4 Under-the-Radar Storylines for Vikings Training Camp

Mar 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia place kicker Jack Podlesny (PK07) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the big storylines on the horizon at training camp for the 2023 Minnesota Vikings. Those can be read here.

Training camp kicks off three weeks from today.

4 Under-the-Radar Storylines for Vikings Training Camp

Now, enjoy four under-the-radar subplots for the same event. They’re ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

4. Two DTs from 2022 Roster Cut?

4 Under
Nov 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jonathan Bullard (93) celebrates during the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

These are the Vikings defensive tackles (sometimes called defensive ends in a 3-4 defense):

Defensive End

DE1: Harrison Phillips
DE2: Dean Lowry
DE3: James Lynch
DE4: Jonathan Bullard
DE5: Ross Blacklock
DE6: Esezi Otomewo
DE7: Junior Aho

Nose Tackle

NT1: Khyiris Tonga
NT2: Jaquelin Roy
NT3: Sheldon Day
NT4: T.J. Smith
NT5: Calvin Avery

That’s 12 dudes, and about half will disappear from the active roster on August 29th. So, we ask you — who’s it gonna be?

Keeping six DTs would leave some combination of James Lynch, Jonathan Bullard, Ross Blacklock, and Esezi Otomeow on the outside looking in. And for hardcore Vikings fans, those are relatively prominent names to cut loose.

Let’s put it this way: Phillips, Lowry, Tonga, and Roy are close-to-guaranteed to make the 53-man roster. Name the two other DTs. It isn’t easy.

3. Are the Two Popular UDFAs Actually Any Good?

Nov 26, 2022; Amherst, Massachusetts, USA; Army Black Knights outside linebacker Andre Carter II (34) warms up before a game against the Massachusetts Minutemen at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota stole the undrafted-free-agent show in April when they landed EDGE rusher Andre Carter II from Army and linebacker Ivan Pace Jr of Cincinnati.

Websites like this one have banged the drum on each player’s upside this spring and summer. But will either make an immediate impact at training camp? If so, how seismic? A little? A lot?

We’ve talked a big game about Carter II and Pace Jr. Now — they have to show up at work and do the thing.

2. Who Emerges as RB2?

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sean Mannion (14) hands off to running back Ty Chandler (32) during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Alexander Mattison, personally, and the Vikings coaching staff, on the whole, have talked nonstop about Mattison’s soon-to-be breakout as the team’s RB1. Yet, Super Bowl-winning football teams generally employ a running back by committee.

So, if the Vikings want to create a playoff push, who will take handoffs in Mattison’s stead? Ty Chandler, Kene Nwangwu, or the rookie DeWayne McBride? All three men have something fascinating about their resume or skillset.

We reiterate — who climbs to RB2 at training camp and in the preseason?

1. The Kicker Battle

The National Folks Picking the Vikings over Packers
Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks an extra point against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

You may not remember this, but the Vikings signed UDFA kicker Jack Podlesny right after the draft. If the team conducts business as it did last year at punter — UDFA Ryan Wright won the job over veteran Jordan Berry — Podlesny could shock the world and topple the incumbent, Greg Joseph.

Joseph was wonderful at the end of games last year but struggled with ‘ordinary’ field goals and extra points. The goal is to find a kicker who can thrive at all times.

There’s a small chance that Podlesny overtakes Joseph. He’s kicked in plenty of pressure-cooked situations at the University of Georgia.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.