The Minnesota Vikings are beginning to accept what may be their reality early in the season: a fan-less U.S. Bank Stadium.
Before Friday’s padded practice, head coach Mike Zimmer indicated that the Vikings were unlikely to have fans early in the season due to state regulations that limit indoor gatherings to 250 people.
“It looks like we’re not going to have any fans there early,” he said, “which really stinks because we have such unbelievable fans, and they make that place rocking every Sunday.”
The team has yet to confirm this news. It was reported Thursday by the Star Tribune that the Vikings were seeking permission from Governor Tim Walz and the Department to Health to allow 12,000 people in the stands.
Either way, the Vikings are pumping in crowd noise at practice that will be identical to what they’d hear in a fan-less stadium, according to Zimmer. He reported that the league would permit 80-90 decibels of noise, far lower than what a sold out Vikings crowd would produce. “I think television is going to pipe it into their broadcast, but as far as in the stadium, it’s going to be very stagnant,” Zimmer said. “Just background noise.”
Offenses will have little excuse not to run smoothly if crowd nose isn’t a factor. The Vikings offense has steadily progressed throughout the week and had a relatively clean day on Friday, though many of their best connections came during 7-on-7 drills, which don’t allow quarterback pressure. Justin Jefferson shook off an early ankle twist to string together some nice grabs, and third-string running back Mike Boone was as involved as he’s been in camp.
The defensive front four remained short-handed as Danielle Hunter missed a sixth straight practice with what has been described as a “tweak.” If he doesn’t return after Saturday’s off day, it may be time for a higher level of alarm.
Here are the rest of Friday’s takeaways:
- Zimmer revealed that Sunday’s practice will contain a 10-minute scrimmage situation that will offer the most game-like action we’ve seen yet. Next Friday the Vikings will head to U.S. Bank Stadium for a simulated half of football to get players acclimated to the environment.
- Steven Parker and Nate Meadors took second-team safety reps, which doesn’t bode well for rookies Josh Metellus, Brian Cole II or Myles Dorn. The team also reportedly worked out George Iloka, who was on the team in 2018.
- CB Kris Boyd missed his first practice of camp Friday, while WR Dillon Mitchell missed his second straight.
- In a situational drill, the Vikings offense was given one play to score from inside the 10-yard line. Kirk Cousins lobbed it up to Kyle Rudolph, but Anthony Harris deflected the pass.