Tha Sports Junkies 101

TSJ101 Training Camp Edition: Minnesota Vikings Position Battles


Saturday, I spent my morning making the trek to southern Minnesota where Vikings Training Camp is held each year in Mankato. Here are my most important takeaways concerning the position battles heating up.

Position Battles:

Offensive Line

Last year, the Achilles’ heel of an otherwise well-rounded team was their offensive line. When the team did slip into passing situations, Teddy Bridgewater found himself either having to hurry his throws or running for his life due to the lethargic pass protection he received from the patchwork unit he had in front of him.

This off-season the Vikings signed veteran o-lineman Alex Boone (LG) and Andre Smith (RT). Currently, Brandon Fusco (RG) is sitting out of practice after suffering an undisclosed injury on Friday, but according to head coach Mike Zimmer “it won’t be long,” until he is practicing again.

Additionally in his press conference on Saturday,  Zimmer stated that Fusco has “looked as good as he’s ever seen,” during camp, undoubtedly a result of him moving back to his natural position at Right Guard.

If Saturday was any indication, the opening day offensive line will shape up to be (from right to left): Kalil (LT), Boone (LG), Sullivan (C), Fusco (RG), and Andre Smith (RT), with Joe Berger filling in for anybody who might get injured.

Wide Receiver

Although there has been a lot of local buzz surrounding the draft day selection of highly-touted Ole Miss Wide Receiver Laquon Treadwell and all of the new potential he will be able to unleash for Teddy Bridgewater, it’s looking like the Minnesota Vikings will sprinkle him in when certain packages are on the field. However, he will not be out there in two-wide sets, at least not at the beginning of the season.

Charles Johnson, who was the recipient of outlandish amounts of hype leading into last season before suffering a rib injury that hampered his performance the rest of the season, seems to have the wide receiver spot opposite Stefon Diggs locked up as he ran exclusively with the ones.

Adam Thielen was the next man up when they ran 3-wide sets. As the season progresses this will be the most compelling position battle as Treadwell will battle for playing time. I predict that by the middle of the season, Treadwell will become the receiver they use in the red zone as he is both a big body who can go up and get the ball as well as an effective down-field blocker for his position.

Back-Up Quarterback

While there were some rumors the Vikings might try to acquire veteran QB Nick Foles through free agency, no such move was made, revealing that Zimmer feels confident that Shaun Hill will give the Vikings a chance to win should Teddy Bridgewater get injured.

Behind Shaun Hill, Wisconsin Badger alumnus Joel Stave was running with the third unit. Hopefully, the revamped offensive line will be able to keep Bridgewater safe this season, because should he go down I don’t foresee Shaun Hill being able to move the chains.

Free Safety

The Vikings signed veteran safety Michael Griffin this off-season to compete for the free safety position which was wide open heading into camp this year.

However, it appears he may be past his prime and still learning the defensive playbook and scheme as Andrew Sendejo who has been with the Vikings since 2011 and has proven to be serviceable, took all of the reps with the first team.

Other Notes:

When Chad Greenway was asked about retirement, he declined to answer saying,

“I’m not thinking that far ahead right now.” Throughout practice Greenway could be seen playfully talking trash to the offense and joking around. Losing him next year would be a big blow to the team’s morale as he is clearly the biggest source of veteran leadership on defense. When asked if this was the best defensive unit he has ever been a part of he said he “wasn’t prepared to answer that question.”