The Vikings held their first full-team practice of Vikings Verizon Training Camp, and Monday is scheduled to be the first session in pads.
The energy level is high at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center as players get prepped for the 2018 season. The Vikings are returning almost their entire defense from 2017, including All-Pro safety Harrison Smith.
In a recent article, analytics site Pro Football Focus ranked the NFL's top 10 safeties heading into this season, and Smith topped the list. PFF's Gordon McGuinness wrote:
The obvious choice at number one, Smith was the best safety in the NFL in 2017 and in the conversation for best player in the league full stop. His 97.0 PFF grade was a career high, but he has produced an elite grade of 90.0 or higher in three of the past four seasons. Smith was targeted 42 times in primary coverage, allowing zero touchdowns and coming away with five interceptions and five pass breakups, resulting in an NFL passer rating allowed of just 22.0, the lowest of any safety who was targeted at least 15 times.
Smith was one of three NFC North safeties included on the list, joining Chicago's Adrian Amos and Detroit's Glover Quin, who came in at Nos. 7 and 8, respectively. McGuinness wrote that Quin has found a "perfect fit" with the Lions.
Delivering the highest-graded season of his career at 89.0, he tied with Byard for the fourth-highest grade at the position last year. Quin excelled against the run and in coverage, allowing just 113 yards from the 23 plays where he was targeted in primary coverage.
The complete ranking of safeties was as follows: Smith, Landon Collins (Giants), Earl Thomas (Seahawks), Devin McCourty (Patriots), Kevin Byard (Titans), Lamarcus Joyner (Rams), Amos, Quin, Eric Weddle (Ravens) and Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles).
Fans embracing Vikings new training camp location
After 52 seasons of holding Vikings Training Camp in Mankato, this year marks the team's inaugural summer at its new headquarters in Eagan.
While there is some adjustment to the new location, fans have been impressed with the setup at TCO Performance Center.
Brian Arola of the Mankato Free Press spoke to Mankato resident Dalton Hays, who told Arola, "I'm already warming up pretty well to this place. The buildings are gorgeous." Arola wrote:
Hays arrived at camp early Saturday to explore the Eagan complex. He came to Mankato's training camp for the previous nine years, even driving up from Nebraska when he lived there.
_While he'll miss Mankato's easy access to the players — important when trying to snag autographs — he thought Eagan provided more activities for fans. Families with children could head down to the practice field to go through drills with Eagan High School football players. The Vikings also set up tailgate games behind one end zone for the adults. _
"It's cool to have (Mankato) as a chapter, but it's good to turn the page," Hays told Arola.