Monday featured some inclement weather for most of the Twin Cities, but the Vikings were still able to find a gap in the thunderstorms to get a full practice in at TCO Performance Center. We didn’t have the literal or figurative fireworks we saw during the night practice on Saturday, but we still had a bunch of big plays on both sides of the ball.
Who’s in, who’s out
Kyle Rudolph sat out of practice again, but apparently it shouldn’t be something for us to worry about. When asked about Rudy on Monday afternoon, Mike Zimmer said “He’s just got a minor little thing. He will be fine.” Aviante Collins sat out again, but Zimmer anticipates him returning as well, so perhaps his injury isn’t as bad as it originally appeared. Ade Aruna was the only other player not in pads outside of the three players still on the injured lists: Mike Hughes, David Morgan, and Tashawn Bower. Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen suited up again but we have yet to see much from either in camp.
There was one injury scare on Monday: Brian O’Neill appeared to get his hand caught on something while blocking during a running play toward the end of practice. He cursed loudly and immediately grabbed his left hand. He briefly talked to the training staff, but it didn’t look like they worked on the hand at all as O’Neill watched the rest of practice from the sideline. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but it’s something to monitor going forward.
Depth chart update
For the first time this preseason, we don’t have to base our depth charts on pure speculation! The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart on Monday afternoon ahead of the first preseason game in New Orleans on Friday. There weren’t many surprises based on what we have seen thus far in practices, but there are still a handful of points to discuss.
- The offensive line is exactly what we have seen through most of camp.
- The wide receiver depth chart is always tough to read into since they only list two positions. Jeff Badet being listed in front of Dillon Mitchell and Alexander Hollins even after missing the first few days of camp is telling. I thought Olabisi Johnson might be listed a bit higher on his side based on how he had separated himself a bit in recent days.
- Kyle Sloter listed ahead of Jake Browning is a mild surprise since it seemed like Browning was getting a few more snaps than Sloter. We’ll see how their work is divvied up against the Saints.
- David Morgan being listed at the fourth tight end might be only because he hasn’t participated in camp yet. However, with the impressive camp that Tyler Conklin and the rest of the tight end group has had, it might be tough for Morgan to get many snaps when he does return from the PUP list.
- Ifeadi Odenigbo is listed as the primary backup at left defensive end, which reflects how well he has performed in practice. It appears that he and Stephen Weatherly seem to be in line for those rotational snaps at defensive end.
- Jalyn Holmes appears to have an early lead over Hercules Mata’afa. The two have split reps with the first team while Joseph and Stephen sit out.
- No major surprises to speak of anywhere along the back seven of the defense. Kentrell Brothers listed ahead of Cameron Smith seems to bode well for his chances of making the roster. Holton Hill remains on his “timeout” while suspended. New signing Bene Benwikere starts out ahead of rookie Kris Boyd.
- Kevin McDermott is currently listed ahead of Austin Cutting at long snapper. Ameer Abdullah listed first as both kick returner and punt returner is interesting considering how many players have been rotating through those positions.
As far as formations go, the defense showed a couple new wrinkles, including this “6-1” front with both Anthony Barr and Ben Gedeon standing up off the edge. It’s reminiscent of how the Patriots lined up a lot during the Super Bowl to slow down the Rams.
Jayron Kearse also got a bunch of reps in the “big nickel” role, playing mostly right on the line of scrimmage against the slot receiver.
Big plays of the day
The energy at Monday’s practice was much more subdued than Saturday, but there were still a handful of notable plays.
- Holton Hill punched the ball out of Chad Beebe’s hands for a forced fumble in 11-on-11.
- Devante Downs had the play of the day on defense. Blitzing unblocked through the middle, he leaped up to deflect a pass from Sean Mannion to himself that he corralled and ran back for a touchdown.
- Brandon Dillon had one of the best catches of camp with this leaping one-handed grab:
- Right after that amazing catch, Dru Samia and Karter Schult got into it with a couple shoves to the face. The fracas was quickly diffused before escalating any further.
- The defense might want to keep more of an eye on that #19 guy. Adam Thielen got wide open for easy touchdowns on two separate occasions.
- The first team offense looked sharp in the red zone. They went 3 for 3 scoring with touchdown passes from Kirk Cousins to Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Bisi Johnson.
- Danielle Hunter had one pass rush where he basically tossed O’Neill back into Cousins for a sack. O’Neill landed harmlessly on the ground and didn’t actually crash into his quarterback, but seeing Hunter’s strength on display there was amazing to watch.
- Mackensie Alexander got a sack on a well-timed blitz from the nickel corner position.
Surges and slumps
Some notable takeaways I had after Monday’s session:
- We had extended 1-on-1 drills between the wide receivers and defensive backs. The receivers usually have an advantage here since there’s no pass rush on the quarterback and they have plenty of space to get open. But that didn’t bother Alexander and Holton Hill. Mack shut down Diggs twice and snuffed out Bisi on his third rep. Hill was able to keep Laquon Treadwell and Jordan Taylor in his hip pocket.
- Trae Waynes has had a relatively quiet camp except for one area: penalties. He has been called for defensive holding a handful of times already, including another against Diggs on Monday.
- Sean Mannion seems to be getting more comfortable as Training Camp rolls along. He has looked more confident and accurate the past couple practices, especially on intermediate passes outside the numbers. I’ll still be petrified if Mannion has to play extended time during the regular season, but he appears to have solidified his QB2 spot.
- Alexander Hollins is still a long shot to make the roster, but he has looked better lately. His ability to go up and get contested catches is hiding what he might lack in polished route running.
We’re still waiting for that elusive perfect day of kicking from Dan Bailey. The Vikings kicker attempted eight more kicks during practice on Monday and his percentages remained about the same. His results:
- 38 yards, right: NO GOOD (off the right post)
- 41 yards, right: GOOD
- 45 yards, right: GOOD
- 42 yards, right: GOOD
- 47 yards, left: GOOD
- 52 yards, right: NO GOOD (very wide right)
- 35 yards, left: GOOD
- 53 yards, left: GOOD
Matt Wile was the holder for each kick while Cutting and McDermott rotated long snapper duties. Bailey is now 34/44 in “live” kicks in Training Camp. All but one of his ten misses has come from the right side and eight of the ten misses have been to the right. I don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button just yet, but I hope the team can figure out the long snapper and holder situation sooner rather than later. Bailey’s 77% rate in camp is well below his 86.6% career average and probably won’t cut it for the regular season.
Two Minute Drill
We’re back at it again Tuesday afternoon for Day 10. 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: