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Day 2 Sees Defense Step It Up

Posted Jul 26, 2014

Morning rain gave way to clear skies and warm temperatures on Saturday as the Vikings put in another full day’s work at 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. The Vikings defense looked good on Saturday and they are the source of most of Day 2’s highlights…

Defense bounces back in blitz period
On Friday, the Vikings first team offense performed very well during the blitz period, with Matt Cassel completing four of his five passes versus the blitz and with all four of them good for would-be 1st downs. But on Saturday, the first team defense bounced back nicely. The first three plays of the blitz period went like this: completion short of the 1st down marker, incomplete pass (pass breakup by Linval Joseph), sack. The fourth snap was a Cassel-to-Adam Thielen conversion and the final snap was another sack.

The cynical part of the audience will fret the two sacks given up by the offense line. But the other side is that the first two days of blitz periods yielded exactly what you want to see – balance.

Rookie DE Scott Crichton flashes
It was easy to see one of the Vikings rookies flash on Saturday. It was easy to see because the rookie who flashed plays an important position and the victim of the outstanding play was a very big player who’s had a very good spring and summer with the Vikings.

The rookie who flashed on Saturday is defensive end Scott Crichton. He displayed explosiveness at right defensive end, but also showed excellent speed-to-power transition when he beat fellow rookie Antonio Richardson, who was playing left tackle. This particular play happened during the blitz period but Crichton got the best of Richardson once again during a team period later in practice. In fairness, Richardson has had a good first couple days overall, but Crichton fared better during their matchups on Saturday.

On the snap following Crichton’s win over Richardson during the blitz drill, though, it was another rookie – offensive guard David Yankey – who stood out. Crichton tried the same maneuver on Yankey, but to no avail.

A few corners getting extra looks
Captain Munnerlyn has missed the first two days of practices with what head coach Mike Zimmer described as a “slight hamstring” injury. The silver lining in this is that Munnerlyn’s place on the team is secure and his absence has allowed several cornerbacks further down the depth chart to see more reps and, thus, it’s allowed Vikings coaches and scouts to get a better look at those guys.

While speaking with reporters after practice on Saturday, Zimmer mentioned Kendall James, Shaun Prater and Jabari Price, specifically, as guys who are getting more looks because of Munnerlyn’s absence. 

Munnerlyn talkin’ shop
Munnerlyn may not be playing, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t participating. Despite not being able to participate in practice, the six-year veteran is constantly communicating with teammates while they’re on the field and on the sidelines. He’ll yell certain words during pre-snap alignment to help out defensive teammates, he’ll encourage guys after a play as they’re coming off the field, and he’ll talk technique with defensive teammates in between their reps. Today, for example, Munnerlyn demonstrated a specific press coverage technique with Shaun Prater.

Quick Slants
-- Greg Jennings had the best day of the Vikings receivers on Saturday. I didn’t spot a drop from him all day and he made several acrobatic catches along the sideline on well-placed balls from quarterbacks.

-- Zimmer went out of his way after practice to compliment Adrian Peterson on his performance as a receiver during the first two days of camp. Zimmer said that while Peterson has “double caught” a pass or two, he’s generally looked smooth in that regard and has actually been precise with his route running.

-- The Vikings will practice in pads tomorrow, which will give everyone a better look at both the defensive line and offensive line.

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