Friday, June 21, 2013

Vikings Mini-Camp Review

Vikings Mini-Camp is over and we are just 34 days removed from training camp and 76 days from NFL kickoff week. What questions are still unanswered before the team hits the campus of Mankato State University on July 25th? Many says Daniel House, but some won't be solidified until the positional wars begin at training camp.

Ponder Impresses

Quarterback Christian Ponder has been a major concern during offseason workouts and many believe he still isn't the answer to an unstable quarterback position. He certainly changed this opinion and displayed a new ability to throw the ball vertically down the field; something we haven't seen from Ponder. In Day 2, he connected on deep balls with Stephen Burton and Jerome Simpson and perfectly placed them over the top of the coverage. In both Days 1 and 2, Ponder finished with identical passing statistics (14-20) and showed some of the best consistency we have seen in his tenure with the Vikings. He seems to be developing continuity with his receivers and it certainly is encouraging news for the coaching staff, who will be looking for high performance this season.

Peterson releases new Nike shoe

Adrian Peterson took a break on Wednesday for a scheduled rest, but unveiled his new shoe through Nike. They took his favorite Nike products and combined them to develop a trainer similar to his previous models from other seasons. It is jet black with the Nike swoosh in purple. The tongue includes a customized "All Day" logo and the inside of the shoe is inscribed with his yardage and MVP honors from last season. These shoes will certainly be at the top of Vikings fans wish lists.

Wide Receiver situation far from solidified

Greg Jennings has brought leadership to the roster and is a great mentor to rookie counterpart Cordarrelle Patterson. In addition, he has provided Christian Ponder with a reliable threat and leader at a key position. Patterson has continued to receive reps on punt and kick return teams and is hoped to be an energy injection to the roster. Stephen Burton has been impressive and will need to battle to solidify his spot with players such as Joe Webb and Adam Thielen clicking at his heels. Burton has primarily been a blocking receiver in two seasons with the team and has been placed in more vertical roles at minicamp practices, which shows the interest to develop him. Greg Childs returned in a limited role and was able to participate in individual drills less than a year removed from patellar tendon tears in both legs. It is unknown when Childs will return on a full participation basis, but it most likely won't occur until he is 100% healthy and ready for game action.

Vikings hybrid offensive lineman situation

The battle at the guard position could be interesting with draft picks Travis Bond and Jeff Baca looking to fill the utility role the Vikings lost when Geoff Schwartz left for Kansas City. Baca was one of the few guards to play all positional groups on the offensive line and has proven to be versatile in his time at UCLA. Bond, an extremely large and fearsome guard from North Carolina is a run blocker and isn't afraid to pull and block the exterior running plays. These two players have stood out early on in practices and will be two players to watch battle for a roster spot on a solid Vikings offensive line.

Sharrif Floyd will see action

Many are wondering how the Vikings are going to incorporate rookie first round defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd into the defensive line. Many draft analysts (including myself), believe that Floyd fell to the Vikings at the bottom of the first round because of poor passing rushing habits he displayed at Florida. Floyd has been primarily working in first team nickel packages, which means Floyd and Kevin Williams will split time. The Vikings are in nickel 50% or more of the time, which means Floyd will get his time on the field. Based upon research, Kevin Williams was only on the field for 71.1% of snaps and could take a bigger hit this season, falling into the 50% range. He did restructure his contract and will likely be playing his last season in a Vikings uniform.

Jared Allen returns to practice field

Jared Allen missed the first day of minicamp after resting his shoulder in which he has surgery on in the offseason. It was more a procedure move and was scheduled rest for Allen. He returned to the field for the last two days and participated in full fashion. Allen (31), is getting older and many are wondering how he will respond after suffering a labrum tear last season. He played through the injury for most of the 2012 season and has indicated he will be poised for a great 2013 season.

Bishop leaves undecided

The Vikings decided to bring Desmond Bishop to Winter Park for a visit earlier in the week. It brought forth the uncertainty surrounding the position and whether the Vikings were 100% confident with Marvin Mitchell or Gerald Hodges on the outside. Bishop left on Wednesday and visited the Chiefs and Giants later in the week. In a tweet released earlier this afternoon, Bishop discussed the decision process.

A report later surfaced reporting Bishop has narrowed his choices to the Vikings, Giants, and Chiefs and has removed the Jaguars from his consideration. The announcement from Bishop's camp is expected at any moment and certainly could include a signing with the Vikings.

Mauti recovering from injury

Linebacker and 7th round pick Michael Mauti is recovering and much like Greg Childs participated in individual drills for the first time since an ACL tear he suffered in his senior season at Penn State. Mauti is expected to battle Erin Henderson in training camp for the starting linebacker job, but with the recovery from the injury, we can assume Henderson will be the starter when the regular season rolls around.

Greenway will be ready for training camp

Chad Greenway confirmed he will be ready to hit the field when the Vikings head to Mankato for training camp in July. Greenway underwent arthroscopic to repair a slight tear in his meniscus of his left knee. His knee was in wrap at practice this week and he said is 100% certain he will be ready for training camp practices.

Robinson and Felder impress

Josh Robinson is growing as a cornerback and has recorded several impressive deflections and interceptions in OTA's and minicamps. Look for Robinson to be an option as the Vikings nickel cornerback in 2013. Vikings developmental cornerback Bobby Felder has been turning heads and hauled in a beautiful diving interception of a pass intended for Greg Jennings on Wednesday. Felder, an undrafted rookie from Nicholls State entered the league last season and was used primarily as a developmental product. Now after a season of learning from a cornerback like Antoine Winfield, Felder is poised to become a presence in the Vikings secondary.

Rhodes adjusting to NFL speed

Rookie cornerback and first round draft pick Xavier Rhodes has been adjusting to the speed of the NFL since he has hit the practice fields. He has grown, recording several impressive pass deflections during the three day minicamp period. Look for his role to increase and become more noticeable as he becomes more comfortable to the NFL.

Walsh remains consistent

Blair Walsh was 7-of-8 on field goals from between 36 and 50 yards , missing wide left from 42 yards. He also hit a 46-yard field goal into the wind from the right hash. during a "pressure situation" drill.

Locke molding well

Jeff Locke continues to turn heads and recorded a 52 yard punt from the back of the endzone during special team drills. His average hangtime was 4.14-4.34, which is great and comparable to former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who was released in May. Special Teams coordinator Mike Priefer continued to reiterate that the Chris Kluwe release was nothing personal and was strictly performance based.

Vikings return on July 25th

The Vikings concluded their minicamp workouts on Thursday and will return for training camp on July 25th in Mankato, MN.

We will keep you posted with the latest details as training camp approaches next month.

No comments:

Post a Comment