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Lunchbreak: Highlights 'Things to Watch' at Verizon Vikings Training Camp

We're now four days away from Vikings rookies reporting to camp (July 23) and one week from the veterans' check-in day (July 26).

There has been plenty of buzz around various position battles and individual players to keep an eye on, and recently highlighted things to watch for each NFC North team as the squads head to their respective training camps. writer Kevin Patra opined that the running back battle between second-round draft pick Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, whom the Vikings signed in free agency, will be the most important situation to keep an eye on. He also encouraged fans to keep tabs on Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, who also joined Minnesota this spring as free agents.

Finally, Patra said the biggest question heading into Vikings training camp is what kind of step forward Laquon Treadwell will make in 2017. Patra wrote:

The first-round pick in 2016 barely saw the field as a rookie. His 80 offensive snaps last year were four fewer than Adrian Peterson (who played just three games) and six more than backup QB Shaun Hill. Can the big-bodied Treadwell work his way onto the field in 2017? He won't pass Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on the depth chart, but he should battle Jarius Wright and Adam Thielen (suspended for four games) for the No. 3 gig. If Treadwell can swipe the third-receiver spot, it will make the Vikings passing game much more diverse.

Patra addressed the same topics for each of Minnesota's NFC North opponents. For "newcomer to watch," he highlighted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (Bears), linebacker Jarrad Davis (Lions) and tight end Martellus Bennett (Packers.)

Take a look back at some classic pictures from Vikings Training Camp in Mankato and TCO Performance Center through the years.

Mankato Memories shared by local Vikings fans

One era is ending, and another will soon begin.

The Vikings on Tuesday announced that the 2017 training camp will be the team's final in Mankato, Minnesota after 52 seasons. Starting in 2018, it will be held at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, currently under construction in Eagan.

The city nestled south of the Twin Cities has hosted many Vikings fans' memories over the years. Recently, a few locals shared those experiences and reminiscences with Tim Krohn of the *Mankato Free Press. *Krohn wrote:

On Tuesday, as [Jake's Stadium Pizza] owner Wally Boyer got the official word that this year's camp will be the last held in Mankato after 52 years, he looked over the dozens of large wooden pizza paddles signed by Vikings players, the signed jerseys and the dozens of player cards framed on the walls and he talked about the players and fans who flocked to the restaurant each summer.

"We had a good relationship with the front office people and a lot of the players over the years. Chuck Foreman sells memorabilia every year on our patio," Boyer told Krohn. "Those are the things I'll miss most."

He later added: "You used to have [Carl] Eller and [Jim] Marshall, Foreman, [Mick] Tingelhoff, all these guys come in and they'd have a good time and interact with the customers."

Dave Laughlin, a longtime Vikings fan, also recalled attending camp during the Purple People Eaters period.

"I remember chasing down [Fran] Tarkenton," Laughlin said. "They had to walk from Highland (Arena) to Gage (dorms). There'd be spies out, lookouts, to see what back door he was coming out so he could avoid all the little kids tugging at him. It was fun."

Krohn spoke with Visit Mankato President Anna Thill, who said the city will work to add different events and activities during the summer months.

"It's tough to see them leave Mankato after 52 years of great relationships," Thill told Krohn. "The people will be missed. But it's understandable what they're trying to do."

'Stage is set' for Danielle Hunter

Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter impressed as a rookie in 2015 and last season took another large step forward, leading the team in sacks with 12.5 and playing a key role in Minnesota's defense.

What can be expected of him in year three?

As part of the *Star Tribune's *countdown series on the "17 most important Vikings in 2017," Andrew Krammer recently highlighted Hunter at No. 4. Krammer said that "the stage is set for Danielle Hunter to shine."

Krammer emphasized the strength of the Vikings defensive line that combined for 34 of the team's 41 sacks in 2016. He added that one of Hunter's "underrated strengths" is as a run defender.

Hunter's length (6-foot-5) and improved hand placement gives him leverage against less athletic offensive linemen. He's used that to his advantage so far and, with more playing time, should bolster a Vikings run defense that struggled at times in 2016.


*But if Hunter's ascension is any indication of his future, the Vikings should have little worry about their latest budding star on defense. *

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