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2015 Minnesota Vikings Rookie Minicamp Roundup: Trae Waynes, Eric Kendricks, T.J. Clemmings

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The Minnesota Vikings rookie minicamp is underway. With the first half done and some pressers out of the way, we can provide a pseudo-roundup of events

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings minicamp is underway, and the media only has one day of availability. Other than the fact that my pen broke and that I should have brought a sweater, there are a couple of updates I can provide that may interest fans.

  • Trae Waynes is a quick learner
Mike Zimmer mentioned, after providing a caveat before and after about how early it is, that Trae Waynes may have picked up on technique "faster than anyone I've had on the first day." Technique is an important distinction, because Zimmer started off his presser by clarifying that minicamps involve very little schematic work. What they're doing on the mental side is seeing how well players pick up technique coaching, while on the physical side of things they're finding out more about a player's athletic skills.

Waynes never played against Diggs in college. Their only opportunity to play, Diggs was injured.

  • Eric Kendricks is a middle linebacker, for now
The Vikings are trying out Eric Kendricks at middle linebacker, with an eye towards the "Will" position in the long term, if necessary. This isn't to say they think Kendricks is better at Will than Mike and that they have two starting Wills in Chad and Eric, but that they think Kendricks is genuinely middle linebacker material despite his size. Coach Zimmer said of Kendricks' 235 pounds "I like big guys, but at the linebacker position it's not as important" because the defensive line has a job to keep the linebackers clear of bodies.

It doesn't sound like from the pressers that both Kendricks and Zimmer gave that they expect him to have to gain any weight for the position. Zimmer once again mentioned that Kendricks is a very strong linebacker.

For Eric Kendricks, the middle linebacker role is exciting. Patrick Larimore, the previous ILB for UCLA, retired for medical reasons (a defensive MVP for the team, he now works on concussion awareness) and it forced Kendricks from the Will role to the Mike role.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to me," he told the assembled media. At the Will position, he only had to focus on his position. At the Mike he had to line everyone up and learn everyone's position. "I love challenges," he said of the new challenges that come not just with learning a new defense but the Mike role in a new defense.

It really sounds like, if Kendricks is the middle linebacker this season, he'll wear the green dot.
  • T.J. Clemmings is a swing OL, sort of
T.J. Clemmings is playing on one side of the line of scrimmage, and though all of his workouts were at the tackle position, it was mentioned by Hank Fraley to him during workouts that the Vikings may try him out at both positions. With the release of Austin Wentworth right before camp, there's another spot at backup tackle or guard and Clemmings will compete for both.

He's only worked on the right side of the line so far, and today went through walkthroughs at right guard, though has mostly done tackle work.

The foot injury that forced him to fall in the draft did not seem like an issue to him at all. "Sometimes, I couldn't even tell you which foot was supposed to be injured," he said. It's the right foot, evidently, and it didn't cause soreness or any missing games.

It was a surprise to him at all that he fell in the draft because of it. His first understanding that it was forcing teams to back off was during the draft itself. When asked about it, he said he understood how serious teams were taking it "after round two. Then more after round three."

I evidently have to clarify that he was joking and emphasizing how little the foot mattered to him more than anything else. So there it is, your clarification. Laughs were had by all.

Other notes:
  • Stefon Diggs was one of three players taking punts.
  • Gavin Lutman and Trae Waynes were gunners.
  • Leon Mackey was pretty noticeable and moved quickly for his size (again, it's walkthroughs—maybe others were just moving slowly).
  • Babatunde Aiyegbusi is a big guy.
  • Mike Zimmer made my day when he functionally just repeated concepts echoed in the piece I published earlier today in his presser.