LONDON — In 1547, Syon House was erected under the ownership of the first Duke of Somerset. On Thursday, the NFL arrived.

The Vikings touched down in London on Thursday morning in preparation for Sunday’s game against Cleveland at Twickenham Stadium, and four hours later they took to the field for a walkthrough in a most unique atmosphere.

With a light rain falling, the Vikings went through plays on a makeshift football field near their team hotel. Actually, it was a half a field, with 50 yards worth of lines having been drawn to accommodate the team.

Next to the field in West London at Syon Park, players could gaze up and see an historic mansion. Syon House’s current interior was designed in 1762 under the commission of the first Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, and it is open for visitors to see.

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“I think this stuff is kind of cool,’’ said running back Latavius Murray. “I’m sure a lot of guys haven’t seen this kind of architecture.’’

Murray had since he played in London in 2014 while with Oakland. Murray also had some familiarity with cows being visible beyond the field in the rural setting.

“We actually practiced right next to a farm in high school, so this brings back some old memories,’’ Murray said of his days at Onondaga (N.Y.) High School, outside Syracuse.

All Minnesota players went through the workout except quarterback Sam Bradford, who has missed five of the past six games with a knee injury, and guard Jeremiah Sirles and defensive end Stephen Weatherly, who both suffered knee injuries in last Sunday’s 24-16 win over Baltimore.

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Vikings coach Mike Zimmer declined to speculate on Bradford, but it’s expected Case Keenum again will start at quarterback Sunday.

The first 15 minutes of the workout were open to the media. Music blared as the Vikings warmed up on the small field.

“It was like we were practicing at somebody’s house or what this used to be,’’ said running Jerick McKinnon, making his first trip out of the country. “But the energy was good.’’

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs said the makeshift field brought back memories from when he was young.

“It’s great,’’ he said. “All we need is grass and a couple of lines and we’ll make it work. I guess you can say that it’s like Little League in (practices being held) on a baseball field or something. But at the end of the day, it’s football.’’

That’s fine with Zimmer. While the setting might be quite different, Zimmer reiterated the Vikings aren’t here as tourists, they’ve come to win a game.

“We’re trying to get acclimated as fast as we can and we’re excited about getting going on Sunday,’’ Zimmer said.

The Vikings practiced at Winter Park on Wednesday and then took off for London. They arrived at Heathrow Airport late in the morning Thursday, checked into the hotel and went to the workout.

Zimmer had brought in sleep specialists last week to speak to players about how best to avoid jet lag. From all indications, it helped.

“I slept really good on the plane,’’ Murray said. “I feel pretty good. ... I know it’s tough when you’re talking six hours ahead here, but we’ll adjust these next few days and go out and play some ball on Sunday.’’

Before then, the Vikings will have another practice adventure. On Friday, they will hit the field at The Hazelwood Centre, the training ground for the London Irish rugby team.



Colten Bartholomew is a reporter and columnist for River Valley Media Group. Colten is the college sports coordinator for the La Crosse Tribune.

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