Following an off day, the Vikings took the field for their fourth padded practice. Daniel House takes you inside his training camp notebook!
Updated: July 2, 2017, 7:15 p.m.
By: Daniel House
By: Daniel House
Following an off day, the Vikings took the field for their fourth padded practice. It was an afternoon that featured multiple drops and pre-snap penalties It was an afternoon that featured multiple drops and pre-snap penalties, but it ended with a strong performance in a situational drill.
For more, take a dive inside my day nine training camp notebook:
Bradford tackles Zimmer
Quarterback Sam Bradford continues to perform at a high level in practices. He delivered a beautiful throw on a corner route to Stefon Diggs over cornerback Terence Newman in the red zone. After completing the touchdown reception, Bradford sprinted toward head coach Mike Zimmer, tackling him to the ground in celebration. It capped a situational drill where the Vikings had 1:48 on the clock on their own 20-yard-line, down six points.
Bradford is making throws down the field look easy with accuracy and touch. His timing and anticipation with wide receivers has been very impressive. During the final situational portion of practice, he delivered a strike on a crosser to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who beat linebacker Anthony Barr. The play would have likely resulted in a sack, as defensive end Danielle Hunter beat left tackle Rashod Hill. However, Bradford has been performing at a high level during the situational work. He is delivering the ball with more confidence and is willing to take a risk into a tight window.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke performed well, but had at least three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Heinicke is smaller and when the offensive line allows a defensive lineman to get into a passing lane, the ball falls incomplete. Nonetheless, Heinicke continues to throw the ball down the field well, fitting passes into tight windows. He delivered a great throw to wide receiver Isaac Fruechte, who made a great adjustment at the catch point against cornerback Sam Brown.
As for Case Keenum, he continues to throw the ball inconsistently. He can make completions up the field with touch, but struggles when he is forced to display arm strength vertically. When he faces a pass rush and the pocket collapses, he tends to not activate his lower half. It leads to the ball sailing or an incompletion low into the ground. However, Keenum delivered a great throw to wide receiver Stacy Coley, who ran a smooth comeback to get open on cornerback Jabari Price. There are moments where Keenum throws the ball well and it usually occurs from 15-20 yards down the field.
Cook shows he's smooth
Running back Dalvin Cook continues to show how lethal he can be when he gets a small crease or the edge. During one run, Cook saw the play collapse on the right side and swiftly cut back to the left, redirecting the run. His ability to read blockers and make swift moves allows him to be a dynamic weapon when he gets to the edge. He still needs more experience and lost twice in pass protection, including a downhill blitz by linebacker Anthony Barr. Nonetheless, he appears to be more comfortable pass protecting as he gets more reps in those situations.
Coley has his best day
Wide receiver Stacy Coley had one of his strongest training camp practices. He got open on a comeback with a sharp cut out of his break on cornerback Jabari Price. Coley also ran a corner post and had a nice amount of separation on cornerback Marcus Sherels. His route running is becoming more refined and he isn’t rounding off at the stem nearly as much. Coley is making more progress than wide receiver Rodney Adams, who hasn’t been getting open consistently. On Wednesday, he did run a nice crosser and quarterback Taylor Heinicke fired a strike across the middle, but Adams dropped the pass. He is looking more natural in the return game, but is still rough around the edges as a route runner.
Wide receiver Mortiz Böhringer has always struggled to make contested grabs, but it showed up even more Wednesday. He had a chance to haul in a contested grab in the end zone against cornerback Antone Exum Jr., but shied away from contact at the catch point. Böhringer is just very consistent as a route runner and he can’t compensate for it by making a grab in traffic.
Wide receiver Cayleb Jones hasn’t flashed as much now that there is more press coverage at the line of scrimmage. He has been inconsistent at getting separation, especially down in the red zone. On Wednesday, he ran a sweet double move into a post on cornerback Sam Brown, but dropped the pass. He managed to redeem himself on a slant a few plays later, but those are the type of catches he will need to make if he wants to crack a roster spot.
Overall, there was a high amount of drops in Wednesday’s practice. I counted at least six, including two from Moritz Böhringer and one each from R.J. Shelton, Isaac Fruechte, Cayleb Jones, and Nick Truesdell.
