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adam thielen

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Well, that’s a wrap, folks.

Mike Zimmer got his first NFC North victory and the Vikings were able to end the 2014 season on somewhat of a positive note.  Teddy Bridgewater has left us all pretty excited about the future and it appears like the Viking Ship is finally headed in the right direction.

We’ll soon get into our own little version of post-season awards here at VT, but for now you all have one more duty to fulfill.  Vote for your Week Seventeen Player of the Game below, but first here is a look at this season’s winners:

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson

WEEK TWELVE:  Xavier Rhodes

WEEK THIRTEEN:  Everson Griffen

WEEK FOURTEEN:  Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIFTEEN:  Xavier Rhodes

WEEK SIXTEEN:  Teddy Bridgewater

The nominations for our final week of voting are…

When it comes to firing on all cylinders, this week’s win over the Carolina Panthers may have been the best of Mike Zimmer’s young head coaching career in Minnesota.  With efficient play on both offense and defense, and a huge boost from Mike Priefer’s special teams, the Vikings sent Cam Newton packing to the tune of a 31-13 final score.

Before we attempt to crown a player from this week, here is a look at previous winners as voted on by the readers here at VT.

WEEK ONE:  Cordarrelle Patterson

WEEK TWO: Harrison Smith

WEEK THREE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Teddy Bridgewater

WEEK FIVE:  Harrison Smith

WEEK SIX:  Linval Joseph

WEEK SEVEN: Everson Griffen

WEEK EIGHT:  Anthony Barr

WEEK NINE:  Everson Griffen

WEEK ELEVEN: Charles Johnson

WEEK TWELVE:  Xavier Rhodes

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Adam Thielen is, without a doubt, one of the most talked-about guys in Mankato this year. He impressed early on in training camp, and after Friday’s first preseason game, the buzz only increased.

“[Adam]’s a guy that has a lot of toughness, a lot of heart,” head coach Mike Zimmer said during Sunday’s press conference. “He wants to make the football team, and he’s giving his best effort to do it. Guys like him—you can win a lot of football games with guys like him.”

Thielen entered his second year ready to make an impression, and he certainly has. His explosiveness, agility and reception accuracy spoke for itself on the practice field, but the receiver stepped onto TCF Field and proved he is ready for the real stuff.

The Vikings mic’d Thielen for the game, so television viewers could listen in on bits and pieces of the game experience. He laughed, admitting he occasionally forgot that he was wired up. “It was a really different experience, but it was great.” *

Special teams coach Mike Priefer utilized Thielen for punt coverage and returns, and the WR hit the ground running—literally. After Oakland went three and out on its first possession, Thielen fielded Marquette King’s punt and ran for three yards before being tackled at the 30. He immediately jumped up, pumping his arms in a gesture of equal excitement and frustration.

It’s been a couple of days since we’ve had a training camp update here on VT. I’ve scoured the internet and curated it below. I will be in Mankato Friday and Saturday at Vikings Training Camp and will have more content to share with everyone at that time. I’ll also be tweeting furiously so make sure to follow me (@brettAnderson87) if you aren’t already.

Quarterback Trio - Vikings Training Camp 2014
Photo courtesy of Chris Price

Injuries

Let’s get the injury related news out of the way starting with Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson, dealing with a foot injury, was a full participant today for the first time this training camp. The injury is not believed to be serious and Patterson’s absence comes off as precautionary. Still, it’s a good sign he’s back with the team.

Captain Munnerlyn, who is dealing with a minor hamstring injury, was activated off the PUP list but was not a participant in team drills. Like Patterson, the injury is not believed to be serious.

Unfortunately, Robert Blanton got added to the injury list today. Blanton pulled his hamstring during blitz drills. Zimmer did not share with media how long Blanton would be out but it’s bad news for Blanton who had been taking most first-team reps alongside Harrison Smith.

Andrew Sendejo, who had offseason back surgery and hasn’t participated in practice to date, could return as soon as Monday, per Zimmer.

Other injury casualties include Josh Robinson who cut practice short with hamstring tightness and AC Leonard who had a headache. Zimmer did refer to Josh Robinson’s early departure as “preventative.”

Quarterbacks

Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Everyone wants to know about how the quarterbacks are faring so far. Everything I’ve heard or read is that Teddy Bridgewater has been super impressive and slowly closing (bridging?!) the gap separating himself and Matt Cassel. During last night’s team practice, Bridgewater dazzled many fans and members of the media going 12-for-13 with his only incompletion coming from a drop at the hands of UDFA AC Leonard. Bridgewater’s performance earned him first-team reps in today’s practice.

