Friday, July 31, 2015

Vikings Training Camp

For this run of Question of the Week, we left it more open-ended. Now that Vikings training camp is underway, we all weighed in with our thoughts. We would love to hear your reactions as well, so please let us know in the comments section!

What is your biggest observation or take-away from training camp so far?

Brent:
Thus far, my biggest take away is that my suspicion that Terence Newman would start opposite Xavier Rhodes seems to be correct. Newman has spent time with the first team since camp opened and is seemingly in position to be dethroned from the starting role. Arguably one of the most important positions on a team in the NFCN, it will be interesting to see how well Newman’s body holds up at 36 years old.

Andy:
People need to calm down about Trae Waynes. Outside of quarterback, cornerback is the most difficult position to transition to in the NFL from college. Yes, Trae Waynes was the Vikings’ first-round pick and yes, he was the first cornerback selected in this year’s draft, but the dude is going to look terrible at times this year. May as well get as many growing pains out of the way in camp and the preseason. I wouldn’t be shocked if he doesn’t start a game as a rookie and only sees time on subpackages and special teams. #VikingsTwitter should not freak out about this fact when it happens, but they will. Personally, I like the fact that Zimmer, Edwards, and Gray are seemingly throwing everything at Waynes right away and showing him no quarter. Fans and even Waynes himself may not like it at the moment, but everyone will be happy he was thrown in the fire right away when he and Xavier are the best cornerback combo in the NFL in a few years.

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Arguably, the most anticipated player arriving at Vikings training camp Saturday morning was running back Adrian Peterson. After missing an entire year on the field and sparking plenty of drama off the field, things seem to finally be returning to order as No. 28 will be back in purple on Sundays.

Hundreds of fans welcomed Peterson in Mankato with “MVP” chants, and he addressed the media shortly after arriving. Peterson said the following about returning to the field:

I feel pretty good. It feels good to be out here with the fellas and get back into the swing of things and open my mind back to the playbook and what Coach is asking us to do. It’s been pleasant.

Peterson referred to the happenings of the last year as “curve balls” and credited the coaching staff for helping everything come together to the point that it has.

There’s no denying Peterson’s natural athletic ability, and he assured the media and fans alike that he hasn’t taken a step back after missing the 2014 season. He said a few days of practice brought everything back, and he’s been mentally and physically preparing to be back on the field.

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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.

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(photo by Chris Price)
(photo by Chris Price)

In the second full week of training camp, Vikings players appeared energized and ready to rock during the Monday morning walk-through. The practice was a shorter one, having been adjusted last minute to a special teams’ walk-through only.

Zach Line was the first one on the field.

He appeared calm but energized, taking the field and chatting with fellow fullback Jerome Felton. When coaches sorted the group, pulling guys to participate in various drills, it appeared Line fell most closely into the second-string roster—definitely a positive position for the SMU alum.

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When the Vikings drafted running back Jerick McKinnon in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they knew he held a lot of potential. And he’s living up to their expectations.

McKinnon is already gaining a lot of recognition, including most recently from star RB Adrian Peterson. When Mr. All Day himself calls you out as a solid player, that has to feel good.

According to the Star Tribune‘s Master Tesfatsion, Peterson named Georgia Southern alum as one of the guys impressing him the most this offseason.

“[McKinnon]’s pretty impressive and there’s not too many guys who impress me like that, especially rookies coming in,” Peterson said. “He’s been able to do some real good things in the offense, picking it up well and just his running style.”

You can bet McKinnon does not take this caliber of praise lightly. “When you’re learning from the best in the game, you really just got to take on everything and everything he says you got to listen to,” McKinnon said. “I just got to feed off him and all it to my game.”

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