As Verizon Vikings Training Camp gets underway this week (the first full-team practice is scheduled for Saturday), all eyes will be on fresh faces that include Kirk Cousins, Sheldon Richardson and first-round draft pick Mike Hughes.
Beyond watching new players, however, fans also can keep an eye on various position battles.
Jerry Holt of the Star Tribune highlighted three positions he feels could be up for grabs, starting with the No. 3 receiver spot. Holt wrote that Laquon Treadwell “took the lion’s share of first-team reps at the No. 3 spot” this spring.
Kirk Cousins could give Treadwell more opportunities than he got from Case Keenum, who threw nearly three-quarters of his passes to only four targets. Look for Stacy Coley and Kendall Wright to also push for playing time.
The Vikings also signed Tavarres King in free agency.
Holt also looked at the weakside linebacker spot, where Ben Gedeon started as a rookie alongside Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks last season. Holt added another name to the mix as well, in second-year linebacker Eric Wilson, who signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie in 2017.
Not only does Wilson (6-1, 230 pounds) look stronger, the Vikings were using him more with the first-team defense this spring. Ben Gedeon took the weak-side job last season and will remain a mainstay on special teams, as will Wilson. It’s possible the Vikings find ways to use both of them depending on the situation.
Lastly, Holt told fans to keep tabs on the punt and kick returner position. Marcus Sherels has been the Vikings mainstay at punt returning, but Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said that Hughes – who excelled as a returner at UCF – will be in competition.
Cronin: Cousins ‘top storyline’ but not the only topic for discussion
Cousins was arguably the Vikings most significant addition this spring, and he’ll certainly be a storyline to watch throughout training camp.
ESPN’s Courtney Cronin wrote recently, however, that Cousins isn’t the only “question” surrounding camp. One of the topics she discussed was whether or not one of the Vikings rookies, who reported to Twin Cities Orthopedics Center on Tuesday, will start this season:
Minnesota might not be in any rush to pitch a competition at nickel corner between Hughes and Mackensie Alexander, but the first-round pick should see time in the return game early on. Aside from Hughes, kicker [Daniel] Carlson probably has the best shot of any rookie to win a starting job.
Cronin also predicted that some tweaks could be seen on defense from time to time.
After Hughes was drafted in April, Zimmer hinted at wanting to experiment with four-cornerback looks when the Vikings are in various nickel packages given the flexibility and depth they have at the position. Terence Newman could certainly be a part of those substitution packages as a corner, but the veteran might be better suited as a rotational defensive back, particularly after getting ample reps at safety this offseason.
Vikings make big announcements
Several Vikings have made big announcements during the offseason, including Adam Thielen and Kevin McDermott sharing earlier this month that their families will be growing.
They aren’t the only ones, however. Kyle Rudolph’s wife, Jordan, announced via social media that their twin daughters, Andersyn and Finley, will be gaining a brother in January.
Fullback C.J. Ham and his wife, Stephanie, announced that they are expecting another baby girl who will join sister, Skylar.
And earlier this week, center Pat Elflein, entering his second NFL season, announced his engagement to girlfriend Emily.