5 Things We Learned Right Away at Vikings Training Camp

Significant Week 18
Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O'Neill (75) on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings open training camp to fans this weekend, and a few practices have already transpired in Eagan.

The team finished 13-4 in 2022 and hopes to repeat as division champions for the first time in back-to-back seasons since 2008-2009.

5 Things We Learned Right Away at Vikings Training Camp

Via on-the-field activity and press conferences from Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, these are five times learned immediately at training camp, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

5. Jaren Hall Impresses

Learned Right Away
Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) runs the ball against the Stanford Cardinal during the second half at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.

Some Vikings fans fully expected the club to select a quarterback in the early rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. Hendon Hooker and Will Levis were popular theories. But Minnesota said no thanks to both men and instead chose Jaren Hall from BYU in Round 5.

That round is a burial ground for QB prospects, so nobody knows for sure if Hall has a starter’s pedigree or QB2-QB3 ceiling.

Well, in the first few days of camp, which isn’t too intense for competition, Hall sure looked like a stud. It’s good news for the group that believes he could possibly succeed Kirk Cousins in the future. Hall particularly showcased his arm strength.

4. Jalen Nailor Is the Real Deal

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave (left) and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor (right) pose after exchanging jerseys during an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Saints 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis set the tone Wednesday for Nailor’s strong camp to date, “Lots of training camp thoughts coming, but we’ll start here: Jalen Nailor looks goooooood.”

And Lewis’ reporting mimicked others’ observations, too. At least for a while, Nailor is locked in and forget about WR4 or WR5 — he looks more like a WR2 or WR3.

Nailor has three years left on his rookie contract and could be tabbed for surefire WR3 duty in 2024 if K.J. Osborn departs via free agency in seven months.

3. Jordan Addison Is a Natural

Jordan Addison Clears
Apr 27, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; USC wide receiver Jordan Addison poses for a photo on the NFL Draft Red Carpet before the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s Kevin Seifert posted on the X app Thursday, “Back inside after a steamy Day 2 of Vikings camp. Saw a lot of WR Jordan Addison with the first team, as Jalen Nailor was not on the field, and even an amateur like me can see Addison’s high-end route-running and ball skills. Long way to go, but some things stand out.”

Addison has put some baggage — a reckless driving charge nine days ago for traveling 140 MPH in a 55 MPH zone — behind him this week and, unsurprisingly, looks like the real deal on the field.

Minnesota found Addison in Round 1 of April’s draft, so it checks out that he’s off to a hot on-the-field start.

2. Danielle Hunter Is There — Kind Of

One Viking Totally
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter (99) following the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports.

Danielle Hunter skipped minicamp June, putting his foot down in an effort to secure a hefty and overdue contract extension. Many questioned whether he’d show up at all in July for training camp.

Well, he did — but he won’t physically practice. It’s a hold-in, not a holdout. Hunter and the Vikings brass continue to hunt a contractual solution, and those dealings should be made easier by Hunter’s mere presence in Eagan.

Showing up, albeit via hold-in, pushes the envelope on the conversation. Overall, the takeaway is that Hunter is there.

1. No PUP List for Brian O’Neill

Sep 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Brian O’Neill (75) and Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) in action at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Neill tore his Achilles’ in Week 17 last year versus the Green Bay Packers. With an injury of that severity, it wouldn’t be weird one iota if he was shelved in the summer.

Fast forward to late July, and O’Neill avoided the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and will gingerly work his way back to the on-the-field activities.

His prognosis is positive for Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Without O’Neill to start the season, the Vikings would’ve had to explore Oli Udoh or Blake Brandel for OT duties — also known as downgrades.

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.