Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other subscribers

MN Vikings Tweets

Bleacher Report – Vikings

Plenty of playing time up for grabs after Vikings spring practices

By Andrew Krammer

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Here are ten observations after observing five spring Vikings practices.

1. Plenty of playing time up for grabs — This Vikings roster has arguably the best defensive depth since Mike Zimmer arrived as head coach more than two years ago. That’ll make for some interesting position battles with playing time up for grabs at safety, cornerback, linebacker and within the line’s rotation. During five practices open to the media, a few reserves already began mixing in with starters on both sides of the ball. This included weak-side linebacker Emmanuel Lamur behind Chad Greenway, left cornerback Trae Waynes for Terence Newman and right tackle Andre Smith siphoning reps from Phil Loadholt. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray is also keeping options open next to Harrison Smith.

2. Deep ball a work in progress — Players and coaches spoke highly of Bridgewater’s growth entering his third NFL season. One area needing more is the deep ball. Downfield shots have been made a focal point, per Zimmer, and they remain a work in progress. To correct overthrows, Bridgewater has focused on throwing over the top and following through in his motion. He’s yet to work much with top acquisition Laquon Treadwell, who worked primarily with the second team and backup Shaun Hill.

3. Big money and message with Harrison Smith — The Vikings rewarded fifth-year safety Harrison Smith with a five-year, $51.25 million contract. Smith, whose new money makes him the league’s highest-paid safety, received a $10 million signing bonus after not missing a single voluntary practice during contract negotiations. The deal includes $28 million guaranteed for injury and gives flexibility to the Vikings while allowing Smith to earn top dollar, which sends the right message to a locker room full of young playmakers on defense.

4. Adrian Peterson in passing game mix — Jerick McKinnon saw some reps with the top offense and Bridgewater, though Adrian Peterson continues to lead the way in every phase. Peterson caught swing passes out of the backfield and took shotgun handoffs during spring practices, giving him the first plunge into a vow of versatility for this Vikings offense. Zimmer wasn’t too bullish on Peterson playing this preseason, especially with joint practices scheduled in Cincinnati. Though he did not rule out the possibility.

5. Receiver question looms large — A second-team offense fielded two first-round picks in Laquon Treadwell and Cordarrelle Patterson throughout spring practices. Patterson, who has garnered rare praise from Zimmer entering his contract season, mixed in with starters more so than any backup behind Charles Johnson and Stefon Diggs. Johnson leads the way at ‘X’ receiver, though it’s only a matter of time before Treadwell, the 23rd-overall pick, begins working more with Bridgewater.

6. Trae Waynes still chasing Terence Newman — Second-year cornerback Trae Waynes won’t assume the left cornerback role just yet, though he saw a hefty workload during spring practices. Waynes, last year’s 11th-overall pick, worked with the second-team defense and mixed in with the starters. Coaches want Waynes to earn the starting role by making plays in practice. In the meantime, the 37-year-old Terence Newman continues to lead the way.

7. Under Mike Zimmer’s thumb — The Vikings head coach turned 60 this month and continued to command practice fields with the same hands-on approach. Zimmer kept his thumb on the players’ contact through limited offseason practices, stopping the entire team during one OTA after witnessing too much between one cornerback and receiver. Some players didn’t believe Zimmer when, pleased with the work shown, he decided to scrap the final minicamp practice last week.

8. Jeff Locke punting to stave off competition — Two roster spots remain open after spring practices and one could go to a punter to push Jeff Locke. He was the lone punter warming up to U.S. Bank Stadium as the Vikings specialists broke in their new home. The Vikings worked out two punters during tryouts last month and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer made clear they’re a call away if needed. Locke, whose 41.6-yard average ranked 32nd last season, is entering a contract year.

9. Loadholt vs. Smith at right tackle — Most notable among the 16-man offensive line’s competitions is the battle at right tackle. Phil Loadholt and Andre Smith shared top reps, while Brandon Fusco led the way at right guard with Mike Harris limited by injury. Alex Boone, who signed in free agency to play left guard, was held out the last couple weeks with an undisclosed injury. John Sullivan assumed most of the starting snaps at center from Joe Berger, who filled in for Boone at left guard.

10. Injuries linger — A handful of players, most notably a few key defenders, were limited by lingering injuries this spring. Sharrif Floyd missed every practice open to the media with what he’d only categorize as injuries sustained last season. He had missed four starts due to knee and ankle issues. Linebacker Anthony Barr and nose tackle Linval Joseph were also limited throughout. On offense, tight end Rhett Ellison continued his rehab from a torn patellar tendon and expects to be ready by the first training camp practice on July 29.

The post Plenty of playing time up for grabs after Vikings spring practices appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>