5 Vikings Under the Most Pressure in Training Camp

Year 1 of the O'Connell Era
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Training camp is right around the corner, with the rookies expected back at TCO Performance Center on July 23rd. The veterans, including the star players, will arrive two days later. Training camp is always an important time for many players whose dreams could shatter if they don’t make the 53-man roster. Others will fulfill their dreams, and a great showing in the upcoming weeks can pay big dividends in the future.

5 Vikings Under the Most Pressure in Training Camp

This list will be about established players, not undrafted players, who are a long shot to make the team. Of course, those are under pressure for the sake of their careers. The following is not in order.

Jalen Reagor

5 Vikings Under the Most Pressure in Training Camp
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The punt returner was a draft bust for the Philadelphia Eagles not only because Justin Jefferson went one pick later. First-rounders always face high expectations, especially in Philadelphia, where mistakes aren’t forgiven easily.

The Vikings traded for him as a reclamation project receiver and punt returner. In one season with the Vikings, he wasn’t good at either of those two things. However, there is potential somewhere, as he was a first-rounder for a reason. Reagor is a dynamic player but needs to improve at the fundamentals. Running the wrong route and dropping the ball are two things that can’t happen.

Having a full offseason with the Vikings could help him feel more comfortable. He must win the punt return job. If he fails to achieve that, his roster spot could and will be in jeopardy unless he significantly improves as a receiver.

Ed Ingram

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Coming into the league as a second-round guard, expectations were high. Ingram was supposed to fix the right guard spot once and for all. Struggles in pass protection happened all season, and Kirk Cousins was under pressure much more than desired.

The LSU product needs to clean up some things in his game, but a second-year jump is possible. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah surprisingly returned the full offensive line, including all backups, without adding a real threat to the roster. However, Ingram needs to show improvement in training camp, as the Vikings could still go out and sign a free agent or trade for a new guard. Making sure they won’t even start to think about it is his task for the upcoming weeks.

Alexander Mattison

mattison ready
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The running back was stuck as a backup of one of the league’s best bell cow RBs. With the release of Dalvin Cook, his chance has finally arrived to be the starter, but there are some competitors around. If he stumbles in training camp, it will open the door for Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, and Kene Nwangwu to steal his spot.

It might be a once-of-a-career chance for the veteran to be a starter, so it would be wise to make the best of it. He dropped almost 700 yards from scrimmage and 5 touchdowns (3 rushing) in six games replacing Cook, showing his ability to be a true RB1.

Andrew Booth

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The second player from the 2022 draft class on the list, and similar to Ingram’s expectations, Booth came in and was expected to fix one of the team’s holes. As a second-round pick, Booth was viewed as a steal. Many pundits expected him to be a first-round pick, but the Vikings managed to get him with the 42nd overall pick.

He struggled with injuries in college and has had the same problem in the pros. A hamstring injury kept him out of the final portions of training camp and the beginning of the season, and a torn meniscus ended his season prematurely.

The Vikings hired a new defensive coordinator, someone who might not be a fan of Booth. They drafted Mekhi Blackmon in the third round and still have free agent addition Byron Murphy and last year’s fellow rookie Akayleb Evans. Staying healthy and improving are his two main tasks. It should be mentioned that he is still only 22 years old, and there is lots of room to grow.

Camryn Bynum

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The third-year safety started in 2022 despite the Vikings selecting Lewis Cine in the first round. One year later, he should still be considered the favorite for the starting job next to Harrison Smith.

But he faces two competitors for that gig. Cine is fully healthy and an under-talented player. The Vikings certainly want to give him an opportunity at some point, sooner rather than later. And then there’s also versatile special teams ace Josh Metellus, who has been receiving praise all offseason. The competition, combined with Bynum’s up-and-down play in his lone starting season, puts him on the list.

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