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Vikings Roundup, 7/29: Mixing it up for Competition

MANKATO, Minn. — One-on-ones often amount to 1s vs. 1s and 2s vs. 2s on the depth chart, but the Vikings are mixing that up at training camp.

An example Tuesday was during pass route drills when Mike Wallace was pitted against Shaun Prater, Charles Johnson used a double move against Anthony Harris, and Adam Thielen hand fought to get separation from Xavier Rhodes, who broke up the deep attempt near the end.

Both players went to the ground on that one in their first day in pads. Thielen picked up the ball and snapped a spiral to a ball boy after an effort the crowd liked.

"I want to go against the best corner," Thielen said. "I want to go against the best guy on our team, and when we start facing teams, I want to go against their best corner. That's how I get better, that's how the team gets better. I think that's how all of our receivers are. They want to get better and that's the best way to get better."

Rhodes said all defensive backs need to be able to handle passing threats posed by players with different attributes.

"We're DBs. We're going to go against receivers," Rhodes. "Safeties are going to go against receivers. We have tight ends that are labeled as tight ends, but really they're receivers, so we have to get that work."

Thielen, who played collegiately for Minnesota State, Mankato, worked his way up from a tryout to a practice squad spot in 2013 to the active roster in 2014. Rhodes, meanwhile is one of three first-round picks at the cornerback position and developed greatly under Zimmer last season.  

"He gets his hands on you. He's going to try to harass you all the way down the field," Thielen said. "He's got long arms and great makeup speed, so it's tough even if you beat him at the line of scrimmage, you've still got to win it down the field."

Thielen has received attention and cheers from a lot of fans on the fields where he played collegiately—and some jokes from teammates. He also wore a wire and helmet cam to give fans an intense look at the action.

"(Teammates) call me the mayor and always ask me if I've got city council meetings," Thielen said. "They like to have fun with that one."

SPREADING TO THE LINE: Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said the different matchups will extend to a one-on-one pass rush drill Wednesday afternoon.

"I've instructed the coaches that I want to get guys on guys they haven't been going against all the time so Everson (Griffen) is not going against (Matt) Kalil every time. I want to see (Danielle) Hunter against some of these guys. I want to see (T.J.) Clemmings against someone else because you start to get to know guys a little bit. I want to see Hunter against Kalil and Loadholt."

Zimmer was asked about the progress of Hunter, who was considered to be high on athleticism and physical attributes but maybe a little raw. The youngest Viking, at 20 years old, measures 6-foot-5, 252 pounds with arms that are about 35 inches long.

"He's a lot less raw than we thought. He's really been impressive," Zimmer said. "That's why I want to see him against some of the other competition. He's a tremendous athlete with very, very long arms. I asked one of the coaches the other day what he thought about him, and it was very, very positive."

RAISING THE BARR:Anthony Barr was more active Tuesday, and the plan is to make him more active Wednesday, Zimmer said. Barr was sidelined for much of the Vikings offseason program, but is working his way back from an injury that shortened his impressive rookie season.

"We are going to push him more today. He's going to get some more reps," Zimmer said. "He feels good physically, other than the conditioning so we're trying to accelerate his conditioning a little bit."

ROSTER MOVE: The non-football injury designation on Shamar Stephen was removed Wednesday, a day after DaVaris Daniels was moved from the NFI list. Josh Robinson remains on the physically unable to perform list.

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