Vikings add training camp practices to data points, ‘creed’ on list

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The Vikings will have 11 padded practices, five below the league maximum of 16, in Kevin O’Connell’s first training camp as the new head coach continues to recalibrate the Vikings’ schedule in hopes of keep players fresher for a regular 17 game. season. The team will not go more than four days without a day off during camp.

The approach, which builds on what O’Connell has done in the team’s offseason schedule, represents a shift from how the Vikings have run camps in eight years under Mike Zimmer. But that comes with a trade-off: O’Connell’s staff still have to teach new patterns – including a move to a 3-4 defense – to a roster who will spend less time in the pads than in recent ones. training camps.

If the coach is aiming to field a healthy, high-performing team for his NFL regular-season opener against the Packers on Sept. 11, he’ll do so with an emphasis on quality over quantity.

“You’ll hear me say this phrase many times: ‘When we go, we have to go,'” O’Connell said Tuesday, when the entire team showed up at camp. “We’ve done our due diligence all month of the volume of work we’ve done, but when we put those pads on, it’s just not a lot of opportunity to prepare your team and for our individual players, the individual phases of attack, defense and special teams to feel prepared.There is no other way than to participate in a complete competition, good on good.

The Vikings have kept much of their on-field work under duress during organized team activities and minicamp, shortening practices and having linemen work at reduced speeds to limit the physical cost of these players while that skill position players could work at higher abilities without as much trouble. .

Three of the Vikings’ most important defensive players — Patrick Peterson, Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks — are entering their 12th, 11th and eighth NFL seasons, respectively. Their two most important passing throwers (Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith) played in seven combined regular season games last season. The addition of free agent Jordan Hicks is in his eighth year; defensive linemen Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson are in Years 5 and 6.

For these players, there may be as much to gain in study sessions as there is on-field work as the Vikings attempt to rebuild a defense that has been ranked near the bottom of the league for the past two seasons.

For others like safety Lewis Cine and cornerback Andrew Booth, camp is a melting pot in which to learn Vikings systems and prove themselves ready to start as rookies. And for first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, the challenge is to avoid the temptation NFL teams might already have to overemphasize what they see in a small series of padded workouts during making final decisions on the list.

“You come in with a belief about what you think someone is,” Adofo-Mensah said. “And each new data point you get is new information. How do you change your prior belief based on this new information you got? How much was this new information? How different was this new information from your prior belief?Those are all kind of things that you kind of have to take into account.

“Fortunately, I’ve had experience in the NFL doing this in other organizations and I feel good about the process we’ve put in place. There’s a lot of chance of recency bias. and things like that, being overconfident or overly optimistic and again, we have a lot of processes in place like that.”

For everything to work, the Vikings must make the most of the plans hatched by Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell. “And a lot of that,” Harrison Smith said, “is about the players.

“Kevin kind of told us how he wanted things to be, and it’s up to us to lock ourselves in those moments and not do stupid things and stuff like that. I think we have a good group of guys who are going to do this over the span of such a long season and in the playoffs, there’s a lot of reps that add up, so it makes a lot of sense not to fight too much.”

Vikings training camp key dates

Wednesday: first full team training
Saturday: first practice open to fans
Monday: First padded workout
August 8: Night training at TCO Stadium
August 14: Pre-season opener in Las Vegas, 3:25 p.m.
August 17-18: Joint training with the 49ers
August 20: Only preseason game at home against San Francisco, 6 p.m.

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