Thursday, August 4, 2016

Day 6 Training Camp Notebook: Waynes stars on the defense, O-Line switches it up

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The Vikings ran some red zone drills and were tested in 2-minute situational work for the first time during training camp. Daniel House takes you inside his notebook for day six of Vikings training camp.

Updated: August 4th, 2016 11:12pm

By: Daniel House

The Vikings ran some red zone drills and were tested in 2-minute situational work for the first time in training camp. The tempo was high and each positional group emphasized technique during individual drills. What's more, the players were tested mentally as they were placed in more game situations. Several players flashed and regressed during day six of training camp.

For more, take a dive inside my training camp notebook:

Bridgewater looks average, Hill and Stave aren't nearly as poor
Teddy Bridgewater didn't have his best day of practice, but it certainly wasn't his worst. He threw a poor red zone interception that was hauled in by Xavier Rhodes in the red zone. The ball lofted into the end zone and was poorly thrown to Adam Thielen. Additionally, Bridgewater threw an interception on an out intended for Diggs. Trae Waynes made a fantastic play as he pulled the ball out of Diggs' hands. Aside from those, Bridgewater perfectly placed a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on a corner fade over Trae Waynes during red zone drills. More notably, he also looked off Michael Griffin as Stefon Diggs beat Mackensie Alexander for a deep completion.

Shaun Hill wasn't nearly as bad as previous days. He had two nice connections with Terrell Sinkfied and Laquon Treadwell in drills. However, he still had a few overthrows during individual work with the receivers and his passes still take a very long time to reach the receivers.

Joel Stave was intercepted by Anthony Harris in team drills on a wobbly throw that bounced into the arms of Harris. Stave is still struggling to to play consistent and can't string together good practice sessions.

Diggs continues to play phenomenal, Treadwell with a few drops
It's hard to believe Stefon Diggs could actually look better than he did last season in training camp. After six practice sessions, it is clear Diggs has become more explosive off the line of scrimmage and decisive as a route runner. Bridgewater hit Diggs on a corner fade over Trae Waynes for a touchdown in the red zone period. Diggs set up Waynes and established position over the top to haul in the pass. What's more, Diggs used phenomenal footwork to set Terence Newman up inside as he broke to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown in WR/CB work. Finally, Diggs ran a nine route up the seam  and Bridgewater perfectly threw the pass over the top to beat Mackensie Alexander. Again, it appears Diggs has become one of Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets in the offense.

Rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell burst onto the scene during the first few practices of training camp. Once the press coverage started at the line of scrimmage, Treadwell hasn't look nearly as impressive. He is getting open often, but he hasn't been able to close on his opportunities. He has had a problem with drops over the course of the last two days. In QB/WR drills, he added a drop on a catchable pass to the sideline. Additionally, he dropped two passes on day five. Treadwell hasn't made any big-time plays lately and certainly is facing a slight learning curve as he adjusts to the rigors of the NFL. Right now, it appears his drops are a focus issue as he worries about other aspects of his game, such as getting open. Treadwell has looked best on passes across the middle such as quick slants and intermediate routes.

Charles Johnson was winning some battles against cornerback Xavier Rhodes today. He beat Rhodes by running a dig route on consecutive plays. During two-minute situational work, Johnson also corralled a pass from Bridgewater in the flat and out ran Andrew Sendejo for a long gain. Johnson also corralled a touchdown in red zone drills when Sendejo was a step late covering him in the end zone. Johnson still hasn't done particularly well catching balls in traffic but he is consistently getting open against a variety of defensive backs.

Smith substitutes into the starting lineup with Berger
Over the first five days of camp, center Joe Berger was working exclusively with right tackle T.J. Clemmings in the first-team unit. They were rotating into the first team every other day with John Sullivan and Andre Smith. Today, Smith and Berger joined the normal grouping of Matt Kalil, Alex Boone, and Brandon Fusco on the first-team offensive line.

Offensive line working closely on technique
Tony Sparano spent plenty of extra time with the offensive line on their technique. The offensive lineman went through the chute and worked on staying low when gaining leverage. In addition, they were rolled softballs to simulate squatting into the stance. During the various drills conducted by Sparano and assistant coach Hank Fraley, a few players stood out. Austin Shepherd was getting praised for his technique and really looked smooth out of the stance. Alex Boone is a road-grader who has perfected nearly every aspect of being an NFL lineman. Throughout other drills, some of the offensive lineman were particularly average. Brandon Fusco allowed some interior pressure that backed the offensive line into Teddy Bridgewater. However, he isn't allowing a huge number of pressures that anyone should be concerned about. John Sullivan's technique looked very natural and Coach Sparano even once used him as an example for younger players. Today, Joe Berger didn't particularly stand out as being poor at center and his technique was rather solid.

