5 Observations from Day 1 of Rookie Minicamp

Posted May 16, 2014

Vikings rookie minicamp is underway at Winter Park, as the Vikings held a morning jog-through and an afternoon practice on Friday. With 60-some players, including 10 draft picks, there is a lot to cover and it can’t all be done in one day. But here are five quick observations from Day 1.

1. Bridgewater’s separation, quick release stand out
As is the case with all rookie quarterbacks, there are likely some mechanical issues Teddy Bridgewater will have to work through. But right off the bat it’s easy to see that he is already exceptional with his drop back and quick release. Bridgewater reaches the top of his drop quickly and once he begins his throwing motion it doesn’t take long for the ball to leave his hands. This is probably a big reason why he rarely had a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage in college.

2. AC Leonard flashes early
One of the Vikings undrafted free agent signings is tight end AC Leonard out of Tennessee State. The 6-4, 245-pound pass catcher is fluid in his route running and is a smooth hands catcher. He was a frequent target of Bridgewater and Travis Partridge, the other quarterback in camp this weekend. Leonard transferred to Tennessee State from Florida following his freshman year in 2011 and was a teammate of Sharrif Floyd’s with the Gators.

3. A learning moment for CB Jabari Price
Seventh-round cornerback Jabari Price had a learning moment half-way through Friday’s practice. In one-on-one drills, receiver Adam Thielen blew past Price because the young cornerback was too late to open his hips. Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray, a well-respected and tenured NFL coach, let Price hear it, saying he was late to open his hips because he underestimated Thielen’s speed. Price took the coaching well, apparently, because just moments later Price broke on a pass from Bridgewater to receiver Kain Colter to break it up and cause an incompletion, drawing praise from Gray.

4. Antone Exum doesn’t play it safe early
The Vikings drafted Antone Exum in the sixth round and it sounds as if the plan, at this point, is to play him at safety. Exum has experience playing both cornerback and safety at Virginia Tech, but the Vikings thought his coverage skills would suit him and the defensive scheme well at safety. Well, the early returns are good because Exum nabbed an interception in Friday afternoon’s practice...

5. Kendall James gets in on the action, too
Exum wasn’t the only rookie defensive back to grab an interception. Bridgewater was clean and sharp for the entire practice and made just one bad throw on the day. Unfortunately for him, cornerback Kendall James was there to take advantage of it and grab an interception. It was more of a great play by James than a bad pass by Bridgewater, as James needed to register an impressive vertical leap to get his hands on the pass and bring it down with two feet in bounds.