The Minnesota Vikings started their 52nd, and final, training camp in Mankato on July 24. Owatonna's Todd Walkingstick was there for his 24th straight year.

He said the camp had an odd feel for the first few days with just rookies and a few veterans reporting and fairly light attendance by the fans. Crowds picked up by the end of the week, capped by huge crowds by Saturday. Walkingstick said he felt the players were being even more accommodating than usual, allowing for many photo and autograph opportunities. Walkingstick posts pictures with players frequently on his Twitter account, @Purple_Stick.

He is impressed with rookie running back Dalvin Cook who, "has a quick mind to decide which way to go." Cook was getting most of the early work at No. 1 running back with Adrian Peterson's departure to New Orleans and veteran Latavius Murray going on the physically unable to perform list due to ankle surgery after his acquisition from Oakland.

Walkingstick says Bridgewater is "moving his feet pretty quick" as he recovers from a severe knee injury suffered last August.

A training camp favorite is Saturday, August 5, when the team hosts Family Day that includes a 7:30PM practice at Blakeslee Stadium on the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus. Walkingstick encourages people to arrive early. He says its usually a packed house and expects it to be overflowing as one of the final events of the final Mankato camp.

The team practices most days 10:30-11:30AM and 2:45-5:10PM, however Tuesday, August 1, is a day off for the team and the Vikings Village will be closed. Camp closes on August 8.

A big story out of camp Sunday was the signing of corner back Xavier Rhoades to a five-year contract extension, according to the Vikings website. The 2013 first round draft pick was Minnesota's defensive MVP in 2016 and earned his first invitation to the Pro Bowl. The Vikings play their first preseason game Thursday, August 10, at Buffalo.



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