Notebook: Patterson, Munnerlyn nearing return to training camp
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MANKATO, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer wouldn't say who failed his conditioning test on Thursday, so impatient speculation pegged Patterson as the culprit when he sat out the next day.
However, Patterson never took that test because of a foot injury he suffered a few days before training camp started, per Zimmer.
"Yeah, I guess he got out of it," Zimmer said. "He's been working pretty hard in the rehab. They work probably harder than the guys on the field do."
Right now, the Vikings' rehab group includes Patterson (foot), Captain Munnerlyn (hamstring), Andrew Sendejo (back) and Chase Ford (foot). Patterson and Munnerlyn are expected to return to the field "soon" as the Vikings put on pads for the first time on Sunday.
Zimmer wouldn't divulge how Patterson injured his foot, only to say it happened before camp.
"I think [Patterson] is improving every day," Zimmer said. "Saw him do some stuff today, won't be long, I believe. I'll be surprised if it's long."
Munnerlyn is also expected to make a quick recovery after his surprise addition to the physically unable to perform list when training camp started on Friday. With his absence, cornerbacks Shaun Prater, Kendall James and Jabari Price have received extra snaps in the slot corner position.
"They're getting a lot of good reps," Zimmer said. "Which is good because it's such an important position."
The injury updates weren't as good for Sendejo, who has yet to participate in a team practice after his back surgery this offseason.
Sendejo has started 10 games in his career, all coming last season in place of Harrison Smith at safety.
"He's still where he's at," Zimmer said. "Obviously it's a concern, I haven't seen him one day."
Greenway the signal caller?
Erin Henderson had assumed play calling duties in the middle of the defense last season after he had experience doing so in nickel situations in 2012.
But with Henderson out of the picture, the Vikings may turn to the veteran of the linebacker corps in Chad Greenway to be the captain of the defensive communication.
"It may pan out that way," Defensive coordinator George Edwards said. "His communication in and out of the huddle right now has been very beneficial to everybody else. Sort of calming the storm when we get all the shifts, formations and those kind of things."
Though Jasper Brinkley has taken a bulk of first-team reps in the middle, the job is up for grabs between Audie Cole, Brinkley and Michael Mauti as the likely candidates.
Greenway has dabbled with snaps in the middle as well, but figures to see that role in either sub packages or as an injury replacement as he's pegged to start on the weak side.
"Seeing those skill sets, we think we've got a good group of mike linebackers," Edwards said. "We just want to see who's going to come to the top competition wise."
Zimmer knows him now
Mike Zimmer didn't know about Matt Asiata when his Cincinnati Bengals played the Minnesota Vikings in December, but he knows the name now.
Asiata started his first career game in place of both injured Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart last season, tallying three touchdowns in the performance. Though the Vikings drafted Jerick McKinnon in the third round (96th overall) in May, Asiata has impressed coaches so far and comes across as the leading candidate for backing up Peterson.
"He finished the season strong, he's in great shape," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "He gives you that great pounder. He's an excellent athlete, has good change of direction, a good pass protector. I know Jerick has got a lot of attention and I've said good things about him, but I think our backfield situation is in good shape."
Asiata did not play in Cincinnati the week after he saw a career-high 30 rushes in a win against Philadelphia.
"I didn't really know him," Zimmer said. "When we got ready to play them last year, I knew who he was but it wasn't like Adrian. He's impressed me."
• Adam Thielen, a leader for our Mr. Mankato award, saw second-team reps at receiver alongside Rodney Smith and Kain Colter on Saturday.
• David Yankey and Vlad Ducasse are the second-team offensive guards behind Charlie Johnson and Brandon Fusco in camp as of the second practice.
• The quarterback pecking order remains the same: Matt Cassel-Teddy Bridgewater-Christian Ponder. The 11-on-11 drill throws were divvied up as such: Cassel (10-of-13), Bridgewater (8-of-11) and Ponder (6-of-7).
• Nose tackle Linval Joseph deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage for the second straight practice, knocking one of Cassel's passes to the grass.
• Greg Jennings got the crowd going with a diving catch between the hash marks on Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson to start off Cassel's 11-on-11 session.
• Second-year linebacker Gerald Hodges saw some first-team reps with the linebackers alongside Cole and Greenway, who was in the middle.
• Robert Blanton continues to take most of the reps alongside Smith at safety.