Vikings players are putting on the pads Monday afternoon for the first time this summer during what is expected to be a hot and humid afternoon – a temperature of 92 with a heat index of 96 is predicted at the start of practice.
"It's going to be warm, for sure. We'll have to make sure we're hydrated," head coach Leslie Frazier said after the one-hour morning walk-through. "We've done a good job, we think, of working with our trainers and coaches with hydrating. We'll be monitoring that heat for sure."
Frazier changed around the team's normal routine of full practices in the morning and walk-throughs in the afternoon for the 2012 version of training camp, flip-flopping that order and saying he wanted players to experience the heat. The team is scheduled to practice from 2:45 p.m. until 5 p.m.
The new collective bargaining agreement spells out how many practices can be in pads, and Frazier said the team will ease into the full-contact portion.
"We're going to have some live moments where we do some live drills and we take them to the ground. Today, for us, for instance, we're going to be live on the line but we're not going to take the running backs to the ground," Frazier said. "But there are going to be some periods as we move through training camp where we are going to take some guys to the ground. You just have to find that balance between giving them what they're going to see in the game and trying to prepare them for games, yet not lose guys in practice. It's a fine line. Everybody's going to do it a little bit different, but you're trying to find that balance."
He said having the pads on is really the initial step in getting a true evaluation on players "because it really begins to separate certain players from others." The evaluations will ramp up even more when the Vikings start their preseason schedule Aug. 10 at San Francisco.
"You have to try to figure out ways to be creative in some of the drills that you do to try to evaluate them, but the preseason games really become more of a premium from an evaluation standpoint, which is one of the reasons you will play some of the young guys a little bit longer," Frazier said. "You can't just beat each other up in practice because you have to have bodies to practice with."
ROBINSON NOT READY YET
Cornerback Josh Robinson, the team's third-round draft pick, offered the defense some scout-team looks during the Monday morning walk-through, but he's not ready to resume football activities after tweaking a hamstring Friday.
"Any time you're a rookie and you miss time, it sets you back. It's out of his control. An injury is an injury," Frazier said. "You can't rush him back, especially with a hamstring at his position. You just have to take it day to day and when he's back he'll catch up. You hate to see any rookie miss time in training camp."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.