Scuffles and shoving matches continue to arise at the Minnesota Vikings training camp. The first one occurred on the second day of padded practices after Mike Zimmer didn’t think the team played aggressively enough the day before.
He began practice by having the offense and defense line up and do a goal-line drills. Things got heated after a couple reps of that and a shoving match began between running back Matt Asiata and linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, with a number of players joining them.
Rookie receiver Laquon Treadwell then got into it with cornerback Jabari Price later on in the practice. Treadwell body-slammed Price to the ground and the two started throwing punches and had to be separated by teammates.
The team had a day off following that practice, but returned on Wednesday. The competition remained heated out on the field and wide receiver Stefon Diggs and safety Andrew Sendejo turned it up another notch by getting into a shoving match of their own before they were separated by teammates.
The scrums are always a part of training camp and the team’s quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, doesn’t really see a problem with them. In fact, he’s a little jealous that he can’t join in on all the pushing and shoving.
“Me, I love it,” he said. “I wish that I could get involved in them, but I can’t with the red jersey on. It’s great to see that the guys have that physicality, that mindset and that attitude. But at the same time, we have to be a disciplined team. It’s great, as long as it’s within our team and doesn’t go any further than that. It’s just going to continue to bring attitude to this team and a mentality to dominate.”
Making sure it stays within the team is an important piece to the puzzle. The moment players start to get too aggressive during a game, especially in the regular season, penalty flags start to fly and sometimes suspensions get handed out. Both of those things can really hurt a team and it is something that the Vikings want to avoid.
But there are times during training camp where two teams will practice together and that added level of competition can lead to scuffles between the two sides. Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has had plenty of experience with that when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants coaching staffs.
“When I was with the Giants, we scrimmaged the Jets and it was unbelievable,” Priefer began. “(It was) at Albany. We had Jeremy Shockey, and I get along with Jeremy. Jeremy is a great guy, but he had a mouth on him. I think six DBs jumped him after one play. It was six DBs from the Jets against one Jeremy Shockey. It was wild. I walked quickly the other way so I didn’t get involved with that. That’s the one that stood out. Obviously, here when I was with the Chiefs, we came to Mankato for one scrimmage one day; it was a really good day. The next day, we went back to River Falls, where we used to have camp, and about halfway through camp I think the guys like Jared Allen and some of the veterans on both teams said, ‘You know what? Let’s start a fight here so we can stop practice.’ We practiced against each other far too long.”
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Prefer isn’t expecting anything like that to happen when the Vikings conduct two joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals before their first preseason game, in part because of the relationship Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer have. But at the same time these little fights seem to be a part of training camps in the NFL.
While there are some good things about these scrums, such as an increased desire to win and dominate the opponent, like Bridgewater stated, Priefer is not a fan of them. He doesn’t think there is a place for fighting out on the football field and would prefer it if they just didn’t happen.
“We’re not trying to get anybody hurt; we don’t want any fights,” Priefer said about the upcoming practices with Cincinnati. “To me, fighting on the football field doesn’t prove you’re a tough guy. I think to prove you’re a tough guy is doing the techniques and fundamentals correctly, playing strong and playing fast and doing your job at a high level. To me, that’s being a tough guy.”
Only time will tell how the joint practices will end up going, but one thing that is clear is the Vikings are starting to get a little sick of going up against their teammates everyday.