It was a chilly day in Mankato as the Vikings took the field for another day of practice. Daniel House has a training camp notebook for you!
Updated: August 3, 2017, 6:55 p.m.
By: Daniel House
By: Daniel House
It was a chilly day in Mankato as the Vikings took the field for another day of practice. The team continued to work on situations and the offensive line showed an improvement in the running game.
For more, take a dive inside my training camp notebook:
Bradford drops a dime to Diggs
The highlight of the day came near the end of practice when quarterback Sam Bradford found wide receiver Stefon Diggs up the sideline. Diggs ran a fade up the seam and Bradford perfectly placed the pass over Terence Newman for a 45-yard gain. Bradford has been showing accuracy and touch on throws up the sideline. He also found Stefon Diggs in the back corner of the end zone in the red zone drill, again edging Newman, who lost by a step. Finally, Bradford dropped a dime to tight end Kyle Rudolph on a deep crosser, firing the pass into a tight window for a completion.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke worked with the second team for the majority of practice and continued to make most of the necessary throws. He beautifully delivered a strike up the seam to tight end Nick Truesdell, who had a step on linebacker Ben Gedeon. However, the wind really impacted the cornerbacks during portions of practice. Heinicke missed Michael Floyd, who was wide-open and forced a throw into a tight window, that was intercepted by safety Jayron Kearse. Quarterback Case Keenum also had similar trouble when throwing deep down the sideline. This was an issue without wind, so it was maximized as the breeze cut across the practice field.
Dalvin Cook continued to catch a nice amount of passes out of the backfield and had no trouble tracking passes into his frame. When he is in space, he’s able to create with his vision and strong cutbacks. I really think we’ll see plenty of Cook in the receiving game because he is such a dynamic weapon with the ball in his hands. When he gets to the edge, he is very lethal.
Fullback C.J. Ham had an impressive block on linebacker Anthony Barr and opened up a huge lane for running back Dalvin Cook between the tackles. Ham has been continuing to show growth as a pass protector and run blocker.
Running back Jerick McKinnon saw more live action and showed great burst on a run he kicked out to the edge in team drills. He was still slightly limited, but appears to be returning to more natural form.
Wide receiver Rodney Adams had one dropped pass and has struggled to get open. The majority of catches he’s made are contested, which shows he is really struggling to get separation at the stem of his routes. More importantly, he was unable to track punts, muffing two consecutive attempts. Adams is just rough around the edges at this point and will need more experience to grow.
On the other hand, wide receiver Stacy Coley has been coming on strong as of late. He won against cornerback Marcus Sherels in the back of the end zone, drawing a holding penalty. He also beat Anthony Barr on a deep crosser during a 4-on-4 drill by nicely setting up his route. Coley has also looked better than Adams in the return game, particularly on punts. If I had to choose between Coley and Adams at this point in camp, I would keep Coley on the team.
Wide receiver Cayleb Jones has struggled with drops recently. He got open on a crosser versus cornerback Horace Richardson, but started running before he caught the ball.
Kyle Carter making some noise
Tight end Kyle Carter has put together two consecutive strong practices. He made a great adjustment on a pass thrown behind him against linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. Later in practice, Carter added another similar grab and laid a strong block in the running game versus defensive Ifeadi Odenigbo. Carter has shown upside as both a pass catcher and run blocker in camp and has been more consistent than Nick Trusedell.
Tight end David Morgan has been taking out the road grader in practice. He has been setting the edge for numerous runs. On one occasion, he opened a massive hole for a Terrell Newby run to the edge. He also sparked a goal-line rush for Dalvin Cook, who ran between the tackles in the red zone. Morgan will be a huge asset for the Vikings in the running game.
The first-team offensive line had its best day thus far in the running game. They were getting a great push inside to open rushing lanes between the tackles. Both Joe Berger and Alex Boone had their best days and were winning the leverage battle inside. Berger was more inconsistent as a pass protector, losing multiple reps to Tom Johnson during team drills. The trend has surfaced when he has been backed into the corner with speed off the snap.
