Today, the Wednesday after baseball's All-Star Game, is widely considered the slowest sports day of the calendar year. Three of the four major sports aren't in season and the one that is in season has the day off. There is literally nothing going on in the sports landscape. The sports calendar is so dormant that lots of people will actually watch the ESPYs tonight. Yeesh. (But still, you should totally vote Adrian Peterson for Best Male Athlete, Best NFL Player, and Best Comeback.) Heck, even the Gold Cup is off until Saturday.
(What's the Gold Cup, you ask? It's a tournament for this sport called "soccer". What's that? Shut up about soccer and get back to football? Fair enough.)
Since so much was going on today, it was only natural that I write my first Daily Norseman article in just over three weeks, right? Thankfully we actually do have a lot to talk about--Minnesota Vikings Training Camp!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're only nine short days away from real live football [practices] by our favorite team in Mankato. You may have heard that Daily Norseman has received access to the entirety of Vikings Training Camp for the first time ever. We're still hashing out who's going to be in Mankato and when; it sounds like Arif, Skol Girl, and I will be the lucky three covering as much as we can for you. But before we get to pretend to be real live journalists for chunks of the next three weeks, I'm going to educate you about all things Vikings Training Camp. And when I say educate, I mean you'll be the smartest Vikings fan in your group of friends by the time practices start next week if you make it through this article.
Jon Ekstrom and the PR staff of the Vikings were kind enough to send the official 2013 Minnesota Vikings Training Camp Release to us yesterday. It's a 37-page PDF full of everything you need to know about what's going on in Mankato from July 25 through August 15. And since I don't have everyone's email addresses I'm going to give you a page-by-page breakdown of the information-rich document.
Ready? This summary may border on Arif-level length. You've been warned. Here we go:
Sections: 2013 Vikings Schedule, 2013 Important Dates, News release about training camp, Quick Media Info, Training Camp PR Contact Info, 2013 Regular Season Opponents
Brief recap of what the page covers: It's your typical introductory/overview page. A 10,000 foot view of the upcoming season along with some quick information about Mankato.
Fun facts from the page:
- Only one of the Vikings' home opponents (Packers) made the playoffs last year. Five of the Vikings' road opponents (Packers, Redskins, Ravens, Bengals, Seahawks) made the playoffs in 2012.
- More than 45,000 fans took part of the activities in Vikings Village last year.
- Only the Packers have held training camp at the same location for a longer period of time than the Vikings. (Green Bay has been at St. Norbert College for 56 years; this will be the 48th straight year for the Vikings in Mankato.)
- The Quick Media Info section states that children will not be given media credentials. So I guess that means my plans to put a lanyard on my 3-month-old daughter and have her give THE MOST ADORABLE INTERVIEW EVER are now off the table.
- Director of Corporate Communication Jeff Anderson's phone number is...just kidding Jeff. (But it is listed on the page. I'm totally going to text him emojis when I'm in Mankato.)
Sections: Directions, Fan Admission and Parking, Practice Times, Autographs, Vikings Village, First Aid, Weather Conditions, 2013 Northland Ford Autograph Zone, 2013 Training Camp Events, 2013 Training Camp Media Information
Brief recap of what the pages cover: The first half of the page gives all the basic information of where to go in training camp to the unwashed masses. The second half of the page gives all the basic information of where to go in training camp to the hoity toity media folks like us. (Of course I'm not letting all the access go to my head or anything.)
Fun facts from the pages:
- All scheduled practices and scrimmages are free and open to the public. I know we get a lot of questions about that in the comments, so there's your answer.
- The practices are free, but the concessions and merchandise available in the Vikings Village aren't. I would recommend bringing cash if you want to buy any snacks or memorabilia for the players to sign.
- Speaking of players signing, there is only one day that all players are available for autographs: August 14. Every other day is broken down by position group. If you have a certain player in mind, make sure you attend on their respective position's day. Here are the days for each group:
- Monday 7/29: Offensive Line
- Tuesday 7/30: Defensive Backs
- Wednesday 7/31: Linebackers
- Thursday 8/1: Wide Receivers
- Friday 8/2: Defensive Ends
- Monday 8/5: Quarterbacks
- Tuesday 8/6: Defensive Tackles
- Wednesday August 7: Running Backs
- Monday 8/12: Specialists
- Tuesday 8/13: Tight Ends
- Morning walk-thrus normally begin at 10:30 AM and afternoon practices normally begin at 2:45 PM. And 1:00 PM is when the Noodles & Company by campus is normally packed with purple-clad fans.
