4 Takeaways from the 1st Week of Vikings Training Camp
The Minnesota Vikings [and all other NFL teams] began the first week of training camp with pad-less practices, eyeing six weeks to go before the start of the NFL season.
Naturally, without pads, operations went smooth, and nearly everyone “looked good” sans real contact. Ergo, this list of takeaways isn’t a laundry list of “Justin Jefferson was great” or “Danielle Hunter performed phenomenally,” as those sentiments are no-brainers for established superstars.
Still, a handful of items stood out, and these early training camp takeaways.
1. The QB2 Job Truly Up for Grabs
Kirk Cousins has never missed a football game due to non-COVID injury, so why does the identity of an eventual QB2 matter? Simple. There’s a chance the 2022 Vikings once again finish in the neighborhood of 8-9 or 9-8, which would almost certainly end the Cousins experiment in Minnesota.
And if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah moves on from Cousins in 2023 or 2024, the front office and coaching staff must know if second-year quarterback Kellen Mond is an option thereafter. Mond, 23, didn’t experience much action in 2022 as a rookie, strangely stiff-armed by the former coaching staff.
If Mond cannot win the QB2 job by the end of training camp and preseason, his selection in the 2021 NFL Draft was likely a whiff. His competition for QB2, Sean Mannion, isn’t daunting, meaning Mond has a basic task to win the job.
So far, he’s getting a fair shake to scale the depth chart, interchanging snaps with Mannion among the second-team personnel in the first week of training camp. We knew QB2 would be an interesting camp battle to follow, and both participants are receiving honest-to-goodness diligence.
Mond must win this job. And he’s receiving the snaps to do so.
2. Predicted by Some a Roster Weak Spot, Vikings CBs Might Be Good after All
Rookie corner Andrew Booth is a fiery dude, confirmed this week in Eagan.
He’s also shined early on, “looking the part” for a soon-to-be starting CB. Again, though, this was pad-less first-week action. Resumes cannot be finalized in the first few days of camp. But the good news is that Booth wasn’t silent — not by a longshot.
Too, Cameron Dantzler, the incumbent starting CB, also performed well. His Year 3 effort in 2022 will prove whether the Mississippi State alumnus is a blossoming Pro Bowl-type CB or more of a Trae Waynes steady-Eddie without extra accolades.
Patrick Peterson also showcased impressive pass-breakups on Saturday, indicating he plans on winning a starting job, as well. For some Vikings pundits, cornerbacks were considered a weakness heading into training camp. While that could still be true when the regular season hits, Booth’s emergence enables defensive coordinator Ed Donatell to breathe easy because CB depth might be legitimate.
3. Starting RG Job Undecided
Head coach Kevin O’Connell called the RG job “fluid” on Saturday, a threeway tryst between Jesse Davis, Chris Reed, and rookie Ed Ingram.
Davis was the “starter” at June’s minicamp and opened up training camp with the first-teamers. He was seen wearing a knee brace over the weekend, however, thrusting free agent Chris Reed from the Indianapolis Colts into action.
Plus, Ingram should get a look, too, as a 2nd-Round draft commodity. The moral of the story? Minnesota has three viable starting options at right guard, whereas in years past, the plan was some benchwarmer on the menu asked to play better than his past performance.
This year is different, and the best option of three players will be tapped for RG duty. If you get in the weeds of Vikings roster construction — you probably do if you’re reading this — this battle is the most interesting to follow amid the next six weeks.
4. Jared Allen in the House — and ROH
Jared Allen was denied Hall of Fame entry at the beginning of the year, but the Vikings helped make mini-amends by adding him to the Ring of Honor at U.S. Bank Stadium. He joins 26 Vikings of yesteryear in the club.
Minnesota’s ownership surprised Allen, inviting him to training camp at U.S. Bank Stadium to speak — and then dropping the ROH news on the 40-year-old.
Mark and Zygi Wilf’s decision was wise, as during Allen’s Vikings tenure from 2008 to 2013, he led the NFL in sacks. He joined the Vikings via trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the transaction remains one of the best trades in Minnesota sports history.
Now, Allen must wait until the next round of Hall of Fame voting, a title he deserves when voters come to their senses.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist 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).