The Minnesota Vikings won’t christen U.S. Bank Stadium until the start of the 2016 regular season, but they will return to Winter Park long before the opening of their brand new home in downtown Minneapolis. As first reported by ESPN’s Ben Goessling, the Vikings will begin offseason workouts just 17 days from now, on April 18. He also shared the team’s full schedule through June, as follows:
- Offseason Workouts — April 18
- Organized Team Activities (OTAs) — May 24-26, May 31-June 2 and June 6-9
- Mandatory Minicamp — June 14-16
This offseason will likely be much calmer than the last, when Adrian Peterson held out through the beginning of June. When he finally returned to the practice field, the Vikings were well into their offseason program and looking ahead to training camp.
Each year, the NFL breaks the offseason down into three phases. According to CBS Sports, those three phases include everything from strength and conditioning to 11-on-11-drills. The first phase will be particularly important to the Vikings, as they’ll get their first extended look at new strength and conditioning coach Brent Salazar. It consists of the first two weeks of the program, and limits activities to just strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation.
The next phase, a three-week stretch, transitions players from the weight room to the practice field. Teams are permitted to cycle through individual drills, instructional drills, and “separate” team drills. However, no live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.
Last year, fans saw Mike Zimmer carry rookie cornerback Trae Waynes through the process, coaching him up in between every whistle. The rookie minicamps, which occur around the same time as regular minicamps, are a chance for rookies like Waynes and this year’s crop of new players to set foot on the field for the first time.
It’s the third phase, a four-week stretch of 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills, that separates the boys from the men. Though there’s no “live” contact, coaches are given the opportunity to evaluate a player’s grasp of the playbook and mastery of the offensive or defensive concepts.
An offseason without football lasts just a month or two. Soon, fans will get to see their favorite players back at team facilities and working toward the start of the regular season.