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Camp Preview: Competition, Playmaking Ability Define WR Group

Posted Jul 23, 2014

In the days leading up to 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, vikings.com will take a position-by-position preview of the roster.

A combination of returning talent atop the depth chart and rich competition at the bottom, along with a perfect blend of experience and youthful vigor, has the Vikings wide receiver corps looking good as the team heads to Mankato for 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. The group projects to be one of the strongest on the Vikings roster, and gives offensive coordinator Norv Turner and his quarterbacks plenty of ammunition to light up the scoreboard once the regular season arrives.


The Vikings top four receivers in terms of receptions and yards in 2013 all return for this year’s camp. Nine-year veteran Greg Jennings is the leader of this group, and had as good an offseason program as anyone. He catches every pass that comes close to him and is a bona fide, been there-done that leader in the meeting room. Behind him, the Vikings have a wealth of athleticism and talent at the position with Cordarrelle Patterson poised for a breakout sophomore season and with veterans Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright also coming off impressive offseasons.

Aside from athleticism, experience and talent, a common trait among these four receivers is versatility. Jennings is a proven pro at both X and Z receiver, Patterson is a true offensive wild card who can lineup anywhere in the formation and be effective, and Wright has proven capable as an outside, downfield threat despite his size while also displaying the ability to make plays in the short and intermediate passing game.

After the top four, the Vikings have a logjam of young, potential-rich receivers who will battle for one or possibly two spots coming out of camp. The leader at this stage, it would seems, is Adam Thielen, a Minnesota native and product of Minnesota State, Mankato, home of Vikings training camp. A couple other returning Vikings who figure to challenge for a spot are Kamar Jorden and Rodney Smith; Smith’s size, at 6-5, 220 pounds, is likely an appealing attribute for Turner, who has often featured big receivers in his offenses.

Not well known but also not to be discounted are undrafted free agent Kain Colter, recently-signed free agent Josh Cooper, undrafted free agent Donte Foster, and Eric Lora, an undrafted free agent who was a top target for Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois. It’s a steep climb for this group, but it’s not an unprecedented journey. At this time last year, Thielen would’ve been included in this group and he now stands to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and Wright was at one time a fourth-round pick who was starting at a 50-50 proposition to hold onto a spot coming out of his rookie training camp.

Underscoring everything mentioned above is one very important aspect: position coach George Stewart. The 30-year coaching veteran will enter his eighth campaign with the Vikings, and his work here with receivers such as Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and, now, Patterson, has been impressive. He has the luxury of returning his top four players from a season ago but will also relish in the challenge of developing a handful of young, unproven players to the point where they can make it difficult for the team to cut them once September rolls around.

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