The Vikings practiced for the final time in Mankato, MN, ending a 52-year run in the city for training camp. Daniel House takes you inside his training camp notebook!
Updated: August 8, 2017, 7:35 p.m.
By: Daniel House
By: Daniel House
The Vikings practiced for the final time in Mankato, MN, ending a 52-year run in the city for training camp. Minnesota will move to Eagan, MN and practice in their new team headquarters next season. Fans filled the stands to witness the final day of training camp in southern Minnesota.
For more, take a dive inside my training camp notebook:
Bradford intercepted by Rhodes
Quarterback Sam Bradford had a very solid camp, showing off his arm talent and accuracy downfield. Tuesday’s practice provided the only real blemish from Bradford during camp. He underthrew a fade up the sideline intended for Adam Thielen and it was intercepted by cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Nonetheless, in a 4-on-4 drill, Bradford found Jarius Wright with excellent touch over the top, as cornerback Mackensie Alexander was draped all over him. The ball was placed perfectly into a tight window, over Alexander’s outstretched arms.
Quarterback Case Keenum had one of his better days of camp. The quarterbacks didn’t throw consistently down the field, but Keenum was successful on passes between 10-15 yards. He did find wide receiver Cayleb Jones up the right sideline for a big gain. Keenum is successful when he is allowed to throw with touch because he doesn’t have significant arm strength.
Jones finishes camp strong, Carter makes a nice grab
Wide receiver Cayleb Jones started camp and strong and finished it the same way. He ran a double move and caught a deep fade in the 4-on-4 drill. He also caught a crosser on cornerback Tre Roberson during team drills. Most notably, he had a contested grab across the middle with cornerback Marcus Sherels blanketing him at the catch point.
Aside from Jones, wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen continued to perform well. Thielen ran a smooth out to the sideline against cornerback Tre Roberson and won during camp because of his detailed route running. In addition, Diggs spun cornerback Marcus Sherels around on a corner route and Bradford hit him in stride. Both Diggs and Thielen were making plays every day in camp and will be a nice one-two punch this season.
Tight end Kyle Carter got separation on a corner route, snatching the pass just above the outstretched arms of linebacker Anthony Barr. Carter has been running better routes and is showing up as a run blocker in heavy personnel sets.
Pass protection holds up better
This was one of the better days for the offensive line. They held up well in pass protection and there were less reps where the pocket collapsed. Right tackle Mike Remmers was winning more and left tackle Rashod Hill rebounded after a rough Monday. He won a rep against both Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter during 1-on-1 work. He also handled them well in the team drills, providing the quarterbacks with more time to throw. There were less throws down the field, which also helped the amount of time blocks were held. Nonetheless, it was encouraging to see the tackle spots hold up well during 1-on-1 sessions, too. Leaving training camp, the one area everyone can feel better about is the run blocking. Rashod Hill and Mike Remmers have added so much value to this area of the offensive line. In addition, right guard Joe Berger had one of his best days. He won twice against defensive tackle Tom Johnson in 1-on-1 drills and opened a gaping hole for a Dalvin Cook run between the tackles. He has been up-and-down during camp, but performed better down the stretch.
Finally, the real underrated player during camp has been guard Zac Kerin. He has been solid with all of his responsibilities and I really like him when he pulls and gets into the second level. Kerin won both of his 1-on-1 reps, including an extra impressive matchup against defensive tackle Chunky Clements. It will be an uphill climb for Kerin to make the 53-man roster, but his surge the last few days could be helpful.
Center Pat Elflein continues to rotate into the mix at center and seen a few snaps at guard. He handled all of his 1-on-1 reps and opened a massive hole by delivering a strong block on defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson. Elflein gets better every day and it wouldn’t be surprising if he claimed the starting job after the preseason.
Left tackle Riley Reiff participated in practice, but was limited to positional drills. He will continue to work his way back into action after suffering from back tightness.
Odenigbo has been dominating
Defensive Ifeadi Odenigbo is bolstering his resume as he makes a case for the fourth defensive end spot. He will need to perform better than Stephen Weatherly in the preseason, but his rise in training camp will be helpful. He beat T.J. Clemmings with a power move in team drills and won all his reps in 1-on-1 action Tuesday.
Defensive tackle Datone Jones had one strong play against the run and destroyed guard Freddie Tagaloa in a 1-on-1 drills, knocking him to the ground. In addition, Will Sutton beat center Pat Elflein in team drills, notching a tackle for loss. More importantly, Shamar Stephen won all of of his 1-on-1 reps, including a great rep against rookie Danny Isidora. Stephen had an excellent camp and will make a huge impact if he can stay healthy. Mix all of those players together, along with Linval Joseph, and the Vikings’ rotation inside will be tough to stop.
Gedeon: the king of run stops
Linebacker Ben Gedeon had a tackle for loss in a situational drill and made numerous run stops throughout practice. He worked more exclusively with the second-team defense, but continues to rotate throughout the linebacker depth chart. One could argue he was one of the most consistent camp performers among young players on the roster.
Alexander struggles, Sinkfield has a great day
Cornerback Trae Waynes had a pass breakup on a Stacy Coley out and did a better job of making plays on the ball in the afternoon session. He is dropping his hips and keeping the wide receiver on his hip, but now he needs to get his hands in passing lanes. Waynes was forcing incompletions in practice and has been improving as the coaches continue to work on his technique in positional drills.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander struggled to cover corner routes on Tuesday. He lost by a step to Isaac Fruetche and was unable to get his hands into the passing lane to break up a throw intended for wide receiver Jarius Wright. Alexander needs more reps to gain experience, so the preseason will be huge for him.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes perfectly covered a fade up the sideline intended for wide receiver Adam Thielen, hauling in an interception. He has been shutting pass catchers down, but the big key will be how Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes perform when teams avoid throwing toward Rhodes. They both were up-and-down throughout camp, but have been progressing with more reps.
Leaving camp, cornerback Terrell Sinkfield might be the favorite to land the sixth cornerback spot. He had an interception and a notable pass breakup on a crosser intended for wide receiver Cayleb Jones. Sinkfield, a fantastic athlete, is starting to develop the footwork needed for the cornerback position. He will be a player to monitor during preseason games.
Linebacker Kentrell Brothers, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, and defensive end Brian Robison missed the afternoon session.
Thank you to everyone who followed along during training camp coverage this year. It is always a joy to write these notebooks and features. I appreciate all of you!