We know that Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater likes to give himself extra practice "reps" by programming the team's playbook into his copy of Madden NFL and running the offense. From what the team announced yesterday, he might have an opportunity to be a part of something a bit more realistic.
Via the team website, the Vikings announced that they are the fourth team to sign a contract with a company called STRIVR Labs, a company that specializes in virtual reality instructional technology. The other teams that are working with STRIVR are the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and San Francisco 49ers.
So, what's it all about?
The technology developed by STRIVR in Palo Alto, California, incorporates the use of video footage from reps at practices. A team from STRIVR, including former Vikings special teams standout Heath Farwell, will begin gathering footage at training camp immediately.
"I think first and foremost it's just awesome to see any team, but especially the Vikings be at the forefront of doing something like this," STRIVR Founder Derek Belch said Sunday. "As far as what it can do, we're looking at literally taking the practice experience and bringing it off the practice field. I'm in no way, shape or form ever going to denounce the importance of physical reps, but the reality is NFL teams are increasingly limited in the amount of time they're able to spend on the field, and we're giving these guys a chance to simulate, just like they're there."
Belch said the company is able to film the reps in a special way that will allow Teddy Bridgewater, for instance, to watch the replay from his viewpoint.
"The goal here is the coaching staff tells us what they want their players to be doing in the virtual environment and what they think some of the coaching points are mentally and physically," Belch said. "We kind of prepare a nice little template to them on how we can pull that off. At the end of the day, Minnesota is going to have a really nice library that grows on a daily basis that their players can access at any given time."
Here's a video about how the new technology is being utilized at Stanford University, home of the former Cardinal player that invented the technology.
It's nice to see the Vikings as one of the teams on the leading edge of something like this. I'm sure that, eventually, every team will have this, but the Vikings are jumping on the bandwagon ahead of just about everyone else. Sure, Madden is nice and all, but this takes preparation to a completely new level.