MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings camp:
Today's schedule: The Vikings will have their second night practice of training camp, and for all intents and purposes, their 7:30-9:30 session will be the biggest fan event of training camp. Vikings players will be introduced to the Blakeslee Stadium crowd after practice, and the team will hold fireworks after the introductions. The Vikings' morning walk-through will be from 10:30-11:30; head coach Mike Zimmer, as well as quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater, are scheduled to address the media on Saturday.
More observations from Friday's practice:
Running back Jerick McKinnon made a handful of impressive catches on a day where Vikings quarterbacks struggled with their accuracy; he caught a low pass from Bridgewater, and bailed out the quarterback on his final throw of the day by making a one-handed grab on a ball that was behind him. McKinnon is new to catching passes, but he's not new to handling the ball; he was a quarterback in college, and it seems like that experience has given him surer hands as he begins his NFL career as a running back.
For the first time in nine years, Chad Greenway got a day off in training camp; Zimmer let the linebacker rest, as he's done with a number of veteran players this week. "I was just trying to watch and get mental reps while I was out there," Greenway said. "It was a little different. I was trying to get as much work as I could out of it, and I'll be back out there tomorrow."
Tight end AC Leonard still wasn't back from what Zimmer initially called a headache, and while he is getting more tests, Zimmer said he didn't think Leonard had a concussion. Linebacker Brandon Watts left early with a leg injury, though it didn't seem serious, and Josh Robinson was out again with a hamstring injury, joining Robert Blanton on the sidelines.
Derek Cox, who had his second interception in as many days on Friday, seems to be getting a solid handle on Zimmer's scheme; he made a nice play on a pass from Bridgewater on Friday, turning on the ball as Adam Thielen fell down and racing untouched to the end zone. "He's a smart guy, so he understands a lot of things," Zimmer said. "You get to understand some of the shifts and motions and plays off of it. The smarter guys generally play a little bit better early."
What I'm watching: Linval Joseph has done an impressive job deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage, and seems like he'll be a good anchor in the middle of the Vikings' defensive line. As the Vikings work on more short-yardage situations, and get into their first preseason game next week, I'm curious to see the relationship develop between Joseph and Sharrif Floyd. The two could be a solid tandem in the middle of the Vikings' defensive line for years, and Joseph is the elder of the two at just 25 years old. If the Vikings can become formidable against the run once again, it'd be a major change from recent years and a welcome return to the days when their defense was at its best under Leslie Frazier.
They said it: "Eventually, it’s probably going to change. I’ve kind of accepted that fact. It’s going to be tougher for the northern cities that have the wind and the weather because a 33-yard field goal, to me, is still not a chip shot. Even the extra point, I know it’s 99 percent, but it’s something they want to change and if they want to do it, we have to embrace it like any other change on special teams. You’ve got to embrace it and change what we do a little bit and move on." -- Vikings special-teams coach Mike Priefer, on the NFL experimenting with a rule to move extra points back to the 15-yard line.