With a majority of NFL team training camps now underway, eyes are on various position battles across the league.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal recently opined the top NFC competitions.
Of 20 total, Rosenthal tabbed the Vikings running back situation as the 12th-most intriguing. He expects the starting role to go to one of Minnesota's two offseason additions: rookie Dalvin Cook, whom the Vikings traded up to 41st overall to snag; or Latavius Murray, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent this spring. Rosenthal wrote:
Murray had a fun seven-week run as the presumptive replacement for Adrian Peterson before the Vikings drafted the Florida State star in the second round. Cook has a longer contract and a longer list of skills that can keep him on the field for all three downs. Consider it a good sign for the future of Minnesota's offense if Cook wins the job from the jump.
Both backs, along with Jerick McKinnon, have told media members that the atmosphere with their room is a healthy competition that pushes the group as a whole to improve.
Alexander could be most likely option at key nickel position
The nickel corner has become an increasingly important position in the league over the past few years.
In the wake of Captain Munnerlyn, who played nickel from 2014-16, signing with Carolina in free agency, the Vikings are in search for their next primary slot corner.
ESPN's Ben Goessling said that second-year cornerback Mackensie Alexander stands out as the most likely option for said opening. Goessling wrote:
*Alexander, who has received first-team snaps at nickel cornerback throughout the offseason and was with the Vikings top defensive group in their first full-squad practice Thursday, could become something of a 12th starter this fall, as the Vikings give the former second-round pick an opportunity to replace Munnerlyn. *
Goessling said that teams have relied on their depth at secondary over the past decade, "as more teams use multiple-receiver sets as a de facto base offensive package."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the frequency of NFL teams using five or more defensive backs climbed from 44.2 percent in 2007 to 59.3 percent in 2014, before dropping to 50.2 percent and 50.1 percent the past two seasons. That's mirrored a steady rise in the prevalence of offenses with three or more receivers; such sets were used 50.6 percent of the time in 2007 and jumped to 64.8 percent last season.
Goessling quoted Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who told media members on Thursday that he doesn't "feel pressure to change the game plan" and that the Vikings will "be OK at nickel."
Goessling opined that if Alexander doesn't shake out at nickel, Minnesota could utilize veteran Terence Newman.
Newman got some work in the slot during the Vikings offseason program, and Zimmer earlier this week called Newman a "defensive back," not just a corner, because of all the places he can play.
The coach made it clear Thursday, though, that he sees Newman still as an outside cornerback unless the situation changes.
Bridgewater 'crashes' NFL Network set
NFL Network set up shop Wednesday and Thursday at Blakeslee Stadium as part of the coverage attack for all 32 teams' respective training camps.
Teddy Bridgewater, who on Thursday addressed the media for the first time since he suffered a season-ending knee injury 11 months ago, good-naturedly "crashed" the set during a live segment earlier that morning.
"Hey, we're really rooting for you," host and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci told Bridgewater. "I love this guy."