Eric Nordquist - @ericnordoKFAN
The intensity at training camp continued to increase today as the Minnesota Vikings work on putting the pieces together for the 2014 NFL season. I was able to take in the practice this afternoon, and the following is a quick download of my notes and observations!
The Cornerbacks –
If you haven’t already heard, newly acquired CB Captain Munnerlyn (hamstring) was activated from the PUP list yesterday and was a full participant in today’s drills. He was in his comfortable slot position with the first-team defense and, most importantly, didn’t appear to be hampered much by the hamstring. Good to have him back.
Xavier Rhodes had a much better day today. It was a heavy part of Paul Allen and #92Noon’s discussion this morning about Rhodes’ less than spectacular showing thus far in camp. Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s defense will be putting significant pressure on Vikings cornerbacks, which means the defense relies on the progression and success of guys like Rhodes and Josh Robinson. So I spent some time watching Rhodes. Xavier looked very keyed into the drills today and was strong in coverage. One play during 11-on-11, he jumped a route and made a great interception on the sideline (toe on the line?).
The Defense in General –
Frankly, I’m not an elite analyst in terms of breaking down formations and individual performances on a drill by drill basis. What I noticed today, though, are two things: The defense is starting to play faster, and Sharrif Floyd didn’t get yelled at.
Transitioning from the cover 2 defense we all know to Zimmer’s more exotic schemes, the learning curve is definitely still what I consider to be the biggest challenge for the Purple in Mankato. The more the players are thinking, the slower they are to react. With much work left to do, it was clear that the defense is starting to “get it.”
The Quarterbacks –
The competition between Matt Cassel and Teddy Bridgewater saw no changes today.
Cassel took most of the first-team snaps this afternoon, while Bridgewater found himself working with the second squad. Similar to yesterday, it was an average performance by both. Cassel looked good in some initial 11-on-11 drills, but made three consecutive errant throws during the 2-minute drill to end the drive.
Teddy started 3 of 3 in the 2-minute drill before throwing an interception on a low throw that the receiver had no chance of getting to. On that play, it was essentially a single read for him, because on the other side of the field, running back Jerick McKinnon was matched up against a linebacker on the outside.
Overall, it is still a fairly 50/50 race to see who starts against the Rams week 1. If the game was today, though, it appears that Matt Cassel would get the nod.
If you ask the fans, however, they have already chosen their guy. The “Teddy, Teddy” chants were heard loud and clear from the hundreds of Vikings fans waiting for him to walk to the locker room.
I’ll be here again tomorrow, with more notes and observations.