It’s only Day 3 of Vikings OTAs, and only one of those days was open to the media, so not too much out there about how things are progressing, who’s gonna make the team and who’s not, what the Vikings new plays are, how many complete or incomplete passes Kirk Cousins has thrown, or how that may impact the Vikings Super Bowl odds.
But there are a few tidbits here and there of note:
- Rick Spielman, in a radio interview with Paul Allen, mentioned that CB Holten Hill had been practicing well, which was mentioned elsewhere too. That is promising, particularly after some of the negative news surrounding Hill during the draft process.
- Spielman also mentioned that CBs like Rhodes and Waynes really started to ‘click’ during their third year, and MacKensie Alexander could be at that point now.
- Spielman also said first round draft pick Mike Hughes was picking things up very well, and that there will be some real competition for the nickel CB spot, along with Terence Newman.
- Anthony Barr’s absence looks increasingly contract-related, in part because Rick Spielman didn’t want to say much about it, except he had some talks with Barr’s agent. Mike Zimmer also did not want to say much about it. You would think if it was simply a personal issue, that would have been said. The orchestrated non-answers from Spielman and Zimmer suggest it’s a contract thing.
- The Vikings went with Reiff - Isidora - Easton - Compton - Remmers for the first team OL reps initially. Easton was filling in for the injured Pat Elflein, so not a big surprise there. Usually the first group early on is chosen more on a seniority/heirachy basis, and they move on from there. Isidora is mildly surprising at left guard, but not a big deal I’d read much into at this point either.
- A few Vikings players have commented that they are basically installing the whole playbook offensively, and there are some new wrinkles and terminology, despite DeFilippo’s effort to change his terminology to match Shurmur’s.
- Both Spielman and Zimmer commented on Cousins being an ‘anticipatory’ passer, throwing receivers open, and getting the ball out right as the receiver makes his break. That style, more so than Keenum last year, requires excellent timing and chemistry between QB and receiver, or the timing/accuracy will be off- with potential for turnovers. But when timing is on, it’s more difficult to defend in man coverage, and can lead to more yards-after-catch. Both Diggs, and especially Thielen, have become very technically precise route runners, so if they can perfect their timing with Cousins, it could lead to more production all around.
- John DeFilippo mentioned that they are working with Dalvin Cook lining up outside the numbers, getting him more used to lining up there. Part of that may be to create matchup issues, but also to help, along with pre-snap movement, reveal whether the defense is playing zone or man coverage, and other keys to aid Cousins pre-snap. DeFilippo said he likes guys to be able to do multiple jobs in his offense, suggesting there could be a lot of different formations and movement to his offense.
- Spielman said Trevor Siemian may be the best backup QB the Vikings have had since he’s been with the Vikings. Strong praise considering the year Keenum had last year.
- Spielman’s praise for Kendall Wright seemed a bit more tempered, saying he looked good so far, but it was still early and we’ll see how things play out. I expect pretty solid competition for the last three WR spots after Thielen, Diggs and Treadwell.
- He also mentioned kickoffs under the new rules could lead to some bigger returns, and the importance of having a big leg kicker who can kick it out of the end zone - a subtle endorsement of 5th round draft pick Daniel Carlson - although he had praise for Kai Forbath as well.
I probably left out a couple things, but so far it’s mostly positive news (as you would expect considering the sources), with the exception of Anthony Barr, but we’ll have to wait to see how that turns out.