MANKATO, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are on to Cincinnati.
For the first time in Mike Zimmer's three seasons as head coach, the Vikings will hold joint practices with another NFL team. Zimmer isn't typically a big fan of them because of the tendency to get out of control and dissolve into unproductive fighting and injury-risking brawls. But Zimmer is a huge fan of Bengals coach and former boss Marvin Lewis, whom he trusts to help him maintain order when the teams practice in Cincinnati on back-to-back days before their pre-season opener at Paul Brown Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.
"No. 1, I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't Marvin Lewis and them, and they're a good football team," said Zimmer, looking ahead to the Vikings' first joint practices since 2008, when Brad Childress had them practice against the Chiefs.
"I think at this time of camp, it's about time to start going against (someone else). Guys start getting on each other's nerve a little bit, so it's nice to go against someone else, and the competition will be good. They're a really good football team. They've been in the playoffs the last six or seven years. They've got a lot of good talent."
This also is a chance for running back Adrian Peterson to play a heightened practice tempo without the risk of being tackled. The 31-year-old typically sits out the preseason games and hasn't had an exhibition carry in five years.
"Just going against someone different helps," Peterson said. "Seeing different schemes, different players. A great defense, obviously, that made the playoffs last year. One of the better defenses in the league."
Peterson won't play Friday. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the other offensive starters are expected to play only a series or two.
The offensive line could play longer as new line coach Tony Sparano continues to try and piece together his five best players. Many of the competition battles that were expected up front never materialized after right tackle Phil Loadholt retired and guard-tackle Mike Harris was placed on the non-football injury list with a head injury. Center is the closest battle as John Sullivan tries to take the job back from Joe Berger after missing all of last season with two back surgeries.
At receiver, the competition has been stiffer than expected with special teams standout Adam Thielen stepping up his game and versatility at a time when his roster spot might not have been guaranteed. Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell is only now starting to get first-team reps. He has looked a little slow and tentative, but also has flashed the ability to use his bigger body to fight for the ball.
Defensively, the line has been the most dominant unit of camp. Right end Everson Griffen has looked in mid-season form since Day 1, while nose tackle Linval Joseph has shown no signs of the turf toe injury that hit him in the midst what was trending toward an All-Pro season a year ago.
In the secondary, 2015 first-round draft pick Trae Waynes will get an opportunity to start Friday night as 37-year-old Terence Newman recovers from an undisclosed injury that surfaced over the weekend. Zimmer, the noted defensive backs guru, has spent a lot of one-on-one time with Waynes, who appears ready to step in.
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks also is battling an undisclosed injury from Saturday night's intrasquad scrimmage. It doesn't appear to be serious, but he could miss the joint practices and the preseason opener as a precaution.
For Zimmer, it's a homecoming. He still has a ranch in nearby Kentucky and is only three seasons removed from having spent six seasons as Lewis' defensive coordinator.
And if the Bengals try too much rough stuff with a certain 31-year-old future Hall of Fame running back, Zimmer probably still has enough pull with his former players to get their attention in a hurry.
"I'm honestly not worried about (brawls) and all that because I know our guys and I know their guys," Zimmer said. "I think their guys respect me. ... I don't think there will be an issue, but we're going to address it beforehand with both teams anyway."