After a series of heated exchanges between Stefon Diggs and Xavier Rhodes on Tuesday bled into another contretemps during Wednesday morning’s walk-through, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer held both players out of practice Wednesday afternoon.
Asked why Diggs and Rhodes did not practice, Zimmer said, “They did not make me happy,” later referring to “undisciplined stuff” in practice. Neither player’s absence, Zimmer said, was injury-related, though when he was asked about specific incidents involving both players, he said he would not discuss it further.
Diggs and Rhodes had a number of dust-ups during Tuesday’s practice, particularly after Diggs caught a long touchdown pass over Rhodes and fired the ball into the stands. Rhodes responded by staying on the field for snaps with the Vikings’ reserves, calling for Diggs to come back on the field and face him again.
On Wednesday morning, Rhodes appeared to yell something at Diggs while the receiver had to be separated from safety Andrew Sendejo during the Vikings’ walk-through. Diggs left the practice field with wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell talking to him and grabbing his arm in an apparent attempt to cool him off.
With Rhodes out, Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes took first-team snaps at right cornerback.
DeFilippo to try sideline first
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said he will call plays from the sideline in the Vikings’ preseason opener on Saturday night, calling it a “trial run” as he looks to decide whether he’ll be there or in the coaches’ booth during the season.
“There’s benefits and drawbacks to everything,” he said. “I think you get to talk to the quarterbacks down there. I think you get a better feel for the pulse of the team when you’re downstairs. Now, that being said, your vantage point is not as good as it is upstairs. We’re very fortunate to have some really good coaches on our offensive side of the ball that are going to be able to provide information and know what we’re trying to look for in terms of being able to attack their defense.”
Quarterback Kirk Cousins said it’s sometimes easier to hear play calls when the coach is in a booth and away from crowd noise, but having a play-caller on the sideline provides more communication in between series.
“You kind of give something up to gain something else,” he said.
Zimmer said the choice always has been clear for him.
“For me, I have to get a feel for the game. … And then you can talk to the people you need to talk to, instead of going through somebody else — ‘tell him to tell him.’ It’s like ‘Tootles the Tugboat.’ You know that story, right? It starts out as one story and ends up as another story.”
Cousins on Keenum
Cousins, who replaced Case Keenum as the Vikings’ starting quarterback, will see his predecessor Saturday night. On Wednesday, Cousins talked about the camaraderie that exists between NFL QBs, adding he has a “great deal of respect” for Keenum.
“They understand what it is like to practice and play and get hit and stand in there and come back the next week. Not a lot of guys can do that. Not a lot of guys have done that,” Cousins said. “The ones that have, there is a bit of a bond there whether you spend time together or not. Certainly, [Keenum] is a guy, I think we are wired very similarly as people.”