Vikings Newcomer Is Turning Heads in Minicamp

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been a newsworthy franchise during their 2024 mandatory minicamp. Superstar receiver Justin Jefferson deserves most of the headlines as he signed his well-deserved contract extension. Former first-round draft choice N’Keal Harry apparently moves to tight end after five underwhelming seasons on the outside. The Vikings hope to kickstart his career with the move.

Vikings Newcomer Is Turning Heads in Minicamp

Vikings Newcomer Is Turning Heads in Minicamp
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (85) runs for a first down on a reception against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Harry’s competition will be fascinating, as the Vikings employ several players at the position: Josh Oliver, last year’s free agency signing; veteran Johnny Mundt, who has been a coach’s favorite; 2022 draft pick Nick Muse; undrafted rookie Trey Knox; and international pathway player Sammis Reyes. All those guys will compete for the snaps behind starter T.J. Hockenson, whose knee injury will open up even more opportunities early in the season.

In addition to those players, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah added former Packers pass-catcher Robert Tonyan. His receiving numbers indicate a much more prolific receiver skill set than the other tight ends, suggesting he could emerge from the bunch as the main receiving threat.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports.

According to Alec Lewis from the Athletic, he has been a pleasant surprise at minicamp.

Robert Tonyan has looked great in minicamp. No hyperbole. Catching everything, snagged multiple passes in red-zone period today, outstretched arms, toe-tapping in corner of the end zone. Just impressive.

Alec Lewis

Tonyan’s journey in the NFL has been tumultuous. Coming out of college, the Indiana State product (150 receptions for 2,047 yards in five seasons) went undrafted and signed with the Detroit Lions but was released before the season began. He then joined Green Bay, where he spent his entire debut season on the practice squad.

After two seasons as a depth player with a total of 14 catches, Tonyan’s breakout season occurred in 2020. He suddenly became one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, tabulating 52 grabs for 586 yards and 11 scores. His ability to stretch the field from the middle of the field generated him opportunities to score.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports.

Injuries plagued his 2021 season and limited him to 204 receiving yards, but he bounced back with 470 yards in 2022. Before the 2023 season, Tonyan signed with the Chicago Bears. In the ineffective offense, Tonyan’s usage was limited, but it remains to be seen whether the 30-year-old lost a step or was used incorrectly.

In 85 career contests, the veteran caught 148 passes for 1,549 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The veteran is a solid pass-catcher, while Oliver excels as a blocker. That could give him the pole position to earn the reps Hockenson’s recovery opens up. Lewis’s words are promising news. If Tonyan still has his athletic tools, he could play a significant role early in the season.

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