Jarius Wright's main goal this offseason has been consistently conditioning and staying in shape in preparation for a sixth NFL season.
Wright recently told *Star Tribune *columnist Sid Hartman that while he was at times frustrated with limited playing time during the 2016 season, he's "always going to continue to push forward and be the best that I can be."
Wright is the longest-tenured wide receiver on Minnesota's roster, but he's getting to know a new position coach along with his teammates. The Vikings hired Darrell Hazell as their wide receivers coach in February.
"He's definitely going to help," Wright told Hartman. "I've definitely enjoyed getting a chance to work with coach Darrell and just some of the drills that he brings to us, and you know, he's had a little chance to coach us but hasn't had a full chance to coach us on the field. But I've definitely enjoyed him so far."
Also different this offseason is that quarterback Sam Bradford has time to work out and mesh with his receivers after joining the team via trade just days before the 2016 regular season. Wright expects Bradford to have "a great season" after having that time and being comfortable in the offense.
"You know, Bradford does a great job at studying and preparing for the game and knowing exactly his reads," Wright told Hartman. "He does a great job of going through all of his reads. That's one thing I've noticed he does really well, besides just throwing the ball. He's a quarterback. He's a quarterback in the NFL, so you expect him to be able to throw the ball, but the way he prepares and the way he throws the ball is like none other."
For Ifeadi Odenigbo, football is a family affair
Defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo didn't play football until he was in high school – now he's in the NFL, hoping to make the Vikings final roster for 2017.
Ifeadi's parents, Linda and Tomas, came to the United States from Nigeria in the early 1990s and were first introduced fully to the game of football when their three sons showed interest. ESPN's Ben Goessling spoke with Linda about the way football has become a family affair for the Odenigbos. He wrote:
[They] signed their three boys up for sports year-round as a way to keep them occupied, mostly. Football wasn't on their radar, and when their oldest son, Somto, asked to play in high school, they resisted.
Linda and Thomas told Somto they didn't want him to play football, but Linda said that Ifeadi, the middle child, "just kept chipping away at the resistance."
Prior to his freshman year of high school, Ifeadi reached an agreement with his father that if he finished the school year with a grade point average of 3.5, he would be allowed to play football. He reached the benchmark and took to the gridiron.
"I ended up going out my sophomore year, and it was just frustrating," Ifeadi told Goessling. "I was contemplating every single time whether to quit or not, but I would just think to myself, 'I would prove my parents right. I can't be a quitter.' I stuck through it, and things ended up going pretty well."
It was [Ifeadi's] steadfastness that finally opened the door to a path that led him to Northwestern and eventually to the NFL, when the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in the seventh round this spring. It paved the way for his younger brother Tito to follow him, through high school in Centerville, Ohio, and eventually to Illinois' defensive line. And it turned a family that had initially spurned football into one that now sets its schedule around Big Ten weekends.
Goessling described the effort Linda and Thomas made to make it to both Ifeadi and Tito's games over the weekends and how they've grown to understand "the intricacies" of a sport their sons – and now they – have come to love. He wrote that "whatever the next phase holds in their sons' careers, they're make it work."
[Ifeadi] will try to make the Vikings roster this fall under the tutelage of a defensive line coach (Andre Patterson) who's coaxed impressive results out of athletic-but-raw pass rushers similar to [Ifeadi]. And the travel schedule offers some perks for Linda and Thomas: a travel day between an Illinois game on a Saturday in Iowa City and a Monday night at Soldier Field, and a Vikings home game in October the day after the Illini visit Minnesota.
Sessler: Treadwell could be 'under-the-radar X factor'
Several names across the league have been dominating headlines this offseason, but NFL.com writer Marc Sessler dove into another pool of individuals that he feels are "set to have a major impact – for better or worse – in 2017."
Sessler listed 14 people who he believes could be "under-the-radar X factors" for their respective teams. One of the players assessed by Sessler was Vikings receiver Laquon Treadwell, entering his second season in Purple. Sessler said that Treadwell is now beneath the radar after having a single catch during the 2016 season. He wrote:
[The] 23rd pick of the 2016 NFL Draft was reportedly never healthy during his invisible debut. Working with the starters in OTAs, Treadwell has enjoyed a "great, in my opinion, five-and-a-half weeks," per offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Stefon Diggs, the underrated Adam Thielen and wild card Michael Floyd are also on the roster, but Treadwell's the one who drew comparisons to Michael Irvin. Minnesota can't wait another year.
Among other names on Sessler's list were players and personnel that the Vikings are scheduled to face this season: Falcons Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Redskins President Bruce Allen, Packers running back Ty Montgomery, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah, Panthers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks, Browns receiver Corey Coleman and Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman.