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Thread: A Look at Vikings OTAs--Week Three

  1. #1
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    A Look at Vikings OTAs--Week Three

    Joe Oberle
    Jun 12 2015 05:00 AM
    http://vikingsjournal.com/_/minnesot...eek-three-r579

    The Minnesota Vikings resumed OTAs this week—starting with a charity golf tournament in brilliant sunshine on Wednesday and then back to football at Winter Park on Thursday. Unfortunately, the sunshine was no longer available, and the 90-player team crowded into the Eden Prairie practice facility—but it didn’t prevent them from accomplishing what they set out to do.

    “I thought we had a good practice today; we’re starting to catch on to a lot of the concepts that we’re trying to teach,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “I like this football team. They work hard, they concentrate, they study and they seem to have pretty good chemistry. We’ve still got tons and tons of work to do, but I feel like we are heading in the right direction and I’m excited, really, to get going into training camp.”

    Here are a few more observances from the OTA practice the media was allowed to attend on Thursday, June 11.

    It was running back Adrian Peterson’s second week of OTAs since returning to the team. All reports of the first week were that he was excited to be back and the coaches were pleased to have him in the backfield. On Thursday, Peterson again had plenty of pop to his step. He caught a few passes out of the backfield and also served as a decoy when Teddy Bridgewater used him in a play action fake and then threw a pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph in the right flats. The defense was caught off guard as Rudolph raced untouched for a good 30-to-40 yards.

    On one running play, Peterson plowed through the line and then was tripped up just as he got to the open field. He quickly jumped to his feet and raced toward the end zone, like he often does to finish out a rep. As he reached two Vikings staffers observing at the back of the defense, he purposely bumped into general manager Rick Spielman and gave him a slight shoulder—to Spielman’s amusement. You can make out of that what you will.

    Two weeks ago, I observed a less-than-enthusiastic Cordarrelle Patterson struggling to get open and perhaps frustrated from too many overthrown balls. On this day, getting second team reps, he caught everything thrown to him, including one tossed at his trailing hip. He look fast and sharp, running crisp routes and working his way open. His performance matched reports of his improvement.

    Stefon Diggs can flat out run. He also is very shifty, whether on punt return or catching passes during drills. He twice offered a blindingly quick spin move that had defenders clutching air in his wake. He came in motion and caught a pass in the flats that was slightly behind him and then took advantage of it to spin backwards out of trouble and turn the play into a 15-20 yard gain downfield. He might not be able to get away with every twist and turn when the teams are in full gear and hitting each other, but his quickness and speed are in evidence nearly every play.

    I would love to see Diggs and wide receiver Mike Wallace in a foot race. Hopefully it happens some time this offseason.

    Speaking of quickness, defensive end Danielle Hunter showed nice get-off from the line of scrimmage in drills the defensive line was doing. He looked even faster next to his bigger teammates in the unit—some of which he is smaller than. When he gets up to speed with the pro game and what the team wants from him, he will be fun to watch.

    Speaking of defensive ends, Everson Griffen was sporting a full goatee and a dew rag-like head covering at practice. It looked good and gave him a slightly meaner appearance, which belies his always congenial personality. Can a mullet be far behind? The answer would “yes, very far behind.”

    Punter Jeff Locke was kicking punts inside the facility up into the large fans that hang from the ceiling. It was difficult to tell if he was trying to hit them as they rotated or trying to miss them.

    On a related note, special team drills in which the ball is not punted are pretty dull. It becomes just a bunch of players jockeying for position. When indoors, this drill basically becomes a break for the first teamers. Although special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s voice continues to get a workout.

    With Anthony Barr and Gerald Hodges sitting out due to injury, a number of the new linebackers are getting some reps. At one point the first team linebackers were Chad Greenway, Audie Cole (mike) and Josh Kaddu. For nickel defense, corner Jabari Price and rookie linebacker Eric Kendricks came in—presumably for Kendricks’ coverage skills.

    “We’ve had a few guys that have been out, with [Anthony] Barr and [Gerald] Hodges and [Michael] Mauti is out a little bit right now, but it’s been good,” Zimmer said. “I think the competition level throughout the whole football team is much better. The depth of the football team is better. You have got to credit Rick [Spielman] and the scouts for adding a lot of good, quality football players. It’s been good.”

    Kendricks made a diving attempt at an interception of a Teddy Bridgewater pass and the ball just slipped through his fingers as he fell to the ground. All the players looking on let out a collective “oooooohhhhh,” and Kendricks definitely heard it. The defense had a couple tipped passes but made no picks during the 11-on-11 drills.

    “It was hurtful,” Kendricks said of the near interception. “I knew I could have caught it. It was a little bit of nervousness and I heard everyone kind of gasp. I need tomake that play. I make that play nine times out of 10.”

    The offense was beating the defense out in the middle of the field but when they moved to the redzone/goal line drills, the defense toughened up. On one play, safety Harrison Smith grabbed the jersey of rookie tight end MyCole Pruitt, but neither the ball nor a flag came his way.

    Bridgewater missed an open Wallace in the corner of the endzone and Wallace raised his arms in a gesture that looked like “hey, didn’t you see me?” as he returned to the huddle. On the next play, Bridgewater threw the fade to Wallace for a completion, but it was negated by a penalty. Chemistry?

    In all, the practice was fast-paced and crisp. As Zimmer said, the team works hard and seems to concentrate. And for an observer watching Peterson running drills (seeing him for the first time since last fall), it was a welcome sight. He clearly looks more comfortable with a football in his hand than he did with a golf club at the Vikings charity outing on Wednesday

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the post, Ovike!

    Glad to hear good things about Diggs. I was a bit unsure of the pick at the time. Don't really remember why. I knew we were probably going to draft a WR at some point and we got good value up till then. Hopefully he really keeps up some of this momentum I've been hearing of and he is a serious contributor in the near future.

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