Chuck Fletcher has talked with Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding in the past two weeks to ensure that they’re still both well and that he doesn’t need to go out and sign a free agent. The Wild opens training camp in five weeks.
On the final practice in Mankato on Thursday, Vikings alumni were on hand to witness the end of another training camp at Minnesota State. Matt Blair, Jake Reed, Matthew Hatchette and Henry Thomas all stopped by to watch practice. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer gathered all the players before practice began to say a few words about the alumni as they received a round of applause from the team. Thomas even got a chance during an individual period to do some coaching of his own. He currently trains high school and college players in Houston and wants to get into coaching.
SETTING THE SCENE: You couldn’t have asked for a better day to wrap up practice. The weather, for the most part, was just right throughout camp. Mother Nature saved the best for the last practice on Thursday with temperatures in the mid-70s. The players weren’t in pads but there was still a good tempo to practice. YOUR DAILY QUARTERBACK SMORGASBOARD: Hey, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater didn’t throw an interception! Well, maybe that was due to an altered practice format. Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater faced scout teams during the majority of the 11-on-11 periods. Cassel took all the first team reps and didn’t face the first team defense until a red zone period near the end of practice. Cassel had another crisp practice as he’s expected to have a big role in Saturday’s preseason contest against the Cardinals. FLASH’S CATCH: With all the attention Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins has received from some of his one-handed catches, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had a similar, eye-popping reception during a team period. He made an outstanding, one-handed grab from Cassel against cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who was in the vicinity. The media can’t shoot 11-on-11 periods. Unless the Vikings have a clip of the catch, it’ll be hard to find a video of the play. RODNEY’S DAY: Wide receiver Rodney Smith has displayed flashes of his ability in training camp, but he has been very inconsistent. He had one of his better days though being on the receiving end of two deep receptions from Bridgewater. The second was the most impressive as Smith snagged the ball right off of cornerback Robert Steeples’ facemask en route for a touchdown. SMALL, BUT TOUGH: If you’re a defensive player and safety Jamarca Sanford is yelling your name from the sidelines, it’s usually a good thing. That was the case for cornerback Marcus Sherels, who is a very tough player despite his stature. Just as it appeared wide receiver Kamar Jorden made a reception on a slant route in 11-on-11, the 5-10 cornerback stripped it right out of Jorden’s hands before completing the catch. INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) did not participate in practice and is doubtful on Saturday against the Cardinals. Linebacker Dom DeCicco (hip) had surgery on Thursday and was not at practice. Safety Robert Blanton (hamstring), tight end Chase Ford (foot) and nose tackle Linval Joseph (leg) were still held out of practice.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said there’s “a chance” quarterback Matt Cassel will play the entire first half on Saturday against the Cardinals at TCF Bank Stadium.
Zimmer has been tight-lipped on how the Vikings will divide snaps between Cassel and rookie Teddy Bridgewater during the second preseason game. Prior to the latest development, Zimmer said there’s a plan in place but did not want to publicly announce it.
Cassel went 5 of 6 for 62 yards during the opening drive against the Raiders on Friday. It was the only playing time he received in an impressive outing. Bridgewater displayed flashes during the preseason opener but couldn’t sustain the same level of success. He’s also thrown five interceptions in the last two practices.
Zimmer said with the different combinations in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense, it will take time for the rookie to grasp everything.
“He’s got so much going on his mind right now, I just want him to play,” Zimmer said of Bridgewater. “I told him yesterday, and I’m going to tell him again before the ballgame — just go out and play.”
SAFETY ROTATION: Zimmer said he plans to divide the snaps at safety between Andrew Sendejo, Jamarca Sanford, Chris Crocker and Kurt Coleman in an effort to get clarity at the position. Crocker received first team reps at strong safety during Wednesday’s practice.
“I want to see how it goes from there and then the rest of the pecking order,” Zimmer said. “Hopefully this will be a big week for those safeties.
INJURY REPORT: Zimmer said cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) is doubtful against the Cardinals after missing most of Wednesday’s practice. The hamstring flared up again, limiting Robinson’s participation. Zimmer also said running back Adrian Peterson won’t play against the Cardinals. Peterson also did not play against the Raiders. He’s expected to be the only healthy scratch.