MANKATO, Minn. - After a few days of hitting bags, sleds and coaches, Saturday was the day that every NFL football player waits for at training camp: full-padded practices.

The Vikings had their first in Mankato Saturday afternoon, and temperatures were in the mid-80s.

Riley Reiff was back on the field, his injury not a major concern for Mike Zimmer.

For the players both young and old, it's a milestone at camp when things start to get real.

"That's a huge deal, actually," says wide receiver Stefon Diggs. "Everybody looks good in shorts and a jersey. Get out here, thump a little bit and feel things out. You know, you get to feel out personalities."

"You put the pads on, you know you're going to be as physical as you can," says running back Dalvin Cook. "You're gonna establish yourself early. I know these are my teammates. I want to take care of those guys, they take care of me. ... You want to establish yourself so once the game present itself, you can be ready for any situation."

On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings bring back a pretty successful defense from a year ago. They were one of the best defenses in the league last year in terms of yards given up per game, and sixth in average points given up per game.

But there's always room to improve in the NFL.

"We can play more aggressive and even more physical and get better no matter how we finished last year or whatever," says safety Harrison Smith. "We can always improve and I think playing with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, a little bit of tenacity, will help that."