7 things to watch out for during Vikings minicamp
With organized team activities in the rearview mirror, things will kick up a notch this week with the Minnesota Vikings starting minicamp on Tuesday.
This will be the week to whet the appetite before the team goes on hiatus until training camp later this summer.
There’s a real fascination with the way things are going under freshman head coach Kevin O’Connell. Kris Boyd recently said it was a More “chill” and “relaxed” atmosphere than she was when Mike Zimmer was a coach. It will be interesting to see how this actually translates on the football pitch to more competitive practices.
There are also several key positions up for grabs heading into the 2022 season. It will be another week for the team to sort out those competitions before things really take off in training camp.
Here are seven things to watch for this week.
Kellen Mond’s progress
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The sudden praise surrounding backup quarterback Kellen Mond was one of the most interesting headlines in early practice.
Former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer seemed totally disinterested in Mond’s development in his rookie season, despite the team spending a third-round pick on him in 2021.
But things obviously changed when O’Connell took office. Asked about Mond during a recent press conferenceVikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips had some really positive things to say about the former Texas A&M starting quarterback.
“Kellen is very sharp. He really grabbed the attack really well,” Phillips said. “I don’t know if you’ve seen him here every day working with [assistant quarterbacks coach] Jerrod Johnson – extra digging work, really working on his fundamentals.
“He did a really good job getting to know our offense, our terminology. He calls games very well in the huddle, and his eyes are in the right place.
Could Mond actually fight his way into the No. 2 backup spot behind Kirk Cousins? That should be the Vikings’ hope for the development of their 22-year-old quarterback.
The lead save battle between Mond and longtime veteran Sean Mannion could really start to heat up this week.
The battle on the offensive front rages on
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Who will start at good guard for the Vikings – Chris Reed, Oli Udoh, Ed Ingram or Jesse Davis?
The battle seems to be raging mostly between Reed and Davis with an outside chance of Ingram getting his way at some point.
There must clearly be some improvements on the inside part of the offensive front, especially at the right guard position. Garrett Bradbury also needs to show a sense of urgency to improve in the centre.
The team has already died recovering its fifth year optionand they could ultimately decide to change direction after the season if he continues to struggle.
Versatility in running back
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Good luck finding a more versatile offensive backfielder than the Vikings with Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu and Ty Chandler.
I’m going to go ahead and add full-back CJ Ham to it because he rarely gets the respect he deserves.
But the running room as a whole is full of players who can seemingly do it all. They have the speed, power and flexibility to work in an offense as both runners and receivers.
O’Connell likes to use multiple backs on the pitch at the same time and exploit lags with the passing attack. He’s going to feel like a kid in a candy store with the ridiculous amount of talent he has for racing in Minnesota as opposed to Los Angeles.
Opportunity hitting at receiver
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Ihmir Smith-Marsette sinks with a lower leg injury opens the door for someone else on the roster to step in as receiver.
The second-year wide receiver is expected to miss all of minicamp in hopes of returning later this summer for training camp.
KJ Osborn’s availability is also a bit in doubt after suffering an undisclosed injury. By Athletic’s Chad GraffO’Connell said the No. 3 receiver’s injury expected on the depth chart was “nothing serious.”
It’s as good as any opportunity for a multi-year veteran player like Bisi Johnson to show he’s ultimately ready to take on an expanded role in the offence. Maybe even a speedster like sixth-round rookie draft pick Jalen Nailor will take the next step immediately.
There’s no question the opportunity is knocking Minnesota at receiver.
Can Greg Joseph hold back Gabe Brkic?
Brace Hemmelgarn – USA TODAY Sports
Gabe Brkic isn’t just another camp body hoping to stick around for backup duties. It’s all or nothing for the former Oklahoma Sooner kicker. He’s here to take Greg Joseph’s job as the Vikings’ starting kicker.
How will Joseph respond to the challenge?
This will be one of the most interesting battles in minicamp and training camp. Something to keep in mind is the fact that none of Joseph’s $2.4 million restricted free agent offer is guaranteed.
“There will be a full kicker competition and a punters competition,” the Vikings special teams coordinator said. Matt Daniels told members of the media at a press conference. “That’s why we brought in guys like Gabe Brkic and Ryan Wright to really push those veterans that we have.”
Brkic, who tends to be big in clutch situations, could push Joseph over the edge in this contest.
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports
At this point, the Vikings must be tired of hearing people talk about how defensive they are.
So first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah dived headfirst trying to rectify the issues by coming out and getting another elite passing thrower in Za’Darius Smith and a machine corner at reliable veteran sub to Chandon Sullivan.
He also bet on the defensive side of the ball in the 2022 NFL Draft, including selecting former Georgia guard Lewis Cine with the No. 32 pick in the first round.
How will these changes play out on the current football pitch?
There will be no shortage of tests with O’Connell leading an attack with elite weapons at every qualified position.
Kevin O’Connell’s attack in real time
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The Vikings offense has the potential to take off in a way we haven’t seen in years under O’Connell.
They have the right talent and the coaching staff to rightfully have one of the most prolific offenses in the entire league in 2022. There really is no excuse for them not being top 10 or better. .
Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has already glimpsed what it could be.
“One of the big things is the attack that we see every day. Our offense has advanced patterns and formations. And that helps us improve. What Kevin and Wes have put in place can only help us improve,” Donatell said.
It’s fun to talk about the possibilities of O’Connell’s mastermind being paired with the likes of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook and Irv Smith Jr. It could be argued that the skilled Vikings group is more talented than the one of O’Connell. had with the Rams.
Imagine what he could do with the unit with full control.