By: Daniel House
The Vikings returned to the hot and steamy practice fields after a day off in Mankato, MN. The offense has shown small strides every day as they adjust to playing against the defense in full pads. Today, the starting offensive line performed better and Teddy Bridgewater connected on throws up the field. Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph flashed their playmaking abilities and the Vikings wrapped up day five of training camp.
By: Daniel House
For more, take a step inside of my training camp notebook:
Teddy Bridgewater was intercepted twice in today's afternoon session, but it was still some of the best action we have saw out of the young quarterback in training camp. Both of the interceptions Bridgewater threw were not his fault. One of them sailed between the hands of Matt Asiata and was intercepted by Anthony Barr. The second came on a pass that was deflected by Everson Griffen at the line of scrimmage. The ball tipped into the air and he secured it in his arms. Aside from that, Bridgewater made all the underneath throws and even perfectly placed some throws up the field. During red zone work, Bridgewater nicely connected with Stefon Diggs on a throw to the corner of the end zone. The ball was placed by Bridgewater and Diggs hauled in an incredible one-handed grab over Captain Munnerlyn. Later in practice, Adam Thielen ran a fade up the sideline and Bridgewater hit him in stride for a long gain. Bridgewater was efficient and made most of the throws today. Two interceptions might not sound great, but his work in individual drills, along with team sessions definitely made today his best effort thus far.
Shaun Hill connected on a 50-yard fade up the sideline to Terrell Sinkfield and didn't look nearly as bad as he did the first few days. Nonetheless, he still had his fair share of high overthrows in work with the wide receivers. Not to mention, Anthony Harris couldn't haul in a pass that should have been intercepted. It wouldn't take much to consider Hill's performance an improvement, but today he didn't have as many poor throws.
Joel Stave had his best training camp practice. He perfectly placed a throw in the flat to Adam Thielen and threw it where only the receiver could make a play. Additionally, Stave found Moritz Böhringer up the sidelines and fit the throw in a small gap. Böhringer had to slightly adjust to the throw, but Stave fired the ball into the tight window. Again, Stave had trouble being consistent, but unlike other days, he had a few bright spots.
Peterson returns and looks feisty
Running back Adrian Peterson practiced for the first time in full pads. He has been recovering from an offseason hamstring tweak he suffered before camp. Peterson was running hard between the tackles and looked ferocious as he made cuts in the second level. He looked fresh and ready to make a difference in the offense. Peterson only took a few snaps, but he made the most of every rep he received in the afternoon session.
Diggs makes a highlight reel catch, Sinkfield makes a splash, and Rudolph is involved
Stefon Diggs looks like he may have taken his game to the next level this offseason. Diggs has been getting open on nearly every route he runs. Today, he hauled in a highlight reel one-handed grab over Captain Munnerlyn. It was a full extension one-handed catch with Munnerlyn draped all over him. It is clear Diggs is Teddy's favorite weapon in the passing game. Bridgewater hit Diggs on a hitch during red zone drills for what would have been a touchdown in live game action.
During individual drills in the red zone with the quarterbacks, Terrell Sinkfield hauled in an insane one-handed circus catch in the end zone. Sinkfield had a couple other tough grabs in team drills and really made a nice impression.
Laquon Treadwell added a one-handed catch in red zone work with the quarterbacks and showed he will be a big threat in those type of situations.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph has been hauling in some fantastic catches in the seam from Teddy Bridgewater in training camp. Today, he snatched a one-handed grab between Emmanuel Lamur and Harrison Smith. Bridgewater loves throwing the ball to Kyle Rudolph across the field. It seems as if Rudolph looks quicker and more involved in the offense. Bridgewater turns towards both Rudolph and Stefon Diggs the most in practice. Each of them look poised to have a solid season in the offense.
Offensive line mixes it up again
Right Tackle Andre Smith and center John Sullivan re-joined the first-team offensive line during the morning walkthrough and afternoon session. Every other day, the team has been mixing T.J. Clemmings and Joe Berger into the first-team offensive line. It is clear the coaches want to evaluate the pair of players before they mix any of them together.
