MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings training camp:
Today's schedule: The Vikings' morning walk-through begins at 10:30 a.m. Central time, and their afternoon practice, from 3:00 to 5:10, should feature the full return of cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. He did individual drills on Wednesday after returning from the physically-unable-to-perform list and should be integrated in team drills on Thursday. We'll also get a briefing on the NFL's new rules from one of the league's officiating crews, who will be in Mankato to talk with the team and the media about this year's changes.
More observations from Monday's practice:
The Vikings pulled out a number of different looks on their defensive front on Wednesday and had a productive day getting after the quarterback. Coach Mike Zimmer said he would start to put in more complex defensive packages as the Vikings got into camp, and the variety they showed on defense made it a difficult day for the offense as it worked through another install period.
Zimmer said he doesn't plan to spend more practice time on Chad Greenway at middle linebacker, since the Vikings have a greater need to see more of their young players at the spot. I didn't take that to mean the Vikings are done with the Greenway-in-the-middle experiment, but there's more to learn about players like second-year linebacker Michael Mauti and third-year man Audie Cole than there is about a veteran like Greenway. In the time he played in the middle, Greenway said he thought he did fine. He had a nice blitz earlier in the week, when he knocked Adrian Peterson back into Matt Cassel. As Zimmer said, though, figuring out the middle linebacker spot is one of the Vikings' biggest tasks. That will likely steer them toward giving younger players a longer look in the next few practices.
Similarly, the Vikings want to see their young defensive linemen against better competition. They gave more practice time to rookie Shamar Stephen and undrafted free agent Isame Faciane on Wednesday. "We need to get them in there against the first team. It's just evaluation; we're trying to move guys around where we can evaluate," Zimmer said. "When you start getting down to the cuts, we have to evaluate what they're going to be playing against this season." Zimmer said he'd likely release the first depth chart sometime next week.
What I'm watching: Cornerback Jabari Price continues to make an impression in camp; he's taken advantage of first-team snaps at slot cornerback with Munnerlyn out and has looked good in coverage outside. The Vikings took him in the seventh round of the draft in May. He's putting together a strong bid for a roster spot, and I'm curious to see how Zimmer uses him as the Vikings get ready for their first preseason game next Friday. "He's done a nice job in everything," Zimmer said. "When he's outside, he does a good job. When he's playing in the nickel, he's done a nice job. Any time you can hit on a seventh-round corner, that's huge. We don't know if we've hit yet, but he's done a good job."
They said it: "This is a big offensive line so that’s been a bonus for us. I know some people have had different opinions about different people based on a play or based on a couple of plays. I try not to do that. I try to look at the whole body of work, because we are all affected by one play, you know. You watch a game, and I’m a fan rooting for a team, and a guy misses a block or a guy drops and pass and they say, 'Oh, that bum.' Then when you are coaching him, you say the guy had 76 plays and he had 72 good ones and four bad ones, you know, let’s fix the four bad ones. I think some of our guys are better than most people think, and I think as a whole offensive group we have a lot of work to do." --Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner, on the team's offensive line