Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vikings OTA's: What have we learned so far?

Daniel House updates you with the latest developments as OTA's continue at Winter Park.

With voluntary OTA's in full swing, we are only weeks removed from training camp, which poses many questions about our favorite football team. Answers are slim about positional battles, but we can see the direction the team may head in certain areas.

Ponder Working Towards Success

Of course the main question is whether Christian Ponder has solidified himself as a quarterback in this league. Everyone needs to relax and let the man do his thing on the field. Ponder has increased his weight by ten pounds and has bulked up to improve his stature. In several practices he has struggled with control and primarily with overthrowing. In a practice earlier this week, he missed Jerome Simpson and Kyle Rudolph in the long variety passing game. This has always been an issue with Ponder, but again, we must remember we are about 3 months removed from the regular season. We don't need to be concerned until the season begins and Ponder is struggling. As media members we need to let the process play out and evaluate his performance in training camp and game action.

Peterson Working Hard

Adrian Peterson has been recovering from sports hernia surgery, but has shown that he will come back stronger. He has repeatedly stated that he is lifting a higher quantity of weights and is ready to crush Eric Dickerson's rush record. Many people think it is impossible for Peterson to touch the success he had last season, but can we doubt this type of player. Less than 8 months removed from knee surgery, he had a better statistical season than before the injury occurred.

Jennings and Patterson are making strides

How is the wide receiver position evolving with the additions of Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings? They are progressing and you can see a developed chemistry between Ponder and the wideouts. In goal line drills, Ponder has connected with Jennings in multiple occasions and seems comfortable with the "sure-handed" Jennings. Patterson is still learning the playbook and the style of the NFL. This will require as many repetitions as possible and we can certainly be encouraged by the way Jennings will mentor Patterson.

Not only will Patterson be effective at wider receiver, but he can add an element to the kick return game on special teams. Marcus Sherels has been asked about his status and if he is concerned about the addition of Patterson effecting his chances of making the roster. In an interview with 1500ESPN, Sherels said, "I just need to work on catching punts every day, but I'm focused on wherever they want to put me.

Offensive Line Remains Intact

From an offensive line standpoint, there is absolutely no change from one of the best positional groups in the NFL. John Sullivan is recovering from knee surgery, which has given Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco, and even Seth Olson reps at the position. The rest of this position group is in place and will certainly be one of the keys to Adrian Peterson's quest for 2,500 yards.

Defensive Becoming Solidified

As for the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings added two huge pieces to the puzzle. Sharrif Floyd will bring a presence to the middle of the defense and Xavier Rhodes is sure to add to the secondary. Rhodes has been impressive and recorded a beautiful interception of Matt Cassel in Tuesday's practice. Floyd has went under the radar, but has seen his share of action with Kevin Williams in the middle. The Vikings have indicated that Floyd may not start this year and Williams and Fred Evans may play alongside each other. This will certainly be something to watch during training camp.

At the linebacker position, Erin Henderson has received all the starting reps and is working towards becoming the starting middle linebacker. Coverage is the main problem with Henderson and with more exposure to the schemes, he should elevate his play. If not, Audie Cole and Michael Mauti will be clicking at his heels.

Greenway undergoes knee surgery

Chad Greenway underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to "clean things up" inside the area. The injury isn't a concern and he underwent surgery today. It went great and he is expected to be ready when training camp rolls around in the end of July. Greenway is the main cog to the linebacker positional group and will need to be healthy for the Vikings to be successful from a defensive standpoint. The only bright side of this injury is the amount of reps the backups will see at involuntary workouts that begin next Tuesday. With only 8 other linebackers on the roster, many will receive double the amount of practice at the position.

Walsh and Locke Working Hard

Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke are gaining continuity and Coach Frazier is pleased with the progress. He is looking for Locke to be the holder for Walsh. The real question will be the length of time it will take for Cullen Loeffler, Locke, and Walsh to get the process down fluidly. By the time training camp is over, the group should be solidified and we should see consistency before the regular season begins.

Overall, the Vikings are making daily strides towards becoming elite in the league. With continued work towards improvement, the Vikings can compete in the league.

The Vikings wrap up voluntary OTA's Thursday and will begin the involuntary portion of workouts on Tuesday.

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