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Spielman Excited for Rookie Minicamp, Upcoming Competition Battles

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings roster is maxed out at 90 players, a group that includes All-Pros, potential stars and rookies.

Now it's time for the real fun to begin.

The Vikings will hold their rookie minicamp this weekend, while the first Organized Team Activity practices start up in less than three weeks.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman is already craving the competition that is about to unfold.

"The whole objective of getting these guys in here, whether it's college free agents, draft guys, maybe we find a guy or two who's coming in on a tryout basis, is to create the most competitive 90-man roster you can heading into training camp," Spielman told "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen on KFAN 100.3-FM's 9 to Noon show from TCO Studios on Wednesday. "When you can create competition at every position, it elevates everybody's game. It also gives you the opportunity to hopefully have two guys where you love both of them but you take the best one."

Spielman said Vikings scouts and coaches will have a close eye on the two-dozen plus rookies that arrive in Eagan later this week for three days of on-field work. 

He noted they'll be looking for guys who "pop out" during their first real NFL experience. 

"How quickly they're picking things up in the classroom, how quickly they're picking up the techniques they are being taught on the field, how quickly they're adjusting as we go through the week," Spielman said. "How do they progress between Friday and Sunday?

"We'll have personnel meetings as we go through the rookie minicamp," Spielman added. "And not only will we do that with our draft picks and the college free agents that we sign, but also every one of those tryout guys that are coming in." 

Current Vikings such as wide receiver Adam Thielen and cornerback Marcus Sherels arrived as rookie tryout participants and have carved out major roles in Minnesota.

The Vikings selected eight players last week in the 2018 NFL Draft, four of which came on the offensive or defensive line.

Spielman said he's interested in seeing what happens in the trenches over the next few months, especially on an offensive line that has added some pieces over the past 12 months.

Spielman mentioned three linemen — all of whom arrived in Minnesota in a different way — to possibly keep an eye on leading into training camp.

Guard Danny Isidora was a 2017 fifth-round pick who made one start in his rookie year, Aviante Collins made the team as an undrafted free agents and appeared in five total games, including the postseason.

"Another guy we were really impress with was Danny Isidora. He had the opportunity to play in a couple of games, I know he played very well in the Cleveland game over in London when he had to go in there and play," Spielman told Allen. "He was one of the surprises of the camp last year, and he continued to get better through the season as we evaluated him in practices. And then he had some game experience, too, so we're excited to see where he's at.

"[And] don't forget about Aviante Collins, who played for us last year and came in and played a lot of heavy tight end packages," Spielman added. "Some of the stuff he showed on tape was pretty special, especially when he started playing at the end of the season."

The Vikings also added lineman Josh Andrews in February off Philadelphia's practice squad.

"When he was eligible to sign after the season, he was one of the main targets that we had," Spielman said. "We have every team's practice squad guys listed … we put those guys in a ranking or an order. He was the No. 1 guy on our board, and we were fortunate enough to get him after the season."

Spielman and Allen also chatted about Minnesota's recent crop of rookies plus a handful of undrafted free agents.

It was easy to pick up on Spielman's excitement during the 30-minute interview. 

"They'll be tremendous battles going on," Spielman said. "Not only for starting positions in certain areas, but also for the backups. 

"It's going to be a lot of young guys, but it's going to be exciting to see which guys rise up," Spielman later added.

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