|Photo Courtesy of Vikings.com
The humidity was low and there was a nice breeze in the air as the Vikings practiced on the eighth day of Vikings training camp. Daniel House lets you take a look inside his practice notebook.
Updated:August 3rd, 2015 10:05pm
By: Daniel House
The humidity was low and there was a nice breeze in the air as the Vikings practiced on the eighth day of Vikings training camp. Today's session featured individual work, 1-on-1 drills, and several team sessions. The team is gearing up for another night practice on Tuesday night. However, they will be without head coach Mike Zimmer, who will be spending time with his ailing father, Bill, in Florida. Norv Turner will handle the coaching duties until Zimmer returns.
Bridgewater clicking, Hill throws a dime
The Vikings have no problems with their starting quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater hasn't had a bad practice in training camp. He threw a strike over the top of Robert Blanton in the seam to Adam Thielen. Later in team drills, Trae Waynes and Harrison Smith had great coverage on Charles Johnson, but Bridgewater threaded the pass into a tight gap. He is continually making tough throws and is passing the ball in locations where the receiver is the only player capable of catching the pass. In the final portion of today's team drills, Shaun Hill maybe unloaded his best pass of training camp. Gerald Hodges and Anthony Harris had coverage on Adam Thielen, but he broke off into a post route at the final moment. Shaun Hill recognized this and fired that pass into the tight gap. Thielen made the diving catch in traffic and hauled in the pass. Hill has shown more continuity with the wide receivers and seems to have a better grasp of the offensive terminology. Taylor Heinicke is throwing better passes to the receivers and isn't making as many mistakes. Several passes are still high, but he managed to complete an impressive pass to Jordan Leslie with DeMarcus Van Dyke draped all over him.
McKinnon continues to see more reps
Jerick McKinnon continued to see all of the second team snaps at running back. He broke off an excellent run between the tackles that was powered by an excellent block by Isame Faciane. He made two catches in the flat and shifted into another gear. McKinnon continues to flash his athleticism and is becoming more comfortable with how he will used in this offensive system. In other news, Adrian Peterson signed for the fans in the autograph zone today. Lucky fans who received a scratch-off at the gate got the chance to meet him and receive one signature. This definitely increased the volume of the crowd in Mankato for practice.
Thielen has his best practice, Patterson route running well
Adam Thielen easily had his best practice of training camp. He made an excellent diving catch across the middle on a pass from Shaun Hill. He followed that up by making a difficult contested catch with cornerback Jalil Carter all over his back. Thielen was getting open by using head fakes and a quick plant and cut to the outside. He certainly fit the bill of Mr. Mankato that landed him a roster spot last season. It's pretty simple -- Cordarrelle Patterson is running better routes this season. He ran a quick slant and hauled in the reception with cornerback Josh Thomas on his backside. Patterson also ran a smooth crossing route and hauled in the pass with Jabari Price trailing behind him. He is finding ways to get open and the coaches were praising his route running in individual drills today.
Tight ends struggle today
The tight ends struggled in several of the drills today. MyCole Pruitt dropped a pass for the first time in training camp. He got open on a corner route, but the ball went right through his hands. Chase Ford dropped two passes today and certainly didn't help his cause. Each of them were extremely catchable and were for the most part uncontested. He also missed a blocking assignment, which would have resulted in a sack of Taylor Heinicke. Kyle Rudolph continues to be rather nondescript and hasn't saw as many passes in training camp this year. The tight end position group is performing well, but at times has the tendency to be inconsistent.
Loadholt dominating in 1-on-1 drills, Kerin impresses, Berger struggles
Phil Loadholt looks absolutely phenomenal in 1-on-1 drills against the defensive lineman. He didn't lose a battle today and hasn't lost many in training camp. I talked with Phil after practice and he said he is feeling great after having pectoral surgery last season. He indicated the biggest emphasis for all of the offensive lineman in training camp has been pass protection. Loadholt said it is very important to keep the pocket clean for Teddy Bridgewater. He not only is playing well in individual drills, but is rock solid in team drills. Zac Kerin saw more snaps as John Sullivan left to spend time with his wife who is expecting a child. Kerin took advantage of the opportunity and laid two excellent run blocks for Jerick McKinnon. He followed it up by winning three of his four battles with the defensive lineman today. However, Joe Berger didn't have the best day at the office. He lost half of his 1-on-1 battles and was knocked around all day in the team drills. However, take it with a grain of salt because he did take more reps with John Sullivan being absent.
Hunter getting after it, Floyd is quick
Danielle Hunter won every single 1-on-1 battle and saw a few snaps as the rotational left defensive end in team drills. He continues to get off the ball quick and uses his strength to muscle his way into interior rushing situations. Hunter was working on the sleds and Andre Patterson praised him for staying low and exploding. Shariff Floyd won every 1-on-1 battle but one today. He torched David Yankey and followed it up by beating Mike Harris. Floyd also blew up a running play to Jerick McKinnon in the backfield. The defensive line continues to rotate players and are trying to find the best ways to rush the quarterback with their personnel.
Hodges lays a lick, Watts with good run recognition
Gerald Hodges laid one of the biggest licks of training camp. Jerick McKinnon came bolting through the hole and Hodges knocked him to the ground. They both exchanged a few words and the coaches made it clear that contact can't happen in these drills. Hodges continued to make plays in the running game and defensed a pass in 7-on-7 drills. The coaches have made it known they will find ways to get him on the field this season. You can read more about this in a feature I did on Gerald Hodges. Brandon Watts stopped two Matt Asiata runs in team drills and showed some excellent run recognition skills. He is playing a role in special teams and thus far has shown he can stay healthy in training camp. Finally, Audie Cole added a pass defensed on a throw intended for Chase Ford.
Rhodes is closing the door, Waynes gets better every day
Xavier Rhodes is stopping everything that comes in his path. On one occasion, he had receiver Mike Wallace shut down on a sideline out route. Teddy Bridgewater tried to fire the pass into a gap, but Rhodes perfectly defensed the throw. He also was in perfect position to knock away a slant pattern intended for Charles Johnson. Trae Waynes had two defensed passes in 7-on-7 drills and was in good position during team drills. The main area he needs to improve is how he makes plays on the ball. He is in good position, but needs to develop the ability to be physical and use his arms and hands to knock away the pass. His footwork is getting better each and every day. He just needs to develop better balls skills, which will come with more experience on the field.
Sendejo corrals an interception
Andrew Sendejo corralled an interception in the early session of team work. Shaun Hill threw a ball over the middle that safety Antone Exum deflected into the air. Andrew Sendejo made a one-handed grab and hauled in the interception. Robert Blanton was beaten in the seam on a perfect throw and better route from Adam Thielen. Based upon snaps, it appears Blanton is the leader to start at strong safety, but anything can happen when the preseason rolls around.
Scott Crichton missed practice with an undisclosed injury. DuJuan Harris, Gavin Lutman, B.J. Dubose and Josh Robinson all remain sidelined.
The Vikings have a morning walkthrough from 10:30am-11:30am and a night practice from 7:15pm-9:15pm on Tuesday.