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Zimmer's 5 Under the Radar Training Camp Standouts

Posted Jul 31, 2014

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer met with reporters after Thursday’s walk-through, and while doing so he was asked about running back Matt Asiata. Zimmer praised Asiata for his dependability, vision and catching ability out of the backfield, concluding his answer by saying Asiata would be a good addition to the football team.

That answer led to a follow-up question about other “under the radar” camp standouts to this point. Zimmer listed four others, offering a glimpse into a head coach’s thinking that we don’t often see because so many times coaches feel compelled to keep their cards close to the vest. Zimmer didn’t give away any secrets, but he did praise a handful of player who he feels have performed well so far at 2014 Verizon Vikings Training Camp. There’s nothing wrong with that.

RB Matt Asiata
The competition for spots at running back behind Adrian Peterson is pretty steep. Asiata sees most of the reps, but rookie Jerick McKinnon has flashed as well and both Joe Banyard and Dominique Williams are vying for a roster spot. Asiata had a three-touchdown game against Philadelphia and a 100-yard rushing game against Detroit a season ago, so he’s already proven he can be relied upon if needed.

FB Zach Line
With Pro Bowler Jerome Felton on the roster, it’s easy to overlook Line. But Zimmer and his staff aren’t overlooking him. Line is also involved in several special teams phases. Remember, Line was the Vikings fullback for the first three games of the 2013 season while Felton served a suspension.

CB Jabari Price
He may be a seventh-rounder, but Price is showing that he belongs at this level. Zimmer says Price has played both nickel and outside cornerback, which says a lot about what the coaching staff feels the rookie can handle from a mental and physical standpoint in his first NFL camp.

OT Antonio Richardson
Zimmer referred to Richardson by his nickname – “Tiny.” But the 6-6, 330-pound lineman has been anything but since the Vikings signed him after the draft. He is vying for the backup spot at left tackle and it wouldn’t surprise to see the Vikings try him out at guard or even right tackle to see if he can hold down one of the valuable “swing” reserve spots.

WR Rodney Smith
A slow first few days of camp have given way to a much-improved last few for Smith, according to Zimmer. Norv Turner loves size in receivers, and at 6-5, 220 pounds Smith fits the bill there. Zimmer says Smith’s route running has improved, too.

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