Can you believe it? Training Camp in Mankato is less than one week away as we sit here today. The journey is about to begin for the players and the dream, which is already underway for the fans, starts to become a reality…or a nightmare depending on what team you’re rooting for.
But something is different this year. Something that you probably didn’t even notice if you weren’t paying close attention or weren’t familiar with the “normal” Training Camp schedule for the Minnesota Vikings. I saw it the second that the schedule was released because my life gets taken over when camp starts but this year I had to determine whether my adventure would start July 23rd or July 26th?
Take another look at the schedule, there are two “reporting” dates for the team this year. First, quarterbacks and rookies report to camp this coming Sunday, July 23rd and secondly veterans are expected to move into the dorms in Mankato on Wednesday, July 26th. It’s similar to baseball and spring training as Pitchers and Catchers are required to arrive at camp a few days before the rest of the group for intensive training and work needed for their roles this year.
But why is this? And is it a good thing for the Vikings? One former player I chatted with seems to think so and today he elaborated on why it’s a good thing for the team.
When the schedule first came out, I remembered bringing the idea of this new variance up to former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber after our radio show one morning. Immediately, he said it was a good thing. We quickly got off topic as we are wont to do with The Power Trip crew and moved on, but today my curiosity caused me to circle back once again as he joined the show.
“Why exactly is it such a good thing?” I asked Ben.
“It’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s a really good thing.”
Leber went on to explain that this was the way it was for him the first two years he played in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers.
“It’s just the obvious of having extra time with the coaches that you probably wouldn’t normally get,” Ben told us. “As a rookie it was kind of nice to go in there and you had all the attention from the coaches, that doesn’t happen when the veterans get there…it’s a chance for them to get to know you as a player even more. It’s good, it’s a good thing for these rookies as well.”
According to Ben, the same goes for veteran players who might not be required to show up early but are still looking to take a firm grasp on a starting role and players that missed time due to injury last year. Intensive, small classroom training for those who are looking to take a step forward. That’s great for guys like Laquon Treadwell who are hoping to rinse out the bad taste left over from the previous season.
And for the quarterbacks it’s simply an opportunity to get their arms a little more loose, bank the extra classroom time in the new playbook and focus on passing intensive drills before the rest of the gang arrives.
“There’s a knot that goes into you stomach, still today,” Leber who retired after the 2011 season said. “When [Training Camp] is less than a week away you’re mentally done. You’re useless at home, your wife or significant other is sick of you moping around the house looking at the clock. I laugh and I smile when I think about the anxiety those guys are feeling.”
They may not be as excited as we are for Training Camp to begin, but it’s almost here guys. Football season is right around the corner and our sports abyss nightmare has almost come to an end!
Check out the full interview with Ben Leber in the player below.