- No sitting or kneeling is permitted by the media or anyone else on the practice field. This may not seem like a big deal, but the August sun can force the Vikings staff to remind people of this rule pretty often.
- We aren't allowed to report or film any injuries until the team has provided an official update. So if I tweet about an injury, scold me so I remember this rule.
- My favorite media guideline: "Media members must stay behind the white lines surrounding the practice
fields. Please do not go in between the fields." They forgot to add "except if you're Sid Hartman; then you're allowed to roam around wherever the hell you want."
Sections: MSU, Mankato Campus Map, Driving Directions from MSP Airport
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Just a couple of maps. One of the campus, one of the driving directions from Minneapolis to Mankato.
Fun facts from the pages: Um, as a member of the media I get to park slightly closer to the practice fields than the general public? Let's move on.
Sections: 2013 Schedule Notes, 2013 Season Outlook
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Each and every game of the 2013 season along with notes about each opponent. It also provides some information about the final season of the Metrodome and the leading returning players from last year.
Fun facts from the pages:
- Barring any ties, the Vikings will break the all-time series ties with four opponents this year: the Steelers (8-8), the Cowboys (14-14), the Ravens (2-2), and the Eagles (12-12).
- The Vikings have the 10th toughest strength of schedule according to their opponents' 2012 records. The toughest schedule belongs to the Panthers while the Broncos have the easiest. (Go figure.)
- 2013 will be the first time the Vikings have ever had their home opener against the Browns.
- The game in London against Pittsburgh will be the first time the Vikings have played a game overseas since the 1994 preseason.
- The game against Carolina will be the eleventh time the two teams have met; eight of those games have been at the Metrodome.
- Remember the last time the Vikings played the Giants? You should, because it happened in Detroit thanks to the Metrodome roof collapse.
- The game at Dallas will be Christian Ponder's first chance at beating his hometown team.
- This is the fourth year in a row that the Vikings are playing against the Redskins.
- This is the first time ever that the Vikings will play the Seahawks in back-to-back seasons.
- Adrian Peterson ran for 508 yards against the Packers last year. (I bet you're smiling after reading that too.)
- There's a typo in the description of the second Bears game. (Sorry, I'm a Technical Writer. I can't help it. And yes, I'm sure there will be at least a couple typos in this article.)
- The game at Baltimore marks the fourth time in the past five years that the Vikings have played the defending Super Bowl champions.
- This will be the first time the Eagles have visited the Metrodome since the 2008 NFC Wild Card Playoff game. Side note: I was at that game. It sucked.
- The Vikings were victorious in their first game at the Metrodome against Tampa Bay way back on September 12, 1982.
- The last regular season game ever at the Metrodome will be against the Lions on Week 17. The Vikings are 68-33-2 all time against the Motor City Kitties.
- The team has a record of 164-89 at Mall of America Field including the playoffs, which is a .648 winning percentage. They have gone undefeated at the Metrodome three times ('89, '98, '09).
- The Vikings have never been shut out at the Metrodome. The last time they were shut out at home was October 7, 1962.
- Eighteen starters from last year's team are returning in 2013.
- Ten players currently on the roster have played in a Pro Bowl. (Jared Allen, Matt Cassel, Jerome Felton, Chad Greenway, Greg Jennings, Matt Kalil, Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, Kevin Williams, and Blair Walsh.)
Sections: Head Coach Leslie Frazier, 2013 Coaching Staff
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Detailed bios of Leslie Frazier, Bill Musgrave, Alan Williams, and Mike Priefer along with a list of the other 2013 assistant coaches.
Fun facts from the pages:
- Frazier made his head coaching debut all the way back in 1988 as leader of noted football powerhouse Trinity International University.
- Fraizer's son Corey plays defensive back at Rice.
- If the Vikings go 16-0 in 2013, Frazier will have doubled his number of NFL coaching victories. (Hey, a guy can dream can't he?)
- The Vikings tied a franchise record with 2,634 rushing yards. Is anyone else surprised that they tied the record exactly? What are the odds?
- Musgrave was a backup to Joe Montana and Steve Young in San Francisco from 1991 to 1994. He also backed up John Elway in Denver for two years.
- During Alan Williams' first year as Defensive Coordinator in 2012, the Vikings allowed 21.7 points per game, down from 28.1 the year before.
- Williams has an Al Bundy moment: he once scored four touchdowns in a playoff game against Massachusetts as a running back at William & Mary.
- The Vikings led the NFL in opponent average starting field position.
