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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Treadwell’s lack of playing time isn’t yet reason for concern

By Judd Zulgad

Despite the Vikings’ 3-0 start, there was a bit of alarm this week after first-round wide receiver Laquon Treadwell was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s victory in Carolina.

Treadwell is coming along slower than many expected and the immediate concern is he might be following in the footsteps of another first-round pick who hasn’t come close to perfecting his craft as a wide receiver in three-plus seasons. That, of course, would Cordarrelle Patterson.

The suggestion from this corner: Take a deep breath and relax when it comes to Treadwell.

Treadwell did not get on the field for a snap in the opener against Tennessee, was used for only two plays against Green Bay and then sat out last weekend’s game. But only three games into the season this should not come as a surprise, given coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t seem overly concerned about rushing first-round picks on the field just because some think he should.

The Vikings’ first two first-round picks under Zimmer were linebacker Anthony Barr (ninth-overall pick) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (32nd-overall pick). Barr started the Vikings’ opening game that season, but Bridgewater did not play until Week 3 at New Orleans and that was only because starter Matt Cassel was injured.

Last year, Zimmer started veteran Terence Newman over 11th-overall pick Trae Waynes. Waynes ended up starting only one of the 16 games in which he appeared, including playoffs, but this season he has started two of the first three games.

Treadwell was the 23rd pick by the Vikings after catching 82 passes for 1,153 yards at Mississippi.

What likely increased the concern about Treadwell was Zimmer’s quote when asked about the rookie on Monday. “He has to continue to do better in practice,” Zimmer said. “He’s working, just biding his time until he gets an opportunity like how [Stefon] Diggs was last year. I still think he’s thinking about the number of steps to take on each route and things like that, being at the right depth.”

That last sentence causes flashbacks to Patterson’s career-long issues in running routes that put him in a position to be a reliable target for his quarterback. But that’s unfair to Treadwell, considering it would be no surprise if his head is swimming right now as he works on improving at his craft.

It also doesn’t help Treadwell’s cause that two of the wide receivers taken before him in the first round have produced.

Corey Coleman, the 15th pick by Cleveland out of Baylor, had seven catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns in two games before breaking his right hand in practice. He is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

Will Fuller, the 21st pick by Houston out of Notre, has 12 receptions for 242 yards with one touchdown in three games, including two 100-yard performances. Josh Doctson, the 22nd pick by Washington out of TCU, has only two catches for 66 yards.

The other important thing Zimmer mentioned in his quote about Treadwell was that it did take time for the Vikings coaching staff to get 2015 fifth-round pick Stefon Diggs on the field last season and that worked out very well.

Diggs was inactive for the first three games of his rookie season before finally getting his chance in an early October game at Denver. He caught six passes that day and finished with a team-leading 52 receptions.

Diggs already has a team-leading 20 catches through three games this season and has emerged as a standout receiver. But he’s going to need some help and Treadwell could be that guy. Adam Thielen is second on the Vikings among wide receivers with 11 catches, but Charles Johnson only has three, Patterson has two and Jarius Wright has been a non-factor so far.

If Treadwell remains unable to get on the field midway through this season it might be worth revisiting this topic, but three games into his initial NFL season it’s far too early to get overly concerned.

A chance to get noticed

The Gophers football team opened its season with nonconference victories over Oregon State (30-23), Indiana State (58-28) and Colorado State (31-24). This drew a collective yawn from many and there seems to be almost zero buzz surrounding the program.

But the Gophers can change that Saturday when they open the Big Ten season at Penn State. Penn State is coming off a 49-10 loss to fourth-ranked Michigan in their conference opener and is sitting at 2-2 on the season.

In other words, this is exactly the type of game that Tracy Claeys’ team needs to win if they are going to achieve the success that many believe is possible because the Gophers’ schedule isn’t nearly as difficult as it was a year ago.

Gone from Minnesota’s schedule are Michigan and Ohio State and in their places are games against Maryland and Rutgers. The Gophers toughest games in the conference will be at home against Iowa and on the road against Nebraska and Wisconsin.

If Claeys is going to make a favorable impression on new athletic director Mark Coyle he will need to start by winning on Saturday. That also might help the Gophers fan base begin to forget the disappointment of last year’s 2-6 finish in the Big Ten.

A new system

The Wild opened training camp last Friday and will play their third preseason game on Thursday night under new coach Bruce Boudreau when they face the Jets in Winnipeg.

Veteran winger Jason Pominville, who played on a line with newcomer Eric Staal and Jason Zucker in the Wild’s 4-1 loss to Colorado on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center, said Boudreau definitely is installing a quicker system than what the team had been used to playing.

“He’s playing high tempo,” said Pominville, who had only 11 goals last season. “He talked about grinding it out down low but we’re a pretty aggressive team. We’re going to turn a lot of pucks over. If we implement the things that he wants and do it well I think it’s going to hopefully help us out offensively.”

The Wild will have four more exhibition games before beginning the regular season on Oct. 13 in St. Louis.

Asked about picking up Boudreau’s system, Pominville said: Hopefully, (it will be) quick. We gradually day-by-day we have been working on it. First day was (defensive) zone, than we moved to neutral zone. We’re working on different parts of the game. We’ve only had one practice pretty much in each area of the game so it’s going to take a little time but we still have time ahead of so it will be good.”

Boudreau, who wasn’t happy with some of the sloppiness he saw in Tuesday’s game, got a chance to install more of his system during Wednesday’s practice.

The post Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Treadwell’s lack of playing time isn’t yet reason for concern appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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