Another day, another walkthrough. Not a lot of drills going on in the mornings, and we started with special teams, as per (apparently) usual. NFL teams don't emphasize special teams this much this often, so it certainly is interesting. The Vikings are looking to improve their special teams in a significant way this year, and Priefer has been drilling each special teams unit on even minor technical details.
We started off with the kickoff team, although because it was a walkthrough, we didn't really get a chance to gush over Blair Walsh's enormous leg again.
Kickoff team roster below the snap, followed by notes from the defense, and Eric's notes from the offense.Kickoffs:
Chris Carr, Zackary Bowman, Everson Griffen, Larry Dean, Marvin Mitchell, Ryan D'Imperio, Jamarca Sanford, Eric Frampton, Marcus Sherels, Brandon Burton
Tyrone McKenzie, Andrew Sendejo, Mistral Raymond, Rhett Ellison, Reggie Jones, Matt Asiata, Christian Ballard, Lex Hilliard, Jamarca Sanford, Bobby Felder.
Corey Paredes, Allen Reisner, Emmanuel Arceneaux, Jerome Felton, Bryan Walters, Corey Gatewood, Tyler Holmes, Jordan Todman, Audie Cole, Kamar Jorden
Look at Griffen go! Beyond that, Frampton, D'Imperio, Dean, Mitchell and Bowman's presences are hardly surprising—these are their calling cards.
These team assignments will be important in determining some key roles, including players who seem to be on the bubble. Todman, for example, is seeing less time in the kickoff unit than Lex Hilliard, and this could help determine roles as we move forward. Also interesting is that Ryan D'Imperio is taking first team snaps, Asiata second team snaps and Jerome Felton third team snaps. If D'Imperio can outperform Felton as a fullback, we could see a surprising exit. It seems unlikely, however, as Felton was taking a number of first team snaps yesterday.
Gatewood is on the third kickoff unit, and not competing for return snaps, something that is crucial for any player hoping to grab the last few cornerback spots. Reggie Jones on the second team bodes well for him, while Gatewood's spot on the third team could be an ill omen.
Walters' presence on the third team shouldn't be an issue, as he's competing for a return spot, but Arceneaux's presence might hurt him unless he shows more in practices than he has so far. Sendejo on the second team is a bit surprising, but Raymond and Sanford's presence on that second team should temper any expectations that this means he sneaks in on special teams prowess.
The teams practiced kickoffs and onside kicks, and initially had trouble with lane assignments. These were quickly sorted out, however.
Don't read too much into 2nd and 3rd team assignments. Unless it's a tiebreaker for otherwise equal players, special team assignments mean naught unless you are on the first team.
The Vikings were installing goal line defenses and offenses today, which should give us a good preview for padded practices later on (hint: goal line situations). The roster for the defenses are sort of interesting:Goal line defense
1st team: Robison, Ballard, Guion, Evans, and Allen on the line. Henderson, Brinkley and Greenway at LB and Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford at DB.
2nd team: D'Aundre Reed, Trevor Guyton, Chase Baker, Tydreke Powell, Nick Reed at the line. Marvin Mitchell, Larry Dean and Tyrone McKenzie at LB. Harrison Smith and Mistral Raymond at DB.
3rd team: Ernest Owusu, Eric Latimore, Austin Pasztor, Tydreke Powell (again), Jeff Charleston, Nick Reed (again) on the line. Zackary Bowman, Reggie Jones and Andrew Sendejo at defensive back and Audie Cole, Everson Griffen, Solomon Elimimian and Tyler Nielsen at linebacker.
They had an extra LB and an extra DB to make sure that all relevant team members went through the walkthrough in order to understand assignments.
Notable absences: DB Corey Gatewood, DB Antoine Winfield, DB Bobby Felder, DB Chris Stroud, and DB Robert Blanton.
Winfield's absence is obvious-they'll want to limit his snaps. Stroud isn't eligible to practice with the Vikings for another day or two. Gatewood and Felder might simply be on the outside looking in, and Blanton is a curious case. Don't know what to make of that.
Not a lot of interesting news besides the lineups here. Griffen is still practicing with the 3s and, interestingly, so is Audie Cole (behind UDFA Tyrone McKenzie). McKenzie is expected to play OLB, but can play at any linebacker position, so again: don't read an extraordinary amount into it.
The Vikings are giving veterans more time at the moment, so Cole still has time to beat out Mitchell or Dean. Mitchell and Dean are both excellent special teams players, so one of them will certainly make the roster, even if they don't make the 2nd team.
Eric's notes on offense and special teams:
- Wright still the main guy on KO returns. Sherels, Wright, Harvin, Walters all in the mix. I'm guessing Harvin will still be the guy but probably taking it easy on practice reps.
- Three punt returners in the mix: Stephen Burton (back on the field today), Wright, and Bryan Walters.
- Simpson and Harvin still first-team WRs; Jenkins got the most looks in 3 WR packages. S. Burton, Arcenaux, Wright, Childs seem to be the next 4 WRs on the depth chart (in some order).
- Brandon Fusco got the most reps at RG today. Starting OL still the same: Kalil, Johnson, Sullivan, Fusco, Loadholt
- A ton of 2 TE sets again today. There were quite a few heavy packages with Rudolph and Carlson lining up on the same side (Rudolph inside, Carlson off the line of scrimmage on the outside)
- The heavy goal line package featured no WRs, 3 TEs, 2 RBs. Jerome Felton at FB, Gerhart at HB, Carlson/Rudolph/Ellison at TE along with normal O line.