EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Mike Zimmer has had a strong turnout for his first organized team activities as the Minnesota Vikings coach.
Not every player has been able to practice, though.
Left tackle Matt Kalil, in particular, has been working a bit in individual drills, but didn’t participate in team drills on Thursday when OTAs were open to the media.
"He had a little procedure done," Zimmer said. "I’m guessing it was about four or five weeks ago. He’s going through individual and stuff like that, so we’re just being a little careful with him right now."
Zimmer wouldn’t specify the injury, but the USA Today later reported Kalil had a minor knee surgery done this offseason.
Kalil wasn’t the only projected starter watching from the sideline. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph, the priority signing of Minnesota’s free-agent period, also was limited and didn’t practice during team drills.
Joseph missed one game last season with ankle and knee injuries while playing for the New York Giants, but there was no reported surgery for Joseph after the season. Zimmer said Joseph dealt with the unspecified injury or surgery before he was signed by the Vikings in March.
"He had something in the offseason," Zimmer said. "Actually, before we signed him we knew it. He’ll be fine. He’s actually getting real close now."
Zimmer said Andrew Sendejo had a "procedure" for a back injury. Cornerback Josh Robinson and safety Jamarca Sanford were injured in Wednesday’s practice. All three defensive backs were held completely out on Thursday.
"Sendejo had a procedure on his back not too long ago and the other two guys, they got a little nicked up yesterday," Zimmer said. "Day to day. Little muscle pulls, nothing major."
Several of Minnesota’s top rookies were unable to participate.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater practiced Wednesday, but was away from the team on Thursday while at the NFL Rookie Premiere, a league event. Linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Scott Crichton and guard David Yankey are still in school at UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively.
Patterson has some more flash: Receiver and kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson made an immediate impact on the NFL last season after being a first-round draft pick.
Patterson says there is still more to be revealed.
Asked if he has to come up with something new now that team’s know the type of player he is, Patterson responded: "Not at all. I still don’t think they know what’s coming. I feel like I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I hope we getter and I just hope everything gets better for me."
Competition and opportunity: In the early days of OTAs, Zimmer and his coaches have been mixing and matching different players and not sticking with a true depth chart.
For instance, rookie sixth-round pick Antone Exum was working with Harrison Smith at safety for part of the team drills with Kurt Coleman and Robert Blanton behind them with Sanford and Sendejo out.
Rookie cornerback Jabari Price, drafted in the seventh round, was working with starters Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes at times in three cornerback sets. Second-year linebacker Gerald Hodges was lined up alongside veteran Chad Greenway at linebacker during team drills in the nickel situations.
"Our coaching staff doesn’t know these guys for the most part, so we’re just trying to figure out what guys do what best and how we can use them, and then who’s the best guys," Zimmer said. "I think competition makes us all better."
Seen it all before: Bridgewater wasn’t present Thursday, but the focus quickly turns to Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder at quarterback, of course.
The Vikings continue to search for a long-term starter, a seemingly annual summer occurrence for Minnesota.
"You know, it is what it is," running back Adrian Peterson said of quarterbacks being the story again. "Looking in (Bridgewater’s) eyes, you can see he’s hungry. He’s out there competing for a starting job and he’s going to have to really work hard, because Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, those guys are out there working extremely hard too to get that starting position."
Reports said Cassel, the presumed starter, had rotated first-team repetitions with Ponder and Bridgewater on Wednesday. Cassel took nearly all the first-team reps on Thursday when media were allowed in for practice.
"Any time you can reps, that’s the biggest things is being able to get out there and run it in real time against your own defense, which is giving us a heck of a time with all the looks that they do," Cassel said. "It’s all about competition. It’s one thing to throw routes on air. It’s whole other thing to be able to compete against one another."