Vikings join three other teams to open pre-draft minicamp on Tuesday
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First-year head coach Mike Zimmer will get his first crack at working with the Minnesota Vikings in actual football drills on Tuesday as they join three other teams that open their voluntary minicamps.
The Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins all begin the pre-draft workout sessions allotted to teams with a new head coach through the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. The Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrapped up their minicamps last week and the Houston Texans are slated for May 6 to May 8.
Zimmer got his first look at the players when the Vikings, along with the six other teams, opened their strength and conditioning programs two weeks early on April 7. While Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will get a chance to see their players in 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills this week -- they're still in "shells," meaning helmets and shorts and are not allowed to wear full pads or hit. Per the CBA, prohibited contact includes "blocking, tackling, pass rushing...bump-and-run."
While it's important to install as much offensive and defensive scheme as possible, one former NFC North coach in Lovie Smith was leary about how much a voluntary minicamp can help after Tampa Bay wrapped up their camp last week.
"I don't think anybody can distinguish themselves running around in their underwear," Smith, now the Buccaneers head coach, told the Tampa Tribune. "You just can't do that. We had a chance to see some of the ability and we knew that."
Regardless of Smith's take, there are plenty of positives for a new coaching staff to build a rapport with players, install new schemes and see how injuries such as Adrian Peterson's groin and foot ailments have healed. These three days will also serve as another piece to the puzzle in terms of evaluating roster holes with less than two weeks before the NFL Draft.
Tuesday is closed to the media, but Zimmer and players will be available Wednesday.