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Lunchbreak: Vikings Defense 'Trending Up' After Yannick Ngakoue Trade

Minnesota's defense has gained another playmaker.

The Vikings announced Monday that they had acquired defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from the Jaguars via trade.

Vikings team reporter Eric Smith wrote that bringing Ngakoue to Minnesota could help the Vikings continue their edge-rushing success, and NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal concurs. In his article evaluating training camp "winners and losers" across the NFL, Rosenthal said Minnesota's defense is "trending up" after the splash move. He wrote:

Pairing Ngakoue with Danielle Hunter on U.S. Bank Stadium's indoor track gives the Vikes one of the best QB-hunting duos in the league, same as it ever was. [Vikings Head Coach Mike] Zimmer made his name by coaching up cornerbacks, so I'm not too worried about how unproven the team looks there, especially with one of the best safety tandems in football (Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris) behind them.

As long as Hunter isn't seriously hurt – he's missed nearly all of camp – this Vikings team looks more balanced than any other in the NFC North.

Ngakoue will have a solid first test with the Vikings, who on Sept. 13 will open the season at U.S. Bank Stadium against the division-rival Packers led by Aaron Rodgers.

Cam Dantzler subject of PFF's 'bold prediction'

It's always difficult to know what to expect from first-year players, and the elimination of preseason games in 2020 seems to have increased the uncertainty.

But Minnesota's young cornerbacks have garnered attention so far at Verizon Vikings Training Camp, and it will be interesting to see how they do under bright lights of the regular season.

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently made a series of "bold predictions" for rookies across the NFL entering the 2020 season, and Vikings corner Cam Dantzler made the list. PFF's Michael Renner predicted that Dantzler, whom Minnesota drafted in the third round in April, will be the second-highest graded rookie corner. Renner wrote:

Dantzler's tape was far better than his 89thoverall selection might suggest. His weight and 40-yard dash time obviously dropped him, but rave reviews from camp about the third-rounder abound. No corner in college football last year fared better against Ja'Marr Chase last season than Dantzler (2-of-4 targets for 13 yards with a PBU against LSU), so his NFL-readiness shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The only question here is whether he'll see the field enough with Mike Hughes, Holton Hill and Jeff Gladney all vying for playing time this fall.

Fighting Irish jersey swap

After first playing together at Notre Dame, tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Harrison Smith are now entering their ninth season as Vikings teammates. 

The perennial teammates have never played against each other on game day, but an in-practice scrimmage at U.S. Bank Stadium Friday came the closest to such a scenario. Following the training camp practice, Rudolph and Smith swapped practice jerseys and snapped a photo of the exchange.

Jersey swaps have become a common postgame gesture of respect between opponents, but COVID-19 protocols have outlawed the practice for the 2020 season. Rudolph wrote:

"Only time I've ever played against @harrismith22 and no swaps this year so had to do a socially distant swap!!"

Smith commented on the post, calling it an "all-time swap" and giving a shout-out to stand-in photographer, Vikings Football Communications Manager Sam Newton.

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