MANKATO, Minn. -- Since he became the Minnesota Vikings' head coach in January 2014, Mike Zimmer has taken several opportunities to link the current team to great players from the team's past. On Sunday afternoon, as the Vikings congregated in the middle of the field at the end of their practice, Zimmer called up perhaps the greatest defensive player in team history.
Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page, who will retire from the Minnesota Supreme Court later this month after serving 22 years as an associate justice, addressed the Vikings at the end of practice on Sunday. It's the second straight year Page has spoken to the team, and it coincided with the 1971 NFL MVP's visit to Mankato for a NFL Films documentary.
"His stats -- I happened to read them out in front of the team, and these guys couldn't believe all the things that he did," Zimmer said. "I like doing that with these former players. It gives them a chance to understand a little bit about how we want to go about getting to that spot."
Here are some other notes from Sunday's practice:
The Vikings kept several players out of practice on Sunday, as they tried to prevent nagging injuries from turning into more significant ones. Offensive tackle Carter Bykowski (bruised thigh), running back DuJuan Harris (shoulder) and receiver Gavin Lutman (hamstring) all missed their second straight practice, and the Vikings gave 35-year-old quarterback Shaun Hill some rest. Said Zimmer: "I think we ran out of oil in the training room."
Cornerback Josh Robinson, who has a partially torn pectoral muscle, remains the one player the Vikings might not see in the near future. Zimmer said the defensive back is not close to a return.
Rookie free agent Taylor Heinicke got most of the second-team work with Hill taking the day off. Heinicke's best play of the day might have come on a connection with Cordarrelle Patterson, who leaped over Marcus Sherels to haul in a pass along the sideline. "Like a lot of young guys, he'll have some good plays and he'll have some really bad plays," Zimmer said. "We have to try and eliminate some of these bad plays. But he's really conscientious in trying to get things done the right way."
The Vikings continued to use Terence Newman in the slot, as Trae Waynes worked outside with the first-team defense. "He's got great quickness," Zimmer said. "He's been able to do that in the past. He's always been so good at corner that we've kind of left him out there. I'm just trying to figure out how to get the best crew I can get in there. I'm looking at all kinds of different scenarios." Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is still returning from a foot injury, and hasn't seen much work with the first-team defense yet. "He's paying attention, doing the things we've asked him to do," Zimmer said. "It seems like he's locked in."