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Vikings Coordinators Assess Competition Halfway Through OTA's

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — It's clear that competition is brewing at many positions on both sides of the ball halfway through Vikings organized team activity practices.

Minnesota participated in the club's fifth OTA practice, and Vikings coordinators followed Wednesday's session by speaking with members of the media.

Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said the Vikings have a "good mix" on the offensive line.

"I think it's an area where we can improve greatly, and I think it will show up for our entire team," Turner said.

After overcoming season-ending injuries to starting center John Sullivan and right tackle Phil Loadholt in the preseason, the Vikings started the same five linemen every game in 2015, and the group helped pave the way for the league's leading rusher, Adrian Peterson.

"Getting Sully back is big – a veteran player who is a really good player," Turner said. "Phil's missed a lot of time, and I think he's handled it extremely well. He's got a long ways to go to where I think he can handle to go play in games. If anyone can do it, Phil can, and he's worked awfully hard to get that done."

Turner's first take on Böhringer

Another position on the roster that has shown depth is wide receiver.

Turner also was asked about 6-foot-4 German receiver Moritz Böhringer, who is battling for a spot on the Vikings roster after making a splash at the 2016 NFL Draft.

The first-ever NFL player to be drafted directly out of Europe has a lot to learn on and off of the football field in Minnesota, but his athleticism has been evident to Turner.

"He's a big, physical athlete," Turner said. "He's starting from way behind. He's catching up, and everything happens extremely fast for him. He's got the physical skills."

Edwards calls on young cornerbacks

The Vikings have a blend experience and youth in the team's secondary unit. 

Minnesota returns several veteran cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn but the younger players at the position were the topic of conversation on Wednesday.

Last year's first-round draft pick Trae Waynes played limited snaps in 2015, but Vikings Defensive Coordinator George Edwards said the former Michigan State Spartan showed promise and confidence when he was out on the field.

Waynes, the highest-drafted cornerback in Vikings history appeared in 15 games last season and started in one. He recorded 19 combined tackles and five passes defensed. Edwards said he expects Waynes to take a step forward in 2016.

"He seems to have recalled a lot from his first year," Edwards said. "He's learned a lot. Just continue to work on the fundamentals and the techniques that we're working between, the different concepts that we have [in coverage] and to take the next step."

Another young corner

The Vikings second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was another cornerback, Mackensie Alexander out of Clemson. Like Waynes, Alexander is battling to find his spot in the team's rotation.

The coaching staff has noticed Alexander's ability to play the position on the inside, as well as the outside and has been putting him in each of those situations against the Vikings wide receivers throughout OTAs.

"He's another one coming in making that transition," Edwards said. "He's come in, we're playing him at the nickel, we're playing him outside so they can get a bigger scope of what we're trying to do schematically overall. I think that puts a little bit more added work to him mentally and just schematically what we're asking him to do, but in the long-haul we think it will pay big benefits for us."

Priefer confident in special teams unit

Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer likes what he is seeing this offseason from kicker Blair Walsh.

"We're allowed to go indoors and kick with just a snapper, holder, kicker and he's come back stronger, more efficient," Priefer said. "He's really had a good spring so far, indoors and outdoors."

Walsh led the NFL with 34 field goals made last season. Priefer and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer have seen progression from Walsh kicking from short distance through the spring.

"He's confident right now, he's in really good shape," Priefer said "We'll keep doing that. We'll start him from short, then go longer from there and increase his confidence as spring goes on."

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