Preseason too long? Vikings differ

The Minnesota Vikings have five preseason games this year, but not everyone can agree on the right amount of preseason action.

While NFL teams complain about four preseason games being too many with the risk of injury, a couple of key people with the Minnesota Vikings disagree about them having five preseason games.

The Green Bay Packers incurred a season-ending injury to receiver Jordy Nelson on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with surgery to repair an ankle injury to starting center Maurkice Pouncey that happened in that same game against the Packers. The Vikings themselves lost starting right tackle Phil Loadholt with a torn Achilles tendon suffered the previous weekend.

No doubt, the preseason should be shortened, especially with the Hall of Fame Game adding a fifth preseason game for the Vikings, right? Not so fast.

“I thought it would be good for us this year,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said about playing five preseason games. “There was a lot of factors why we did it – the Hall of Fame, being on national television for a young team, start out where this is the first game of the year. I thought all that would be a good for a young football team. Next year I probably wouldn’t do it. It’s just each year is different.”

The Vikings have a young team that Zimmer is trying to prepare in the second year of his defense and Norv Turner’s offense.

However, the only Viking that won’t see preseason action, Adrian Peterson, thinks the preseason, even at four games, is too long.

“I do feel that way. I feel like them adding on an extra game as well, that’s a lot of wear and tear on the body and then you’re going into a 16-game season,” Peterson said. “Guys go down and things aren’t guaranteed with what their situation is. It’s rough. So I think it’s something to sit back and think about. It’s not basketball. This is football. Guys are being chopped below their knees and guys are running and colliding into each other going 100 mph. So there’s a high level for risk for major injuries. You look at the numbers and it shows that. I think it’s something they need to take into consideration and maybe turn it into three games in the preseason or something.”

Zimmer has taken the usual approach to the preseason, slowly ramping up how long his starters are in those exhibition games. But while he wants to get a longer look at the younger players on the second and third levels of the depth chart, injuries are a consideration.

“Definitely,” Zimmer said. “Some of the guys may not need as many reps as other guys to get game-ready. I think you’ll see a little different thing that we do this week probably.”

That could mean younger starters stay in the game for an extra series or two while older veterans play a few series and come out. Having the Hall of Fame Game to start the preseason offers more potential action for players, but Zimmer is counting snaps rather than counting games or series on the field.

“I was trying to count up the number of plays that we’ve had in the preseason with most of the guys, so we’ve had some good work,” he said. “I think it’s important that we go out and still get some good work, but everybody wants to game plan. We’ve never game-planned for a preseason. We’re just going to go out and play until I feel comfortable with how things are. I’m not approaching this one any different than last week.”

While some teams have implemented joint practices with other teams, the Vikings have avoided that approach in recent years. However, if the preseason were shortened, Zimmer would consider that possibility.

“I just go with what they tell me to do. I think you’d probably have to have some more work against other teams if they shortened it,” he said. “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m just a soldier. I do what they tell me.”

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