Monday Morning Mailbag: Impact of the Vedvik Trade, Battle For Snaps Behind Cook at RB, More

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Super excited that football is back! Now that we've got the first preseason game out of the way, which area of our team looked better than expected and what area do you think had a first-week slump?
-- Brady S.
Asheville, NC

There were a lot of good things that happened for the Vikings in the first preseason game, but I must say the stat I came away most pleasantly surprised about was that New Orleans recorded zero sacks. The run blocking has looked vastly improved all offseason and camp, so the 213 rushing yards made sense. But pass protection is a whole other beast and the Vikings offensive line and quarterbacks did a great job in this area. In terms of what needs to be improved, I don’t think there’s any question that reducing penalties will be a focal point in Week 2 of the preseason.

It’s clear from this trade that they are looking to create a kicking competition. But with Kaare Vedvik’s dual kicking threat as a kicker and a punter, does this perhaps mean there is a competition at punter as well? It almost seems like because there are so many other difficult position roster choices the Vikings face, they are looking to open up another roster spot by having one person take care of both kicking and punting duties. What do you think?
-- Jeff Hanson
Spokane, WA

It will be hard, but we’re all going to have to let things play out in the aftermath of the Vedvik acquisition. In Baltimore’s first preseason game, Vedvik was four of four on field goal tries, including a 55-yard bomb, and he also had two punts of 50+ yards. I don’t get the sense the Vikings are considering having one player handle both kicking and punting duties, which means Vedvik was brought in to compete at both spots. Whether he focuses in on one of the jobs is something that remains to be seen but it also something that will play out right before our eyes over the next few weeks. So rather than jump to conclusions before Vedvik even lands in Minnesota, let’s exercise some patience and let all the players compete their tails off to see what happens.

Why is it that our defense looks so poor in training camp practices? Last year, it seemed like they lost a bit of their magic they had in 2017. So is our defense getting worse or is our offense so good that they overshadow our improvements on defense? BTW, big fan here and greetings from Germany!
-- Tobias Faderl
Wackersdorf, Germany

I wouldn’t say the defense looks poor in training camp practices. I’d actually argue the defense has looked awesome this camp. I know head coach Mike Zimmer had some sharp criticism during one of his press conferences, but just remember that he has sky-high expectations for this group so he’s going to be hard to please. It should also be noted that only a few days after Zimmer made those remarks, he had another press conference in which he said the defense responded. There is no question in my mind the Vikings defense is poised to be the best defense in the NFL this season. I can’t wait to watch them.

Ameer Abdullah put the ball on the ground in the Saints game. I think we should release him and use his roster spot for other talent. Both Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone are more than adequate. What's your opinion?
-- Scott Reynolds
Moline, IL

I agree that Boone and Mattison are capable backs, but I don’t agree that cutting Abdullah right now based on his errors in the first preseason game is the way to go. He’s been a solid contributor in the offseason program and during camp, plus he showed he can play at a high enough level during the 2018 season. Abdullah can run the ball, he can catch it and he can play on special teams. A player with that kind of position flexibility should not be cast aside easily. I’m not saying he’s already made the team, but I am disagreeing that cutting him right now is the way to go based on the New Orleans game.

First off, I really enjoy the Minnesota Vikings Podcast. It is nice for the long drives to work every so often. Now to my question. I noticed that Josh Kline got a vet day last week and saw that in his place was Danny Isidora and Dakota Dozier. My question is two part: A) How is Dru Samia looking? And B) Where is he practicing on the line? I kind of had him slated in at right guard and thought he'd compete with Kline for playing time.
-- Derek Dotinga

Glad you love the podcast, Derek. Thank you for listening. Samia has looked good and I won’t be surprised if he makes the 53-man roster heading into the regular season. But he’s in a thick competition right now for spots along the depth chart, and that’s a good thing for the prospects of the offensive line in 2019. I’d say this part of the roster – the interior of the offensive line – is far from being settled.

What are your thoughts on this? I am most excited for one of our late-round draft picks – Marcus Epps. A walk-on, a solid player in college and most importantly a team captain in college. His drive and intelligence are very promising. Can he be our safety of the future?
-- Mark Wilson
Summerville, SC

You need more than one safety on the field at a time and it’s typically to keep four or five safeties on the 53-man roster, so while I wouldn’t categorize Epps as the “safety of the future” I would say he’s in line to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. A big plus with Epps is that he has the skill set to train as a nickel, as well, something that Zimmer and the defensive staff could find quite valuable considering that two cornerbacks who likely would’ve made the team coming out of camp – Holton Hill and Mike Hughes – are currently unavailable to play in Week 1.

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