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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Shared practices to give Vikings extra evaluation in preseason, again

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — In his first business trip back to Cincinnati, it’d be natural for Mike Zimmer to feel some nostalgia.

Though two months beforehand, he doesn’t anticipate such feelings.

“No, not really,” Zimmer said last week. “It’s 100 yards long just like everyone else.”

Entering his third season as Vikings head coach, Zimmer is set to return to Paul Brown Stadium, where the Vikings and Bengals are scheduled for an Aug. 12 preseason opener preceded by two joint practices on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11. While joint practices will be a first for many Vikings players, including defensive end Everson Griffen, it’ll also serve as additional preseason evaluation for a consecutive year.

“You know the one good thing about me is I know their players pretty well,” Zimmer said. “And so when our guys are going against their players, I think I’ll be able to have a good evaluation. There’s quite a few of them that are still there that are playing and the evaluation part for me will be big.”

Last summer, the Vikings had a fifth exhibition in the Hall of Fame Game, which provided the coaching staff extra tape to judge the roster for the eventual NFC North champions.

This summer’s sessions with the Bengals will be the franchise’s first joint practices since 2008, when the Kansas City Chiefs still held camp at UW-River Falls. The two practices at Paul Brown Stadium will shorten the Vikings’ annual stay in Mankato, Minn., where they’ll crush into each other for 10 days.

“Yeah, you know I get tired of seeing number 75 and going against him all the time,” Griffen said.

From 2008 to 2013, Zimmer planted roots in Cincinnati between crafting one of the league’s best defenses in the Bengals to purchasing an 80-acre homestead just south of the city. His familiarity only strengthens on the field, where many of his former coworkers and players remain under head coach Marvin Lewis.

Tempers flare between opposing teams, the latest evidence being a large fight that ended last summer’s joint practice between the Cowboys and Rams. Having history with coaches and players on both sides quells concern about that possibility, according to Zimmer. He was part of the shared practice between the Bengals and Falcons in 2013, which prevented tackling to the ground to protect against injury.

“Marvin and I have a great relationship,” he said. “We talk a lot. You know the players there, I have a lot of respect for and I believe they have respect for me. So, I think that we’ll be able to practice the right way. There won’t be any issues that way because they know I’ll still get after it, too.”

The first practice, on Aug. 10, will be the only full-padded session followed by a lighter practice the next morning. They’ll kick off the preseason on Aug. 12.

Will Adrian Peterson take his first exhibition carry since 2011? The possibility isn’t ruled out, according to Zimmer, who last year openly wondered if he should’ve played Peterson after he struggled some in the shotgun.

Maybe practices with the Bengals will serve that purpose.

“I haven’t really thought about that yet,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know that there’s a need. Some of the different runs that we’re running, maybe it might be good to get him a couple of reps. But that’s probably the good thing about practicing against Cincinnati. I don’t have to see him in live things, but I can see him in other situations. But I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that one.”

The post Shared practices to give Vikings extra evaluation in preseason, again appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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