EAGAN, Minn. – In one of the more bizarre training camp turns, former Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito is calling Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer a liar after Zimmer denied any interaction and interest in signing Incognito.
Zimmer was asked during his morning press conference on Tuesday about a TMZ report in which Incognito reportedly said the Vikings had reached out to him about joining the team. Zimmer was unequivocal in his denial.
“No interest and totally false,” Zimmer said. “Tweet that.”
It’s not the first time during training camp Zimmer has spoken bluntly about a rumor. Last week, he shot down a supposed report – unknown to many – that Minnesota was trying to trade linebacker Anthony Barr, who is due a contract extension.
This time, Zimmer’s bluntness has fought by the other side.
Incognito, a four-time Pro Bowl player, took to his verified Twitter account to call out Zimmer.
(UPDATE: Incognito later deleted the tweets and apologized to Zimmer.)
Incognito tweeted that he had an off-and-on text conversation with former coach Tony Sparano, who died on July 22. Sparano was the Miami Dolphins’ head coach in 2010 and the start of 2011 when Incognito spent the first of his four seasons with Miami.
Incognito posted screen shots of the supposed interaction with Sparano that started after the guard was released by the Buffalo Bills in May.
Incognito’s Dolphins’ tenure ended when he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team stemming from, most notoriously, his hazing and treatment of fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.
Zimmer is dealing with a battered offensive line in front of new, $84 million quarterback Kirk Cousins. Second-year center Pat Elflein started training camp on the physically unable to perform list after offseason ankle and shoulder surgeries, though Elflein has ramped up his work on the side with strength coaches.
Starting left guard Nick Easton, who was filling in at center for Elflein to start camp, has been held out of recent practices and reports say that Easton is seeking a second opinion on neck/back injury. Mike Remmers has been held out of practices with a reported ankle injury, though Zimmer has declined to talk about injuries during training camp since he doesn’t have to release an injury report.
The interior of the No. 1 offensive line during training camp practice on Monday included veteran Tom Compton at left guard, Cornelius Edison at center and Danny Isidora at right guard.
However, even with the current issues, it would be strange to consider the Vikings reaching out to Incognito, who is 35 years old, recently. The only indication from Incognito’s side is what he says are texts from Sparano, which would have occurred before the injuries to Easton and Remmers.