The Vikings practiced in shoulder pads Friday and had two 1-on-1 sessions between the offensive and defensive lines. Daniel House takes you inside his training camp notebook!
Updated: August 4, 2017, 7:20 p.m.
By: Daniel House
By: Daniel House
The Vikings practiced in shoulder pads Friday and had two 1-on-1 sessions between the offensive and defensive lines. It allowed for another solid evaluation of the battles up front.
For more, take a dive inside the Day 11 training camp notebook:
Bradford delivers a laser to Rudy
Quarterback Sam Bradford continues to look sharp in all of the drills throughout practice. He beautifully placed a fade up the sideline to Stefon Diggs, who made a tough grab on cornerback Xaiver Rhodes look easy. Bradford continues to throw the ball accurately down the field and is amazing when throwing up the seam. Bradford delivered an exceptional throw up the seam over the fingertips of linebacker Eric Kendricks to tight end Kyle Rudolph. The pass was placed perfectly into about a six-inch window. Bradford’s downfield accuracy and touch are two of his best attributes.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke had a strong start to practice, but tapered off at the end. He missed a few open receivers and forced throws into tight windows. It led to a few pass breakups and near interceptions during the second stage of team drills.
On the other hand, quarterback Case Keenum has been performing at a high level in the red zone. He was throwing passes into tight windows with success. Keenum fired a strike to wide receiver Stacy Coley in the corner of the end zone, placing the pass perfectly. He has been more accurate on the short-to-intermediate routes and is throwing with great touch on passes within 20 yards.
McKinnon looking fresh
Running back Jerick McKinnon saw his longest stint of action after battling an injury early in camp. He showed impressive burst to the outside as tight end Kyle Carter set the edge during a team drill. McKinnon looked more explosive and comfortable cutting Friday. When he was catching passes in space, he was cutting smooth and uses his vision to find open lanes.
In addition, running back Terrell Newby popped off a number of nice runs, including an elusive one between the tackles. He also caught a few passes out of the backfield, accelerating to the second level and cutting back swiftly. Newby has shown developmental potential in practice.
Diggs is the best player on offense
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been putting together a sensational training camp. There is nobody that competes better than Diggs on the field. His competitive fire and willingness to push others is showing up among everyone in the wide receiver room. His routes are so smooth/crisp and he simply freezes many defensive backs. His movement in and out of his breaks locks up defensive backs on a consistent basis.
Wide receiver Cayleb Jones ran a few impressive routes, including a crosser on Horace Richardson. In addition, he almost hauled in an impressive diving catch off a double move in the DB/WR drills. Jones ran his best set of routes and made catches Friday after being underwhelming during the last two practices.
Wide receiver Rodney Adams ran a crosser to get open on linebacker Edmond Robinson during team drills. He also popped into the flat and beat defensive end Stephen Weatherly, who dropped into coverage. Adams also put a nice move on safety Harrison Smith during a 1-on-1 drill. He was getting open more in this practice and showed what he can do when he’s isolated in space. It was by far his strongest showing of training camp.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd made a fantastic contested grab on a fade with cornerback Marcus Sherels all over him. Floyd adjusted at the catch point and hauled in the grab. He continues to show how well he can perform in contested catch situations.
Kyle Carter is standing out
The last three days for tight end Kyle Carter have been impressive. He had two difficult grabs Thursday and followed it up with a great showing as a run blocker, too. Carter set the edge for two running plays, including a great rep against cornerback Xavier Rhodes to spark a Jerick McKinnon run. He and David Morgan have stood out as run blockers over each of the last two days. In addition, there was also one rep in team drills where tight end Bucky Hodges was destroyed by defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo for a quarterback pressure. Hodges is still adjusting to his pass protection and run blocking duties at this level.
Battles up front increase in intensity
The battles up front were really emphasized during Friday’s practice. There were two sets of 1-on-1 drills and several players stood out. Defensive end Stephen Weatherly won with a strong inside rush on Willie Beavers and picked up a touch sack in team drills. He is developing more pass rushing moves and it’s clear to see he is taking positive steps forward. In fact, he was working with the first-team defense in the nickel package. The team substituted defensive end Everson Griffen out of the package and placed Weatherly in the role. He is an integral special teams contributor and appears to be carving out a role on this team.
This was probably the strongest day defensive tackle Datone Jones has put together at camp. He destroyed guard Danny Isidora with a burst of speed and a strong swim move inside. Jones is great at getting inside pressure and collapsing the pocket. He forces the quarterback to evade the pocket or step into the other interior defensive lineman. In addition, defensive tackle Shamar Stephen won twice against center Nick Easton during 1-on-1 drills.
Left tackle Rashod Hill had another strong day, holding well up well in team settings. He is stringing together more positive reps and is keeping his footwork consistent. Hill isn’t having as many lapses, and when he does, it’s usually the result of a strong move by defensive end Danielle Hunter. Right tackle Mike Remmers has struggled during certain stages of practice. He lost the majority of his 1-on-1 drills, but was more consistent in team settings. Remmers particularly struggled with defensive end Danielle Hunter during the 1-on-1 battles.
Guard Joe Berger lost a few reps to defensive tackle Tom Johnson, but continues to be strong in the running game. The team has been running the ball better between the tackles, and Berger, along with Alex Boone have played a key role in this success. In other news, this was probably the best day Pat Efllein has put together in 1-on-1 settings. He displayed a strong base and punch, locking up defensive tackle Will Sutton. This was a nice accomplishment considering Sutton was winning the vast majority of his reps. He won with a great spin move against Alex Boone during the 1-on-1 portion. Sutton has been coming on strong and might challenge for one of the final roster spots on the defensive line.
Defensive tackle Dylan Bradley turned heads after putting a power move on guard Danny Isidora during 1-on-1 drills. Bradley has flashed during portions of practice and is a player I’m eager to watch in the preseason.
Gedeon sees more work, Sinkfield making an impression
Linebacker Edmond Robinson had a great run stop during a Bishop Sankey run and knocked a pass away during a passing drill. He continued to rotate with linebacker Ben Gedeon, who worked more with the second-team Friday afternoon. He continues to rotate into the mix, but has stood out on the field. He was active in run stopping situations and continues to shine when he pulls off of blocks. This was probably the best day so far for Anthony Barr in coverage. He locked down several plays up the seam and was active when stopping receptions to the edge.
Safety Antone Exum Jr. shut the door on several potential receptions and continues to look comfortable in the nickel cornerback role. He is really natural at this spot and his footwork is starting to look more fluid. Exum Jr. had a great pass breakup on a Rodney Adams corner route during team drills. He has put together a string of great practices and has played an active role on special teams.
Cornerback Terrell Sinkfield is making a stronger case every day for the sixth cornerback spot. He grabbed an interception on Rodney Adams slant and had a great jam on Stefon Diggs at the line of scrimmage to redirect his route. Sinkfield is a very special athlete and rotates his hips well to make plays on the ball. In addition, he is playing with more physicality in press coverage situations.
- Left tackle Riley Reiff, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, cornerback Jabari Price, and defensive end Tashawn Bower all missed the afternoon practice.
- Defensive coordinator George Edwards said, "(Mack Alexander) has played pretty consistent throughout training camp for us."
- Edwards added that he feels the players are starting to get more comfortable with situational football.
- I joined Andy Carlson at Boulder Tap House in Mankato to discuss “up and down” training camp players. There's some great content in this appearance!