MANKATO, Minn. -- Peyton Manning had "Omaha." Aaron Rodgers has "New York Bozo." And now Teddy Bridgewater might have his own signature call at the line of scrimmage, to pay tribute to a Minnesota musical icon.
During the Minnesota Vikings' first padded practice of training camp on Sunday, Bridgewater could be heard calling out a check at the line using the words "Purple Rain," the name of Prince's seminal 1984 film and album. The musician, who was born in Minneapolis, opened Paisley Park Studios in the Twin Cities suburbs and introduced the world to the "Minneapolis Sound," also was an avid Minnesota sports fan who recorded a fight song for the Vikings after attending their 2010 NFC divisional playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Prince, who died following a prescription drug overdose in April, will be honored at the Vikings' new stadium with a tribute concert on Oct. 13. He'd reportedly been in talks for a concert at U.S. Bank Stadium this August. He is memorialized in a piece of art hanging over several of U.S. Bank Stadium's club areas. And while time will tell if the Bridgewater call sticks, there's a chance the Vikings could hold their own mini-tribute to the legend this fall.
Here are some other notes and observations from the Vikings' practice Sunday:
In the Vikings' first field-goal period of team drills, kicker Blair Walsh went 8-for-8, drilling attempts ranging from 29 to 41 yards. After Walsh's 27-yard miss in the closing seconds of the Vikings' NFC wild-card loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January, coach Mike Zimmer instructed special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer to reinforce Walsh's confidence with some shorter kicks during the Vikings' spring program. ESPN's Kevin Seifert has an insightful look at Walsh's attempts to move on here.
The Vikings' defensive backs had the better of their wide receivers on Sunday. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn made what might have been the play of the day, tipping a deep ball from Bridgewater away from Charles Johnson, staying with it as he deflected it again and hauling in an interception. Xavier Rhodes also broke up a long pass for Johnson, who had another drop on a tough sideline catch. Safety Andrew Sendejo came down with a diving interception of Bridgewater. And safety Michael Griffin also ripped the ball away from running back Matt Asiata at the end of a running drill.
When the Vikings took defensive end Scott Crichton in the third round in 2014, Zimmer thought the Oregon State product might be able to play as an inside pass rusher, as well. It turns out that's where the Vikings will primarily use Crichton, who's struggled to get on the field and has been surpassed on the defensive-end depth chart by 2015 third-rounder Danielle Hunter. "In college, he played real hard and did a lot of dirty work," Zimmer said. "He was going all the time. He was a very productive player. When we drafted him, we thought he might be an end with moving-in-on-nickel rush ability but I think he’s more inclined to be an all-the-time inside player that can slide out once in a while." In the Vikings' first pass-rushing drills, Crichton used what he called a "scissor move" to blow past his man, and Brian Robison -- who spent some time as an inside pass rusher last season -- took Crichton aside to offer some corrective tips after one drill.
The Vikings have rotated their first-team center and right tackle during the first few days of camp; on Sunday, John Sullivan and Andre Smith were back in those respective spots, after Joe Berger and T.J. Clemmings worked there on Saturday. Sullivan, who was participating in his first padded practice since two back surgeries last year, had his hands full with nose tackle Linval Joseph, who gave the center a long ride backward during a 1-on-1 drill.