MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — When the Vikings finally have their first practice in pads, that’s when the real work begins.

“It’s just a little bit more physical. I mean we’ve been practicing really hard the last couple days without shoulder pads. Just putting the shoulder pads on, it’s real football now,” tackle Mike Remmers said.

(credit: CBS)

“It can get a little more physical, but I don’t think you can get really psyched out about the pads. You still have to go in there, it’s still a mental game, still in there, go do what you got to do every play and see what happens,” linebacker Edmond Robinson said.

It might be a coach’s favorite day, when the evaluations finally look more true to life. Coaches love to say it’s tough to evaluate guys in shorts.

But guys finally in full pads? Hitting on all cylinders? And hitting each other? This is how football is really played.

“Well, it’s mostly in the lines. The DBs, it’s pretty much the same thing,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “When guys are pushing against you a little bit more physically, I think that’s the biggest thing. You can evaluate those guys a lot more. And the other thing is, some guys don’t run as fast when they’re in pads as when they’re in shorts too. Some guys run just as well, and so it’s all those kind of things.”

Things that can make all the difference in making the team, or earning a starting job.