It seemed a bit odd for a football team to enter practice wearing shorts, baseball caps or visors. The only things missing were sand and flip flops. That was the scene for the morning walk through that included a 30 minute special teams session focusing on the punting game. The other 30 minutes were spent by the offense and defense in walk-thru fashion bracing for this afternoons first full padded and full contact practice in Mankato.
With temperatures in the 90's and a heat index between 96 and 98, hydration will be the call to order as the team takes the field at 2:45. One of the biggest pieces of this afternoons practice will be the one-on-one battle with Jared Allen and first round rookie draft pick, tackle Matt Kalil.
Wide Receiver Michael Jenkins
On being in the system for the second year:
There's a lot of growth and confidence with all the players being in the second year of the system. Knowing little ins and outs so that's going to help development for sure.
On the competition at wide receiver in camp:
It feels like it's a lot more. Bringing in the young guys from Arkansas, bringing in Jerome (Simpson) from Cincinnati, adds playmakers on the field. It's exciting to see everyone out there making plays.
Offensive Tackle Matt Kalil
On being in camp for the first time:
It's fun to be with my teammates again after that month off we had. It's good to get down here. I'm excited to get into pads for the first time since last year. I'm definitely excited and ready to go.
Head Coach Leslie Frazier
Our guys are anxious to get the pads on and get started. We'll begin to learn a lot about our football team and how far we have to go as we prepare for our season opener against Jacksonville.
On cornerback Josh Robinson's injury:
He's making progress. We'll just have to take it day to day and see where he is. He's not quite ready to get back into the mix with the other players yet but he's making improvements.
Anytime you miss time and are a rookie it sets you back. An injury is an injury, you can't rush it back especially with a hamstring at his position. We'll just have to take it day to day and when he's back he'll catch up.
On the status of the linebackers:
I'll know a little bit more after we've had a few padded practices. Especially the middle linebacker position. The thing about EJ (Henderson) was his leadership was such a big deal. But we're learning more about that position as we get some padded practices in.
Offensive line being more physical:
It's one of our goals to be a physical offensive line and a dominant offensive line. We want to be a physical group up front. We think moving Charlie to guard really makes us better. We're really expecting big things from Matt even though he's a rookie. We think that left side of our line is really improved. If we can across the board come together, one of the keys will be the right guard position and identifying the right guy.
On the right guard position:
You really want someone to step up and separate themselves from the pack. A guy who plays smart, plays tough like we want him to and is a disciplined player.
If there will be a rotation with the right guard:
It depends on how it plays out in practices. If someone is really showing in practice that they should really be the number one then they will be the starter that game. If someone is separating themselves in practice, until he shows us he can't do it in a game, he'll be the number one.
On evaluating young players in the new CBA with limited contact practices:
The pre-season games really become a premium from an evaluation stand point which is one of the reasons you'll play some of your younger guys longer. You have to give them a proper evaluation.
On the vets welcoming the rookies to the NFL:
I'm sure some of the vets will go after the young guys. I'm sure some of the younger guys are a little bit nervous with it being the first time they put the pads on and line up against the guys they have watched on TV for a number of years. It should be a good experience for all those rookies.