Early storm calls for Vikings audible

Mike Zimmer would like to have Wednesday and Thursday practices outside prior to cold-weather games. That plan could be put on hold this week prior to Sunday’s game in Chicago.

With the Vikings playing outdoors the next two years, head coach Mike Zimmer had a plan about practicing outside. What he wasn’t quite as prepared for was that winter comes to Minnesota early.

For those who haven’t heard, Minnesota got hit with its first snow storm of the season and it was pretty significant. Parts of the state got more than a foot of snow and Winter Park is expected to end up with several inches of snow by the time the system clears out Tuesday.

The snow may end up causing at least a temporary problem for the Vikings. Because the team plays outdoors, when not brutally cold, Zimmer wants to conduct practice outside in preparation for home games. Considering he wasn’t here last year when the term “polar vortex” was introduced to many Minnesotans who had never heard the term, the idea of outdoor practices seems, to say the least, a bit ambitious.

In order to get winter-style practices accomplished, the Vikings purchased a state-of-the-art field heating system that was ordered from Europe. A tarp and heater system will be installed to prevent snow from accumulating and preventing the field from freezing by heating it akin to the coils under the field at TCF Bank Stadium.

Unfortunately, there is no overnight delivery from Europe and it hasn’t arrived yet.

The problem with the current storm is that it’s going to give Zimmer, Norv Turner, George Edwards and those players who weren’t here last year the first Arctic Blast of the first outdoor season in Minnesota since Dallas was the top-rated TV show.

The average temperature for the practice scheduled for Thursday is 42 degrees. Thursday night the projected low temperature is expected to 3 degrees – coming off a high of 21. It’s not like Ohio – where both Zimmer and Turner spent 2013 – is a winter destination spot. But Minnesota is a different animal.

Outdoor practices make sense in most venues. Minnesota? Not so much.

If the Vikings were going to be playing outside for the long-term, it makes sense to toughen them up Bud 2.0 style. But it’s a two-year solution in between Zimmer having a roster loaded with “his guys” and a team that will be playing inside – with or without migratory bird genocide. It’s a hard-nosed, ambitious plan that has one strike on it already.

Wait until Zimmer gets his first look at the fake wolf annually placed on the practice field and asks, “What the…?”

It won’t officially be winter for six weeks. Tell that to Minnesota first-timers.

The best (or worst) is yet to come. So are a lot of indoor practices … at least until the European tarp arrives. They should have kicked in on the priority shipping charge. Now they’re behind the game. That’s never good in Minnesota winters – or mid-November pre-winters.


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