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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Training camp preview: Vikings receivers

By Andrew Krammer

Editor’s note: Leading up to Vikings training camp, 1500ESPN.com will break down each position group based on offseason practice observations and interviews.

Previously:
Running backs
Quarterbacks
Tight ends

Current players (11)

On the team: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Laquon Treadwell, WR Jarius Wright

Good bet: WR Charles Johnson, WR Adam Thielen, WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Outside looking in: WR Moritz Böhringer, WR Troy Stoudermire, WR Terrell Sinkfield, WR Isaac Fruechte, WR Marken Michel

State of the position

Diggs (6-0, 191) became the first Vikings receiver since Percy Harvin to average at least 55 receiving yards per game. As a rookie fifth-round pick, he became Bridgewater’s go-to target in an otherwise lackluster passing attack, leading in catches (52) and yards (720). He would top 50 yards just once in his last seven games as he drew more attention from defenses. So the Vikings added Treadwell (6-2, 215) as a bookend with the 23rd-overall pick, one they hope can be as equally as physical with cornerbacks and use his size to make contested grabs. At age 27, Johnson (6-2, 217) is suddenly the elder of the receiving corps. This spring, he looked healthy coming off a broken rib that derailed his season. Wright (5-10, 191) signed a four-year, $14.8 million extension last summer. He’s a reliable slot receiver, tying for 17th among all NFL receivers with a 67.9% catch rate the last two seasons.

Patterson (6-2, 220) furthers his enigmatic story by drawing positive reviews from Mike Zimmer this spring after two years of riding the bench and prove-it calls. Since the Vikings declined his fifth-year option, he’s entering a contract year. Patterson is 25 years old and dangerous with the ball in his hands, which is still evident by four touchdowns on kickoff returns since 2013 — twice as many as anyone. Now, will he earn a role in the offense again?

Thielen (6-2, 200) was a core special teams contributor last season and continues to take advantage of opportunities there. That makes cracking the roster difficult for the likes of practice squad holdover Fruechte (6-3, 210) and Böhringer (6-4, 225), who showed how far he has to go this spring. The Vikings made history by using a sixth-round pick on Böhringer, a European player without NCAA experience. He looks the part, but has a long way to go in the leap from German football to the NFL. Stoudermire (5-10, 195), undrafted in 2013 out of Minnesota, is spending his second summer in the NFL after a few seasons in Canada. He was in the Vikings’ kick returner mix this spring. Sinkfield (6-1, 200) also enters his second training camp after stops in the CFL. Michel (5-11, 191) went undrafted out of U-Mass. Primarily a slot receiver, he caught 61 passes for 756 yards in two seasons after stepping away from the program for a year.

Top competition

Johnson regained his starting spot this spring with Treadwell working as the second-team ‘X’ receiver. But don’t expect a Trae Waynes-type rookie season for Treadwell as the Vikings try to resuscitate the passing game. He’s only 21, but the type of physical presence needed on inside-breaking routes that can be particularly helpful in the red zone. Diggs and Wright make up the rest of a three-receiver set. Should he show improvement in camp, one question circles around how many opportunities Patterson can get.

Telling

“We’ve been pretty fortunate taking young guys, especially with this coaching staff and the way they take these guys and develop them at this age. We expect a lot of things from [Treadwell] as we go forward.” — Rick Spielman in May

Looking ahead

No NFL team attempted fewer passes per game (28.4) than the Vikings last season. That number can only go up in 2016 as they look for more from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with major resources committed around him. That means additional opportunities for an expected trio of Treadwell, Diggs and Wright, whom are all under contract through the 2018 season. They have potential to be a lasting group for Bridgewater, who will likely be throwing to his fourth different split end in Treadwell this season. Overall, they have quantity and seek quality. The burden doesn’t necessarily fall on one receiver. Really, a better passing game starts in earnest with a retooled line, the coaching staff’s commitment and Bridgewater’s own improvement. The expectation is for Treadwell to fill a large void in the offense by introducing a different, more physical element to the position. Patterson, drafted 29th overall in 2013, could be entering his final season in Minnesota.

The post Training camp preview: Vikings receivers appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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