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Vikings Minicamp Day 2—Rhodes Repair

The Vikings held Day 2 of their minicamp at TCO Performance Center in Eagan on Wednesday. Some players returned to the field (Reshard Cliett), while others did not (Jordan Taylor and David Morgan), but the practice was fairly uneventful. The defense looked crisp when run by quarterback Kirk Cousins, and the defense made some plays—specifically an interception by corner back Kris Boyd.

Here were some more observations:

Boyd made a nice grab on the ball. He made the catch while falling to the ground and reaching backwards. There are a lot of nice athletic cornerbacks in camp and the competition at the position will heat up once the team gets to Manka . . . training camp.

Speaking of Cousins, he hooked up with newly extended tight end Kyle Rudolph for a couple nice sideline grabs. We figured it cost the team $93 million dollars for those catches (but hey, that is $46.5 mil per hookup). We media members surmised just about any pass Cousins throws to his main receivers this season will be a bit expensive.

At one point, Cousins did not throw to Rudolph because Rudy was being covered by defensive end Danielle Hunter. Throw in the 5-2 defensive front alignment that the head coach Mike Zimmer put out on the field on Tuesday, and the team is really experimenting with different schemes on defense. If you are not moving forward you are moving backwards, so they say.

Before organized drills got going at practice, there was some informal punt returning going on with every from Chad Beebe to Ameer Abdullah and Holton Hill catching punts. Adam Thielen and Dillon Mitchell joined in by trying to catch punts one-handed while already holding a football in the other hand. They both failed miserably.

Speaking of Abdullah, he had two drops in practice today. Both from Cousins and both while he was open (after the first, he dropped and did his pushups—perhaps the second one was no joking matter). It is a crowded backfield room with Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone (who has looked very good to this observer), Roc Thomas (who will be missing time with a suspension) and more. Abdullah’s return skills will help him in the competition, but the drops will not.

Speaking of Mitchell, the rookie wideout has looked good the past two days. If I recall, he was a little uneven last week in OTAs, but he has had two good days this week. He is finding ways to get open and is catching the ball, sometimes more than just routine catches, also. He made a great grab in the endzone drills with a defender right on him.

The Vikings had speakers on the sidelines today during 11-on-11 drills. A few decently-sized speakers attached to a vehicle that could move up and down the field with the line of scrimmage. It seemed kind of silly outdoors, since it can’t replicate the noise inside a dome, but it did create some distraction. At one point, I had to be called out of the way as the cart rolled up and down the sideline. It would have been the first time, I believe, that I was nearly run over by an angry mob.

As we said, Kirk Cousins had a decent day again, and he came up with this quote following practice—that could or could not be related:

“I think the next level, really, is all about winning. I’m pretty much a .500 quarterback in my career, so far, and I don’t think that’s where you want to be, and that’s not why you are brought in or people or excited about you.

“If I don’t play well, if I don’t have gaudy statistics but we win multiple playoff games this year, the narrative will be I went to the next level. And I may not walk off the field everyday feeling like I did, but if we win, that’s [what] the life of a quarterback is, you are at the next level. If I have my best year yet in 2018, but we’re 8-8, I didn’t go to the next level. That’s the reality of it.”

There it is: he knows it and we know he knows. Let’s see where it will go.

Finally, we mentioned yesterday a little item on Xavier Rhodes having Stefon Diggs make a catch in front of him. Rhodes is coming off a down year that was filled with injuries. He limped a little after a play today (but soon got back on the field), which put in mind his struggles in 2018. I saw him cover Laquon Treadwell Tuesday and get beat by him on a route in which the pass never came. I saw him on Treadwell again Wednesday, and witnessed more of the same, laggng behind a bit.

So, it was in my head to wonder if Rhodes will rebound and therefore with his big contract might be on the trading blocks after next season if it isn’t a good one—there are a lot of good defensive backs in the room. I worried aloud if he would rebound after the down year, but that concern only lasted for a second when I saw him blanket Thielen, who is one of the tougher players to cover on the team. Rhodes rose to the challenge and made a great (and legal) pass defense by reaching over from behind of Thielen. I think Rhodes knows when to offer his fullest attention to a play in mid-June. I think Rhodes is going to be fine in 2019.

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Joe Oberle

Joe Oberle is a veteran sportswriter/editor/reporter and has covered the Vikings since 2008. The author of three books, he has been published in numerous periodicals and websites. He is the managing editor for VikingsTerritory.com and purplePTSD.com, as well.

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