Vikings trying different depth combinations

It’s that time of camp where the coaching staff is trying to find out who is roster-worthy and who deserves a shot to move up the depth chart.

Don’t try to pin down the Minnesota Vikings for a depth chart just yet, or even bother with writing your own in pen from the training camp stands.

Mike Zimmer is moving players in and out of first-team reps and a new batch of changes hit the practice field Wednesday after the coaches met during Tuesday’s day off for the players.

Teddy Bridgewater, the rookie first-round pick, got some first-team practice reps on Wednesday, but not many. Matt Cassel continued to receive the majority of the first-team work and also got some snaps with the second-team offense. But Bridgewater didn’t impress Zimmer as much as he has in the past.

“He didn’t look quite as accurate as he had throughout the whole camp, but I’m looking at a lot on the defense quite a bit today,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer was also succinct in his evaluation of the Vikings’ other first-round pick, linebacker Anthony Barr, who saw increasing time with the first-team defense.

“The only time I noticed him he was late on the blitz and I talked to him about it,” Zimmer said.

While some of the highly drafted rookies are getting opportunities to show what they can do working against other NFL starters, there is also a push to see more of other players that aren’t expected to start. It’s that time of camp when coaches can afford to do that, as they don’t have to worry about preparing for games that matter just yet.

The roster trimming is still a month away – the cut-down from 90 players to 75 is August 26 with the final trimming to 53 on August 30 – but coaches want to start to find out how players that might make the bottom of the 53-man roster will fare against top-level competition.

“One of the things that we talked about in the meeting yesterday is we’ve got to get a look at some of these down-the-line guys, some of these younger guys against good people,” Zimmer said when asked about players like seventh-round pick Shamar Stephen and rookie free agent Isame Faciane. “They’re going against the second or third offensive line so we need to get them against the first team some. It’s just an evaluation.

“All we’re trying to do is evaluate, move guys around where we can evaluate. At some point in time I’ll have the second defense go against the first offense so we can keep evaluating our guys. When you start getting down to the cuts, we have to evaluate what they’re going to be playing against in the season.”

Zimmer has apparently seen enough of Chad Greenway as a potential middle linebacker in the base defense, at least for now. There are others to evaluate more thoroughly, like Jasper Brinkley, Michael Mauti and Mike Zimmer (the linebacker), the last of whom had a big goal-line hit in Monday night’s practice.

“We as coaches have to see these other guys as far as just exactly what we have at that spot, so that’s going to be a big contention for us,” Zimmer said of the linebackers. “I told (linebackers coach Adam Zimmer) today, I said, ‘Make sure that we grade on paper every one of these practices. Write down the mistakes, write down the missed alignments, write down the mental error so we’re on our P’s and Q’s with that.’”

For now, Greenway will continue to see time at middle linebacker in the nickel defense, but evaluating others is more important as the Vikings sneak up on the one-week point of training camp.

In the process, some of it will work and some of it Zimmer will critique with his watchful eye.


  • WR Cordarrelle Patterson returned for a full practice in full pads, his first extensive action at training camp since injuring his left foot while working out in Los Angeles earlier this month.

    “It was great,” Zimmer said of Patterson’s return. “First day out and I let him break the team down and they kind of gave me a hard time about it. He was standing there and I never decide that until I get out there. He looked good. He’s running good. I’d have to look at the tape to see how many mistakes he made.”

  • CB Captain Munnerlyn wasn’t as active as Patterson. Munnerlyn, returning from a hamstring injury that he also hurt while working out before camp, was activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list Wednesday morning but only participated in individual drills.

    “I think he’ll do the nickel stuff tomorrow and then work him in more full-team,” Zimmer said.

  • CB Josh Robinson left practice with what is expected to be a minor hamstring injury. Zimmer said he told the athletic trainers to shut down Robinson for the day.

  • S Robert Blanton isn’t expected get back in action as quickly. He strained his hamstring in Monday night’s practice and could be out for a couple weeks.

  • S Andrew Sendejo (back/ankle) is expected to get worked back into practice for the first time this offseason sometime next week.

  • TE AC Leonard left practice with a headache.

  • TE Chase Ford has the cast off his foot and now has a walking boot.

    Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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