- Since Priefer's arrival in 2011, the Vikings rank first in the NFL in average kickoff return yardage.
- I want the same person that wrote these bios to write my obituary. Nothing is more flattering than an NFL coach bio.
Sections: 2013 Draft Selections, 2013 Free Agent Signings
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Detailed bios of the nine players the Vikings drafted and the eight free agents the team signed in 2013.
Fun facts from the pages:
- Sharrif Floyd was the first defensive lineman to win All-America honors since 2001.
- Xavier Rhodes and the Florida State defense led the nation in yards allowed per play (3.86).
- Cordarrelle Patterson became the first FBS player to score a touchdown four different ways since 2008 (receiving, rushing, punt return, and kick return).
- Gerald Hodges is one of only eleven players from Penn State to lead the team in tackles in back-to-back seasons. Out of those eleven, he is one of only five to record over 100 tackles in each season.
- Jeff Locke led the Pac-12 in touchbacks (68) and punts inside the 20 (34). I believe that only one of those statistics is a good thing.
- Jeff Baca has sweet hair. He also started 20 games at tackle and 25 games at guard for UCLA.
- Michael Mauti finished second on Penn State in tackles in 2012 with 95. Some dude named Hodges was the only player with more.
- Travis Bond started all 25 games during the last two seasons of his college career.
- Everett Dawkins is one of six former Florida State players currently on the roster. Apparently Christian Ponder has Rick Spielman's ear in the war room.
- Desmond Bishop has only one interception in his career. Which was against the Vikings. Which he returned for a touchdown.
- Matt Cassel has been in the NFL for nine years already. Does that surprise anyone else?
- Lawrence Jackson was teammates with Matt Cassel, Everson Griffen, and Rhett Ellison at USC. I am fairly convinced that the Vikings take the majority of their players from only four colleges.
- Greg Jennings is currently the active leader in receiving touchdowns of over 80 yards with four in his career.
- Brandon Keith saw his first NFL action in 2009 against the Vikings.
- Greg McCoy was a 1st-team All-American kick returner in college; I'm guessing that may be his best bet to stick around in Minnesota.
- This is Seth Olsen's second stint with the Vikings. He spent the 2010 season on the team's practice squad.
- Roderick Williams went to Alcorn State, which is Leslie Frazier's alma mater.
Sections: 2013 Undrafted Free Agent Signings, 2013 Alphabetical Roster, 2013 Numerical Roster, 2013 Position-By-Position Breakdown, 2013 Roster By Draft Round, 2013 Roster Moves, Roster By Experience
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Bios of all the UFAs the Vikings drafted and the entire roster broken down in just about any order you can imagine. I'll use these pages a ton during Training Camp when looking for information about fringe players. (Or just trying to figure out "who's number xx again?")
Fun facts from the pages:
- While coming up with relevant facts and statistics is rather easy for draft picks and free agent signings, you kind of have to dig deep for the undrafted guys. I won't go through every player since most of these guys won't make the 53-man roster, but I'll include some of my favorites.
- Brandon Bishop "hails from the same hometown as Blair Walsh".
- Marquis Jackson "attended Birmingham HS in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles". OK then.
- Bradley Randle's "father, Lenny Randle, was a longtime pro baseball player, playing for 6 different teams, including the Rangers for 5 seasons, in his 11 year MLB career".
- Rodney Smith is "cousins with Dolphins RB Lamar Miller".
- Adam Thielen "was a member of the [Detroit Lakes] Lakers state championship golf team as a senior".
- Collins Ukwu was "active in the community while at Kentucky, helping the Big Blue U Move-In among other causes".
- Camden Wentz's "father was an All-American swimmer at Arkansas".
- The Vikings' most crowded position heading into training camp? Defensive back with 17 players. The next most numerous positions are defensive line (16), offensive line (15), and wide receiver (12).
- Only two players on the roster were drafted in the third round: Josh Robinson and Tyrone McKenzie. The fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds are all in double digits.
- The Vikings are still pretty young. Only eighteen players on the roster have more than 5 years of NFL experience. Only Kevin Williams has more than ten years under his belt.
Sections: 2013 Roster Notes, Media Information, 2012 Season In Review
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Interesting statistics about the Vikings roster, a summary of media availability during the 2013 season, where to find the Vikings on various forms of media, and a quick recap of the 2012 season.
Fun facts from the pages:
- The ACC has 16 players on the Vikings roster, more than any other conference.
- Phil Loadholt is the largest Viking (6' 8", 343 lbs). Marcus Sherels is the smallest Viking (5' 10", 180 lbs).