Matt Kalil had his best day of camp, but his performance is still average. He split most of his 1-on-1 battles and was notably beaten a few times in team drills. However, every day he looks a little better. He wasn't handily beaten like the first few days of camp. When Alex Boone and Kalil were paired together in OL/DL drills, they had no trouble matching up with Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd. They both walled up Griffen and Floyd nicely and did not allow any pressure.
Brandon Fusco has been excellent as a run blocker and beautifully set up a block for Jhurell Pressley. Today, John Sullivan had the edge on Joe Berger for the center battle. Berger had trouble with Shamar Stephen on a frequent basis. John Sullivan split his battles with Linval Joseph and looked more comfortable within the interior of the offensive line.
Andre Smith hasn't had any trouble in pass protection and is by far the best option at right tackle. Aside from him, Jeremiah Sirles struggled in 1-on-1 drills and Tony Sparano spent extra time working with him. The offensive line still plays inconsistent and has work to do, but today they looked a little closer to becoming an average unit.
Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr are playmakers, Trattou standing out
Anthony Barr hauled in a tip interception across the middle and Eric Kendricks was flying all over the field making plays. Kendricks added a pass deflection in team drills and flashed his playmaking ability. Having assets like Kendricks and Barr give the Vikings so much flexibility as a defensive unit. They can unleash their athleticism and rush them off the edge and in the A-gaps. They both look to be in excellent form as training camp continues.
Defensive end Justin Trattou knows how to make plays and he continues to show why he may be deserving of a roster spot. He destroyed Jeremiah Sirles consistently and put pressure on Shaun Hill in team drills. Trattou is having a good camp and is fighting for one of the final roster spots on the defensive line.
Waynes and Alexander have a nice day, Price struggles
Trae Waynes was matched up with Laquon Treadwell for most of the day. This was particularly exciting when the team practiced during the red zone period. Waynes perfectly covered Treadwell on a fade and didn't allow Laquon to get in position to catch the pass. Waynes added another pass defensed in individual work with the wide receivers. Zimmer spent more time in the secondary with Waynes during defensive back drills and that appeared to pay off again.
Mackensie Alexander stood out when the wide receivers were working 1-on-1 on press coverage with the wide receivers. Alexander shut down Troy Stoudermire, Terrell Sinkfield, and Marken Michel in the drill. It was the first good impression Alexander left during training camp. It was encouraging to see two young cornerbacks like Waynes and Alexander showing some strides today.
Finally in red zone drills, Terence Newman perfectly covered Laquon Treadwell in the corner of the end zone and knocked the pass away at the final moment.
The safety spot is up for grabs
There were no changes among the first-team defense and Andrew Sendejo saw all of the snaps alongside Harrison Smith at strong safety. Antone Exum and Michael Griffin worked with the second-team defense. Sendejo made a nice play on a corner fade to Adam Thielen in red zone drills. He was in perfect position and knocked away the throw at the last second. Later in practice, Sendejo was burned by Adam Thielen on a nine route up the sideline. What's more, Anthony Harris dropped an easy interception from Shaun Hill in team drills. Jayron Kearse has yet to scratch past the third-team defense, but it is hard to believe he won't eventually. Mike Zimmer has indicated the position is up for grabs and based upon the depth chart at safety, that appears to be the case.
Jerick McKinnon (unknown) did not participate in the morning walkthrough after leaving practice injured on Tuesday. Adrian Peterson returned to the field for the first time as he recovers from an offseason hamstring "tweak." Zach Line missed practice and watched with a wrap on his left knee. In addition, Cordarrelle Patterson (shoulder) missed practice and Kenrick Ellis (unknown) did not participate. Rhett Ellison (patellar tendon) and Taylor Heinicke (ankle) remain out with their injuries. However, Ellison and Patterson worked on the side field with the trainers for a portion of practice.
The Vikings will return to the practice fields for a morning walkthrough from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and an afternoon session from 2:45-5:10 p.m.