As camp begins, a few football-related stories have emerged that help clarify the situation for the Vikings as they head into their first preseason with head coach Mike Zimmer.
Like any football team, there are concerns about heading into camp (and out of the preseason) with injuries that severely limit the team or end careers. In this case, there were concerns about those who had been held out of participation in OTAs and minicamps as a result of injuries: Matt Kalil’s knee surgery, Andrew Sendejo’s back operation, Josh Robinson and Jamarca Sanfard’s pulled muscles and Linval Joseph’s shoulder surgery.
When asked today before camp started, Zimmer told gathered media that one player would start camp out on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but wouldn’t say who. It turned out that it was Chase Ford who would most likely end up PUP’d—he has a stress fracture in his left foot and had surgery on it recently, and shouldn’t be able to participate in practices for some time.
This was the reason they chose to sign tight end Mike Higgins, formerly of the New Orleans Saints and release Spencer Nealy, who Spielman said was not released because of his looming suspension.
Matt Kalil says he’s been 100% cleared for three weeks now, and is ready to go. He acknowledged his “average” season last year and said he didn’t like the way he moved or prepared in the offseason going into last year. He says he’s trained better this year.
Matt Cassel is currently the number one quarterback, but it is still a three-way competition to be the starting quarterback come opening day. That competition will extend into the early preseason.
The Chris Kluwe/Mike Priefer situation rolls on. The Vikings have confirmed that he will be suspended for three weeks to begin the season. Like player suspensions, this means that Priefer will not be in the building, nor be allowed to contact the team, for three weeks, beginning Monday before the first game.
There were some other clarifications to be made before becoming tight-lipped.
- Mike Priefer apologized again (specifically in regards to how the distraction affected the team and family). He said he failed the standard he sets for himself. He will not change how he coaches, but will be cognizant of sensitivity.
- The Vikings would be hiring an external firm to conduct sensitivity training (with whom they’ll discuss progress in order to determine whether or not to reduce the suspension by one game)
- The team mentioned that they are still determining how to handle the practices and games during the suspension, going so far as to say bringing and interim special teams coach from outside is a possibility (which means that Ryan Ficken, the assistant special teams coach, is not a lock to take over during the suspension).
- The thread throughout the team pressers on this issue has been “he’s made a mistake and has owned up to it.”
- There has been no comment regarding whether or not Les Pico shared details with Rick Spielman of the incident.
- The Vikings would not discuss whether or not they considered firing Mike Priefer.
- The team would not indicate why it is not releasing the full report or summary.
- Chris Kluwe tweeted out that he and the team have resumed discussions.
- Cullen Loeffler said he and Chris Kluwe both laughed at the comment, and never thought it was serious.
There are rumors that Harrison Smith will build a blanket fort in the dorms. As of this moment they have not been denied (or, if we’re getting technical, confirmed).
Those who donated to my camp fundraiser expecting a training camp guide: my apologies on the delay. The final pieces should come together tonight and it will be compiled tomorrow. Those who requested a PDF should receive it some time then, while the print copies should arrive slightly later.