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Monday Morning Mailbag: Early Camp Storylines

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What players are you excited to see play for us that you or we don't know much about? -- Zachary Zweber

Five immediately come to mind. Even though we’ve seen him playing in the NFL for a few years, we haven’t seen Adam Thielen play in this offense and I will be excited to see if he can transfer the success he’s having on the practice fields in Mankato into preseason games. If so, I will be optimistic about the impact he can make on this team one his suspension is over. Stacy Coley is another one that comes to mind. He impressed in rookie camp but then was sidelined by an injury. Now, he’s healthy and has had some good moments in practice. I’m also curious to see how the Vikings use free agent signings Datone Jones and Will Sutton at DT as well as the development of DE Tashawn Bower.

What's the feeling on Riley Reiff's injury? Do they need to add a veteran offensive tackle? -- Matt P. @MattP_BU

Head coach Mike Zimmer hasn’t gone into much detail on Reiff’s injury, so it’s hard to say what the feeling is. He’s been out at practice watching, so that’s a good sign. I wouldn’t rule anything out at this stage, so a veteran signing is possible. But one positive consequence of Reiff missing time is the coaches and scouts get a good look at some youngsters stepping up, including Rashod Hill, who has slid into the first team at left tackle.

Sounds like a lot of plays were being made Sunday. Is there a good mix of success between the offense and defense? -- Alex Lawson @alexlawson91

It’s always a double-edged sword in practice when a good play is made. You can’t help but be torn on whether to feel good about the play that was made or be discouraged by the play that wasn’t made by the other side of the ball. One thing to keep in mind is that different periods of practice tend to favor one side of the ball over the other. It can be argued that one-on-one pass rush drills, for example, are structured to favor the defensive lineman over the offensive lineman because the defender has a two-way go on every rep, something the defense doesn’t have during games on every snap. Conversely, the seven-on-seven drill can favor the offense because there is no pass rush to pressure and hurry up the quarterback. All of that has to be taken into account when deciphering whether a particular play that made is more of a good thing or a bad thing. Ultimately, the Vikings have had great balance in this respect during training camp. It appeared the offense had a successful day on Sunday, but there have been plenty of times this camp where the defense has looked superior.

Ever since Cordarrelle Patterson was drafted by the Vikings until his departure via free agency to the Raiders, there were always questions about his involvement in the offense and his playing time. Do you feel Laquon Treadwell is going down the same road with the same kinds of questions by fans and media about his play as a wide receiver? -- Kris Arndt Utah

Yes and no. Yes, he’s going down a similar path in terms of having to earn more playing time and prove to coaches that he fits in the offense. But it’s not a similar path in terms of what’s perceived to be keeping the player from making more of an impact. No one questions Treadwell’s work ethic, passion or knowledge of the offense. People have questioned some of the physical aspects of playing – health, ability to separate and speed, for example. The good news is Treadwell had a great spring at Winter Park and he’s picked up right where he left off here in Mankato; he’s having a good camp and I’m anxious to see him in action once the preseason begins.

How can we win more games in our division? -- Nick

The Vikings are 8-10 in the NFC North over the last three seasons. Five of those 10 losses have been by one score or less; the Vikings have also won four one-score games in the division. Put those two stats together and you see that nine of the Vikings 18 division games over the last three years have been decided by one score. Clearly, executing better in late-game situations will result in a better record in close games. Since so many of the Vikings division games are close games, it’s late-game execution that stands out to me as most key to improving the division record.

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