Vikings vets lobbying for 'shells' in final training camp week
Players are vocally requesting more 'shells' practices, but don't expect Leslie Frazier to oblige.
By BRIAN HALLFS North
MANKATO, Minn. -- Monday presented another full-padded practice on a picturesque day at Minnesota State University, continuing the training-camp long trend of mild weather. Monday's temperatures reached the high 70s, which has been more common this year than the mid-90s Minnesota is used to at training camp.
Vikings stretched, a chant started coming from the players, specifically the defensive stars, a call for practice in "shells," the lighter form of padding worn underneath the team's jerseys instead of full pads and practice uniforms with two days left in Mankato.
"Shells, shells, shells, they've been asking for about a week now," Frazier said. "We'll see if we relent before we break camp. I have a feeling we won't, but we'll listen."
Frazier, a former player himself back when two-a-days and full hitting ruled training camp, wishes the Vikings would have had more heat than the mid-70 degree days that have been common during this year's camp.
The new collective bargaining agreement has eliminated the two-a-day padded practice and with weather being so cool, don't expect Frazier to ease up.
"You can't beat it," Frazier said of the weather. "This new CBA and then you get weather like this, man, that's a players dream."
Frazier called the players like himself and even defensive tackle Kevin Williams, the longest tenured player on the team with 11 years in the league, a "dying breed" and said he likes heat for the Vikings' lineman to "sweat a little bit."
"It's been very mild, and we've been able to get quality work because of it," Frazier said. "But I can't remember so many consecutive days where we get days like this. It's beautiful. The guys appreciate it."
Floyd returns, Lacey and Ballard only players out: Rookie defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd returned to practice a day after sitting out and having a magnetic resonance imaging test done on his left knee. Floyd said Sunday the MRI came back clean and there was no issue after he showed up more sore than expected on Sunday.
He was in full pads for practice Monday, though he didn't take all of his usual repetitions in practice.
"Wasn't no concern or anything," Floyd said after practice Monday. "I wasn't really worrying about it at all."
Frazier said he expects to get Floyd more practice on Tuesday. Frazier said most of the team's players that have been dealing with injuries -- including linebacker Desmond Bishop and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and A.J. Jefferson -- should be able to play in Friday's second preseason game at Buffalo.
"Yeah, if they just keep progressing where they are now, I think we should be alright," Frazier said. "Today is Monday. We play on Friday, so we got Tuesday and Wednesday which are still hard days."
Frazier said defensive tackle Christian Ballard, who has a sore groin, was also away from the team while dealing with a personal matter. Frazier wasn't sure when Ballard would return.
Cornerback Jacob Lacey was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee Monday. Frazier said he was still waiting to hear the results and Lacey's recovery is expected to be between two and four weeks.
Linebacker Audie Cole and safety Brandan Bishop also returned to practice after missing Sunday.
Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said learning how to handle injuries is a big part for players such as Rhodes, a rookie in his first NFL training camp.
"Really with anyone I tell the guys start to get to know you're body so that you're telling people how you feel, rather than someone else telling you how you feel and what you should do," Williams said. "Get to know your body, know how your body works, know your limits. The other thing is as you start to become a professional, know how to practice when you're not 100 percent, so if you're tight one day or you're not feeling great one day that you don't go out in full sprint and hurt yourself, and also to be able to be honest with me because it will come up during the season where you'll have to make a decision.
"We'll come to a player and ask, ‘Hey, can you got this week, can you go today in the ballgame.' And we need a player be able to tell us ‘Coach, I'm ready to go. I may not be 100 percent, but I'm ready to go.' And they're able to finish a ballgame instead of ‘Coach, I'm ready to go' and then after two series, ‘Hey, I can't go anymore.' So that's a learning process to being a professional, knowing your body and knowing how long your body will hold out or hold up for you."