Surprises From the First 2020 Vikings Training Camp Practices
The Cam Dantzler hype train is already picking up speed.
When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Jeff Gladney in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many fans were understandably excited. I myself was ready to take in all the Gladney hype, and jump in on it. What I didn’t see coming was third rounder Cameron Dantzler stealing the show in his first NFL practice with pads on.
Dantzler, who was talked up by Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager yesterday, and immediately made Schrager look like a genius by perfectly breaking up a pass intended for Adam Thielen. That Adam Thielen, who often makes very good NFL defensive backs look silly.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 17, 2020
Of course we shouldn’t be too quick to crown Dantzler the Vikings newest star cornerback. However, plays like this tend to put coaches and teammates on notice. He certainly impressed Thielen who reportedly told Zimmer that “(Dantzler’s) gonna be good.” High praise from one of the NFL’s best.
Happy Monday, August 17th– the first day of NFL practices in pads.
— GMFB (@gmfb) August 17, 2020
Justin Jefferson has some interesting thoughts on the NFL
According to the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, Vikings rookie Justin Jefferson said, “college practices are a little more intense than NFL” and “the speed of the game is pretty much the same.” This comes after offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak praised Jefferson’s early work in camp.
#Vikings WR Justin Jefferson from LSU says that "college practices are a little more intense than NFL." Says that "the speed of the game is pretty much the same'' in the NFL so far as it was in the SEC.
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) August 17, 2020
Despite the high praise, an apparently smooth transition to the NFL, Jefferson is still largely running with the 2’s and has yet to play an NFL game. Obviously. So, why make this statement?
Well, it could be that Jefferson really does have that much of an ego and has yet to feel like he’s seen the speed pick up too much. However, I think it likely that he was led on a bit by the question and gave a rookie answer to a veteran reporter who knows how to get juicy quotes.
Pat Elflein is the starting right guard
Last offseason, when the Vikings made Garrett Bradbury their highest drafted offensive lineman since Matt Kalil, we were assured that all would be fine with Pat Elflein and he would slot into his more natural position at left guard. That didn’t really work out the best. Elflein was unimproved by the move and struggled mightily. He also made Bradbury and left tackle Riley Reiff look worse than they really were.
So, the solution to the Vikings guard problem? Move Elflein to the right side and still have him start, apparently. Pat did play right guard at Ohio State, so it makes some sense, but it feels a bit like moving Mike Remmers to guard as a last ditch effort to get some value out of him.
#Vikings offensive lineman Pat Elflein on moving from LG to RG.
“I feel good. I’m excited to compete. Versatility is a big thing in this league… It was a group decision between me and the coaches to compete at right guard.”
— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) August 17, 2020
Elflein was bad on the left side last year, the only thing you’ve changed is that he now isn’t on Kirk Cousins’ blind side. Oh, and you have Aviante Collins and Dakota Dozier, two career backups, competing for the left guard position. Yikes.
Jalyn Holmes is Danielle Hunter’s backup
The Vikings made it clear that they felt confident in their defensive end situation when they did not bend over backwards to bring back long-time starter, and emotional leader, Everson Griffen. So when Danielle Hunter sat out Sunday’s practice, the Vikings turned to third year man Jalyn Holmes
Holmes, who has been listed as a defensive tackle the last couple of seasons, but did play defensive end in college at Ohio State. The Vikings also lost depth defensive end Stephen Weatherly, and are rolling with mostly unproven players behind Hunter and Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Odenigbo burst onto the scene last season with seven sacks after bouncing between Minnesota’s practice squad and the Arizona Cardinals the prior season. The Vikings did make strides to shore up the depth this offseason with drafting DJ Wonnum and bringing in veteran Anthony Zettel, but it is telling that neither of these guys got first team reps when Hunter was absent.