2 Rookies Shine in Vikings Training Camp
2022 was the first draft class in Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s tenure but the results have been underwhelming. Of course, only one season in the books, a final evaluation of that class has to wait for a couple of more campaigns. Early results of Lewis Cine’s camp are positive, while Ed Ingram, Akayleb Evans, and Brian Asamoah are expected to be starters in the upcoming season. The newest draft class, meanwhile, is looking like a promising group.
2 Rookies Shine in Vikings Training Camp
The new rookies are always the making attraction in training camp, next to the stars of the franchise, obviously. Jordan Addison is in focus after a struggling start to his professional career. Neither missing time in the offseason because of an injury nor making headlines because of a speeding ticket helped his career.
A couple of weeks after the negative headlines, the positive headlines arrived. He is drawing praise from everyone watching the Vikings practice, including coaches and teammates. Head coach Kevin O’Connell raved about his rookie:
He’s off to a really good start. He completely put his issue from the spring behind him, he put in the work throughout the summer, so that was really not something that I was particularly concerned about. But what he’s done on the grass so far is confirming a lot of the things that we expected from Jordan. He’s also done some things instinctively just playing football within the confines of our scheme, whether it’s a scramble drill – people probably saw that catch in the corner of the endzone – that’s him improving with a 12-year NFL quarterback to be in the right place at the right time.
And he has done that on little things. He’s showing a willingness to be a blocker, he’s showing understanding of how he fits within the scheme and the rhythm and timing of the quarterback in the pass game.
He is consistently generating separation and making plays, most notably a few toe-drag grabs. The Vikings released video footage of a wonderful touchdown grab:
Plays like this generate buzz. Buzz paired with consistency in training camp create momentum for the young players. He earned first-team reps early in training camp, Jalen Nailor’s injury helped him. However, learning the playbook and getting comfortable at the next level with faster defenders is still a long process but the early signs are positive.
Addison and K.J. Osborn appear to be the clear front runners to be WR2 and WR3. Their snap counts and target shares remain to be seen but expect Addison on the football field a lot when the Vikings face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 10th. Kirk Cousins will have a decent group of pass-catchers in 2023.
Unlike Addison who arrived at TCO Performance Center with the high expectations of a first-rounder, linebacker Ivan Pace went undrafted and is still turning heads despite the lack of draft pedigree.
Pace has been a standout in most practices, showing why his college production was at an elite level and why most pundits expected him to be a mid-round pick. Regardless, NFL GMs thought differently, and the Vikings were lucky to snatch him as an undrafted rookie.
The deficiency of size has not been an issue for the pass-rushing linebacker. A rare skillset and an aggressive Brian Flores defense are a match made in heaven. Pace appears to be set as the backup linebacker and in his role as a blitzing middle linebacker. He received a lot of snaps with the first-team defense. Flores clearly wants to feature the truculent defender early in his NFL career and recently praised him.
After Thursday’s night practice, the exclusive tenor in Minnesota was that Pace looks phenomenal. Ex-Vikings linebacker Ben Leber complimented the rookie on Twitter: “Ivan Pace [is] impressive. Quick to the ball and showing pre-snap recognition.”
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt