On the final day of training camp in Mankato – an early-morning affair so players could return home and pack for the Tuesday evening flight to Cincinnati – Fusco and nose tackle Linval Joseph had enough of each other.
At the tail end of a running play, Joseph picked up Fusco and slammed him to the ground. The two were joined on the ground by several other bodies in a scrum that lasted a short time before head coach Mike Zimmer broke it up.
“Sometimes that happens when you come in here with an attitude and tempers flare,” Fusco said. “It’s just part of the game. I’m sure we’ll be best buds when we get back in the locker room. When you step on the field it flares.”
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Joseph, listed at 329 pounds, if often credited as the strongest player on the team. Fusco, at 306 pounds, gives up some weight in that matchup but brings a feisty attitude.
“Me and him were going against each other the whole practice. It seemed like every play, whether it was one-on-ones,” Fusco said. “That’s the way we both are, both physical, and we want to compete and we want to beat on each other. He got me, and I got him a couple plays. That’s just the way it is.”
Several plays later, Zimmer ended the final practice in Mankato almost an hour early.
“I think at this time of camp, it’s about time to start going against (someone else),” Zimmer said. “You saw we had a little fight out there today. Guys start getting on each other’s nerves a little bit.”
The Vikings packed up much of their camp equipment following Monday afternoon’s practice, but Zimmer wanted to get in an early practice Tuesday morning before they head to face the Bengals for two joint practices before facing them in the preseason opener on Friday night. Wednesday’s practice against the Bengals will be in full pads and Thursday’s is shoulder pads only.
“I think guys get a little tired, a little cranky and irritated and going against the same guys every day. You get kind of sick of same people,” receiver Adam Thielen said.
“Training camp can get monotonous.”
Said Fusco: “We’re all excited to hit someone else, see different scenery. We’re looking forward to that.”
- The Vikings held out eight players from Tuesday morning’s practice: WR Jarius Wright, CB Terence Newman, LBs Edmond Robinson, Eric Kendricks and Brandon Watts, DTs Sharrif Floyd and Scott Crichton, LT Matt Kalil and CB Terence Newman (more on those here).
- RB Jerick McKinnon and WR Stefon Diggs briefly went to the trainer’s tent but returned to action on Tuesday.
- CB Melvin White left practice about halfway through and didn’t return.
- John Sullivan was working with the first-team offense as he and Joe Berger continue to rotate days as the starting center. Zimmer said he wants to see “consistency of movement and power” from Sullivan.
- Andre Smith continues to take the first-team reps at right tackle and appears to be winning that job. T.J. Clemmings, who had been getting some work with the starters at right tackle, took Kalil’s spot at left tackle on Tuesday.
- Diggs dropped a pass about 40 yards downfield on one of the first plays of full-team work, then dropped another shorter pass later in practice. Thielen followed up Diggs’ first drop by hauling in a similar pass from Teddy Bridgewater when Thielen beat rookie CB Mackensie Alexander.
- WR Cordarrelle Patterson practiced for the second straight day during full-team work as he comes back from a shoulder injury. Patterson had a great one-handed catch in the flat on a pass from Shaun Hill, but Hill also overthrew Patterson on a deep route that appeared to be intercepted by Antone Exum. However, the official ruled that Exum didn’t hold onto the ball long enough after he hit the ground.
- The Vikings had 10 days of practices in Mankato. “It’s a little shorter. I wouldn’t say easier,” Fusco said. “It’s always a grind. It’s never an easy camp with Zim. He’s going to push you to the limits. This team is willing to work. I don’t think it’s a problem for us.”