Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 4 Training Camp Notebook

Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

It was a breezy day as the Vikings took the field for their second padded practice of training camp. Daniel House takes you inside his notebook and highlights the happenings from day four. 

Updated: July 29th, 2015 9:55pm

By: Daniel House

With a wind consistently blowing at close to 20 mph and gusting even higher at some points, the Vikings were tested in their second full-padded practice. The offensive and defensive lineman participated in 1-on-1 drills for the first time and that alone provided plenty of takeways from day four of Vikings training camp.

Bridgewater sharp in 11-on-11 session, backups can't handle the wind

Yesterday, Teddy Bridgewater didn't look his best in the second session of the team drills. The story was totally different during the 11-on-11 work today. Bridgewater handled the wind very well and didn't have any issues delivering his passes. He perfectly anticipated Charles Johnson would break off his route to the center of the field and delivered a perfect strike with Xavier Rhodes all over Johnson. In the same team drill, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph on a corner route towards the sideline and perfectly snuck the pass over the top of Anthony Barr. It seems as if Bridgewater may have more velocity and sharpness on his passes this year. Throwing into the wind is an art and he made it look very easy this afternoon. Shaun Hill was more accurate in his fourth day of practice and seemed to have better continuity with his receivers. Nonetheless, several of his passes towards the sideline were left short and looked even worse in the wind. Taylor Heinicke and Mike Kafka both struggled to handle the wind, as well. Kafka launched a pass high and it was intercepted by safety Shaun Prater. Heinicke also was missing high and long on a consistent basis. Each day it doesn't seem to improve for either quarterback when they practice at Vikings training camp.

Peterson is a freak, McKinnon in the passing game

Adrian Peterson took one hand-off today and cut back through the hole and into the second level at a lightning rate of speed. It is scary to say, but Peterson looks fresh and physically insane heading into the season. He was itching to lower his shoulder on defenders and it's pretty clear he can't wait for live contact. Jerick McKinnon caught several dump downs in team drills and made several defenders miss in the process. Not to mention, he also looked very smooth and elusive when running between the tackles. The weakness for him at this point is in the pass protection aspect of the game. He was beaten twice today in those situations and the coaches have been continually working with him on this during individual drills. Matt Asiata took the snaps in goal-line formations and reached the end zone once in that situational drill. He did drop one pass in the flat, but he hasn't had many flaws at this stage of training camp.

Patterson finding ways to get open, Johnson making tough catches

It is pretty easy to say this was the best practice Cordarrelle Patterson has had during training camp thus far. He consistently found ways to get open by using his footwork and technique. Patterson has been successful in routes that involve him to break towards the ball. He has been adjusting his body to the catch and uses fakes to get the defensive back off balance. Patterson is being more creative to get open and used the head fake to beat Jabari Price on a post pattern. Following the completion, he received a high-five and some encouragement from offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Charles Johnson continues to run beautiful routes to gain separation. He ran a post pattern and perfectly broke off the route towards the center of the field. Bridgewater read the defense and fired the pass in front of the outstretched arms of Xavier Rhodes. Johnson dove for the pass and made the catch in a contested location. Stefon Diggs continued to impress in team drills and nearly hauled in an acrobatic pass on the sidelines. He tipped the pass in tight coverage and nearly redirected the pass and caught the ball on the way down to the ground.

Bostick makes diving catch, Rudolph starting to get involved 

Brandon Bostick has been continually flashing his hands in the passing drills. In 11-on-11 work, he broke off a curl and flattened his route towards the sideline. Bostick laid out for the pass and made a fantastic diving grab in traffic. He might be within a crowded tight end grouping, but he certainly has shown some impressive tools in the early portion of training camp. After a poor showing yesterday, Kyle Rudolph looked much improved today. Rudolph hauled in two very difficult catches over the top of Anthony Barr and Gerald Hodges. Yesterday, he wasn't finishing his routes, but today he managed to finally show some effort to get open. MyCole Pruitt and Kyle Rudolph could be an excellent combination if they are on the field at the same time.

