4 Big Training Camp Storylines on the Way for Vikings

James Lynch Solidifying Backup NT Role 
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings wrapped up minicamp last week and have about one month until the start of training camp.

Minicamp was about Sam Darnold’s stranglehold of QB1, Dalton Risner’s return, and an impending battle at offensive guard between three men.

4 Big Training Camp Storylines on the Way for Vikings

These are the items to begin pondering for Vikings 2024 training camp, ranked in ascending order of importance (No. 1 = most important).

4. Who’s the Other Starting DT?

jerry tillery
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These are the Vikings’ defensive tackles at the moment:

  • Harrison Phillips
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Jonathan Bullard
  • James Lynch
  • Jonah Williams
  • Jaquelin Roy
  • Levi Drake Rodriguez
  • Tyler Manoa
  • Taki Taimani
  • Jalen Redmond

After Phillips, the only obvious starter, the pecking order is up in the air, with Tillery perhaps holding a slight advantage to start. However, this battle is anybody’s ballgame. Minnesota did not sign a premiere DT, though about eight were available in free agency. Then, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t draft one until late.

Vikings fans have craved a keynote DT next to the nose tackle for years, so they’ll watch this camp battle intently.

3. Which Offensive Guard Is the Odd Man Out?

training camp
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota re-signed Dalton Risner a few weeks ago after weeks and months of claiming Blake Brandel was on tap to start. And earlier this month, following the Risner acquisition, head coach Kevin O’Connell hinted a threeway OG battle might be on the way.

O’Connell said on the Rich Eisen Show, “We bring back Dalton Risner, who’s gonna compete like crazy at the guard spot with both Ed Ingram and Blake Brandel.”

Most didn’t know Ingram would be involved in the competition, but alas, his name popped up. One man — Ingram, Risner, or Brandel — will not start on the 2024 offensive line. Who will it be?

2. Who’s the WR3?

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The current batch of purple WRs:

  • Justin Jefferson
  • Jordan Addison
  • Brandon Powell
  • Trent Sherfield
  • Jalen Nailor
  • Trishton Jackson
  • Lucky Jackson
  • Thayer Thomas
  • Malik Knowles
  • Ty James
  • Jeshaun Jones

Jefferson and Addison are more than solidified at the top, but after those playmakers, mystery ensues. Tight end T.J. Hockenson will probably miss the start of the season, a man who usually grabs the target load of a WR3 if not WR2.

Therefore, with no Hockenson and K.J. Osborn playing for the New England Patriots, Minnesota needs a WR3 to emerge from the Powell spot on the list all the way down to Jones. Like defensive tackle, which combatant stands out at WR3? Or will the Vikings make WR3 by committee?

1. Will J.J. McCarthy Actually Push Sam Darnold to the Brink?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports | Nov 18, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) on the field against the Maryland Terrapins during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell has stated that, although Minnesota doesn’t have a formal depth chart yet, Darnold is the QB1. That checks out as McCarthy is still just 21 years old, and the Vikings don’t need him to bloom immediately.

Yet, because McCarthy is the quarterback of the future, onlookers want to see if he’ll at least make it a challenge for Darnold at training camp and in the preseason. As a 1st-Rounder, the young Wolverine should at least make the competition interesting.

Overall, folks will watch McCarthy with the most interest this summer — and for the next few years. He’s the one big hope to improve after the Kirk Cousins era.

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 MIN 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.