EDEN PRARIE, Minn. —Laquon Treadwell encountered dozens of new experiences as a rookie in 2016.
The one that stood out strongest to No. 11 was not winning enough plays against defenders.
"I was used to winning. Winning every other play, or winning every play or being the guy on every team that I went to," said Treadwell, who led the SEC with 11 receiving touchdowns and 1,153 receiving yards in 2015. "I realized I had to get better, grind, compete and stay with it. I was born to play this game, so I've just continued to work hard, and it's showing."
After being limited to one catch for 15 yards in his debut season, Treadwell took notes of how Stefon Diggs (84 receptions, 903 yards) and Adam Thielen (69 receptions, 967 yards) posted career bests.* *
"Last year, I mean I was good enough, but when it was time for me to win at certain points in my routes, I didn't have the formula," Treadwell said. "I was watching Diggs and Thielen, and they were very technically sound, and that's how they beat guys consistently. They know how to win, and that was my biggest thing. I knew I could win. I just didn't know how. I learned over the offseason and spent a lot of time learning how to be a true receiver instead of just relying on God-given talent and ability."
Treadwell said Tuesday that size and talent had been enough for him to excel at previous levels.
"In college and high school, the Pop Warner League, I was always more talented or just had more will to win, I guess, in a since where I got away with a lot of things, and I got here, guys are just as talented and want to win as badly as you," Treadwell said. "I just took the time to focus on my technique, and my talent is showing with the technique now, so I'm on the up rise. I'm just really focused on staying sharp with my technique. The sky is the limit."
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Treadwell said he committed to refining technical aspects of his game and that a second offseason as a professional has given him a better understanding of "coverages, schemes and the guys I'm going against every day."
Treadwell showed progress, making plays throughout the Vikings offseason workout program and in the early couple of days of Verizon Vikings Training Camp.
The holder of 12 receiving records at the University of Mississippi, however, encountered another setback early during camp, suffering a hamstring injury.
"I did pretty good," Treadwell said of his showing in the offseason program. "A lot of things that I liked and improved on and a lot of things that I think I showed the coaches what I can do and play my role in this offense. It was good. Unfortunately, I went down right before the pads went on, so now I'm just trying to show it in pads and continue to build that trust and confidence with the quarterbacks, the coaches and teammates."
Treadwell is unclear on if he will be available to play when Minnesota visits Seattle for the the teams' second preseason contest on Friday but said he is making progress.
"It could be worse," said Treadwell, who bounced back from a significant leg injury as a sophomore in college. "A lot of guys are dealing with worse things than a hamstring, so that's how I take it, just be grateful that I'm back out here and able to go against the 1s and compete and keep earning my stripes and being that supporter for the team."
Carter making most of second offseason:After spending the 2016 season on Minnesota's practice squad, tight end Kyle Carter said he's much more comfortable – and more versatile – in his second preseason.
Carter hauled in some nice catches during training camp but he told Twin Cities media back in Eden Prairie that he's improved beyond in the passing game.
"I came in here just known as like a pass-catching tight end, and I really took my time and just tried to get the technique and the fundamentals down of blocking," Carter said. "And I feel like that's really helping me out.
"Honestly, it's really just the mindset," Carter said. "When you're undersized, you have to have a good technique, but just having the technique and the mindset, you'll be able to block anybody."
The 24-year-old is grateful for the experience he gained while on the practice squad. He said he appreciated getting to "see how the pros really do it" through watching Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison and MyCole Pruitt. With Rudolph being the only one of the group remaining on this year's roster, however, Carter sees a whole different opportunity ahead of him.
"We're all basically the 'new guys,' " Carter said of the 2017 tight ends group. "So we're just trying to come in and prove that we can help this team."
He added: "There's a lot of competition in that room, so I'm just doing my best to be as high on the depth chart as possible."
View images from training camp practice at Winter Park on Tuesday, August 15.
Berger on young Vikings centers:Nick Easton has been a versatile player for the Vikings.
After being promoted from reserve to starting guard for nine games in 2014, Berger started all 16 regular-season games at center in 2015. Last season, he had starts at right guard, left guard and center.
Now the veteran has been slotted at right guard with Nick Easton and rookie Pat Elflein rotating at center. Berger recalled his own experience as a young center and said confidence is the biggest key to the position.
"I've had times that, when I came in here my first year and had to go in to a game for a little bit, and you're unsure about calls. And it makes everybody else unsure," Berger said. "So I think just as a center, for everybody else being on the right page, just the confidence in the call."
While Berger said he's always happy to field questions from Easton and Elflein, he's also putting a lot of focus into executing his own role at guard.
Over the past several weeks, he's observed a strong support system among the trio of young Vikings centers.
"Nick's a great resource for Pat, and those two have been working pretty closely together," Berger said. "And Zac [Kerin], too, they're three smart guys. They don't need my input from the guard spot on what they need to do [at center]. They're good working together that way and communicating with each other."