Vikings wake-up call: Day 4


MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings' training camp:

Today's schedule: The Vikings will hold their first of three night practices during training camp, moving into Blakeslee Stadium to work under the lights from 7:30 to 9:30. It won't be a scrimmage, per se; coach Mike Zimmer said the Vikings will have a live goal-line period, which will be the first such work we have seen in camp, but the practice otherwise won't be much different than the Vikings' afternoon practices.

The team will start the day with a walk-through from 10:30-11:30, and come back with a night practice before an off-day on Tuesday.

More observations from Sunday's practice:

  • Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd dropped weight in the offseason, as he prepares to play a larger role in the Vikings' defense, and is hoping to turn into the kind of stalwart three-technique tackle that Geno Atkins was in Mike Zimmer's defense. Floyd said he watched tape of Atkins in the offseason, but "I can't really mimic what he does. That's his style of play," he said. "I have to take the defense and make it my style of play." Zimmer said he wasn't worried about Floyd slimming down from about 310 pounds to 303. Defensive end Brian Robison has been trying to work with Floyd, pointing out the times when he'll beat a blocker, but slip back into a position that allows linemen to re-engage him. Floyd said it's a matter of "me finishing at the top of my rush. Lately I've been winning, and then at the top, I'd turn my body the wrong way."

  • Cornerback Jabari Price has continued to surprise in training camp after the Vikings picked him in the seventh round last spring; he was flagged for a pass interference penalty on Sunday, but has received some first-team slot cornerback snaps with Captain Munnerlyn out and has shown he isn't afraid to be aggressive in his first camp. "I'm just trying to find ways to contribute," Price said. "I want my teammates to be able to trust me. Putting the pads on is a way to showcase a talent of mine."

  • With Chase Ford out because of a broken foot, tight end A.C. Leonard got some first-team snaps in a two-tight end set alongside Kyle Rudolph; Leonard, who ran a 4.43 40 coming out of college, is built more like a big slot receiver than a tight end, and could make the team as a receiving threat now that Ford seems likely to begin the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

What I'm watching: Zimmer said on Sunday that the Vikings will talk during Tuesday's off day about increasing practice snaps for some players and dialing them back for others, as the Vikings start to get an idea of what their first-team offensive and defensive units look like heading into next Friday's preseason opener. It will be interesting to see, for example, if Robert Blanton's early work as a first-team safety holds up, or if the Vikings have just been using the early part of camp to get a longer look at him. As the Vikings practice on Monday night, it will be an opportunity for some players to assert themselves heading into the coaches' conversations on Tuesday.

They said it: "A lot about strength is from your butt and your legs and your base and your pad level and those things. Obviously, the bigger you are, it's a little bit easier. But typically the bigger you get, you're not as quick as you were." -- Zimmer, on Floyd still being strong enough to handle the tackle position at a lighter weight.