I returned to Mankato this morning for the team’s first practice in full pads. The intensity of the afternoon session was certinally taken up a notch and you can start to see some players starting to stand out.

I’ve summarized some of the major talking points that I think will continue to evolve through out camp.

Mike Zimmer Press Conference:

  • During the head coach Mike Zimmer’s press conference, he mentioned today’s afternoon practice would be telling and would be the start of another part of the progress in terms of building the 2014 team.
  • Zimmer went on to say he was excited to see the defensive backs in 1 on 1 drills where they would have to use press coverage against the wide receivers.  We saw this early in the practice with corner back Xavier Rhodes going up against wide receiver Greg Jennings. Rhodes maintained good coverage through the play, but lost his footing on the wet turf and Jennings came through with a reception on a hitch route.
  • Zimmer called offensive coordinator Norv Turner an innovative mind and smart play caller who is wise about when he takes his shot at big plays.
  • Zimmer was asked about rookie Scott Crichton and Zimmer commented that Crichton was a ‘try hard guy’ and today’s afternoon pratice would be telling about his readiness for the NFL. Later in the afternoon, I noted Crichton coming across the defensive line to blow up a running play. That has to help catch the coaches eye.
  • Zimmer said Tuesday would be the day he would sit down with his coaches and discuss who would start getting more reps than others. Zimmer added:

    These guys are competing against everyone in the league for a spot. We’re looking at the waiver wire.

  • Zimmer also discussed Robert Blanton, saying he likes how Blanton is able to close on the ball while in coverage, and was interested in seeing how Blanton can evolve in terms of run support.

 

Offensive notables:

  • Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson participated in the morning walk through, but did not suit up for the afternoon practice. I did see Patterson running routes with a trainer on the far field while the team was doing individual drills. Zimmer mentioned Patterson was a possibility for tomorrow evenings practice.
  • Wide receiver Adam Thielen received more praise from Zimmer during his press conference and continued to make plays while on the field. As I mentioned last night, the Vikings are giving Thielen an opportunity to prove himself, and Thielen continues to make the most of the opportunity.
  • Thielen spent more time with the 2nd team offense as did rookie tight end AC Leonard. If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably noticed Leonard has caught my eye as someone with potential for making the final 53 man roster. I was able to speak with Leonard after practice and will elaborate on that story later.
  • Jarius Wright is getting a lot of looks, including in non passing plays. I wonder if this is because of Patterson being out, but Wright himself can be a versatile play maker in his 3rd year.
  • Rhett Ellison seems to get a lot of praise from coaches, including while on special teams. Ellison also spent time with the 1st team offense when in two tight end formations. You have to like his ability to play either tight end and full back and as someone who can motion around and help with blocking in either running or passing downs.
  • Teddy Bridgewater looked great at times, but still had a few rookie hiccups. That said, there always seems to be more good than bad. Bridgewater connected on nice passes to Thielen and rookie Kain Colter.
  • The offense ran a lot of screen plays to all 3 running backs, Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. It clear Turner is emphasizing getting these running backs used to catching from the backfield.

 

Defensive notables:

  • I saw more 3 safety sets with Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton and Mistral Raymond all in at the same time with the 1st team defense. Smith continues to spend a lot of time near the line of scrimmage.
  • Second year line backer Gerald Hodges spent time with the 1st team nickel package with Sean Prater serving as the nickel corner back while Captain Munnerlyn continues his time on the PUP list.
  • Brian Robison spoke with reporters and commented on how new nose tackle Linval Joseph reminds him of former Viking Pat Williams. Obviously high praise, but Robison noted that Joseph has the type of explosiveness that commands attention and double teams from an opposing offense. Robison mentioned this allows defensive ends to play under Joseph and get to the quarterback.
  • Josh Robinson made two very nice plays. Robinson picked off a pass early during 1 on 1s and knocked another loose on a nice back shoulder throw by Matt Cassel to Thielen. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray has been coaching Robinson ‘not to see too much.’ I think he wants Robinson to focus on his responsibility and not worry about doing too much.
  • I saw defensive end Everson Griffen drop back and cover a shallow drag route by Greg Jennings. That is impressive athleticism and Zimmer loves that type of versatility.
  • Robison has been impressive during drills and got to Cassel during 11 on 11. Would have easily been a sack.
  • 9th overall pick Anthony Barr spent time with each defensive unit and even played some in nickle. I haven’t seen a lot of Barr just yet, but he’s made some flashes, but also gets lost at times.

All in all, I think today’s practice carried the type intensity Zimmer is looking to carry through out camp and I expect we’ll be hearing plenty after tomorrow’s practice. I will be heading back to Mankato next Saturday for the teams under the lights scrimmage and I’ll have plenty of talking points after.

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