EAGAN (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings are enjoying the calm and quiet in the early sessions of Training Camp with their 37 rookies and select veterans.
Everything changes Friday, when the full Vikings squad hosts its first practice in front of fans at TCO Performance Center. On Tuesday, the talk centered around teaching and learning the intricacies of what the Vikings hope is a dynamic new offensive approach.
The foundation was laid in organized team activities and mini camp, and it’s now being reinforced to rookies and veterans before Friday’s full squad workout. The offense concepts are inspired by advisor Gary Kubiak, and being taught by first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and a slew of assistants.
We ultimately won’t know how successful the offense will be until the games count.
”Ultimately I and we are going to be evaluated on things far from Training Camp. It’s going to come down those 16 regular season games and then beyond that,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “Unfortunately you grind in Training Camp and you get to Labor Day weekend, you look around and you’re like ‘All that work, and I got nothing to show for it yet.’ Hopefully you’re laying a good foundation, and hopefully it shows on Sundays in the fall.”
The Vikings left mini camp with the foundation in place and took six weeks off. With three days until the first full team practice, the time is used to reinforce what was learned in the offseason. It’ll be full speed starting Friday, and no looking back.
Stefanski said the coaching staff is “champing at the bit to get our guys back in here.”
“I look back on our spring and I really feel like we laid a sound foundation. I think the coaches did an outstanding job of teaching, I think the players were so receptive to learning,” Stefanski said. “Now it’s our job in these first few days of camp to get all of our guys back under one roof and let’s reinforce that foundation. For us that’s kind of our focus.”
The Vikings are looking for new ways to run the ball after finishing 30th in the NFL in rushing last season. They’re also looking for a third receiver to emerge behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
They’re looking for better ways to protect Cousins after he was sacked 40 times last season, the second-most in his career. There’s a lot of coaches on the field who have a lot of ideas, and it’s Stefanski’s job to keep everyone on the same page and mesh it all together.
“We’ve got a lot of staff and that’s a good thing. It’s great to have that much support and that many good football minds contributing to our plan,” Cousins said.
It all becomes real on Friday, the start of six weeks of preparation for the season-opener against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Cousins called it a grind, the day-to-day process of meetings, watching film and applying what they see to a live situation in practice.
Until they get pads and helmets on and start hitting, it’s hard to know what the offense will look like. It’s what makes the early walk-throughs and Training Camp practices so pivotal. The Vikings have to be able to take small steps forward before they can run.
“Let’s take every opportunity that we’re getting and let’s apply it. We’re not just out here for the check next to a box, we’re trying to get better and I can tell you particularly our coaches are outstanding teachers,” Stefanski said.
Cousins hopes that daily grind continues into next February, which would mean a potential Super Bowl run.
“We’re going to be grinding from now until hopefully February. Get back into a football mode and just build a rapport with teammates. Kind of laying the initial foundation for this 2019 season,” Cousins said. “Here we go, no looking back and full speed ahead.”