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Minnesota Vikings Training Camp: Day 13 Recap

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Intense coaches, standout plays, and the new kicker showing what’s he got—sort of.

After Sunday’s practice at TCO Performance Center, I wrote that the session had a “back to basics” feel without a ton of intensity. The Vikings coaching staff must have noticed, because they were definitely more demonstrative on Monday afternoon. Everyone from Mike Zimmer to the coordinators to the position coaches seemed to be trying to light a fire under their charges. There were multiple team huddles where Zimmer barked orders to motivate his players.

The results of the amplified coaching were a bit of a mixed bag depending on the player. With Training Camp wrapping up on Friday, everyone seems to be keenly aware that time is starting to run out when it comes to forming the Week 1 53-man roster.

Who’s in, who’s out

Six players joined the three remaining on the injured lists as non-participants on Monday: Brian O’Neill, Aviante Collins, Ameer Abdullah, Kris Boyd, Ade Aruna, and De’Angelo Henderson. Armon Watts was back participating after missing out on Sunday. Jaleel Johnson left practice a little early, but I didn’t notice a particular play where he got banged up and he didn’t seem to be hindered at all while jogging into the team facility. As usual, Linval Joseph was in pads but didn’t participate in any team drills. Shamar Stephen was back in full capacity for the second straight day.

And oh yeah, there was a new Norwegian kicker/punter/holder in town.

Kicking corner

Kaare Vedvik took the field for the first time as a Minnesota Viking on Monday. He didn’t do any live kicks or punts, but he still made a good first impression. Vedvik started the day punting on the far field. His leg appears to be as good as advertised. He sent nearly all of his punts sky high with great distance, and most of them landed near the sideline.

After an impressive 15-20 minute punting session, Vedvik launched a handful of kickoffs. Every one of them reached the end zone, and the last few all bounced at or near the back of the end zone. Finally, he came to the near field and started launching field goals with the assistance of a kicking holder tee. He sent everything right down the middle with plenty of room to spare, including 60-yard and 61-yard bombs that delighted the crowd.

Meanwhile, Matt Wile and Dan Bailey didn’t appear to do any kicking in practice Monday. In fact, Bailey was practicing holding—for reasons that aren’t exactly clear.

But don’t put Vedvik in the Vikings Ring of Honor just yet. All of his kicking was without any defense in front of him. Let’s see how he does in game situations with a bit more pressure.

As to what Vedvik is actually going to do when it comes to kicking and punting, that’s still up in the air as much as his kicks themselves. Zimmer stated that “everything is a possibility at this point” and it might be tough for one specialist to do both kicking jobs. Either way, it was an enticing start to Vedvik’s tenure with the Vikings.

Depth chart and formation update

There weren’t any major updates to the depth chart on Monday. The second team offensive line of Dakota Dozier, Danny Isidora, Brett Jones, Dru Samia, and Storm Norton remained intact for the second straight practice. Jake Browning ran a situational drill with a hybrid mix of the second and third team offense, and there was the usual mixing of the second and third team back seven. With Stephen back, Jalyn Holmes played mostly second team.

There was an interesting pass rush package from the first team defense that I hadn’t seen yet in camp. It was base defense, except with almost a 5-man front. Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter were standing up on the edge. Here’s a visual of how they lined up:

Hercules Mata’afa at the 0-technique? Everson Griffen and Hunter on the same side of the line? I don’t think this is a defense we’ll see a ton in the upcoming season, but it would certainly be an interesting look to throw at an offense on a passing down.

Big plays of the day

You’re never going to believe this, but Adam Thielen had a big catch in 11-on-11 after burning Duke Thomas down the sideline. Even the official Vikings Twitter account is getting facetiously bored with it.

Eric Kendricks had a big day, intercepting Kirk Cousins twice in team drills. The first was in a red zone drill where Cousins tried to force it into Kyle Rudolph. The second interception was a nifty display of athleticism as Kendricks backpedaled from an A-gap blitz look and deflected the pass to himself. It was another impressive showing overall from the first team defense as they went 3-0 against the offense in the red zone and shut down the run for most of the team portion of practice.

Mackensie Alexander almost had a pick six in this red zone rep when he jumped a Stefon Diggs route:

Mata’afa blew past Samia for a lightning-fast sack in second team 11-on-11. The offense combated the rush the next play with a clever tight end screen to Irv Smith Jr. that was reminiscent of Tyler Conklin’s long play on Friday night.

Surges and slumps

  • Mike Boone has stood out in practice more ever since his long touchdown run against the Saints. He has been knifing through holes and catching a lot of passes out of the backfield while Abdullah and Henderson have been sidelined. I’m not sure how the running back depth chart will shake out, but Boone has certainly been making a case for himself lately.
  • Chad Beebe slips a lot. It seems like at least once per practice, he’s on the ground coming out of a break. I suppose that’s bound to happen with someone that cuts as quickly as he does, but it could lead to a disastrous play if it happens at the wrong time during the regular season.
  • Bené Benwikere had his best day since joining the team. That isn’t exactly a high bar to clear given his struggles thus far, but seeing him get a couple pass breakups was encouraging.
  • Jeff Badet is starting to get more involved in both special teams and the offense since his circus catch in the night practice last weekend. He had a nice end around in Monday’s practice and he’s looking better in the individual drills. With players like Davion Davis, Dillon Mitchell, and Brandon Zylstra barely doing anything of note, Badet might have a shot to take one of those final wide receiver slots on the roster.
  • Alexander Mattison hasn’t looked 100% since the Saints game. He hasn’t been cutting like he did earlier in camp and I noticed him walking a little gingerly after a few carries. It’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

The Vikings will be back on the practice field Tuesday afternoon in Eagan before an off day on Wednesday. To follow along for live updates, you can find me on Twitter at @eric_j_thompson.

If you’d like to catch up on anything you might have missed, here are links to all my previous recaps:

Day 12

Day 10

Day 9

Night Practice

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1