The 2014 Minnesota Vikings are coming together. Well, as much as possible for the 2nd day of training camp. I’ve tried to summarize the major talking points from today’s practices.
Norv Turner Press Conference
- Turner spoke extensively about wanting the Vikings to have an explosive offense. Of all the words Turner used in his 20 minutes at the podium, explosive was likely used the most. There is no doubt that he intends to stretch the field and this offense will look very different from years past.
“We want to pick up first downs on 1st and 2nd down. We want to be a team that runs a lot of plays” Turner noted.
I found this pretty telling. Since drafting Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have traditionally run the ball on 1st and 2nd down. I sounds like Turner wants to keep defenses on their toes.
- Turner also mentioned he thinks Peterson can hold his own not only catching the ball out of the backfield, but also in pass protection. Turner did note, however, that defensive ends are bound to give any running back trouble in terms of pass protection.
- On that topic, Turner went to great lengths to explain that Matt Asiata has really shown what he can do not only catching the ball, but also in pass protection. Turner added, that Asiata is a great athlete and can be a running back who can really “pound it.”
- Turner noted that the Vikings want to be a physical football team, and that will extend to the offense. Full back Jerome Felton is going to ‘block, block, block’ Turned commented and added that he will get Felton carries as well. Something Felton saw very little of in Bill Musgrave’s offense.
- There are always a handful of players who stand out in the early parts of camp. The obvious ones like Peterson and Kyle Rudolph all seem to be ready to go.
- That said, rookie running back Jerick McKinnon looks to be a great complementary back to Peterson and at first glance seems to be a very fluid runner with great speed and acceleration. McKinnon spent time with the 1st and 2nd team offense, but it should be noted that Asiata also was given those opportunities as well.
- 2nd year wide receiver Adam Thielen was all over the place today. Thielen took reps with the 2nd team offense and also got time in kick return formations during special teams. Thielen is an interesting candidate to make the final 53 man roster and seems to making the most of the opportunity. He catches almost everything thrown his way- in fact, I didn’t see him drop any passes, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
- Quarterback Matt Cassel looked comfortable as the first string quarterback and has the advantage of being through an NFL training camp over rookie Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel connected with Jerome Simpson on a nice pass in which Simpson fooled corner back Xavier Rhodes on a nice route to the inside.
- Speaking of Bridgewater, I have to say I was impressed. Yes, it is early, but you can see how his time in a pro system in college has helped him prepare for his new role in the NFL. Bridgewater makes quick reads of the defense and seemed to make smart decisions with the football. He does place the ball well, and when throwing into a crowded space, seems to put the ball in a place only his wide receivers have a chance to catch it.
- No rookie is flawless, though, and Bridgewater threw a few passes that got away from him. This is to be expected at this point, in my opinion.
- As noted by many, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson did not participate in either the walk through or afternoon practice. I don’t believe there is any serious concerns of injury, but the Vikings are obviously being cautious at this juncture.
- A dark horse candidate to make the team is undrafted rookie AC Leonard. If you follow me on twitter, you probably noted how impressed I am with Leonard at this point of camp. He seems to be a heck of an athlete and with some fine tuning of route running could be a nice addition to the offense. Leonard is getting a nice chance to prove his worth with the team with Chase Ford starting camp on the PUP list. Ford is hobbling around Mankato on crutches. I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think he’ll be back any time soon.
- New defensive tackle Linval Joseph sure looks the part of a franchise defensive tackle. Earlier in the week, Head Coach Mike Zimmer commented on the fact that Joseph came to camp in great shape, and that looks to be the case. Joseph had a nice day in practice, batting down a couple of Cassel’s passes at the line of scrimmage.
- I noted a couple of times where the defense would employ a 3 safety set. This was unusual for me to see as a Vikings fan, but is a formation Zimmer had used in Cincinatti. When in use, Mistral Raymond and Robert Blanton were positioned deep with Harrison Smith creeping around the line of scrimmage. I am interested to see how often this is used moving forward during camp.
- Everson Griffen seems to be ready for the season and looked good going against left tackle Matt Kalil. Griffen is so quick off the line and it will be interesting to see he and Kalil go at it tomorrow when the team puts full pads on for the first time in 2014.
- Rookie Antone Exum spent some time with the 2nd team unit at safety with Jamacus Sanford. Exum has a lot of potential and it seems he’ll get an opportunity to prove himself.
- Chad Greenway spent time at middle linebacker with Audie Cole and Anthony Barr spending time with the 1st and 2nd team defenses. All of the line backers spent time moving around from position to position, it seems this will be a true competition to figure out who is best where.
- With corner back Captain Munnerlyn starting camp on the PUP list, Josh Robinson has been taking reps on the outside with the 1st team defense.
- I had to ask who #69 was. That was weird.
I’ll be back in Mankato first thing tomorrow morning and will have plenty more to add after tomorrow practices.