Some Minnesota Vikings players have seen their new stadium; others will get their first look at the $1.1 billion stadium Friday when head coach Mike Zimmer brings his players there for the last practice of the week.
The Vikings will play their preseason home opener at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Zimmer previewed the practice as a “typical Friday practice,” but there will be a learning curve going on inside and outside the stadium.
“Really what I wanted to do was take them down, show them where they park, how they get to the locker room, how they come out of the tunnel,” Zimmer said Thursday. “We’ll have the video boards going, so that stuff is not new to them. We’ll try to figure out what the doors are like cause I haven’t been there when all the doors are open. See if that’s got any effect on anything.”
The footprint of the stadium is nearly twice as big as the old Metrodome, which was demolished following the 2013 season. Zimmer was hired as the head coach in 2014 and his team has been playing at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium the last two seasons while U.S. Bank Stadium was being built.
It features a roof in which 60 percent of it is made of a translucent material, five pivoting glass doors that are as tall as 95 feet and two large high-definition video boards that total 12,560 square feet.
It also has artificial turf that Zimmer would like the players to practice on before playing there.
“A little bit for the surface, I know it’s the same turf as most places, but it’ll be new so it’ll probably be a little bit slippery, I’m guessing,” he said.
While the third preseason game typically features the longest look at the starters, Zimmer would also like to get the Vikings off to a better start than they managed last year. Although the Vikings were favored in the regular-season opener, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-3, a performance that left Zimmer saying he didn’t recognized his team out there.
That could spur some changes to how the Vikings approach the last two weeks before they open the regular season.
“We’re going to change up some things next week when we start getting ready for Tennessee, different than what we did a year ago. It’s a different week, too,” Zimmer said. “We had the Thursday game, and then we played on Monday night. This year, it’s a Thursday, Sunday. So, there are some things we’re going to change.”
- The Vikings released CB Melvin Gordon, who didn’t play in the first two preseason games.
- CB Xavier Rhodes, LT Matt Kalil and DT Scott Crichton didn’t practice on Thursday and have missed at least the last three days of practice.
- Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell had a bad dropped pass in individual work but made a great catch in traffic during red zone work. However, he dropped the next pass thrown his way.
- Blair Walsh went 7-for-8 in his field goals with the full team, hitting seven between 33 and 41 yards but missing from 36 yards.
- QB Teddy Bridgewater continued to stretch the field on occasion as he comes back from a reportedly sore shoulder. He threw an incompletion about 40 yards downfield.
- Rookie CB Mackensie Alexander nearly intercepted a Shaun Hill pass intended for Cordarrelle Patterson, but Hill and Patterson connected on the other side of the field shortly thereafter for a 30-yard gain.
- CB Captain Munnerlyn also missed an interception opportunity a short while later.
- RB Adrian Peterson made a solid catch out of the backfield for a 3-yard touchdown during red zone work, but it was clearly a miscommunication in coverage.
- After Joe Berger took first-team reps at center on Wednesday, John Sullivan was back working with the starters on Thursday.
- The Vikings announced that the 2016 season at the new U.S. Bank Stadium is sold out and they have started a waiting list for future tickets. Of the 66,655 seats available, 60,400 of them went to season-ticket sales with the remaining single-game tickets selling out within hours of their availability in July. “This is a testament to the passion of our fans and tremendous support of the Vikings,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf said in a release. “The excitement for this team combined with the overwhelming response to U.S. Bank Stadium is incredible. We cannot wait to create the best home field advantage in the NFL.”
- Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren, his wife, Greta, and family will donate over 900 backpacks filled with school supplies to Lucy Craft Laney Community School in Minneapolis and District 191 in the south Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. It is the fifth consecutive year the Warrens have distributed the backpacks, which are age-appropriate for primary, elementary and junior high students, as well as school supplies for the full school year, to students at Lucy Craft Laney Community School. In the past four years the Warrens have donated approximately 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, basketball uniforms for both the boys and girls basketball teams and school uniforms for some individual students.