A lot has happened during the first five days at 2016 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, from player move-in day on Thursday to a pair of padded practices on Sunday and Monday. But Tuesday is a players' day off, so our crew of writers (Mike Wobschall, Craig Peters, Eric Smith and Lindsey Young) has taken the opportunity reflect on some of the best moments of camp so far.
Best One-on-One Matchup: DE Everson Griffen vs. LT Matt Kalil-- Mike Wobschall
It has been an epic matchup at two of the most important positions in the game. Everson Griffen is coming off back-to-back double-digit sack seasons and through four days of camp appears determined to do everything he can to help the Vikings defend their NFC North title. About the only person who has a chance to slow him down is Matt Kalil, who is tasked with the challenge every day in practice. We recently had Griffen mic'd up for practice, giving fans a front-row seat to some of his best moments against Kalil. But Kalil has won his fair share of battles, too, even if they aren't represented in mic'd up fashion. At the end of the day, the Griffen-Kalil matchup in practice personifies the sayings represented on one of the team-issued workout shirts – Iron Sharpens Iron.
Top Coach Comment: Zimmer's Contract Extension
-- Craig Peters
Mike Zimmer has had more than a few quips already in training camp and a couple of animated, dramatic responses during podium sessions, but his opening comments on July 28 conveyed his thoughts on multiple aspects of the Vikings big picture and emphasized who he is at his core.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman had just announced a contract extension for Zimmer well before the head coach's initial deal was close to being up. Vikings Ownership and Spielman approached Zimmer's agent.
The first-time head coach hadn't tried to parlay last season's 11-5 record, NFC North title and historic success for a team in a temporary stadium into extra years or dollars. He just kept punching the clock.
Zimmer waited years and years and years for this first opportunity to become a head coach in the NFL. Twenty seasons as an assistant at the sport's highest level should not be downplayed, but Zimmer wanted the next opportunity. The result is that he's leading a team toward a crossroads of football and facility improvements.
The Vikings just celebrated the ribbon cutting of U.S. Bank Stadium on July 22 and are holding a groundbreaking Tuesday for a new headquarters in Eagan that has an anticipated completion of March 2018.
"There was nothing that was pushing this deal, but I feel very, very fortunate to be the coach of the Vikings," Zimmer said. "It's a great organization, a lot of great people. There's no way that we could have the success that we've had to this point without the help with the people in the front office and the people in the business and all those things. So, it's good to get this done now and get a chance to move forward.
"It has kind of been like these last four days – opening the stadium, having the gala the other night and the Eagan deal – I'm just trying to get out of the suit and get to work. But our team is excited to get here and start to work on some of the goals that we need to get done, to get accomplished.
"I think this camp, especially starting out early, we're going to work extremely hard on fundamentals and techniques, trying to get back into doing things the proper way and hopefully learn how to be a team again and play together."
Best Newcomer: WR Laquon Treadwell
-- Lindsey Young
The Vikings have a number of new faces with high potential heading into the 2016 season.
Rookie wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has turned heads during his first few days in Mankato. Fans at Minnesota State University, Mankato, have gotten a look at Treadwell in both first- and second-team reps. The rookie's quickness and good hands have combined with his ability to execute routes, and he's made a number of nice plays for the offense.
Treadwell gained a reputation for his work ethic during minicamp and organized team activities, and that focused mentality has carried through during training camp. He's often one of the final players off the practice field, and he soaks up instruction from Zimmer and wide receivers coach George Stewart.
"[Coach Zimmer] says he's going to make me hate him, if that says anything," Treadwell told media members Friday after the Vikings first training camp practice. "He said I'm going to hate him at the end of the day but love him at the end of my career.
"Hey, that's a good thing, so I just have to keep working up to his standards," he added.
Treadwell's hard work is paying off.
Best Interview: Alex Boone
-- Eric Smith
This one was easy.
One of the newest (and most vocal) Vikings stole the show on check-in day as Alex Boone lived up to his big personality on Thursday.
The left guard, who was mic’d up as he moved into his dorm room, signed with Minnesota as a free agent this offseason.
Boone had plenty to say to the media upon arriving on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, mainly that he was here to “play football and kick some (tail).”
Boone also commented on his relationship with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, quipping that if the two were married then they'd get along just OK. Boone closed his press conference in grand style by telling the story of the time he underestimated recently retired Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who promptly opened his eyes to life in the NFL.