The Vikings' scrimmage under the lights Saturday night at Blakeslee Stadium won't be as hard-hitting for two reasons: Injuries and the set-up of the night practice.
The instra-squad scrimmage will be much like a normal practice – no tackling to the ground – only under the lights and in the main football stadium at Minnesota State University in Mankato.
"It will be thud. We're going to front them up and make contact and let the ball carriers go," defensive coordinator Alan Williams said after Saturday's morning walk-through.
His defense will also be short three players, including two anticipated starters.
Rookie CB Xavier Rhodes is dealing with a hamstring strain and won't participate.
"I think for young guys when they're not practicing, it's always a little bit of a setback because they won't always be able to take the reps that aren't live and transfer that over to an experience," Williams said. "The muscle memory isn't always the same for them. I don't think there will be as much as setback, but I don't think there will be as much of a gain as if he were on the field."
Rhodes has been in a camp competition with 2012 third-round draft choice Josh Robinson to take over for the departed Antoine Winfield at left cornerback. No matter how that battle shapes up in the coming month, Robinson is expected to slide inside to cover the slot receiver in the team's nickel defense.
"Josh has never been inside before so that's a big transition. People don't understand how tough that nickel spot is," Williams said. "You have to fit up in the box like a linebacker or safety and you have to cover like a corner outside. You have to have a feel for the game and he's progressing. He's going to make mistakes, like everybody does when you're new to a position, but I feel good about how he's picking up things."
The other injury to a starter is a groin strain for newcomer Desmond Bishop, who has been practicing mostly with the second-team defense but is expected to eventually become the team's starting weakside linebacker after signing a one-year free-agent deal with the Vikings in June.
"I don't think he'll go either (in the scrimmage). We're going to hold him (back), too. It's unfortunate," Williams said.
Additionally, backup safety Mistral Raymond is back on the injury list. Like Rhodes, he is dealing with a hamstring pull and isn't expected to practice until at least Monday.
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.
Three defenders out for Vikings scrimmage
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