Vikings Daily Digest: Rookies’ Reps Reinforcing Spring Foundation

New for 2019 Verizon Vikings Training Camp, Vikings Daily Digest will deliver content directly from Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center with news of the day and a few recurring elements.

EAGAN, Minn. — There have been plenty of reps for most of the Vikings rookies and select vets who reported to Verizon Vikings Training Camp on Monday and practiced Tuesday.

The linebackers group, for instance, has three players in it right now: Reshard Cliett, Cameron Smith and Greer Martini.

The trio is always on the field when Minnesota is in its base defense and outnumbered by the four Vikings quarterbacks on the roster who rotated through reps Tuesday.

Starting QB Kirk Cousins described the value he sees in this extra time during a podium session with media on Wednesday after a walk-through session.

Rookie Jake Browning also was stopped for a few questions after the walk-through outing. While there are fewer reps for each quarterback than players at other positions, Browning said he understands the importance of focusing during reps by Cousins, Sean Mannion and Kyle Sloter.

“You’ve got to learn the playbook, know what you’re doing and make the most out of your reps, and from everyone else’s reps, you’ve got to learn,” Browning said. “If Sean drops back and does something, and there’s a coaching point from it, I can’t drop back and make the same mistake, just because it makes it look like I’m not paying attention to what’s going on and learning from everybody else. I think that’s the biggest thing.

“That’s a big adjustment for me,” he added, “but it doesn’t feel like it’s something that’s very hard, just as far as staying locked-in in meetings, even though maybe you’re not getting the same amount or reps as what you’re used to in college, but learn as much as you can.”

Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski said this window allows the coaching staff time to be more deliberative in teaching than they’ll be when the rest of the veterans begin participating on Friday.

Stefanski said he believes the staff and players were able to build a solid foundation during the spring offseason program.

“I think for all of our players this is a new system, so a lot of the time in the spring was working on that, and we were completely in teaching and learning phase and we really aren’t out of that yet,” Stefanski said. “I think Kirk, like all of our guys, we are having some really good meeting time out here. Part of that is with Phase 1 and Phase 2 in the offseason, you are limited to how much time you can spend with the veteran quarterbacks.

“Here, what is so valuable about this is we spend a ton of time in that meeting room, we spend great time on this practice field, we are really trying to get to the nitty gritty of our system, and that is why I think it is so great that we have all of our quarterbacks here.”

Guard Dru Samia, a fourth-round pick in April, worked with the third-team offensive line during the offseason program. This week, he’s lined up with starting center Garrett Bradbury, a classmate that the Vikings tabbed with the 18th overall pick.

Samia said stepping in with first-teamers like Bradbury and Cousins has been helpful.

“You just watch how they conduct themselves because the first group is way faster and more straight to the point,” Samia said. “It’s nice to learn how they run things.”

“I think mentally the offensive line is way ahead of where we were in OTAs,” Samia said. “We’re just really good at picking up the playbook and studying. It’s a hard-working group.”

During the break, Samia said he focused on techniques he learned from Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Rick Dennison during the offseason program. That included an emphasis on keeping his pad level low and “playing with a little tighter base.”

“I need to make sure that the plays they’re going through right now, that I’m completely set with it, so as soon as it gets to the veterans, I know exactly what I’m doing and can just focus on my technique,” Samia said.

Quote of the Day

“I think we have a good understanding, but we’re certainly still learning about our players. We’ve talked about it as a staff, someone is going to surprise us at this camp, someone is going to show up, and I don’t know who that is. We have our ideas and we’ve seen it. In the spring, we saw some guys flash, but we’re going to get a ton of reps, and I think you will see somebody flash, and then it’s going to be our job to understand what that guy can do and how he can help us.

— Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski

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