The early part of training camp is hard to judge in many ways, because teams don’t practice in full pads for a few days. Such was the case for the Minnesota Vikings, who had only practiced in shells up until this afternoon.
The first full pads practice gave us a little bit of a clarification on some things, especially the offensive and defensive lines.
In the early portion of practice, I watched the offensive line drills. OL Coach Tony Sparano was working a lot on interior line pulls, and getting guys to the second level. It was a decent drill, with Alex Boone and Joe Berger standing out.
From there, it was full 11 on 11 time, and everyone was a bit excited to see how players would fare. Aaaaaaaaaaand on the very first play Dalvin Cook was called for a false start.
It was about the only time Cook did something that was less than impressive, though. He looked good in every other facet of practice, to include pass blocking. Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray are still out, and I just get the sense that with each passing day, Cook is locking down the RB1 spot. And it’s not by default, either, as Cook has displayed speed, agility, vision, and a cutback ability that will make it tough to unseat him. During 11 on 11’s, he showed really good vision and cutbacks running the ball, making several substantial gains. As a receiver, he took a swing pass from Sam Bradford, turned the corner, found his ‘Wow’ gear, and was gone. How he fell to the second round, I don’t know.
Bradford was only 1 of 4 on deep throws, but for the rest of the session, he was sharp. His short and intermediate throws had zip and accuracy, and he was able to thread the needle to guys on several throws, the most notable one to Adam Thielen, who was surrounded by three defenders. He also had several nice touch throws, including one to Laquon Treadwell.
Bradford looks very comfortable in this offense, and if given time he is going to have a good season.
Ah, time. Will he have it? So, here’s my expert, learned opinion—maybe. (Also, it’s neither expert or learned, it’s just my opinion). Mike Remmers and Rashod Hill had their ups and downs against Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, and when the offense and defense were doing one on one drills, it was more or less a draw between the two units.
For the receivers other than the big three, Michael Floyd and Stacy Coley stood out. During 7 on 7’s, Laquon Treadwell beat Harrison Smith on a double move, but Bradford slightly overthrew him, and the ball went off his hands.
On defense, once again Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen stood out on defense, and they are having a fantastic camp. Is it that they’re that much better than Remmers/Rashod Hill, or they’re just that good? I don’t know, but I do know that the Vikings offensive line appears better than they have been in seasons past, at least early on.
The highlight play of the day was an Anthony Harris interception off of Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke waggled to the right, threw the ball back towards the middle, and Harris made a nice interception after slipping and falling to one knee.
It’s been a fun couple of days here, and I will say I think the Vikings offense is better than in recent camps I’ve been able to cover in most aspects, especially the line. I don’t think it’s anything close to elite, though, but just average, when paired with what I think is an exceptional defense, well, I’ll take it for now.