Tyrus Thompson is a stand-out, Harris and Kalil look shaky in 1-on-1 drills

Rookie Tyrus Thompson looked the best out of any offensive lineman in the 1-on-1 drills with the defensive lineman today. Thompson wasn't being pushed around by any rushers who came in his vicinity. At this stage of training camp, his technique and footwork were much better than I anticipated. In the team drills, he was laying some excellent blocks in the second level of the defense. When Thompson keeps his motor moving, he is fantastic at maintaining engagement. Mike Harris didn't fare as well in the 1-on-1 drills. He was beaten once each by Linval Joseph and Chigbo Anunoby. On both of those occasions, Harris couldn't maintain leverage and was out-muscled off the ball. Matt Kalil handled blitzes and chips well, but he didn't perform well in 1-on-1 situations. Everson Griffen put him on his back once and Justin Trattou beat him on an inside swim move.
There is plenty of training camp left, but the offensive line has to be an area of concern at this time.

Joseph, Hunter, and Crichton impress 

Linval Joseph is looking to rebound in his second season with the Vikings organization. In the 1-on-1 drills, he won battles on two occasions and used interior leverage to gain position. He was getting an excellent push in the goal-line drill and was in the backfield to help orchestrate a tackle for loss. Joseph will need to step up if the Vikings want to improve their run defense. Danielle Hunter is continuing to reach the backfield on a consistent basis. He has an insanely quick first step and won all four of his battles in the 1-on-1 session. Hunter has impressed all week and could make an immediate impact in the pass rush as a rookie. Scott Crichton has been another name that I've been mentioning frequently in training camp. He won almost every battle in the 1-on-1 drill and this year, has the strength to handle offensive lineman up front.

Kendricks looking solid against the run

Eric Kendricks flashed in run defense twice during the team portion of practice. He read the play and stopped the rush from extending to the outside. Kendricks also stopped a pass in the flat in its tracks and got downhill very quickly. If he can run defend well, he might have a chance to see extended playing time this year. Kendricks continues to flourish in pass coverage and is one of the best in this avenue among the linebackers on this roster. Audie Cole is still seeing snaps as the middle linebacker in the base 4-3 package, but if Kendricks continues to flourish, don't be surprised if he is awarded more first-team reps.

Zimmer frequently working with Waynes

Trae Waynes started training camp by playing most of his snaps on the outside. Today was one of the first practices he spent nearly all of his time in the slot. In fact, he saw some first-team reps as the nickel cornerback. Mike Zimmer spent a majority of the team drills working with Waynes in the secondary. After every play he was on the field, he would review footwork and technique with him. At certain points, he pulled him aside and provided additional instruction. It is clear the coaches want Waynes to be versatile and learn how to play in this system. After more practices with Mike Zimmer, Waynes will continue to become more comfortable in the scheme. The type of work Zimmer is doing with him is similar to how he handled Xavier Rhodes last year. The coaches have been really stressing the importance of using his arms to be physical, while extending to make plays. Every day, Waynes seems to be gaining more familiarity with his technique and it will be interesting to evaluate him as training camp evolves.

Sendejo excellent in run support, Prater notches interception 

Andrew Sendejo made an excellent stop in run support and has continually displayed excellent recognition skills in training camp. He added an interception yesterday and his physicality has been fitting very well in the backend of the secondary. However, Sendejo hasn't been as good as Antone Exum Jr. has been from a coverage standpoint. Exum Jr. looked very good in the ball skill drills and added one defensed pass during today's session. Shaun Prater is playing safety with the third team and added an interception off of a high pass from Mike Kafka. In real game action, he also would have had a sack off of a blitz in the team period. Prater is a versatile player who Mike Zimmer has always liked in his system.

Kick-off team focusing on handling 'chip-shots'

As the league has seen more kick-offs heading into the end zone for touchbacks, the coaches are focusing on players handling 'chip-shots.' Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was constantly rotating players in the front line of the kick return team. He was trying to find players who could secure the ball in a safe manner. The Vikings are placing a major emphasis on being better in all aspects of special teams and this has been evident over the first few practices of training camp.

Injury Report

Shamar Stephen (knee) returned from injury and Josh Robinson (pectoral) is now the only player being sidelined.

What's Next? 

The Vikings have an off-day tomorrow (Thursday), but will return to the practice fields in Mankato on Friday. They will have a morning walkthrough from 10:30am-11:30, followed by their third full-padded practice from 2:45pm-5:00pm

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  1. Thanks for your great report Daniel really enjoy your work and look forward to more from you as you continue to cover training camp!!! SKOL VIKINGS!!!

    1. Thanks for reading, Billy! I appreciate the kind words.

  2. Great 19 so it's cool to know another young super fan of the vikings. Nice job on the Purple FTW podcast as well. Follow me back on Twitter @Vic_Gutierrez9 I love talking Vikings. I'm the only Vikings fan in Florida lol

  3. I am not learning any inside scoops… do u not have media credentials?