The Vikings launched their offseason program back on April 7 and they will conclude it this week following a three-day mandatory minicamp that begins today. This is the players' last chance to make a good impression on the coaching staff, and it's the coaching staff's last look at the players until the team reports to training camp in late July.
Here are five things to watch this week as the Vikings hit the field for three days of practice before summer break.
1. The QuarterbacksQuarterback is the most important position in all of sports, and the Vikings have an eclectic mix as they prepare for the 2014 season. The questions we had earlier this offseason are the same we have now and are the same we'll look to have answered at training camp: Can Cassel secure the starting job? Will Bridgewater push for playing time? How does Ponder respond to Norv Turner's coaching and scheme?
2. Barr is Back!With Pac-12 schools on the quarters system and their graduation dates, players from those schools haven't been able to participate in offseason programs until now. That means today is Anthony Barr's first day back at Winter Park since rookie minicamp, so it will be fun to get another look at him as well as third-round defensive end Scott Crichton and fifth-round offensive lineman David Yankey.
3. No Secondary ConcernThere will be several important training camp battles going on in the secondary, and this week will serve as a preview. A couple to watch include the third cornerback behind Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes and then the starting safety spot alongside Harrison Smith. By definition, then, there will also be battles at the fourth-sixth cornerback spots and the bottom of the safety depth chart.
4. Who is the Man in the Middle?The challenge is that right now there is no sure-fire starter at middle linebacker, or at least it doesn't appear that way. The good news is the Vikings are several quality options and will be able to wage a hard-hitting competition for that role over the next couple months. Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole and Michael Mauti are the three likely top choices at this point.
5. Rounding Up the RBsThe situation at running back hasn't really been a concern for the Vikings since Adrian Peterson was drafted in 2007. It's still not a concern now, but it will be interesting to see how the position develops over the next couple months in terms of the plan at fullback, a replacement for Toby Gerhart as Peterson's backup, and the way in which a scat back will be used in the offense.