There’s More Praise for Popular Vikings Breakout Candidate

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We have finally reached the football part of the calendar. The last players arrived after the rookies, and a select group of veterans reported to TCO Performance Center on Sunday. Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah gave updates about the situations of Danielle Hunter and the general state of the Vikings leading up to training camp.

There’s More Praise for Popular Vikings Breakout Candidate

More Praise
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Some players also stepped on the podium in front of the microphone. Star safety Harrison Smith was one of them. He was asked about his fellow safety, Josh Metellus.

You could see it when he first got here. He’s just a guy that no matter where you put him, he’s gonna do everything he can to be the best at that, whether it’s right guard on punt or safety or whatever. He’s a really smart guy and he’s an explosive player that can do a lot of things athletically.

I think it’s just his confidence has grown over the years as he’s made plays pretty much at every spot he’s ever been put at. Not just at training camp or in practice, it’s the same thing on gameday. It’s really fun to watch, its fun to be around guys like that.

He loves the game. He could sit up there and run a meeting as a coach right now. He’s got it that well. I learn a lot from him. He knows more, a lot of times, than I do – so I’m trying to learn stuff from him, too.

Harrison Smith

Smith is 34 years old and an 11-year veteran in the NFL. 2023 will be his 12th season with the Vikings. He has seen everything offenses could possibly throw at him, gone up against every scheme and play in the books, but a football player is never done learning. Learning from Josh Metellus, who is entering the fourth season of his professional career, is still surprising and shows his football IQ.

kevin o'connell hints more
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The legendary safety hasn’t been the only Viking praising Metellus. It has been a common theme around the organization to give the 25-year-old his recognition, and the media caught on to that. Whenever a breakout candidate is named for the Vikings, it is either Metellus getting the nod or Alexander Mattison because of his expected increased role.

Metellus replaced Smith last season during the three games he missed and did an admirable job. Vikings fans watched that unsung backup play and wondered why the coaches don’t find a way to have him play more, especially considering the occasional struggles of Camryn Bynum.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports.

Indeed, Metellus has been an unsung player outside of the organization, but his special teams excellence and leadership qualities didn’t go unnoticed. The Vikings made him a team captain when Brian O’Neill went down with his injury. Considering the departures of some captains and leadership figures, there is a good chance that Metellus will be a captain in 2023.

The two safeties are learning a new defensive system for the second time in the span of just over a year, and this is where Metellus can help Smith and all other teammates. The younger guy has talked about how he is learning the whole defense rather than just his position, just in case of the possibility of the coaches asking him to do the job of someone else.

He could be a possible slot cornerback in some plays and formations, playing linebacker in others, and of course, his natural safety position where he will make life complicated in terms of competing with his teammates for the starting role.

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Defensive coordinator Brian Flores loves versatile defenders because his defense is versatile, and everyone needs to be able to blitz, cover and tackle, so it is only a matter of time until Metellus will be a favorite.

Metellus could be an essential player in the upcoming season. The 25-year-old started three games for the Vikes in 2022 and played in all 17, logging 258 defensive snaps and 381 on special teams, where he excels. Metellus made 42 tackles and caught the game-sealing interception against the Lions. PFF graded him as the second-best Vikings defender, only behind Danielle Hunter, with an elite 85.1.

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