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. — Rick Spielman stepped to the podium Tuesday morning and smiled.
With Verizon Vikings Training Camp officially underway, the general manager said he is excited for a fresh start as the 2019 season approaches.
But make no mistake about it, Spielman noted there is also a hunger for success after Minnesota went 8-7-1 and missed out on the playoffs a season ago.
And he's relying on Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer to lead the charge.
"I know once the offseason started, Coach Zim' really set the tone through OTAs and minicamp," Spielman said. "It started with the new additions of the offensive coaching staff that came aboard, led by [Vikings Offensive Coordinator] Kevin Stefanski.
"I know what Zim' wants for this football team. He wants a smart, high-character, tough-minded, physical football team … that's what Coach Zim' wants to make sure we establish going into training camp," Spielman added. "I think we have a truly unique group of players who are not only passionate about what they do on the field, but they truly care for each other off the field and in the locker room. I'm excited to get started, and I expect to have a very successful year coming up."
The 2019 training camp will be Spielman's 14th overall in Minnesota, and eighth as the team's GM.
He has assembled a roster that ranks among the league's bets in terms of talent, with Pro Bowlers on each side of the ball.
The Vikings defense has been among the NFL's top units for multiple seasons in a row, while Minnesota's offense has the potential to breakout with skill players abound, the offensive line improved and fresh ideas on the coaching staff.
More than three dozen players featuring rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans reported to camp Monday, while the rest of the team reports Thursday. The first full-team practice, and first one open to the public, will be held Friday.
Even though training camp is in its infancy in 2019, Spielman said he was excited to watch multiple position battles and added he expects numerous difficult decisions when the team has to trim the roster to 53 players the weekend before the season opener.
"Depending on where we're at, the cornerback position's going to be very deep, I think the defensive line is going to be very deep, there's going to be a lot of great competition there," Spielman said. "I think with some of the offensive linemen and some of the rookies coming in, how quickly they can adapt compared to some of the vets we have up front.
"And I think the quarterback position will be critical behind Kirk [Cousins], between the three we have backing him up and who that will be. We've been impressed with [Sean] Mannion and [Kyle] Sloter and with [Jake] Browning," Spielman added. "They all had great offseasons, so that will be a fun competition to watch when we get going."
The Vikings have made five postseason appearances, including a pair of trips to NFC title games, in Spielman's tenure in Minnesota.
And although the 2018 season was marred by frustrations and inconsistencies, the road to a potential deep playoff run in 2019 starts now for the Vikings.
"I don't know that it's different than any other year," Spielman said of managing expectations. "If you come into a season without a sense of urgency, then you're probably in the wrong business.
"Every year, if you talk to 31 other teams in these opening press conferences, everyone expects to go out there and win a championship, or else you shouldn't be in this business. Expectations are there every year," Spielman said. "I know last year was disappointing from where we thought we were and where we ended up. I know we did a lot of things to try to correct those areas and address them during the offseason. I think we've accomplished that so far, but a lot of that will be determined as we head into training camp."
Quote of the Day
"We've moved on from last year. Every year's a new year, so it's time to move on and go from there. We talked about things we need to do better this spring, but now it's all about moving forward, where we have to go and how we have to approach things to get there."
— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer
With the Yankees in town to play the Twins, the Vikings Vice President of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Eric Sugarman welcomed New York's training staff to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.