Early Vikings Notes from Training Camp

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Vikings Bradbury
Vikings.com Garrett Bradbury blocks Jaleel Johnson

Vikings camp is in full swing and we finally have some vague indications as to the roster’s direction. Here are some of the most notable revelations from the early days of Vikings practice.

Beebe stepping up as third receiver

Thus far, it seems Chad Beebe has the inside track to be primary third receiver. Jordan Taylor saw some run in early practices and Laquon Treadwell mixed in yesterday, but since the pads have come on, Beebe has been the guy for the most part. For Mike Zimmer, only one thing has been Beebe back:

“His issue has been his health, quite honestly. He needs to stay healthy and prove that he can stay healthy.”

If Beebe does stay on the field, all signs point to him jumping Treadwell and Brandon Zylstra on the depth chart, two guys who made the roster over him a year ago.

Zimmer not thrilled with rookie receivers

Bisi Johnson and Dillon Mitchell may have been long shots to earn the third receiver spot, but both seemed like good candidates to make the roster. Zimmer, however, implied they still have a long way to go. 

“If they don’t know what to do, if they don’t know where to line up, if they run the wrong route or they’re moving their feet when the ball’s snapped, we’ll keep looking for somebody else,’’ Zimmer said. “They have not been precise enough in these first couple days, these young receivers, and they need to get their rear end in gear.’’

He did not single out Mitchell and Johnson, rather pointing to the rookie receiver group as a whole. But given that Mitchell and Johnson were draft picks, it is a safe assumption that they hold more of Zimmer’s disappointment thus far.

Mattison entrenched as second back

While Zimmer has been critical of the young receivers, rookie Alexander Mattison seems solid in his role as second back. Ameer Abdullah took second team reps on Friday, but Mattison has gotten more run in full pads. “He’s doing good,’’ Zimmer said. “He runs physical. He looks like he’s got vision, finding the seams. I think he’s done a pretty good job in protection.’’

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Variety in DT rotation

With Linval Joseph and Shamar Stephen both out in camp, the younger depth at defensive tackle has gotten more opportunities to shine. Early on, Jalyn Holmes and Jaleel Johnson took first team reps at three-technique and nose, respectively. But Holmes missed some run due to injury, and Hercules Mata’afa stepped in for first team snaps. Once Holmes returned, Mata’afa stayed with the first group while Holmes ran on the second group alongside rookie Armon Watts. The cycling of bodies indicates that this competition will likely run the length of preseason.

Tough to gauge offensive line right now

The two big watches in camp are Garrett Bradbury and Brian O’Neill, as they are the young studs the Vikings are hinging a lot of their hopes upon. And through a few days of padded practices, both have looked strong. O’Neill has held up well against Danielle Hunter for the most part, and appears to have added weight. Meanwhile, Bradbury was the better man in battles with Jaleel Johnson. 

That said, the Vikings defensive line is dealing with injuries, so the first team o-line is working a lot against second team guys. Early returns seem positive, but until actual scrimmages and games kick off, it is still wait-and-see with the young linemen. Most notable among the other starters has been Riley Reiff working against Everson Griffen in one-on-ones. Griffen burned Reiff on several occasions. So one veteran seems to be returning to form, while the starting left tackle is struggling a bit.

Oddities in the kicking game

The first day of camp, kicker Dan Bailey made only 4/7 kicks, all within makeable range. Then, a few days later, Chad Beebe and Adam Thielen both received holding lessons and took snaps as the holder. Maybe the coaches see that as a solution to Bailey’s kicking inconsistencies. Regardless, it did not help as a Bailey made most of his kicks that day with punter Matt Wile holding but missed with Thielen holding.

–Sam Smith is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Vikings and Deputy Editor for Full Press NFL. Like and Follow @samc_smith.

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