Friday, July 29, 2016

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The Minnesota Vikings’ decision to trade into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater in 2014 was an all-in play — a commitment to a young, talented, and underrated football player whose stock had fallen in the weeks prior to the draft. As training camp continues in Mankato, Minnesota, it’s clear that their investment, and continued development of the second-year quarterback, is paying off for the organization.

Virtual Reality Revolutionizes Film Study

On Sunday, during the team’s first practice at training camp, virtual reality cameras followed Bridgewater as he broke the huddle and ran through plays. As the official website states, the Vikings are the fourth NFL team reported to have a partnership with STRIVR Labs, Inc., a provider of virtual reality instructional technology.

Through the use of virtual reality headsets, cameras, and powerful software, STRIVR and the Vikings can take footage from the perspective of players like Chad Greenway and Teddy Bridgewater and make it available for film sessions and team meetings — giving coaches and players new perspective while breaking down games or understanding specific assignments.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to help our players prepare and improve on the field,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said. “This is just another example of the Wilf family’s commitment to helping our team compete for championships.”

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(Photo Courtesy of Luke Inman)

Training Camp is a time to figure things out. I have a laundry list of things I want to shake out in Mankato and I’ll rattle a few off on the podcast. We’ll also talk about our production schedule for this week (at least one episode a day!), as well as rough outline of our Mankato adventure this weekend, and us singing the praises of Boulder Tap House. A place ya’ll should come swarm us after each Vikings practice. Do it.

A Few of the 37 Things I Want to Figure Out in Mankato Include
• Nothing about Adrian
• “How does Teddy look?”
• How much does Chad Greenway have left?
• That Zimmer Hellfire Defense in year two.
• Who wins at right guard? Harris – Berger/Yankey/Thompson/Shepherd/ FUSCO?
• With Clemmings staying at tackle, could he be the eventual replacement for Loadholt/Kalil?
• What’s Stefon Diggs gonna be?
• What’s the deal with Spielman’s arms?
• Will Trae Waynes even start as a rookie?
• Cordarelle has one strike left. Will he strike out?
• Tune in for the other 27!

All that and other “Love Me Some Mankato” chatter on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Tom Farniok wants to establish a legacy.

It doesn’t have to be the kind that puts his name into the Hall of Fame or anything, but the former Iowa State center puts it upon himself to lead the way for his brothers, all offensive linemen like himself.

There’s Derek, an offensive lineman for Oklahoma who is entering his redshirt senior year. There’s Matt, a four-star recruit from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the highest-ranked player in the state—fielding offers from 18 different teams—including Florida, Florida State, Michigan State and Stanford. And there’s high school sophomore Will, who Tom says should find his time in the spotlight after he can grow out of Matt’s shadow.

Being the older brother to all of them is the kind of pressure that Farniok enjoys—he enjoys coming from a football family, even if it’s not the same kind of advantage you’d normally associate with that kind of upbringing.

“I’m the oldest, so I didn’t really get the advantage in that regard,” he clarified in our interview. “They got the advantage because they got to learn. But it’s just cool, it’s pressure but it’s good pressure because I don’t want to let my brothers down.”

Pressure is not unusual to Tom. Of course, there’s the natural pressure that comes with entering training camp with no clear hold on a roster spot, and naturally there’s the pressure that follows the journey up the depth chart at the only FBS school to provide him a scholarship.

How about designing the offense?

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Tonight, I hop on a plane headed for the Twin Cities, and it’ll be my first trip to Minnesota in nearly 14 years. In that time, plenty has changed — I won’t be touring the Metrodome, visiting the Mall of America, or checking out my dad’s family home. Instead, I’ll be representing Vikings Territory at U.S. Bank Stadium and Vikings training camp as part of U.S. Bank’s Biggest Fan Sweepstakes.

