MANKATO, Minn. -- Setting up the day at Minnesota Vikings training camp:
Today's schedule: The Vikings will hold their final practice at Minnesota State for the season this afternoon at 3 p.m. CT, then head back to the Twin Cities after that. They'll begin with a morning walk-through from 10:30-11:30; coach Mike Zimmer and quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater are scheduled to speak to reporters after the walk-through.
More observations from Wednesday's practice:
Safety Chris Crocker continued to get work with the first-team defense on Wednesday, and it's looking like the 34-year-old will get every opportunity to claim the starting job opposite Harrison Smith. He could start on Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals, and though Robert Blanton is still listed first on the Vikings' depth chart this week, his hamstring injury is providing opportunities for others to win the spot. Considering Crocker's history with Zimmer, he has a good shot to win the job.
Bridgewater has thrown five interceptions in his last two practices, but neither Zimmer nor running back Adrian Peterson seemed overly concerned about the spate of turnovers. "If we are going to get beat, let’s get beat out here in practice, let’s learn from what we do out here," Zimmer said. "I think that is for every position. This is where we learn and when we go out to play, we have a better feeling of our talent and the guy we are going against. But his confidence is not shaken, he is fine." Said Peterson: "That's how you find out if a guy is resilient or not."
Speaking of interceptions, Zimmer had an interesting point about how he wants his defensive backs to operate in practice. While fans and reporters might get excited about players jumping routes to pick off passes against teammates, Zimmer said he doesn't always want players operating that way when game situations won't afford them so much familiarity. "I know what routes Kyle Rudolph likes to run when I am covering him. It doesn’t help me as a defender to guess and be on the right thing," Zimmer said. "When I go against somebody that I don’t know, then I am guessing and cheating or I am playing it differently. I think it is important that we learn how to play football first. I had Terence Newman when he first came back to Cincinnati and he jumped in front of a route and intercepted the ball. Then I said, 'Terence, I don’t want you doing that yet. I want you working on your technique, I want you working on what you need to do to get better. When you get that part down, then you can use your intelligence about where you are at playing football, then you become a much better player.' He understood and we went from there. To me, it is about getting us better, it’s not about not defeating our offense or defeating our defense. It’s about getting us better, because that is what will stand the test in the long run when we have to go play 16 ballgames. A guy can jump a route two times and get an interception then gets beat 10 times; that is not a good day."
They said it: "I try to whisper stuff in his ear every now and then and I hope that he is listening. ‘Hey, just go out and play your game. Just control what you can control.’ He’s out here learning a difficult system. Like I tell him, ‘You’re going to make mistakes.’” -- Peterson, on helping Bridgewater develop as a rookie.