4 Takeaways from the Vikings-Broncos Scrimmage, Day 1

Vikings Broncos
Nov 17, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant (87) is unable to catch a pass against Minnesota Vikings defensive back Jayron Kearse (27) at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings hosted a walkthrough of practice rather than a full-blow padded experience. Mike Zimmer’s team has a three-event set with the Denver Broncos on the docket from Wednesday through Saturday, so Tuesday was an uneventful day at camp.

But Wednesday was different. Denver arrived Eagan, and the Vikings experienced a different team for the first time in 2021.

Here are the four notable takeaways from the Vikings-Broncos Scrimmage (Day One).

1. Blake Proehl Hurt

The bad-bad news first. Just like Bisi Johnson two weeks ago, another Vikings wide receiver was injured on Wednesday.

Proehl was the “camp favorite” type, possessing the bloodline angle to former NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl. For Vikings fans, he induced the miniature version of Adam Thielen and Chad Beebe ardor.

Based on the implication of his injury, he’s now likely to miss significant time. It’s a raw deal for the rookie, but Prohel will bounce back. His father made it 17 years in the league while his brother, Austin, plays for the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Vikings takeaway? Just as the team unexpectedly signed Warren Jackson for a WR gig earlier in the week, look for another pass-catcher to possibly tag along for the preseason.

2. Both Offenses Underwhelmed

There was a mini-debate on the efficacy of both offenses Wednesday. Some perceived both the Vikings and Broncos as underwhelming.

Indeed, this was the first opposite-team scrimmage, so perhaps both offenses were taking it easy. Not Kirk Cousins, Drew Lock, nor Teddy Bridgewater really stretched the field, instead preferring the proverbial dink-and-dunk stuff as both teams acclimated to quasi-real action.

What’s more, these franchises are going to be very familiar with each other by the end of the weekend. They’ll scrimmage again Thursday, followed by the first preseason game which transpires on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium.

All in all, the offenses tasted vanilla.

3. Justin Jefferson Gets in a Little Bit of Work

First, the footage.

Friday afternoon was beset with sheer panic when Justin Jefferson was hobbled by a tackle from cornerback Bashaud Breeland. Jefferson was so dynamic in 2020 that fear of him missing any time in 2021 is eerie.

Well, for about 30 minutes last week, Vikings enthusiasts envisioned a life without Jefferson, theorizing who would potentially step up in his absence. Can K.J. Osborn really play WR2? Will Dede Westbrook be physically ready for it? How about Irv Smith Jr. – can the Vikings just increase his target load in the offense to something Travis Kelce-like?

Those questions rooted in doomsdayism were avoided as Jefferson was diagnosed with an AC joint sprain, meaning his status is week-to-week. It was the best possible outcome to a player scurrying off for a training room after coming up hobbled.

Jefferson is fine; his presence on the field doing some pitch-and-catch confirmed that on Wednesday.

4. Defensive Line = Wonderful

Multiple attendees noted and tweeted that the Vikings interior defensive line was phenomenal.

Halleluiah.

Michael Pierce was signed via free agency a year and a half ago, but he’s never played a down of Vikings football. That changes in one month. Then, a similar-shaped human named Dalvin Tomlinson was inked, too, but to play the three-technique position.

If Wednesday was a reasonable indication – these guys are going to be terrific next to one another. The Vikings 2020 woes of stuffing running lanes, on paper, are over.

On the other hand, per Ragatz above, the secondary has work to do. But there should be no better head coach in the world to fix a sputtering defensive secondary than Mike Zimmer.

 

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