a wrist injury that head coach Mike Zimmer downplayed this morning, was dressed for practice today. But after participating in some of the individual drills at the start of the practice, Greenway spent the rest of the afternoon on the sideline.
Afterward, Greenway, who had a black brace on his right wrist, said he expects to practice tomorrow.
“It’s feeling pretty good and hopefully we’ll be able to push forward,” Greenway said.
Still, the injury is worth monitoring because it is the same wrist that Greenway fractured a season ago, when he played all 16 games despite the injury. Greenway did not have surgery on it after the season, instead going the rest-and-rehab route.
Greenway playfully joked that Zimmer was overreacting a little bit by holding him out today.
“I think he just thinks I’m getting old maybe,” Greenway said. “Obviously, when I had the issue with it last year it makes it a little more [noteworthy], wanting to take care of it. I know what it was like to go through the entire season with it last year and I don’t want to go through that again. I think we did a good job of figuring it all out and getting it taken care of.”
And no, if you’re wondering, Greenway did not tweak his wrist pouring ice water on Mark Craig yesterday. He laughed when I asked him if that’s what did it.
With Greenway and rookie Brandon Watts, who has a lower leg injury, watching from the sideline, second-year player Michael Mauti got an opportunity as the weak-side linebacker for the first-team defense. Hopefully for his sake, Mauti, who is firmly on the roster bubble, made a good impression.
Beyond Greenway, also missing from today’s practice were running back Adrian Peterson (personal matter), linebacker Gerald Hodges (knee), nose tackle Linval Joseph (calf), cornerback Jabari Price (arm/shoulder), and tight end Chase Ford (foot). Rookie wide receiver Kain Colter briefly left practice with one of the athletic trainers, but returned with his right hand taped up.
Making his practice debut was new linebacker Justin Jackson. The rookie was wearing No. 45.
Robert Blanton, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman split the first-team reps next to Harrison Smith.
Christian Ponder had a busy practice running the scout team as the Vikings prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ponder saw a lot of action with some of the other third-stringers against the starters and second-string defense. Smith didn’t make it easy for Ponder, picking off one of his deep throws over the middle and getting his hands on a couple other passes that could have been picked off.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said a few minutes ago that outside linebacker Chad Greenway, who played with a fractured wrist a season ago, underwent tests on one of his wrists. The x-rays and the magnetic resonance imaging exam apparently showed nothing major, but Zimmer plans to “back him down a little bit today.”
“He’s got a little wrist,” Zimmer said. “It’s not a big deal. He’s been MRIed and X-rayed and we just don’t want to irritate it more.”
Greenway sprained his right wrist during Week 7 last season and fractured it in two spots the following week. He did not miss a game, though he did exit the team’s Week 14 loss to the Bears early after re-aggravating the injury in overtime.
Asked if it was the same wrist, Zimmer said he thought both wrists bothered Greenway in 2013.
“It’s not broken,” Zimmer added.
Running back Adrian Peterson is not expected to practice today as he was excused by Zimmer to deal with a personal matter.
Defensive end Brian Robison, who missed the past two practices dealing with his own personal matter, was back on the field for walkthrough and will practice this afternoon.
Zimmer said that cornerback Jabari Price, nose tackle Linval Joseph and linebackers Gerald Hodges and Brandon Watts will not practice. He indicated that Watts is dealing with a “lower leg” ailment.
In other news, Zimmer was asked about offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s comments from yesterday when Turner said he was “very disappointed” with Vikings fans booing Christian Ponder.
“Norv can say whatever he wants. I think Christian deserves to be treated like a Viking,” he said.
And while Zimmer isn’t yet disclosing his plan for playing time in Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs, he did said that there is a possibility that Ponder, whom the coaching staff all but said would make the 53-man roster out of camp, could play in Saturday night’s game.
“I still like a lot of things that he does. His athletic ability. His intelligence. The way he throws it,” Zimmer said. “I keep seeing [people say] he doesn’t have a good arm. That’s wrong, too. He’s got a good arm. He throws the ball beautifully. He just didn’t make as many plays during OTAs as some of the other guys did.”
If Mike Zimmer were a used car, most of us would still be kicking his tires and slowly circling him with a discerning eye.
While much is left to learn, we can deduce that he’s no cookie-cutter coach. Maybe it’s his age (58) or personality (firm but not bullying), or both, but he’s certainly comfortable in his own skin. And if the brain under that skin wants to do something that’s not in step with customary NFL thinking, so be it.
That’s an admirable form of confidence in a person who has never been a head coach before.
Zimmer clearly is in complete control and has the full attention of his players. But unlike a lot of new head coaches, he hasn’t altered his personality to achieve that end result. In training camp, he didn’t choose to break the players physically while tapping his badge and putting his boot to their necks.
When the preseason started, he played his starters for the entire first half of the second preseason game. Then he played his second quarterback for the entire second half. It was strange, but exciting and potentially productive that Zimmer apparently doesn’t believe in mop-up duties in the preseason.
Now, we’re days away from the third preseason game. Most, if not every other coach, always talks about this being the most critical preseason game. The media follows with stories about how this is the “dress rehearsal.” This is the game when the coaches game plan and the starters – even some superstars such as Adrian Peterson — play into the third quarter.
A: Honestly, no. This is still alot about us. We’re going to have a few more sections than we have had the last two weeks with the cards and the scout team work, but it’s still about what we do. We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game planning.
I asked Zimmer on Monday if he views the third preseason game with a heightened sense of importance.
“Honestly, no,” he said. “This is still a lot about us. We’re going to have a few more sections than we have had the last two weeks with the cards and the scout team work, but it’s still about what we do.
“We’ll have plenty of time to prepare for St. Louis [the regular season opener] when we get going in there. It’s more about the routine that we are going to do this week, so we get into the in-season schedule routine as opposed to really sitting down and game planning.”
Asked if he’ll game plan at all for Saturday’s game at Kansas City, he said, “About like we did the last two games.
“We look at them on tape and we will watch a little more tape on them than we have watched on the last two games, we’re not going to go in there and double [receiver Dwayne] Bowe. We are going to do what we do.”