Photo - Andy Kenutis (Minnesota Vikings)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Eden Prairie, MN - With a full class of draft picks, undrafted free agents and a hand full of local players to fill some of the open space, the Minnesota Vikings took to the practice field for a weekend full of Rookie Mini Camps at Winter Park.
The weekend session gives coaches and personnel their first opportunity to go in depth with the new players. A hard-nosed, high-speed weekend full of installation on and off the field is on Coach Zimmer's docket.
Within the eye-sight of many will be the high-end top draft picks especially the two first rounders, linebacker Anthony Barr and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
After making the first round pick, Coach Zimmer mentioned that he appreciated the fact that Anthony Barr had only played two years on the defensive side of the ball. He equated him to a fawn, willing and eager to learn all sorts of new skills in a short period of time. After just the morning sessions with the rookies Friday, Coach jokingly upgraded Anthony from a fawn up to a doe!
"That's awesome," Barr said. "I guess I'm very happy to be a doe."
The big adjustment for Barr will be learning to play off the ball more in the NFL. Primarily a pass rusher and run stopper in college, Barr will be honing in on using his eyes better, reading the blocks and trying to improve on defending the pass at the NFL level.
On the field, progression will come. But off the field, Barr appears to have the confidence needed to play at the NFL level.
"I look good [in purple]," Barr said with a smile on his face. "Hopefully I can play as well as I look."
KFAN contributor and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber was on hand for Friday's practice. Here are his thoughts on Barr's first day.
LEBER'S TAKE: "Barr is as big as advertised in my mind, he's a big dude. They had him working off the ball doing some zone pickups and he actually looked fairly comfortable. Although it wasn't full speed, he was grasping some of the basic concepts. He received a lot of special attention, it will be [Mike] Zimmer and him working close."
Day one for Teddy Bridgewater went well also.
Coach Zimmer made it a point to mention how impressed he was with Teddy's work ethic and his tactics used towards learning the terminology of the Vikings new offense.
In an offense that even the veterans have already said has their heads spinning, Bridgewater has taken to repeating the play calls even on back-to-back mirrored plays. For him, his philosophy of learning through repetition works for both the physical and mental side of things.
LEBER'S TAKE: "Teddy was as expected. He threw at least one interception that I saw but it was hard to tell if it was his fault or the receiver's. He floated a couple nice throws, over the shoulder deeper throws. I never put a lot of stake in these type of practices for the quarterbacks because for a few practices the defense is always going to have the upper hand in jumping on balls. It was just kind of had an okay day for Teddy.
Running back Jerick McKinnon was also present today for the first time in purple. A third round pick, expectations are very real that McKinnon will have some sort of impact with this team this year. Exactly, what sort of impact, that is what remains a mystery.
"I like him," Zimmer said of McKinnon. "I think we're going to find some things for him to do. He's short in stature but he's got big legs and a big rear end and he's got explosiveness. I think we're going to find some things for him to do."
As for where the rookies will start on the depth chart this season, Zimmer made no qualms about it...
"They'll start at the bottom. It doesn't mean they'll end there at the bottom. You've got to line them up somewhere and they'll start down there and go from there. You guys are more worried about the depth chart than I am, I'll worry about it when we get to September."