MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings backup offensive tackle Kevin Murphy left Friday afternoon’s practice and was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance on a warm day at Minnesota’s training camp.
Murphy walked off the field early in the afternoon practice, which is run in pads and helmets. He had a cold towel over his head and submerged himself in a cold tub behind the fields. An ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Murphy walked himself into the ambulance and the doors closed.
The ambulance remained in place for a few minutes before leaving with Murphy to the hospital.
“He wasn’t feeling well,” coach Leslie Frazier said after practice. “So we had to send him. They told me after practice that he’s fine.”
Frazier did get an update on his condition after Murphy was at the hospital. Temperatures were in the low 90s Friday afternoon with heat indexes rising to the mid-90s on a day with very few clouds. Murphy, a rookie free agent from Harvard, was re-signed by the Vikings on July 24, two days before training camp began.
Murphy, 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, had been with the team earlier in the offseason before being released to make room for defensive end Nick Reed. Darrion Weems was cut to re-sign Murphy, who had been working with the second-team offensive line at practice due to injuries to tackles Patrick Brown and DeMarcus Love.
Of course any signs of heat illness in Vikings’ camp bring reminders of Aug. 1, 2001, when offensive tackle Korey Stringer died of heat stroke while in training camp in Mankato. Stringer was a beloved teammate and friend, and his locker still remains in the team’s locker room in Eden Prairie, encased by glass.
It was a rough practice for the Vikings, who also lost safety Eric Frampton and defensive end Jeff Charleston.
Frampton went up for a pass with receiver Stephen Burton in one drill and landed on his back with Burton falling on top of him. Trainers attended to Frampton, who left the field with head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman. Frazier said he had the wind knocked out of him and should be back Saturday.
Frazier said Charleston has an ankle injury and will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. Frazier didn’t have any update on offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who was taken back to the Twin Cities to diagnose an abdominal strain. Schwartz missed all of last season with a hip injury, adding to Frazier’s concern.
Tight end John Carlson (knee), running back Jordan Todman (ankle), Love (shoulder) and Brown (knee) didn’t practice Friday afternoon.
Running back Adrian Peterson continued his side work in his recovery from knee surgery. At one point, Peterson went over to Blakeslee Stadium nearby to run stairs as he nears his return.
Third-round draft pick cornerback Josh Robinson returned to practice with the defense Friday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on the first day of training camp. Robinson was still working in slowly but was in pads for the afternoon practice.
Tough camp: As he sees teammates dropping around him, defensive end Jared Allen is healthy but noting the toughness of training camp.
Frazier made the decision to switch the once-a-day padded practices for the warmer afternoon sessions this season. The team has meetings and then goes through a light walk-through in the mornings before breaking for lunch, more meetings and the afternoon padded practice.
The Vikings also had their first padded practice on Monday and have continued the pads and light hitting all week long in the afternoon.
“I’m surprised about how we’ve been going live,” Allen said, while laughing. “I tell you what, other than coach (Dick) Vermeil, this is the toughest camp I have been a part of. You know, five straight days of pads and we’ve had live periods in almost every day. That was a bit surprising and the fact that we are here for three weeks.”
Walsh converts on two big attempts: Minnesota is trying to replicate pressure situations for rookie kicker Blair Walsh, and so far Walsh has responded well.
Walsh ended practice two days ago with a kick right down the middle in a situation where coaches said his make or miss would determine who won the practice. On Friday, coaches had Walsh end two separate team periods with an attempt. His first attempts easily cleared the crossbar from 45 yards, and he ended practice by connecting on a 55-yard field goal with some distance to spare.
Walsh was selected in the sixth round of April’s draft out of Georgia and was 10 of 17 from 50-plus on field goals in his four-year career, including a 56-yarder last year. He finished his Bulldogs career just 76 of 103 on field goals, but special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has been pleased with his rookie kicker so far.
“He is working at it and he really understands his trade and what he needs to work on and what he needs to improve on in order to be an effective kicker in this league,” Priefer said.
Annual night scrimmage: Saturday is Minnesota’s annual night scrimmage in Blakeslee Stadium next to the team’s practice fields. The Vikings will have their usual walk-through in the morning and then have an extended break with practice in the stadium at 7 p.m.
Team introductions and fireworks follow the scrimmage.
“It will be fun for the fans,” defensive end Brian Robison said. “It marks the end of the week for us. So, we’re looking forward to getting that off day. It’s just a chance for us to go out and have kind of a game-like situation and see what we’re made of.”