Center Nick Easton also had a few positive reps, but lost to defensive tackle Linval Joseph on a few occasions. Easton has looked more comfortable in the 1-on-1 matchups, too. Pat Efllein lost to Shamar Stephen in both the 1-on-1 and team drills. He has been inconsistent in pass protection, but has been stronger as a run blocker. Guard Danny Isidora has been rock solid when he’s been a down blocker. He can get to the second level and find linebackers to open rushing lanes. He did lose a few reps to defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, but this has been the case for many of the interior offensive lineman throughout camp.
It feels like Jeremiah Sirles might be a better guard in this system. He has struggled in pass protection, losing numerous reps. He was flattened on his back by defensive end Tashawn Bower during the final team drill. Bower continued to perform well, but must continue working on his rushing angles. This showed during 1-on-1 drills and caused him to slip and fall or lose because he was unable to get position. He worked almost exclusively with the second-team as defensive end Brian Robison saw less reps Thursday.
This was probably left tackle Rashod Hill’s best day. He lost a few times to defensive end Everson Griffen, but held his own. He is starting to become more consistent and is stringing together consecutive positive reps, which has been a problem in the past. Hill has been very impressive in the running game, too. In fact, it’s been one of the aspects of his game I’ve been most impressed with. Right tackle Mike Remmers was up-and-down, losing to Danielle Hunter a few times. He was just a little below average, but it was better than his worst day. The best protection of the day came on Bradford’s 45-yard strike to Stefon Diggs. Both Remmers and Hill won and it allowed Bradford to step into a clean pocket, which is when he’s at his best.
Defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson won a few reps against guard Danny Isidora and emerged with two run stops during team drills. He has been getting snaps, which has allowed him to shine more. He was strong during the 1-on-1 drills, winning a matchup against guard Austin Shepherd as well.
Linebacker Ben Gedeon saw more reps than ever on the weakside with the first-team. He continued to flash as a run defender and was making stops in the screen game. Gedeon wasn’t tested consistently in coverage, but the reps he’s receiving clearly show Zimmer wants to get a good look of him with the starters.
His competition, linebacker Edmond Robinson had as pass breakup in the flat during a 7-on-7 drill and one run stop during team drills. Veteran Emmanuel Lamur also had a pass breakup and a run stop. This was probably Lamur’s strongest overall practice, especially against the run.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks ran down a Dalvin Cook screen pass from the other side of the field and was wreaking havoc in the running game during Thursday’s practice. It was by far his strongest performance of camp as we saw his above average instincts on display.
Evaluating the cornerbacks
Cornerback Trae Waynes hasn’t been exploited consistently, but when he has, it’s been the result of getting turned around off the snap. He gets lost and tries to compensate with speed, rather than footwork off the snap. This isn’t a consistent problem, but it’s the result of a few losses. For the most part, Waynes has improved from a footwork standpoint, but there certainly have been lapses, especially against the likes of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander has clearly tightened up his footwork. He lost a few snaps to wide receiver Jarius Wright. Nonetheless, he is contesting the plays and his footwork looks much better in positional work. During team drills, he had a great pass breakup on an Adam Thielen slant, sinking his hips and keeping the receiver on his side.
Cornerback Horace Richardson has shown potential during training camp. He notched a pass breakup on wide receiver Cayleb Jones and made a great tackle for loss on a Terrell Newby run. He might be a player that performs well in the preseason for the Vikings.
I’ve consistently discussed the job cornerback Terrell Sinkfield has done as he’s transitioned to the cornerback position. He is starting to develop every day and knocked away a Cayleb Jones crosser from behind. His footwork ahs been getting better with more experience and he was working hard with defensive backs coach Jerry Gray during positional drills.
- Left tackle Riley Reiff, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell all missed practice. Cornerback Tre Roberson returned, but was limited.
- Mike Zimmer appeared to kick left tackle Reid Fragel and linebacker Noor Davis out of practice after they got into a small skirmish during a team drill.