MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings camp:
Today's schedule: The Vikings will hold their penultimate practice in Mankato before their first preseason game on Friday night, getting back to work on the Minnesota State practice fields at 4 p.m. ET (3 CT). They'll hold their morning walk-through from 9:30-10:30 a.m. ET (10:30-11:30 CT). Offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator George Edwards are scheduled to address reporters after the walk-through.
More observations from Monday's practice:
The Vikings continued their work trying out kick returners other than Cordarrelle Patterson on Monday, with Adam Thielen, Kain Colter, Marcus Sherels, Jarius Wright and Captain Munnerlyn all getting a chance to return kicks during practice. Coach Mike Priefer said he wants to see Thielen, Colter and rookie Jerick McKinnon during the preseason, and will likely use kicks that would normally go to Patterson for other players on Friday.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is still working to get Teddy Bridgewater to speed up his dropback and release, which was one of Turner's main coaching points during Bridgewater's private workout with the Vikings last spring. Bridgewater hit 8 of 10 throws in 11-on-11 work on Monday, but again had to be bailed out by his receivers on a couple occasions. He's going through a typical adjustment period for a rookie, and it will likely become easier for Bridgewater to feel the difference between college and the NFL once pass-rushers are actually allowed to touch him on Friday. "Right from the get-go, that is one of the big things that Norv does," coach Mike Zimmer said. "'We have got to get the ball out, you have got to get back quicker, you have to get set up, you have to get the ball out.' In some of the blitz periods, we have guys running by him, which is not going to happen in the game."
Linebacker Brandon Watts, who missed Friday and Saturday's practices with a strained hamstring, returned to practice on Monday.
What I'm watching: In reality, the Vikings might only have a couple spots in their lineup still up for grabs, assuming Anthony Barr is the likely starter at strongside linebacker (and it seems safe to make that leap at this point). Other than quarterback, safety might be the biggest competition, and things will get even more competitive with Chris Crocker on the roster. Crocker pointed out on Monday that he's fared well in this defense because of his cover skills, and the fact that the Vikings signed him might mean that they have concerns about the coverage ability of their safety group. The Vikings want to put their safeties in man coverage more often this year than the previous coaching staff did, and Crocker might at least provide a template for what Zimmer wants. The coach said on Monday he's more inclined to stock up on corners than safeties, so competition at the spot could be fierce.
They said it: "It was a great interception. It was poor, poor position on the receiver, but he made a great play. We have to get him to be in the right position and then make the play easy and then he does not have to make great play." --Zimmer, on the diving interception Xavier Rhodes made during Saturday night's practice.