Top 5 Storylines from the 1st Week of Vikings Training Camp

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Training camp kicked off, and the Minnesota Vikings are preparing for the season opener on September 10th, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first matchup. One month before Week 1, the Vikings will travel to Seattle in the first preseason contest to take on the Seahawks. Players shining, position battles, and a ‘hold-in’ give us enough things to talk about, although the pads still haven’t come on.

Top 5 Storylines from the 1st Week of Vikings Training Camp

Four days of practice are in the books.

1. Danielle Hunter returns

Top 5 Storylines From the 1st Week of Vikings Training Camp
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Certainly, the most significant development throughout the week, star pass-rusher Danielle Hunter and the Vikings found common ground and agreed to new conditions. Hunter will receive a salary of $20 million with $17 million guaranteed to suit up for the purple team in 2023. He can not be franchise tagged after his contract expires.

While many hoped for a long-term deal, the most important thing is that defensive coordinator Brian Flores will have his best defender on the team in 2023. He reported to training camp but didn’t participate in practices, a practice that is called ‘hold-in’ to avoid fines. The three-time Pro Bowler will be a crucial piece in the new defense.

One advantage of the short-term deal is that the franchise doesn’t commit future money toward a player who missed significant time in two of the last three seasons.

2. The 2 First-Rounders Shine

Lewis Cine Pitched a Shutout vs. Lions. And Not in a Good Way.
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Jordan Addison has had a tumultuous July, partially self-inflicted. Arriving on the field at TCO Performance Center, he looked the part, and it became apparent why Kwesi Adofo-Mensah invested a first-round pick in him and why head coach Kevin O’Connell was thrilled on draft day. He started out receiving some snaps with the first-team offense, and those increased even further when Jalen Nailor, an early camp standout, missed time with an injury. After missing the offseason workouts because of an injury, he has arrived and appears poised to claim a meaningful role in the offense.

Safety Lewis Cine had a bad rookie campaign because of a lost position battle with Camryn Bynum and his compound leg fracture in Week 4. Back to full strength, Cine is running with the second-team defense but made some fantastic plays early in camp. If he can continue to showcase his impressive athleticism and improve his reaction time to identify plays quicker, he could position himself to push for a starting job in his second attempt.

3. Undrafted Rookie Is for Real

Ivan Pace slipped in the draft and was surprisingly available as an undrafted free agent. The Vikings signed him, and he is having a fantastic training camp. No team picked him despite incredible production in his final year in Cincinnati because of his small size and some questions about his movement skills.

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Steve Wyche from NFL Network spoke with Flores, and this is what he said about the talk: “He was saying that the undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati, Ivan Pace, looked really good. He was a stud at the Senior Bowl and has been incredibly impressive. They want to see him with pads on. That’s somebody to really look out for.”

Pace will have difficulty seeing the field regularly as starters Brian Asamoah and Jordan Hicks are set. However, even making the roster is a win for every undrafted rookie, and his intriguing skillset as a pass-rusher could help him carve out a role as a rotational player early in his career.

4. Justin Jefferson Hasn’t Slowed Down

Fired up a No
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Justin Jefferson is widely considered the top receiver in the league, and it is showing in camp. He made some highlight plays, catching a pass in double coverage for a touchdown or running away from Akayleb Evans for another big play score. Jefferson also met Hall of Famer Cris Carter, who thinks the 24-year-old will be even better in 2023.

Make no mistake about it, he is absolutely sensational and is totally set to dominate in Year 4, just like in the previous three. Entering the second year in the system leading to more comfort within the scheme while keeping the elite connection with Kirk Cousins alive is a promising thought for Vikings fans.

5. An Underdog Has a Chance

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Most expected the starting cornerback group to be Byron Murphy and two of third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon and 2022 picks Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans. One week into camp, Joejuan Williams is running with the first team with Murphy and Evans, while Booth and Blackmon are stuck in the backup unit.

Williams was a late free agency signing way after the first and second wave, and the expectations for the reclamation project were that he might be an end-of-the-roster player and special teamer more than a threat to win a starting gig. The former second-round pick possesses incredible size and strength and makes life hard for wide receivers.

There is still a long way to go, but Williams is in an early position to compete for the starting role.

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