Mike Zimmer, Vikings prepare virtually to face Texans

Mike Zimmer and the Vikings plan to be back at TCO Performance Center on Thursday. The practice facility was closed earlier this week after the Titans had 8 positive COVID-19 tests following Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium.

It was anything but business as usual as Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings began game-planning for the Houston Texans on Tuesday.

Perhaps that’s the new normal. Zimmer and the rest of his coaching staff and players were starting preparations for the Texans when the NFL called GM Rick Spielman and Infection Control Officer Eric Sugarman. They had bad news: Three Titans players and five team staff had tested positive for COVID-19 after facing Zimmer and the Vikings.

Spielman addressed the team, and everyone had to leave TCO Performance Center immediately. Suddenly, game planning was just like the off-season. They were watching tape at their homes, and all meetings Tuesday and Wednesday were virtual.

Thankfully, it wasn’t new territory for anyone.

“Honestly it wasn’t too bad. Fortunately we had kind of gone through a lot of this process in the spring with our virtual meetings. So we were able to communicate and watch tape on our iPads,” Zimmer told reporters Wednesday night from his home on Zoom. “That wasn’t too bad honestly. If we weren’t able to do that in the spring, it would’ve been a lot more hectic than it was.”

Spielman said Wednesday morning the plan is to reopen TCO Performance Center Thursday morning, and Zimmer certainly hopes that’s the case. That’s especially after the Texans got to practice at their facility Wednesday. But there’s nothing Zimmer and the Vikings can do about that.

The Vikings, who haven’t had any positive COVID-19 tests since facing the Titans, did all their meetings Wednesday, which is normally their first practice day for the next opponent. Thursday will feature walk-throughs and more on-field work, assuming the team clears COVID-19 protocols.

The plan remains to fly to Houston Saturday, and play the Texans Sunday as both teams try to avoid an 0-4 start.

“It is what it is and we have to deal with it. They told us all along there was going to be positive tests as we go throughout the season,” Zimmer said. “For us to be able to get through, hopefully we get through this week and play the game. It shows that I think we can get through it.”

The Vikings released an injury report on what would’ve taken place Wednesday, had they taken the practice field. Kris Boyd (hamstring) and Mike Hughes (neck) would not have participated, and Cameron Danztler (ribs) would’ve been limited. Hughes did not play against the Titans, and Dantzler has missed the last two games.

The Titans are the first team to have a COVID-19 outbreak since the regular season started. It’s the new normal, and every team goes forward accepting the risk.