Tight end Kyle Carter hauled in a difficult one-handed grab in the flat against linebacker Edmond Robinson in the flat. Carter has been low on the depth chart, but has been showing up in the passing game and as a run blocker. In addition, tight Nick Truesdell dropped a pass up the seam after getting a step on linebacker Elijah Lee.
Odenigbo has a big day
The defensive line definitely won the day against most of the offensive line units. Both left tackle Rashod Hill and right tackle Mike Remmers lost their fair share of reps to defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. Hill and Remmers aren’t losing every snap, but certainly aren’t winning the majority, either. Right guard Danny Isidora was up-and-down during the afternoon session, posting a positive rep versus defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, but losing twice to defensive tackle Shamar Stephen. Stephen is having a very impressive camp and consistently makes an impact as a run defender. He has won the vast majority of his snaps and is one of the more fundamentally sound defensive tackles within the unit.
Center Pat Elflein was rotating with the first-team and has been holding his own. Both he and Nick Easton struggled with a safety blitz that was deployed and each of them lost a rep on it. This appeared to be either a misread or lack of communication up front.
Right guard Joe Berger has lost few reps during the first couple of padded practices. It hasn’t been concerning, but he hasn’t been performing at the level everyone has become accustomed to. He lost two snaps to Tom Johnson, one of which came off a power swim move inside.
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo had a dominant practice, winning nearly every snap versus right tackle Reid Fragel. Odenigbo has been quietly performing at a high level in camp. He was working hard with defensive line coach Andre Patterson on pass rushing moves before practice. Odenigbo has been winning with power, which matches up with his tape at Northwestern. He has a strong swim move, bull-rush, and push-pull to use. He is winning against third-tier roster players, but it is clear to see Odenigbo has upside.
Defensive tackle Datone Jones made more noise Wednesday, destroying T.J. Clemmings inside with a blend of speed and power. Jaleel Johnson also won several reps in 11-on-11 work and is starting to contribute more as practices progress.
At one point in practice, defensive tackle Dylan Bradley totally shoved guard Freddie Tagaloa to the ground. He engaged and pushed him forward with a burst of lower leg power. Bradley has shown flashes in camp and might be a player that turns heads in the preseason.
Defensive end Tashawn Bower was getting more reps with the second-team Wednesday. Bower won with a speed rush against Jeremiah Sirles in team drills, forcing quarterback Taylor Heinicke to throw a checkdown. Bower has been gaining steam over the last few practices and continues to develop more pass rushing moves. As for Sirles, he hasn’t been impressive in pass protection and it’s come against second-tier performers, too.
Tocho with a pass breakup
The safety position had a few highlights during the afternoon session Wednesday. Jack Tocho reacted to a play and broke up a Michael Floyd corner post from behind. Tocho moves well in the backend and looks more comfortable in every practice as he transitions to the safety position.
Antone Exum Jr. continues play the nickel cornerback role and had a pass breakup on a deep pass intended for Mortiz Böhringer. He has been seeing second-team work at nickel cornerback and is doing an admirable job. More importantly, Exum Jr. has been an integral cog on all of the special teams units with linebacker Kentrell Brothers missing time.
Cornerback Horace Richardson made a great tackle for loss and had a pass breakup during a 4-on-4 drill. Richardson is a developmental cornerback that seems to be improving every day with a focus on his footwork and fundamentals. Cornerback Jabari Price has been relatively quiet during camp, but had two pass breakups Wednesday, including one on a fade to wide receiver Stacy Coley.
Safety Jayron Kearse mauled tight end Nick Trusedell in a red zone drill, leading to a holding call. Kearse has been making plays on the ball with his physicality, but Coach Zimmer has repeatedly said he needs to tighten up his footwork and learn to sink his hips.
- Left tackle Riley Reiff, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, and cornerback Tre Roberson all missed afternoon practice. Mike Zimmer told reporters after practice that Reiff is dealing with a back injury and could be back in "a couple days." At this point, it is unclear why Treadwell missed practice.
- At times, the afternoon practice was sloppy and featured at least five pre-snap penalties and six drops.
- Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur discussed a variety of topics in his press conference and defensive tackle Will Sutton explained hissystem fit in Minnesota.
- I joined the Mackey and Judd Show on 1500ESPN to discuss Mr. Mankato and sleepers at Vikings training camp. Listen here (starts at 11:31).