Zimmer said two weeks ago that the Vikings would try to practice outside when possible (read: conducive) before cold-weather outdoor games. The Vikings are playing their 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota while construction continues on their new $1 billion indoor stadium, scheduled to be open for the 2016 season.
“If the weather’s bad and we can’t get stuff done, that’s one thing,” Zimmer said two weeks ago. “But if we can get out here, I’ll have some heaters out here going, and we’ll try to get out here. In Cincinnati, we didn’t have an indoor (practice field). We had to go outdoors. It is what it is.”
But the Vikings have a new addition to their outdoor practice fields on the way – a bubble that will cover part of one of their two outdoor practice fields with heating vents about 40 yards long.
“We’ve got like a bubble that’s going out that’s going to heat the field, keep it from freezing, so we can get out there and practice in the weather,” Zimmer said after an indoor practice Monday as winter conditions hit Minnesota with snow and ice for the first time this season. “We’ll have heaters, like 40 yards of heat vents, for the players when they are on the sideline, but the field will be heated so it’s not frozen. The Wilfs (ownership group) had purchased that and we just didn’t expect it to be this bad this soon.”
The bubble is on a ship from Europe, Zimmer said.
He would like to practice outdoors as long as it’s not prohibitive to getting work done and they are preparing for a cold-weather game outside.
“If it’s blizzarding and coming down hard, then we’ll probably go in (the fieldhouse) to get practice done, but we want to try and go outside as much as possible when we’re playing in these conditions. When I was in Cincinnati we didn’t have an indoor (facility) so we went outside every day unless it was really bad then we bused up to the University of Cincinnati. I want that to be our mindset. It doesn’t matter what it’s like outside it’s time to go, so they aren’t asking, ‘Are we going outside today? Are we going inside?’ They can assume we are going outside unless I tell them differently.”
Vikings receiver Greg Jennings, who played in Green Bay for seven years before joining the rival Vikings during the 2013 offseason, said it doesn’t matter what the players think about practicing outside – if that’s what Zimmer wants, that’s what he will get.
“They’ve had nine games of pretty much what they do. I’m sure they’ll change some, they’ll look at some of the things they did and change,” Zimmer said. “They’ve been working pretty hard from training camp going forward. I’m sure they’ll be angry when they come out. No one likes to get thumped, just like we’ve been thumped a few times, too. That’s what the in-game adjustments are for.”
“He ran routes and did a little bit of everything, more than individual he did stuff,” Zimmer said. “We’re hopeful (he can play Sunday), but we’ll see as the week goes on.”