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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Takeaways from Week 1 of Vikings OTAs

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings began organized team activities this week, which gives them the first opportunity this offseason to get on the field with coaches – albeit without pads. Several key players, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and head coach Mike Zimmer spoke with the media following Wednesday’s practice. Here are the key things to know…

Anthony Barr not present

Barr is set to become a free agent after this season, so it’s plausible that he’s chosen to sit out OTAs while he works on a new contract with the team or has simply chosen to reduce his risk if he intends to hit the open market.

“He came to me yesterday and said he wasn’t going to be here,” Zimmer said. “I don’t worry about those things. I just know the conversation we had and I’m going to keep it between me and him.”

Zimmer wants players to stand for the anthem

The NFL announced the owners’ decision on players kneeling to protest police brutality during the national anthem on Wednesday. Zimmer was asked his feelings on the matter.

“I was proud of my team last year,” Zimmer said. “They stood for the anthem. I think it’s important that we stand for the anthem. I think it’s important that we represent our country the right way, the flag the right way…a lot of people have died for that flag and that flag represents our country and what we stand for. So I think that’s important.”

Remmers is at tackle for now

One of the biggest stories of the offseason will be the Vikings’ offensive line and whether they choose to play Mike Remmers at tackle or guard. During the postseason, he played guard and Rushed Hill started. On Wednesday, Remmers was at tackle with Tom Compton as the right guard. Danny Isidora got to work with the first team as Pat Elflein is sidelined. Nick Easton played center.

“It depends on how everything shakes out,” Zimmer said. “This week we decided to keep him at tackle, maybe next week we put him at guard. At this point Rashod Hill was a little bit banged up, so we said let’s keep {Remmers] there this week, we can look at Isiadora at guard, Compton at guard, kind of see where we are at there.”

Brian O’Neill worked mostly on the right side, but not with the starters.

Hughes and Alexander both seeing time inside and out

It’s clear the Vikings are going to have a competition for the starting nickel corner job and the leading candidates are first-rounder Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander. They each played inside and outside on Wednesday with Alexander appearing to get more first-team opportunities. It can’t be stressed enough that we have a long way to go before a decision is made, but it would make sense if the Vikings wanted to see either of their young corners emerge at the slot position rather than relying as much on Terence Newman.

Harrison Smith gave his first impression of Hughes:

“He’s an athletic kid. He did a lot of great things in college covering and returning. He’s taken big steps out here and we’ll see how it goes but they drafted him for a reason.”

DeFilippo using OTAs to learn players’ skills

The Vikings’ new offensive coordinator said when he first took the job that his goal is to make the most of every player’s skill set. During OTAs, John DeFilippo is getting a sense for which players might fit best with different concepts.

“Toward the end of OTAs and into minicamp when I start to get a better feel for the guys, I’ll know what routes guys run well,” DeFilippo said. “It’s hard to tell that all the time when you watch games. You want to see that in person on the field. As OTAs go along here, I’ll have a better understanding of [where players fit].”

Zimmer added:

“It’s great to have those two guys and they are working their rear ends off. We have to look at a lot of different things early and temper it to what Cousins does best. The variation of things hasn’t really gotten in there yet.”

Zimmer/DeFilippo getting to know Kirk Cousins

While his team battled Kirk Cousins twice last year, DeFilippo is now getting to see what the Vikings’ franchise quarterback is like on a daily basis.

“When you coach a guy like Kirk Cousins, a guy who wants to come in and hit the ground running, it makes it a lot easier as a coach,” DeFilippo said. “He’s been in the building, studying at home, using his iPad, maximizing his time here, maximizing every second that’s allowed in the CBA. We’re fortunate to have a guy like that who’s that competitive, that team oriented and is ready to go every day.”

Zimmer said:

“He looked good. He made some nice [throws], he’s a very anticipatory thrower. He throws guys open. He’s very, very accurate. I think he’s doing a good job of taking control of the offense. Like everybody, he’s learning the new system, learning new people. I thought he did good today and he’s done good all the times we’ve been out here.

Some players dinged up

On Wednesday, Everson Griffen did not participate in the workout. Zimmer said that his issue was not related to a foot injury Griffen battled last year. During practice, receiver Stacy Coley limped off the field. Laquon Treadwell was working out with players rehabbing as was safety Andrew Sendejo. Dalvin Cook, as expected, was not participating in 11-on-11s but was working on the side field with rehabbing players.

“He should be ready to roll for training camp,” Zimmer said of Cook’s status.

Stefon Diggs is letting contract situation work itself out

“I look at it as I always want to get things done and I have a mindset of wanting to have success so I kind of let my resume figure itself out,” Diggs said. “I’ll be happy for guys to get paid. These are men that have been playing football for their whole life, they’re securing something for their kids and stuff like that, it’s very special, so I like to congratulate guys every chance I get. For my particular situation, I’ll let my resume speak for itself.”

“I love being here,” Diggs said. “I love playing for the Vikings. I started here and had all my time here. I love my teammates, I love my staff. There’s no place I’d rather be…I love being here. However it works out, I’m not really mad, I understand that it’s all business at the end of the day, but I do love it here.”

Kicker battle begins now

“We’ll see how it goes,” Zimmer said. “If one guy is way ahead of the other guy, we might make the change sooner so the other guy gets all the reps. One thing you have to be careful about is there isn’t 65,000 people here screaming and doing the Skol chant when they are out there kicking. If they miss a game-winner here today, it’s not the same as missing a game-winner [in the regular season].”

The post Takeaways from Week 1 of Vikings OTAs appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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