Minnesota Vikings rookies need to walk fine line in practice

A lot of young players often push themselves too hard in OTAs, as they are trying to make a team. Instead, they should just be focusing on learning the playbook and everything else that goes along with being a professional athlete.

Every year, the NFL’s organized team activities are filled with young players trying to earn a roster spot on a team, realize their dream and get to play the game that they love and have dedicated a majority of their life to for a living. 

That can lead to young hopefuls trying too hard and pushing the boundaries a little too much. Competition is always good, but OTAs are more a place for the young players to really learn the different schemes the team is preaching and for the veterans to get back into the swing of things. It can get dangerous when young players start pushing themselves and trying harder than the other players to prove a point because it can lead to injuries. 

During the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Wednesday, there was a moment where one of their undrafted free agents may have been trying too hard to make a play and it led to multiple players on the ground. Wide receiver Troy Stoudemire got past undrafted free-agent cornerback Keith Baxter and was streaking down the sidelines. The quarterback lofted the ball up to Stoudemire, he had it in his hands and then Baxter dove at Stoudermire, trying to make a play. 

It led to Baxter tackling Stoudermire to the ground, which resulted in the Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer coming out onto the field and letting loose a wave of rebuke. He explained later, in a much more mild usage of words, that the young guys just need to be taught how the Vikings do things in practices without pads. 

“They’ve never really practiced with the rules that we have, so it’s just reminding them every day how to do it the right way,” he explained. “They’ll get it eventually.”

http://www.scout.com/nfl/vikings/story/1672873-loadholt-it-s-been-extrem...  Every year players get injured during OTAs. It’s not something that anyone wants, but it is part of the game. Later on during Wednesday’s practice, Vikings defensive tackle B.J. Dubose went down in what looked like a routine running play and had to be helped off the field, clearly favoring his left leg. The Minneapolis Star Tribune later reported that it was a torn ACL. Some injuries happen without contact, but coaches don’t need a player doing something that he shouldn’t be, just to try to make a play. 

These type of things don’t happen too often, though, and a lot of the times you can just see the younger players talking to coaches or talking to veterans, trying to get a better feel for what they are doing. That’s what the OTAs are really for. 

“There is so much for young guys, the terminology and everything is new,” Zimmer said. “They have to find out where the locker room is, find out where the meeting rooms are, what the schedule is today, what time they have to be out here and how to practice. So it’s just really a combination of all those things. Like anybody, if you take a new job somewhere else, it’s all the different things you have to learn.”

Players can still be competitive out on the field, but they may want to save some of it for training camp when the pads go on occasionally and where contact is allowed. Right now, their primary focus should be learning the playbook and getting comfortable in whatever scheme they are running. 

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