On Wednesday, I’ll join 40 lucky Vikings fan for the opportunity of a lifetime. We’ll start the day at U.S. Bank Stadium, where we’ll take a hard hat tour of the Vikings’ new home before visiting the stadium preview center. Later in the day, we’ll take a bus up to Mankato and spend the afternoon with a sideline view of training camp practices.

In working with U.S. Bank and the Vikings Biggest Fan event, Vikings Territory will be able to bring you an inside look at the new stadium and some extra coverage from training camp in Mankato.

Here’s the fun part — we want everyone to experience this exciting day of activities.

To start, I’ll be conducting a scavenger hunt of sorts, taking the best photos and videos possible while asking unique questions to coaches, players, and tour guides. But, I need your help. The Vikings Territory staff has already started a list for the hunt, but we need more suggestions! Below, the running list:

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Photo courtesy Ryan Cutler

As far as I can tell, this is what the depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings was on the first day of training camp.

Offensive Depth Chart
QB Teddy Bridgewater Shaun Hill Mike Kafka Taylor Heinicke
HB Adrian Peterson Jerick McKinnon Matt Asiata Joe Banyard Dominique Williams DuJuan Harris
FB Zach Line Blake Renaud
WR1 Charles Johnson Cordarrelle Patterson Gavin Lutman
WR2 Mike Wallace Stefon Diggs Jordan Leslie Isaac Fruechte
WR3 Jarius Wright Adam Thielen Donte Foster
TE Kyle Rudolph Rhett Ellison Chase Ford Mycole Pruitt Brandon Bostick
LT Matt Kalil Carter Bykowski Babatunde Aiyegbusi
LG Brandon Fusco David Yankey Chrishon Rose
C John Sullivan Joe Berger Tom Farniok
RG Mike Harris Phil Loadholt Isame Faciane
RT Phil Loadholt T.J. Clemmings Austin Shepherd
Defensive Depth Chart
RDE Everson Griffen Justin Trattou Danielle Hunter  B.J. Dubose
UT Sharrif Floyd Tom Johnson
NT Linval Joseph Chigbo Anunoby
LDE Brian Robison Scott Crichton Josh Kaddu
SLB Anthony Barr Brandon Watts Edmond Robinson
MLB Audie Cole Eric Kendricks Michael Mauti
WLB Chad Greenway Gerald Hodges Brian Peters
LCB Xavier Rhodes Jabari Price DeMarcus Van Dyke
SS Harrison Smith Andrew Sendejo Anthony Harris
FS Robert Blanton Antone Exum Jr. Shaun Prater
RCB Terence Newman Trae Waynes Marcus Sherels
*SCB Captain Munnerlyn

It’s missing some players obviously, but that’s a combination of the fact that the Vikings didn’t field a “fourth-string” defense and I didn’t catch the rotation there, and some of it is because the Vikings weren’t necessarily showcasing what they had in nickel all that often. This will change throughout the course of camp, but don’t expect to see big changes right away.

The receiver rotation in particular is always tough to tell because they rotate through the receivers very quickly. Just know that Stefon Diggs seems to be ahead of Cordarrelle Patterson, who saw the field at the same time as Adam Thielen a lot. Again, all that can change.

The third-string defense was tough to tell, because they had two groups of CBs taking reps, and I may have misread Josh Kaddu, who is listed as a linebacker but was an edge-rusher for Oregon, play defensive end. Update: Kaddu played linebacker for the shells practice today, throughout the day.

We’re going to see changes with Kendricks, who seems set to start or take significant snaps this year, and some of the cornerbacks. Not listed are Casey Matthews (IR), Davaris Daniels (NFI), Shamar Stephen (NFI) and Josh Robinson (PUP) as well as some players that didn’t get into the rotation when I was looking, like CB Justin Coleman, CB Jalil Carter, CB Josh Thomas, DE Leon Mackey, and DE Caesar Rayford. Update: Justin Trattou took all the second-team DE snaps in shells today, while B.J. Dubose moved around between DE and DT on the second and third teams.

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