Verizon Vikings Training Camp kicks off one week from today, with the first full-team practice scheduled for July 28.
Plenty of anticipation surrounds the team, its depth and position battles from position group to position group, and the Star Tribune is taking a look a look at each group individually. Andrew Krammer recently posted a preview of Minnesota's secondary.
He divided the 11 corners and five safeties into "locks," "good bets," "on the bubble" and "practice squad candidates," tabbing Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes in the first category.
Krammer summarized the position group:
Perhaps no Vikings cupboard is better stocked than the secondary, featuring five top picks (four [first] rounders, one second) from the last seven drafts. That means the development of rookie Mike Hughes can go on Mike Zimmer's schedule with Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes expected to take more steps forward in 2018.
For now, the Vikings are more than equipped to continue their reign as one of the league's best pass defenses. Every member is back from last year's group that allowed an NFL-low 13 touchdown passes during the regular season. The cornerstone pieces — Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith (2017 first-team All-Pros) — are both signed through 2021.
Krammer said the top question facing Minnesota's secondary will be how many cornerbacks are on the active roster – and which corners those are.
How many corners will the Vikings keep? The answer was six last season. Now they've added two intriguing corners between Hughes, a lock, and undrafted free agent Holton Hill, the Texas product who was given $75,000 guaranteed — the fourth most among all UDFAs this year and the most given to an undrafted player by the Vikings under Zimmer. Then there is returner extraordinaire Marcus Sherels and another promising prospect in Horace Richardson. The loaded position group will be one to watch this summer as they vie for room on a crowded roster.
Harrison Smith hosts youth football camp in hometown
Smith returned to his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, recently to give back to the youth of his hometown.
The All-Pro safety told Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Mike Wilson that he tries to remember his own childhood and "not get too far away from where I come from."
Wilson said that Smith recalls "being in awe at football camps hosted by local NFL stars. He wrote:
In particular, the Minnesota Vikings safety recalls the graciousness and example set by former Webb School quarterback and first-round NFL pick Chad Pennington. Now, the Knoxville Catholic graduate has taken the example and run with it as a local NFL star himself.
Smith joined Raiders tight end Lee Smith to host the fourth annual Smith & Smith Football Camp last week. The camp welcomed "hundreds of kids" that ranged from kindergarten to eighth grade.
"It's great just mixing it up with the kids," Smith told Wilson. "A lot of these kids don't know who I am or whatever. They just know some people want to play with them. Others know there are NFL players here and they get excited about it. It's all over the board. The fact that we can get out here and mix it up is great.
"I also remember being one of these kids, too, and going to camps and being in awe of some of the guys that were there. I'm just trying to give them the same opportunity."
Vikings included on Forbes list of world's most-valuable teams
In the list of 50 most valuable sports teams in the world, posted by Forbes, 29 of them are NFL teams.
The Vikings were ranked at No. 33 overall and were the 17th NFL team on the list.
The top five teams in terms of value were, in order, the Dallas Cowboys, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and the New York Yankees.
NFL teams that didn't make the top 50 were the Lions, Bills and Bengals.
The Vikings were the only Minnesota team on the list.
Tickets are still available for 2018 Verizon Vikings Training Camp at the TCO Performance Center for select dates. Click here to access more information.