Vikings return to practice from bye, gear up for Halloween night game with Cowboys

Bashaud Breeland #21 of the Minnesota Vikings intercepts the pass intended for Robby Anderson #11 of the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  ((Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images))

The Minnesota Vikings held their first full practice on Wednesday since coming back from their bye week, but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns at TCO Performance Center.

After starting 0-2, the Vikings have won three of their past four games to claw back to 3-3 before their week off. Last year, the Vikings started 1-5 before finishing 7-9 and missing the NFC Playoffs. Coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday morning it felt like when the team reconvened for meetings on Monday, it felt like the return from summer break.

"I had to kind of rein them back in and tell them I wasn’t pleased with where they’re at. Hopefully they’ll be more focused and energetic today," Zimmer said.

Focus shouldn’t be an issue for the Vikings the rest of the season. The next four games on the schedule, starting with Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys, are against teams with a combined record of 20-6. They also travel to the Ravens and Charges before hosting the Packers.


Last week, the Vikings traded defensive end Stephen Weatherly and a seventh round pick to the Denver Broncos for their seventh round pick in 2022. In six games with the Vikings, Weatherly had just six tackles and played more than 20 percent of the defensive snaps in just two games.

In the last three games, Weatherly had played just 28 snaps total. With Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and D.J. Wonnum all producing, playing time was limited.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 2. It doesn’t appear any more moves are imminent, nor will Sunday’s outcome against the Cowboys, win or lose, factor in their decision-making.

"I don’t see it having any outlook on either one. We haven’t really talked about trades," Zimmer said.


Kirk Cousins is off to a hot start with the Vikings, passing for more than 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions through six games. He’s also completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, but faces one of his toughest challenges yet against Trevon Diggs on Sunday.

Diggs, also the brother of former Vikings’ receiver Stefon Diggs, leads the NFL with seven interceptions.

"The thing with him is you don’t always know where he’s going to be, No. 1. The thing I’ve been impressed with him is when the ball is in the air, he goes and gets it," Zimmer said. "He’s got great hands, but he accelerates to the ball very well. "


Cleaning up offensive penalties was one of a few points of emphasis for Zimmer and the coaching staff during the bye week. The Vikings committed 10 penalties on offense in Week 1 at Cincinnati, including six for holding.

The Vikings lead the NFL in holding calls, with 17 on the season, and Zimmer is not pleased.

"We’ve been harping on them for quite a while now. A lot of it has been holding, we just keep working on getting the hands inside, it’s really difficult in the NFL," Zimmer said. 

He also doesn’t like how holding is being called on a weekly basis across the league.

"Just about every offensive lineman, centers and guards, they come up there and they do this (grab outside the chest) to the linebackers. I don’t know how that isn’t holding. It happens every single day around the league, every single play they go in and engulf the guy and put their arms around the outside of their shoulders," Zimmer said. "When they’re doing that and the guy kind of moves one way or the other, they say it’s not holding because he couldn’t get away. He couldn’t get away because the freaking guy had his hands all around his shoulders. That’s a pet peeve of mine by the way. We’re working on keeping the hands inside. If your hands get outside the framework, you’re supposed to work them back in right way. I don’t see very many guys working them back in."


The Vikings returned to the practice field Wednesday, and they appear to be mostly healthy. Other than Michael Pierce and Patrick Peterson, all players were accounted for at the portion open to media. Pierce, who has missed two straight games with an elbow injury, went through stretching but otherwise didn’t practice.

Peterson is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and is out at least three games.