- Seven members of the Vikings coaching staff played in the NFL.
- Three Vikings were born in Germany: Brandon Burton, Jerome Felton, and Jeff Locke.
- There is a pronunciation guide for selected players and coaches. I'm pretty sure I've been mispronouncing "MISS-trail" Raymond's first name this whole time.
- You can hear Paul Allen's glorious voice on game day on 74 different radio stations across six states.
- I can almost guarantee that you never knew this before today: the official name of the Mall of America Field playing surface is "Sportexe Momentum 51".
- I can almost guarantee I should have known this before today but didn't: the 2012 Vikings selected captains on a game-by-game basis.
- The Vikings have six more division titles than any other NFC North/Central team.
Sections: 2012 Statistical Snapshot, Honor Roll
Brief recap of what the pages cover: A walk down memory lane through the glory year of 2012. Or just an overview of all the statistics and honors for the Vikings last year if you aren't feeling especially nostalgic.
Fun facts from the pages:
- Jared Allen set the team record for consecutive games with at least a half sack with 11.
- Adrian Peterson has 36 career 100-yard rushing games. Four of those have been 200-yard games.
- AP is already 24 ahead of Chuck Foreman in the team's all-time rushing touchdown category with 76.
- Behind Peterson, Blair Walsh was the second most honored Viking during the 2012 season. According to the release, Walsh won nine weekly and season awards in his rookie year.
Sections: Position-By-Position Snapshot
Brief recap of what the pages cover: Quick biographical information about each and every player on the Vikings roster, sorted by position. No real new information we haven't covered here; just another helpful tool for media folks to glean some quick information from while we're in Mankato.
Fun facts from the pages: Nothing that we haven't already covered from the bios above. And if you're still with me nearly 3,000 words into this epic breakdown, congratulations! We only have a couple sections left.
Sections: 2012 Regular Season Stats, 2012 Regular Season Defensive Stats, 2012 Vikings Participation, 2012 Game-By-Game Statistics
Brief recap of what the pages cover: An extensive statistical breakdown of just about everything that happened last season. Want to know which games Marvin Mitchell was active for last season? You can find it here. Want to know how many points the Vikings scored in the fourth quarter at Houston? You can find that here too. Want to know the team's game-by-game third down efficiency? Yep, that's here too.
Fun facts from the pages:
- Twelve players started all 16 games last year: Allen, Brandon Fusco, Chad Greenway, Charlie Johnson, Matt Kalil, Phil Loadholt, AP, Ponder, Kyle Rudolph, Harrison Smith, John Sullivan, and Kevin Williams.
- The Vikings outscored opponents by 49 points in the first half and were outscored by 18 points in the second half and overtime.
- Even though the Vikings had a +31 scoring margin, their opponents had 39 more first downs last year. Opponents also had 66 more passing first downs.
- The Vikings outrushed opponents by nearly 1,000 yards; they were outgained through the air by over 1,100 yards.
- While Blair Walsh missed only three field goals last year, Vikings opponents missed only five.
- Only five Vikings intercepted a pass in 2012: Smith, Antoine Winfield, Robinson, Greenway, and Griffen.
- Jared Allen had 40 of the team's 151 quarterback hurries.
Sections: Last Time It Happened..., 2012 NFL Standings
Brief recap of what the pages cover: A list of last time the Vikings and their opponents have accomplished various feats along with a recap of the 2012 standings and postseason.
Fun facts from the pages:
- The Vikings haven't blocked a punt for a touchdown since 1986.
- The Vikings have never had a 200-yard rushing game in the playoffs. I would like to think that could change soon.
- The last player to catch three touchdowns in a regular season game for the Vikings? None other than Marcus Robinson back in 2005 against Cleveland.
- Here's one that will stump your friends. The last player to block a punt for the Vikings? Jim Kleinsasser, in 2006 against Chicago. (That can't be right, can it?)
- Vikings opponents haven't missed a PAT in nine years. (There have been a few blocked since then, most recently Kevin Williams against Seattle last year.)
- The Vikings haven't allowed 50 points in a game since 1984 against San Francisco. They haven't scored 50 points since 1998 against Jacksonville.
So there you have it--literally every single thing you'd ever want to know about the Vikings heading into Training Camp next week. I hope it was as educational for you as it was for me. After all, it's not like you had anything else to do on the most boring day of the sports calendar.
Stay tuned for much more as we iron out who from Daily Norseman will be heading to Mankato and when.