Willie Beavers allowed interior pressure to Shamar Stephen in team drills and really struggled in drills that tested his technique. He has good power and drive, but his footwork is less than desirable. Additionally, tackle Jeremiah Sirles was constantly being talked to about technique and couldn't handle Justin Trattou on numerous occasions. Matt Kalil was beaten on a spin move by Everson Griffen in team drills and Teddy Bridgewater definitely would have been destroyed. Kalil again split most of his battles and looked average at left tackle. He needs to play better, but until he plays poorly in the preseason, there is no reason to prematurely get nervous.

The one offensive lineman who struggled the most was T.J. Clemmings. He was destroyed by Danielle Hunter twice and needs work on his technique as a pass protector. As I have said in numerous notebooks, Clemmings has no problem in the run game, but can't handle any speed rushers off the edge.

The culture change is evident with Tony Sparano running the drills for the offensive line. The tempo is fast paced and the hands-on coaching approach is really benefiting some of the younger players who need coaching. Every day, it seems a young player improves upon one area they were struggling with. That is the type of instruction that is needed to improve a unit that struggled in 2015.

Sendejo struggles, Anthony Harris gets a pick, Kearse performs well again
Today was not Andrew Sendejo's best day of training camp. Sendejo was a step late to cover Charles Johnson who scored on a fade in the end zone. He also took a poor angle on a pass to Johnson in the flat that resulted in a long gain. Both of those issues were prevalent often when Sendejo was starting last season.

Anthony Harris added a nice interception of a Joel Stave pass in team drills and added a pass defensed in a WR/DB drill in the red zone. Harris continues to show he has the skill-set and intelligence to play in the back end. However, he has yet to elevate past the second-team portion of the depth chart. Michael Griffin mixed into the rotation with the first-team near the end of practice. He has yet to flash in a positive or negative way, but with more reps within the first unit, it will be easier to evaluate his performance.

Safety Jayron Kearse knocked away a pass intended for Isaac Fruchete on a quick slant. He also was in position to make several other plays throughout the team drills. Kearse has a knack for making plays and he will be one player worth watching closely in the preseason.

Antone Exum used his closing speed to knock away a pass intended for Jarius Wright on a comeback. Exum turned on the jets and knocked away the pass at the last minute. Exum is doing everything he can to stand out among a crowded roster battle at safety.

Zach Moore getting pressure, Trattou has another good day
Aside from names like Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Linval Joseph, the defensive line is flashing some serious depth. Zach Moore had several interior pressures and likely would have sacked Shaun Hill in live action. Moore had a pass defensed in day three and continues to use his length and athleticism to rush the passer. He is a player that will challenge for a roster spot throughout the preseason. Additionally, Justin Trattou destroyed Jeremiah Sirles and Carter Bykowski during team drills and continues to show he is a consistent playmaker on defense.

Waynes has his best day of training camp, Price gets bodied by Fruechte
Trae Waynes is trying to silence all the haters on Vikings Twitter. He put together his best performance of training camp today. Waynes pulled away a pass from Stefon Diggs for an interception and beautifully knocked down a pass intended for Adam Thielen on a quick slant. Waynes even beautifully covered a corner fade touchdown to Stefon Diggs but the catch by Diggs and throw by Bridgewater were even better. Waynes is taking all the coaching from Mike Zimmer during individual drills and is applying it to the live action. He saw the most extended first-team action he has witnessed during training camp and might be challenging Terence Newman for the starting cornerback job.

Jabari Price has been getting worked on the outside lately. He was bodied by Isaac Fruechte on a route and lost three consecutive times in 1-on-1 drills yesterday. Price didn't look much better in team drills today and might be further way from a roster spot than anyone anticipated.

Vikings sign a running back
The Vikings signed running back Kevin Monangai this afternoon. Monangai, a 5'8", 209-pound, running back played college ball at Villanova. He spent multiple stints on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad in 2015 and will take a few training camp snaps in Minnesota.

Injury Report
For the morning walkthrough, running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson returned to the practice field. Neither of them practiced during the afternoon session. Rhett Ellison (patellar tendon), Taylor Heinicke (quarterback), and Mike Harris (illness) also did not practice.

What's Next? 
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.

My Andy, Luke, and Arif Football Machine Appearance: (I filled in for Luke and we talked Vikings training camp at Boulder Tap House in Mankato!)


  1. Excellent coverage! Thank you for your attention to detail.

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

  2. Excellent coverage! Thank you for your attention to detail.

  3. You are making me excited about Viking football. I feel like I am there!!

    1. Brent, that is an excellent compliment and I greatly appreciate it. Glad I can bring you inside the practices and get you excited about the season.

  4. You are making me excited about Viking football. I feel like I am there!!

  5. Nice talk with Arif and the crew and very informative article. It's great that Waynes looks a lot better, but unfortunate Teddy seems to be just ok. Was hoping he would make some strides. How's Jerrick ?

    1. Jerick is fine. He returned to practice and has had a great training camp. Teddy also looked great in the night practice. Also, glad you enjoyed the article and the podcast!