MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings are in their middle of their second week of organized team activities at TCO Performance Center, and one of the early buzz words at the voluntary workouts? Chemistry.
Throughout the three days of workouts last week, the Vikings had at least 81 of 86 players in attendance. The only players not in the Twin Cities last week – Cameron Dantzler, Jeff Gladney and Danielle Hunter. Dantzler posted to social media last week he would be in town this week for workouts. Britton Colquitt and Hercules Mata’afa also missed days for personal reasons.
This off-season marks a refreshing change, with the Vikings back at their facility after everything was virtual last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday building a chemistry, coming off a 7-9 season, is important.
"Most really good teams have really good chemistry, they get along with one another. I think everything in life, you feel good about the guys you’re working with, you enjoy coming to work and I think that’s what this football team has been doing lately," Zimmer said.
It’s especially important to have rookies and younger players on site, after meetings last year were virtual, and players had to send coaches video of individual workouts. They’re able to practice together, talk in meetings together and get better collectively.
Last year, Zimmer didn’t get to see most of his rookies until a modified training camp in August. He’s happy to be able to coach them now.
"It’s a huge benefit. We’re people that when you’re a team, you like to be around each other and get to know each other and understand different things about everybody else. It’s really hard to do when you’re sitting in front of a computer or iPad," Zimmer said.
VIKINGS TO HAVE JOINT PRACTICES WITH BRONCOS
With the NFL switching to 17 regular season games, teams will have three preseason games instead of four. Zimmer said Wednesday they plan to have joint practices with the Denver Broncos. They’ll likely take place when they would normally be getting ready for their first preseason game.
It means a chance to practice against somebody other than a teammate before the preseason. It’s also a reunion with Teddy Bridgewater, George Paton and Mike Boone.
"Gives us a chance to evaluate, especially the younger players, against other players and evaluate our guys too. Kind of see where we’re at at each position, and see where we’re at as a football team," Zimmer said.
WHAT ABOUT DANIELLE HUNTER?
Vikings’ defensive end Danielle Hunter was not at OTAs last week, and has been absent this week as well. The Vikings have one more week of voluntary workouts next week, then mandatory minicamp June 15-17.
Hunter missed all of last season after having surgery for a herniated disc in his neck. There’s also been reports that he wants a new contract with the Vikings. Zimmer said he hasn’t been in contact with Hunter.
"It’s voluntary. We’ve had outstanding participation, almost 95 percent. For the most part we’ve had outstanding participation, so we’ll just see him when minicamp shows up," Zimmer said.
If Hunter is not at mandatory minicamp, it will raise questions about the future for the star defensive end in Minnesota.