7 Predictions for Vikings Training Camp
Minnesota Vikings training camp begins on Sunday, with rookies reporting to Eagan and veterans following on Tuesday.
Outfitted with a new general manager and head coach, the Vikings are scheduled to win 8.5 games in 2022 per Vegas oddsmakers, possessing the 20th-best Super Bowl odds — bedfellows with teams like the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots for projection.
Minnesota’s first preseason game transpires in Nevada on August 14th during an exhibition date with the Las Vegas Raiders. And a week after that, the Vikings host one preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium versus the San Francisco 49ers, a team that will also practice with the team at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
The regular season begins in Minneapolis on September 11th against the Green Bay Packers. First-year head coach Kevin O’Connell receives trial by fire out of the gate against the team’s primary foe.
As training camp starts, these are seven Vikings predictions for the event, ranked in no particular order.
1. Peterson and Dantzler as Starting CBs
Andrew Booth, a Vikings 2nd-Round pick in April, has a bright future, but Cameron Dantzler and Patrick Peterson will win the main two CB jobs at camp. After Dantzler exited Mike Zimmer’s [very] weird doghouse, he performed quite well. Dantzler just doesn’t necessarily possess a flashy, Jalen Ramsey-like style and isn’t quite known around the world yet. But he’ll win a starting cornerback job in Ed Donatell’s 3-4 defense and continue his climb to prominence. Plus, he’ll wear a new number (#3).
Peterson re-signed in Minnesota with purpose. He could’ve chased rings with the Kansas City Chiefs or Dallas Cowboys (stop laughing) but opted for a Vikings sequel. Peterson did not return to the Vikings for a backup job.
Therefore, last year’s two starters will be this year’s two starters, at least at the beginning of the season.
2. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Adds One Notable Free Agent
Minnesota has around $9 million in practical cap space, still waiting on Ed Ingram and the aforementioned Booth to sign rookie contracts.
Kyle Rudolph, who was a member of the Vikings rumor mill for a couple of months, signed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, chasing rings with Tom Brady — a smart move.
But Adofo-Mensah can still explore upgrades at TE2 (Eric Ebron), DT (Ndamukong Suh), or C (JC Tretter). He has the money for it. The Vikings will sign one man who’s more than a total footnote.
3. Kellen Mond Officially Wins the QB2 Job
Sean Mannion isn’t good, and a new breed of Vikings coaches must realize it. Mond may not be a sure-fire QB1 of the future, yet he’s more equipped to run a modern NFL offense stylistically than Mannion.
The former regime embargoed Mond during his rookie season. That won’t happen this time around. Mond will dazzle at times in training camp, making the decision for his QB2 fate a no-brainer.
4. Alexander Mattison Isn’t Cut
A fashionable bold prediction this summer is the shock release of Alexander Mattison — in favor of Kene Nwangwu or Ty Chandler — when the 53-man roster is announced.
Mattison won’t be cut. Why? Because he is a valuable contributor, displaying a noticeable chance of pace from Dalvin Cook in terms of his toolkit. Cook and Mattison are salt and pepper, and Mattison will have a role with the 2022 Vikings, despite trendy “he will be cut” predictions.
5. Lewis Cine Wins the Starting FS Job
There is a universe where second-year safety Camryn Bynum deserves to start alongside Harrison Smith. However, when the Vikings drafted Lewis Cine with a 1st-Round pick, the universe changed.
The Vikings have advertised Cine ad nauseam this offseason, an apropos billing for a violent 1st-Rounder defender. He will start. The days of Zimmer and Co. “slow-rolling” rookies into playing time are kaput.
Minnesota’s safety room will be tricephalous, with Smith, Cine, and Bynum all getting defensive snaps. Just because Bynum isn’t the starting free safety — doesn’t mean he’s a benchwarmer.
6. Jesse Davis Doesn’t End Up at RG
Right now, Jesse Davis somehow propped himself up as the frontrunner for right guard following Vikings minicamp in June.
But Davis is a tackle.
Adofo-Mensah also added Chris Reed from the Indianapolis Colts in free agency and Ed Ingram from LSU in the 2022 NFL Draft. Either Reed or Ingram will start at RG, while Davis is the go-to commodity for reservist snaps.
Reed was a better guard per Pro Football Focus than Davis was a tackle in 2021. Why the Vikings would swing Davis to guard is a little strange. Moreover, based on draft stock, Ingram should start Week 1 against the Packers. Interior offensive lineman drafted in the 2nd Round or higher shouldn’t sit on the bench.
It will be Reed or Ingram at right guard — a roster position that has plagued the Vikings since Kirk Cousins arrived in Minneapolis.
7. The Irv Smith Hype Is through the Roof
The annual Vikings tradition — Irv Smith hype.
This go-round, Smith will be healthy and ready for flight. He missed all of 2021 due to a torn meniscus. With no Tyler Conklin — and no Kyle Rudolph — Smith should absolutely explode in a pass-first offense. You’re going to see in training camp why Smith has been exalted each season since 2019.
Now is the time for Smith to emerge and fulfill your prediction — it’s his contract year — and if he doesn’t, well, this may be his final season with the Vikings.
By the end of August, you will be unusually high on Smith, and the “Irv Smith breakout season” saga continues.
Dustin Baker is a political who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).