During the Vikings first week of training camp, MMQB writer Albert Breer made an appearance on the sidelines, taking in a couple days of practice.
One of his biggest takeaways was developed from watching rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Breer wrote:
It's early, but the Vikings aren't being bashful. Cook is for real.
Breer emphasized that the Vikings have a number of unique storylines on their team, but he said the running back race stands out.
The most historically significant storyline has to be how the team will replace franchise icon Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 11,747 yards, made seven All-Pro teams and won a league MVP over his decade as a Viking. Cook, on the roster for just three months, now looks poised to step into that massive void.
Breer delved into the questions surrounding Cook when he was drafted, the Vikings responses to those issues and their reaction to his performance thus far. Breer quoted Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman, who said he's been "pretty fortunate in his career" working with talented backs:
"From Detroit, when I was starting out, watching Barry Sanders; to Miami, when we traded for Ricky Williams and he was rolling for 1,700, 1,800 yards a year; to Adrian, when we drafted him here," Spielman said. "Dalvin Cook, I don't know where he's gonna be, if he'll get to that level, but he has shown traits, a unique skill set, from what we've seen so far."
That's heady company, and a lot to put on a rookie. But that might be the best sign of all: It's clear the Vikings think he can handle it.
Tashawn Bower hoping to follow in Hunter's footsteps
In addition to the 11 drafted rookies on Minnesota's roster, a number of undrafted hopefuls also are vying for a spot on the Vikings final 53.
One such name hoping to end up on the 2017 active roster is defensive end Tashawn Bower. Tim Yotter of *Viking Update *spoke to Bower at training camp about his friendship with third-year end Danielle Hunter. Yotter wrote:
The similarities and comparisons are many between Bower, an undrafted rookie, and Danielle Hunter, an emerging force among NFL defensive ends as he enters his third NFL season. Both went to LSU. Both were considered raw and inexperienced coming out. And they share some of the same physical attributes.
Bower told Yotter that he and Hunter are "very similar" in their build.
While Bower is two years behind Hunter in the NFL, both are just 22 years old. The two first met when Hunter acted as one of Bower's hosts at his LSU recruiting visit.
"Back then, I think he was bigger than everybody. Not tone-wise, but he was more weight than everybody else," Hunter said. "I got him, showed him around the campus and then showed him how everything operates at LSU. Had a little fun. That's about it."
*But friendship has also transitioned into a mentorship. The pointers from Hunter on that recruiting trip have continued as Bower decided to the sign with the Vikings after he went undrafted. *
"He just said you have to be pro and whatever the coach tells you, write it down, take it in, take it home and study it," Bower told Yotter. "It's a job now, and nothing is guaranteed, nothing is promised. As long as you are doing what the coach says – taking coaching, not making the same mistakes, you'll be [all right]."
Things to watch for in second week of training camp
The Vikings now have six days of practice remaining in Mankato before heading back to Winter Park.
Looking ahead at the next week, 1500 ESPN's Matthew Coller listed six things that fans can keep their eyes on during the remaining practices.
One question Coller posed was the confidence that will be placed in Laquon Treadwell. The second-year receiver has made some solid catches throughout camp. As far as improvement in route running, Coller said it's a difficult area to assess as a media member. He wrote:
[It's] very hard to tell if he's nailing route depths and making the right reads etc. because we do not know his assignments. It might be easier to tell when we see Treadwell in preseason action.
With Adam Thielen sitting out the first four games with a suspension, the Vikings are hoping Treadwell rises to the occasion.
Coller also took a look at the depth of Minnesota's offensive line.
[Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer has mentioned fifth-round pick Danny Isidora several times as a player that has stuck out to him and the ex-Hurricane saw time with the first team on Monday. He may have a chance to win a spot as the second-team right guard behind Nick Easton. Former fourth-round picks Anthony Harris and Danielle Hunter are looking to hold off younger players and prove they deserve spots on the roster. Both struggled mightily last season. Aviante Collins may be a player to watch. The Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent from TCU.
Four other topics addressed by Coller included a backup cornerback position, the returns of Riley Reiff and Latavius Murray from injury, Ben Gedeon's chances of joining the first-team base package, and whether or not Bower will make the roster.